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All but five automatic bids to the DII National Championships have been claimed, and the remainders will be won this weekend. The two at-large berths will then be announced, though one is already assumed to be Towson’s (Potomac runner-up), and the other is likely to go to either Winona State (2nd in Northern Lights) or Illinois State (2nd in WIIL).
USA Rugby confirmed last week the regional pools, so automatically qualified teams know where they’re going, but they don’t yet know who they’re playing. Seeds and first-round match-ups will be announced shortly after the field is set.
The regions effectively put three of the top five teams in RUGBYMag’s DII rankings in separate regions (four of the top 5 if James Madison wins the Cardinals). In years past, favorites have sometimes met in the regional rounds, while there have been routs in the semifinal/final rounds. This time, seeding seems to take some precedence. UW-Whitewater could have been sent to St. Louis, about five hours from campus, but the Warhawks would have then run into UM-Duluth. Instead, they’re headed to Harrisonburg, Va., a 15-hour drive.
The logistics of the final automatic bid were just recently ironed out. Colorado College, the lone DII team between the Missouri River and the California border, is playing UC-Irvine in Irvine Saturday. The winner advances to the St. Louis regional. The Anteaters won the Gold Coast Conference Championship over UC-Riverside. Colorado College played a mixture of DI B-sides and NSCRO opponents this season and managed to raise airfare for Southern California in extremely short notice.
In the Cardinals Conference, James Madison vs. VMI and Old Dominion vs. Mary Washington are Saturday's semifinal match-ups. Rowan and Notre Dame College meet Saturday in Harrisburg, Pa. to decide the MARC Championship and one of the four remaining automatic bids. Niagara and Colgate play this weekend to decide the NY Upstate, and UNC-Wilmington does battle with UNC-Charlotte to determine the Southern.
||St. Louis, MO||
||Saint Louis U.||
||UC Irvine/Colorado College||