Men's DI Conference Final Previews

Men's DI Conference Final Previews
by Victor Olorunfemi
November 10, 2023

From guaranteed NCAA tournament teams looking to decorate the trophy cabinet to desperate programs looking for an automatic bid, here is a preview of all 21 men’s college soccer championship games. 

American Athletic: No. 2 Charlotte at No. 1 SMU – Sunday, November 12th, 2 PM Eastern, ESPN+ 

In a common occurrence for this year’s finals, the top two seeded teams meet in the American Athletic Championship. The clear favorite here is SMU, who is ranked first in the country and has not lost in 13 games and defeated Charlotte when they met in the regular season. But as a team that has won 6 of its last 7, Charlotte will show no fear. 

America East: No. 2 Bryant at No. 1 New Hampshire – Sunday, November 12th, 2 PM Eastern, ESPN+ 

Bryant and first-year coach Ruben Resendes are having a historic season, and there is no better way to top that off than by winning the first conference trophy in program history. A six-game winning streak paired with the number one defense has Bryant plenty confident, while New Hampshire, who has also won six in a row, boasts a team with far more championship experience as winners of four of the last five tournament trophies. 

ACC: No. 4 Clemson at No. 7 North Carolina – Sunday, November 12th, 12 PM Eastern, ESPNU 

After a slightly disappointing start to the season, Clemson has returned to elite form, suffering only one loss in the last 12 games. And with the staff seemingly arriving on a preferred line-up, this team is ready to make a run. And where North Carolina is concerned, playing at home for a championship game despite being a lower seed is a blessing it must take advantage of. 

A-10: No. 6 Dayton at No. 1 VCU – Sunday, November 12th, 12 PM Eastern, ESPN+ 

VCU is in for a dog fight as it faces a Dayton team undefeated in its last ten after starting the season at 2-6-1. The Flyers can have an overwhelming and highly entertaining style filled with counter-pressing and plenty of shooting opportunities. But VCU has not conceded more than one goal in a match in 13 games, in addition to six straight wins. The winner must dig deep in a matchup of two teams in exceptional form and varying tactical approaches. 

ASUN: No. 2 Bellarmine at No. 1 Lipscomb – Saturday, November 11th, 8 PM Eastern, ESPN+

In a rare occurrence, even if Bellarmine wins this game, it will not play in the NCAA tournament due to a bylaw that states a school newly converting to Division 1 athletics must wait four seasons before eligibility, which means 2025 for the Knights. The team will lack no motivation, especially knowing it gave up a 2-goal lead with 13 minutes remaining in a 3-2 loss to a Lipscomb side that is firmly among the most potent attacks in college soccer. 

Big East: No. 1 Georgetown vs. No. 2 Xavier – Sunday, November 12th, 11 AM Eastern, Fox Sports 1 

The two winners of the newly created Big East divisions meet as two of the most in-form teams in the country as they boast a combined 12-1-5 record in the last 18 games. Georgetown has corrected a leaky defense to start the season, and Xavier will want revenge for its loss to the Hoyas on September 23. 

Big South: No. 2 UNC Asheville at No. 1 High Point – Saturday, November 11th, 7 PM Eastern, ESPN+ 

High Point has not lost a Big South regular or post-season game to a team not named Campbell now in 63 games dating back to 2017 in a ridiculously dominant run. And with Campbell no longer in the conference, someone else must step up to the challenge of rival contenders. Otherwise, the Big South might as well be named the High Point Conference. 

Big Ten: No. 2 Penn State at No. 1 Indiana – Sunday, November 12th, 12 PM Eastern, Fox Sports App 

Having shared the regular season title with 14 points each, it is beyond fitting that these two meet in the final to decide who the true Big Ten champion is. And considering Indiana won a road game when these two met in the regular season, Penn State has a chance to return the favor. 

Big West: No. 4 UC Davis at No. 2 UC Irvine – Saturday, November 11th, 9 PM Eastern, ESPN+ 

With neither of these teams close to an at-large bid, a victory here is the only way into an NCAA tournament. There can be no favorites when the stakes are that high. 

Colonial Athletic: No. 2 Monmouth at No. 1 Hofstra – Saturday, November 11th, 7 PM Eastern, FloFC 

Another 1v2 matchup beckons as these regular season co-champions meet one last time. And as Hofstra is 9-0-1 at home this season, Monmouth must do what no other team has been able to do. 

