IUP, W&J to compete in NCAA football tourneys
Indiana (Pa.)'s decisive victory in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference title game Saturday improved the Crimson Hawks' credibility in the eyes of the NCAA's Division II selection committee, but it failed to deliver the team a full array of postseason perks.
The 41-10 home blowout of Shippensburg allowed IUP (10-1), fifth in last week's Super Region One rankings, to receive the No. 3 seed in the regional bracket, which was released Sunday night.
The Crimson Hawks, playoff qualifiers for the first time since 2007, earned a home game to start the 24-team tournament. They'll host No. 6 Shepherd (8-2), the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion, on Saturday.
IUP coach Curt Cignetti proved himself capable as a prognosticator after his Crimson Hawks dominated Shippensburg (10-1), which entered the title game as the top team in the Super Region One rankings but fell to No. 4 in the bracket.
“You never know with the seedings, but we were No. 5, and we beat No. 1 pretty decisively, so I would think we'd bump up to some sort of home-field advantage,” Cignetti said following the championship win. “I would think that we'd get a No. 2 or 3.”
With a first-round win, IUP would advance to meet No. 2 New Haven (10-0).
Winston-Salem (11-0) received the top spot in the Super Region One. Other regional No. 1 seeds include Colorado State-Pueblo (11-0), Valdosta State (8-2) and Minnesota State-Mankato (11-0).
No other teams from the PSAC West division, including co-champ Mercyhurst (9-2), were selected.
Washington & Jefferson's upset win over Waynesburg in the final week of the regular season altered the fate of both teams.
The Presidents (8-2), who won, 31-14, on the road, claimed the Presidents' Athletic Conference championship because of their head-to-head edge over the Yellow Jackets, earning an automatic bid to the Division III playoffs. They drew a first-round matchup with Centennial Conference champ Johns Hopkins (9-1), which will host the game Saturday.
Waynesburg (9-1), a team ranked No. 13 in the country prior to the loss to W&J Saturday, not only watched its conference title hopes disappear but also squandered a playoff spot. The Yellow Jackets did not grab one of the eight at-large berths in the 32-team tournament.
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-543-1303.