NCAA alters Division II regional playoff structure

Division II West Regional basketball teams might not be headed to Hawaii or Alaska for regional play after all. At least not all of them.

Monday the NCAA announced a change in its format for all Division II postseason tournaments, effective immediately.

If all seven non-host schools would be required to fly to the host site, the eight-team regionals would be broken up into two four-team tournaments at separate sites.

That is likely to happen in basketball because Brigham Young-Hawaii (16-1) is ranked first in the West Region on the men’s side while Alaska-Anchorage (22-1) is seeded first among the womens’ teams.

Both would probably have to lose multiple times to not be awarded top seeds. The Seasiders are 8-0 in region with Cal State Dominguez Hills a distant second at 13-4.
The gap is a little smaller on the women’s side with the Seawolves 11-0 in region and No. 2 UC San Diego 16-1.

The season isn’t quite over, but if it were to end today, those teams would be the only ones from their respective states to qualify, meaning the new rule would go into play immediately.
The change didn’t go over well with some coaches, most noteably Cal State San Bernardino men’s coach Jeff Oliver.

The Coyotes (13-7, 11-3) are No. 10 but should move up to eighth when the next poll is released on Wednesday.

“It’s a complete travesty,” he said. “It’s not good for any team that is a third through an eighth seed because now it is forcing you to beat two teams on their home floor. Six teams are at a huge disadvantage.”

Cal Poly Pomona is ranked in both polls with the women No. 5 and the men at No. 7.

All realize the move is a cost-cutting measure.

“Do I like it? No. Do I understand it? Yes,” Broncos women’s coach Scott David said. “I hope at the end of the season we are still in the mix and it is something I have to think about more.”

Men’s coach Greg Kamansky took the news in stride. He was more worried about having enough healthy players for Wednesday’s game against the Coyotes than what might happen later.

“I’ll go where ever they send me,” said Kamansky, who has just seven healthy players. “I will probably care more later if we’re still in the picture. It’s hard to think about that now.”

All three coaches agree that the worst part of that scenario is that it takes away from the postseason atmosphere.

“I know if I go and I lose I still want to watch the other games. I’m getting ready for next year and I want my players to see what level they need to play at,” Davis said.

“They’re always talking about the student-athlete experience. This will take away from that,” Oliver said. “So now you don’t have the eight-team banquet where all the schools are honored. You have two dinky four-team banquets. It just won’t be the same.”

Kamansky was the lone coach to find the bright spot.

“At least no one will have to worry about a noon game,” he said.

The regional tournament quarterfinals and semifinals would be held on March 13-14, with the winners advancing championship game on Tuesday, March 17 at the site of the highest remaining seed.