FHSU nen 6th in first set of NCAA Central Region Rankings

Photo courtesy FHSU Athletics

Photo courtesy FHSU Athletics

FHSU Sports Information

Fort Hays State men’s basketball is ranked sixth in the first set of NCAA Central Region Rankings, released on Wednesday (Feb. 19). The Tigers join four other MIAA schools in the top eight of the list. Eight teams are selected to play in the Central Regional of the NCAA Tournament at the end of the season, but automatic bids are given to teams that win conference postseason tournaments.

Fort Hays State is among a log jam of schools in the top six that have six or less losses overall. Fort Hays State is currently 20-4 overall, but has a Division II overall record of 18-4. FHSU is tied with Winona State, the top-ranked team in the region in terms of Division II record, which is also 18-4.

Minnesota State, the second-ranked team in the region, has the best overall Division II record among the 10 listed in the region rankings at 19-4, but the Mavericks lost both regular season meetings with Winona State, thus making WSU the top team in the region at this point.

Missouri Southern, which the Tigers defeated in Joplin earlier this year, is the No. 3 ranked team in the region, followed by Northwest Missouri State and Central Missouri. FHSU lost its only meetings with Northwest Missouri and Central Missouri earlier this year. Fort Hays State and Central Missouri have the best overall Division II records of the teams listed from the MIAA, despite being the two lowest ranked out of the cluster of four teams from the conference. FHSU is currently 2-2 against teams in the top 10 of the region rankings, 1-2 against the other MIAA teams and a win on No. 9 Southwest Minnesota State’s home floor.

Strength of schedule could be playing a big factor in the current rankings. Even though FHSU ran the table in its Division II non-conference schedule (7-0), a few of the non-conference opponents have turned out to be well below .500 in overall record this year. Unfortunately, that is a factor that cannot be controlled as the season moves on.

Eight teams will be selected to the NCAA Tournament from the region, but three automatic bids will be at stake from the MIAA, NSIC, and GAC. Teams outside the top 10 of the region rankings could steal a bid to the tournament by winning their conference tournament.

Below is the first set of rankings for the 2014 season. A new set of rankings will be released next Wednesday (Feb. 26).

Rank School Overall DII Record DII In-Region Record
1 Winona State 18-4 18-4
2 Minnesota State-Mankato 19-4 18-3
3 Missouri Southern State 14-5 12-5
4 Northwest Missouri State 15-6 15-5
5 Central Missouri 17-4 17-3
6 Fort Hays State 18-4 18-4
7 Arkansas Tech 15-6 15-6
8 Bemidji State 15-6 15-6
9 Southwest Minnesota State 15-9 15-9
10 St. Cloud State 14-7 14-7