The last season of the men’s Division I regular season is upon us. The at-large berths will be handed out to programs on Monday while the rest of the field will be filled out with the automatic qualifiers from this week’s games.
Stanford is already in after clinching the Pac-12 title last week. The Cardinal championship takes a bit of drama away from the games on the West Coast this weekend, but it should still be an exciting end to the 2016 regular season campaign.
Portland (11-5-1) is on the hot seat this weekend. The Pilots suffered a bit of a setback last week with road losses to Denver and Pacific. However, Portland still has a chance at claiming an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament with a win over Saint Mary's (CA)(m) on Saturday night. It’d be a incredible story for Portland to win the WCC and qualify for the NCAA Tournament in Nick Carlin-Voigt’s first season in charge of the Pilots.
Portland is No. 47 in the RPI entering the weekend, which puts a lot of pressure on the Pilots to claim a win against the Gaels and earn that automatic berth to the Big Dance. Saint Mary’s with an RPI at No. 59 is on the outside of the bubble looking in, but the team could play the spoiler role and then hope for the lucky breaks.
Mercer (12-6) is another team on the bubble heading into the weekend. The SoCon program takes on Wofford on Thursday in a must-win game for both teams. Both teams are outside of the NCAA Tournament projection at this point, but a run in the conference tournament could change the outlook of the season for both.
After a loss to Air Force last week, Seattle (11-5-2) finds itself in a precarious spot in the final days of the regular season. The Pacific Northwest program takes on the winner of CSU Bakersfield and Air Force on Friday in the WAC semifinal on Thursday. With an RPI at No. 62 heading into the weekend, Seattle likely needs to win the semifinal and the final to claim the automatic berth since the at-large spots looks like a distant dream at this point.
In the MAC, Bowling Green (9-5-3) and Buffalo (11-3-3) are looking to settle a score on Friday. The Bulls and the Falcons are hoping to unseat Akron in the conference, but they need to battle each other first. Both programs have enjoyed great seasons, but they look unlikely to receive at-large berths so Friday’s game could be the end of the line for one of them.
Games to Watch