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Dec. 23, 2013 - While Nos. 1 and 2 are locked in, making the final DII ranking of the year isn’t as easy as following results from the National Championship playoffs and slotting teams in. The first example of the difficulty in doing so comes at No. 3, where we give James Madison the nod over UW-Whitewater.
Yes, the Warhawks beat JMU in the third-place game in Greenville, SC, but we don’t put much stock in consolation games. Both teams were without their best player and made several changes from the semifinal rosters the day before (JMU making nine) and you never know how a team approaches the consolation game – as a way to get seniors playing time, to preserve pride, or as this thing they have to do before they get to go home.
Ultimately, JMU was much more competitive in its semifinal, and the fight the Dukes gave Salisbury played a factor in the National Championship game. Duluth had fresher legs after beating Whitewater more comfortably, and the Sharks had to play a full 80 on Saturday to beat JMU.
Because there were only two at-large bids to the National Championships, several really good teams were left out of the postseason. Old Dominion only lost to James Madison by two in the Cardinals Conference final. Principia opted out of the postseason and chose to go and play at 7s Nationals, which the Thunderchickens won. SLU, which finished second to them in the Gateway, made it to the Elite Eight.
So we had to assign weight to the non-playoff teams who came from conferences that produced teams that went deep into the postseason, and consider how close teams were to knocking off playoff teams. NY Upstate is the only conference to get three teams in, because Niagara beat Colgate by just five in overtime in the conference final and Buffalo State by just two in the semifinal. UMass Lowell gets in after finishing second to Bryant, which pushed Salisbury in the round of 16, in the Rugby Northeast.