GPAC Playoffs Determined this Week
The race for conference tournament positioning heats up tonight (Wednesday) as several games with implications on the GPAC race will be played.
On the men's side, Doane travels to Dana. A win tonight by the Tigers, combined with a loss by Briar Cliff to Sioux Falls would assure Doane a first round home game. The Tigers still have their eyes set on a higher seed but a lot has to shake out over the final two games.
In other men's action, Dakota Wesleyan hosts Dordt. This game will likely decide the third seed in the conference tournament. Dordt needs a win to bring DWU into a two-way tie. A win by Dakota Wesleyan assures they will be a top three seed. A loss by Dordt would drop the Defenders into a tie for fourth. Hastings is idle tonight and would move into a tie with Dordt if they lose. Morningside could also find themselves in a tie for fourth, however, the Mustangs travel to Northwestern College. The Red Raiders are tied for first place with Sioux Falls and need to win out to claim at least a share of the conference championship. A loss by Morningside, combined with a Doane win, would place the Tigers into a tie with Morningside. Last night, Concordia knocked off Midland Lutheran. The Bulldogs are tied with Mt. Marty for 11th place while the Warriors are only a half-game ahead of Briar Cliff for the eighth seed in the tournament.
Several games on Saturday will also impact the tournament standings. Doane plays host to Mt. Marty. Mt. Marty is trying to avoid the 12th seed in the tournament, which they currently hold as Concordia owns the tie-breaker.
Northwestern travels to Hastings as they try to keep pace with Sioux Falls. A loss by Hastings, combined with two Doane wins on the week, would move the Tigers into a tie with the Broncos. Hastings would own the tie-breaker with their win over Dordt. If Morningside is also a part of a Doane/Hastings tie, Hastings and Doane would be ahead of the Mustangs.
Sioux Falls travels to Concordia. The Bulldogs have been hot recently and will have upset in mind when the Cougars are in The Dawg House. Midland Lutheran travels to Mitchell, S.D., and will need to win for a shot to host a first round conference game. If Briar Cliff can knock of Sioux Falls on Wednesday evening, the Chargers will be in good shape as they travel to Lincoln to take on last place Nebraska Wesleyan. The Prairie Wolves are not eligible for the GPAC tournament due to their NCAA status.
For Doane, the Tigers control their own destiny: two wins could earn a sixth seed while two losses likely will put the Tigers on the road for the first round. It will likely take until Saturday evening to figure out who is playing where on the men's side of the tournament.
The women's side, although still a mess entering Wednesday, has more clarity than the men's tournament. The top five teams have separated themselves but seeding has yet to be established.
Doane cannot finish worse than a fifth seed, however, two wins does not guarantee a higher seed. With all the scenarios, the one that sounds the most ironic could plague the Tigers. Doane could finish in a tie for first place, however, that tie would be with four other teams. If that happens, Doane loses the tie-breaker and is the fifth seed.
The Tigers must win out in order to possibly get a higher seed and first round bye. A loss would make Doane the fifth seed in the GPAC and on the bubble for an at-large national tournament berth.
Wednesday will help unfold part of the GPAC picture. Morningside travels to Northwestern in a pivotal game for both teams. A win by Morningside guarantees at least a share of the conference title. A win by Northwestern keeps the Red Raiders in position for the title.
Doane plays at Dana. The Vikings still hold hope of a Top 10 finish in the GPAC. A loss could move the Vikings into last place.
Dordt travels to Dakota Wesleyan. The DWU Tigers are trying to move out of the cellar and still hold outside hopes of a Top Ten finish as well. A Dordt win would likely give the Defenders a first round home game.
Midland Lutheran will be in Seward to take on Concordia. A win by the Bulldogs will assure them of a No. 6 seed in the GPAC tournament. The Warriors still hold an outside chance at a top eight seed and first round home game. A loss, combined with a loss to Dakota Wesleyan on Saturday, could move the Warriors into last place by the end of the week.
Briar Cliff and Sioux Falls meet up, with the winner in prime condition to take the eighth seed in the tournament. Both teams are tied at 6-10 in the GPAC.
Saturday features two Top 25 match-ups, with Mt. Marty traveling to Doane and Northwestern traveling to Hastings. Mt. Marty will attempt to win their first GPAC crown. Northwestern, depending on how they fair against Morningside, could be playing for a conference championship or trying to avoid the fifth seed. Morningside has a bye for the final day of the season.
Sioux Falls travels to Concordia as the Cougars will try to claim home court advantage in the first round. Briar Cliff will face Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln as they try to keep pace with USF. Midland Lutheran will be at Dakota Wesleyan while Dana is at Dordt.
If both the Doane men and women are at home on Tuesday, February 20, the women will tip-off at 5:30 p.m. with the men tipping off at 8:00 p.m. If there is only one game on a single night, tip-off will be 7:30 p.m.