Horizon League: No. 2 Wisconsin-Green Bay at No. 1 Oakland – Saturday, November 11th, 1 PM Eastern 

Green Bay and Oakland meet once again as a single point separated these two in the regular season. Green Bay won that match with one game left in the regular season, so Oakland will want revenge in silencing all doubts about who the better team is. 

Ivy League: No. 3 Yale vs. No. 4 Brown – Sunday, November 12th, 1 PM Eastern, ESPN+ 

With the two lower seeds winning, the Ivy League Championship will be played at a neutral site. These two played out a 0-0 draw to close out the regular season, but that game had five yellow cards in what was a heated affair. This final will be a grind that will likely go on into extra time.

Metro Atlantic: No. 3 Rider at No. 1 Iona University – Sunday, November 12th, 12 PM Eastern, ESPN+ 

As the runners-up of the previous two MAAC conference tournament championships, someone here will make amends. And if the regular season game where these two played to a 5-3 result is any indication, then viewers are in for a treat. 

Missouri Valley: No. 2 Missouri State at No. 1 Western Michigan – Saturday, November 11th, 1 PM Eastern, ESPN+ 

Missouri State has long needed a challenge in the Missouri Valley Conference, and the first year it got that through Western Michigan joining, the Bears failed to win the regular season title for the first time since 2018. They say to be careful what you wish for, and a win here would prove Missouri State has not been surpassed by its new rivals. This is a must-watch final in a game that will be highly physical and contentious.  

Northeast Conference: No. 4 Sacred Heart at No. 2 LIU – Sunday, November 12th, 12 PM Eastern, ESPN+ 

Sacred Heart has never won an NEC conference tournament title in what is a golden opportunity for this senior class to go out on a high. But the Sharks are clear favorites, with LIU losing just once in the prior ten games and defeating Sacred Heart away from home in the regular season. 

Ohio Valley: No. 2 Incarnate Word at No. 1 SIUE – Saturday, November 11th, 7 PM Eastern, ESPN+ 

The mixing and matching of the newly created Ohio Valley men’s soccer conference has seen teams who struggled in other leagues come in with a new vigor and path. SIUE is the perfect example of that, as a program that had not recorded a winning season since 2019 now stands as the lone undefeated men’s D1 soccer team in the country. Incarnate Word certainly benefitted as well, as the Cardinals have won seven games for the first time since 2015. Watch as these two meet in a historic final of new beginnings. 

Patriot League: No. 3 Lafayette at No. 1 Boston University – Saturday, November 11th, 1 PM Eastern, ESPN+ 

When these two met halfway through the regular season, Lafayette defended its home stadium with a 2-0 victory. Boston University will want revenge, especially with that as its only loss in the last 13 games. 

SoCon: No. 5 Mercer at No. 3 Furman – Sunday, November 12th, 2 PM Eastern, ESPN+

Conferences with few teams can produce strange results as the league season goes by in the flash of an eye, and an out-of-form week can produce unusual standings. All that to explain how three-seeded Furman and five-seeded Mercer ended up in the conference final. And with the two drawing 0-0 earlier in the year, there is no indication of what could happen here. 

Summit League: No. 4 UMKC vs. No. 3 Omaha – Saturday, November 11th, 3 PM Eastern, ESPN+ 

In another example of a small conference producing strange results, four of six Summit League teams qualify for the playoffs, meaning the first game is a semi-final. And with Omaha upsetting No. 2 Oral Roberts and UMKC doing the same to No. 1 Denver, the Summit League could send a 5-win team to the NCAA tournament. 

Sun Belt: No. 3 West Virginia at No. 1 Marshall – Sunday, November 12th, 1 PM Eastern, ESPN+ 

Revenge is a dish best served in West Virginia as Marshall is plenty motivated to make amends for losing to the Mountaineers, spoiling a No. 1 ranking and 15-win start to the season. But with West Virginia still capable of exploiting the Marshall backline with quick-hitting counters as it did last time, this is a must-watch final as two of the top 5 teams in the country battle again.  

WAC: No. 2 California Baptist at No. 4 UNLV – Saturday, November 11th, 4 PM Eastern, ESPN+ 

UNLV may be the lower seed, but because the WAC tournament is in a pre-selected location, the Rebels will be at home for this game. That creates an interesting dynamic against a California Baptist team unbeaten in five.

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