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The bulk of DII Men’s College conferences got under way this weekend in a revamped landscape. Some traditional heavyweights won and some teams that finished strong last season continued it into the beginning of this season.
Division II is wide open this year, particularly on the east coast. With the emergence of the Chesapeake Conference, (a new DIAA conference) a number of the traditionally powerful DII scores moved to test their mettle in DI. Perennial final four participants, Salisbury and Towson followed James Madison and NDC to the higher level, allowing some other teams a chance to get Furman this year.
One of those teams that could head to South Carolina for the final four won’t have to travel very far and could play on its own campus. The Paladins have been in the upper echelon of teams for the past several years, and have opened the season 2-0. Furman smashed Elon 62-15 this weekend. The Southern Conference is one of the toughest in the country, however, and should bring interesting results every week.
Out west, the mighty War Hawks of UW-Whitewater opened their season with a punishing 70-10 win over Marquette. Its rival to West and three time defending champs, Minnesota-Duluth will start its campaign next weekend. Lindenwood-Belleville, who made its mark in DII in the program's first year, moved on to a DIAA independent schedule, making the Midwest a runaway between these two programs.
One of the biggest surprises of the weekend came in the NECRC. Rhode Island, who played the War Hawks tough in the round of eight last year, fell to Norwich 30-21 on Saturday.
In the Cardinal Conference, VMI has been the team to beat since the departure of James Madison. VMI started 2016 with a 67-19 victory over UMBC. The balance will be a little different this year, though as NC State moved down to DII this year. The Wolfpack beat a decent ODU team from last year convincingly 40-13.
If the first week is any indication, there might be a shake up in Rugby Northeast. UMass-Lowell who knocked off an undefeated Roger Williams last year to reach the round of 16, fell to Bentley 17-3. Roger Williams won 41-6 over Stonehill.
The Colorado School of the Mines is the favorite in the Rocky Mountain. A 46-10 win over UCCS did not do anything to deter that.
Spring Hill, who elected to play and independent schedule may have had the mist notable win of the weekend. It defeated Alabama 38-37 in a barn burner down South.
Here are all the scores from the weekend.
|Wake Forest||32-21||Western Carolina||Southern|
|Niagara||29-45||Bufalo State||Upstate NY|
|NC State||40-13||Old Dominion||Cardinal|
|Roger Williams||41-6||Stonehill||Rugby Northeast|
|Souther Connecticut||46-12||Holy Cross||Rugby Northeast|
|Colorado College||43-22||Colorado Mesa||Rocky Mountain|
|Colorado School of Mines||46-10||UCCS||Rocky Mountain|