Final DII Men Top 50
Final DII Men Top 50
The finals weekend of the Men's DII college playoffs produced little in the way of surprises. Goff Rugby Report had Minnesota-Duluth at #1 all fall and they didn't disappoint, winning it all.
After Towson defeated Salisbury early in the fall, we bumped Wisconsin-Whitewater to #2 and they stayed there, rightly so, through the rest of the season and finished runners up in the playoffs.
Notre Dame College was a shade closer to Whitewater in the semis than James Madison was against Duluth, and that showed in the result of the 3rd/4th game, so Notre Dame, which had been moving up all fall, moves past JMU for #3.
Some other moves in the rankings are based on the overall performance od a conference, or the teams in the playoffs. Notre Dame's success brings up IUP. We looked at the results again and felt UW-Lacrosse, Winona, and Fairfield deserved a bump. With Gonzaga and Eckerd really NSCRO teams, we dropped them out and brought in a team from Minnesota and a team from Wisconsin - Mankato and UW-Platteville.
That settles your top 50. Of those top 50, it seems as if the top seven or eight are very strong, and then there's a bit of a slide-off. But even so, generally DII was a competitive division this year, if you don't worry about the top two teams. Duluth and Whitewater dominated their leagues. The two teams, in league and playoff rugby, won 22 games and lost 1 (UWW to UMD). They averaged 63 points per game and 9 points allowed (68-8 if you don't count the game they played against each other). No one was really close to them.
So perhaps we should rank them #1, and #2, with Notre Dame #4 and no #3. That's being a bit petty. More to the point is the constant question about whether these programs should move up to DI. They shouldn't, in our opinion, and here's why:
They would have no one to play. The most obvious DI conference for both teams would be the Big Ten, but they wouldn't be accepted into the Big Ten. So, the next option might be joining the DIA Mid-South. That would be a wonderful conference in rugby terms, but neither team has the funding to fulfill a schedule like that.
What is DII? Ideally, a DII program is one from a school that is smaller than most DI programs, isn't varsity (or if it is, is either just getting started, or very small), and doesn't have significant funding. By those measurements, UM-Duluth and UW-Whitewater are classic DII programs. They have male undergraduate enrollments of between 5,000 and 6,000, which isn't large at all. They are not varsity, and are not well-funded, although they enjoy some on-campus support thanks to their success.
You might look at the team's status in other sports. Both Whitewater and Duluth are DII or DIII schools in football.
So the message to everyone else really should be, get better. There's nothing special about Duluth or Whitewater other than the commitment of their players and their coaches. You could create an equally strong team at Mankato or Illinois State, North Dakota State or Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It takes a lot of work, but it's completely possible.
Having said that, we wonder if you could create a DIAA conference that includes Whitewater, Stout, Duluth, Illinois State, Northern Iowa, St. Louis, Principia, and Winona. That would be a pretty nice conference, but again, while we're talking adjacent states here, we're talking very large adjacent states. The travel would be very difficult. Or, you could create a series of invitational weekends for some of these top teams to play otugh games while fielding their B sides in league play. Duluth's 2nds played in Division 4 in Minnesota this fall. You guessed it, they went 5-0.
But it comes down to this - Duluth and Whitewater are the best in the country not because they have the most money (they don't), the best athletes (they are basically a bunch of local kids), or some fancy secret. They are best because they have a gorup of players and coaches who decided they wanted to be the best, every year. Those of you in the Northern Lights or WIIL who wish they'd move up so you can win your league are thinking about it all wrong. Duluth and Whitewater are proof that you can get there, despite the obstacles common to American rugby. It takes an enormous amount of work, but it IS the answer.
Want to win DII? Get better.
|Goff Rugby Report 2014-15 Men DII College Rankings #11|
|1||1||Minnesota-Duluth (Minn.)||Defeated James Madison (3), UW-Whitewater (2)|
|2||2||UW-Whitewater (Wisc.)||Defeated Notre Dame (4), lost to UMD (1)|
|3||4||Notre Dame College (Ohio)||Lost to UWW (2), defeayed JMU (3)|
|4||3||James Madison (Va.)||Lost to UMD (1), Notre Dame (4)|
|8||8||Grand Valley State (Mich.)||Idle|
|11||11||St. Louis (Mo.)||Idle|
|13||13||Illinois State (Ill.)||Idle|
|15||15||UNC Wilminton (NC)||Idle|
|16||16||Northern Iowa (Iowa)||Idle|
|22||19||Old Dominion (Va.)||Idle|
|23||20||UMass Lowell (Mass.)||Idle|
|24||21||Roger Williams (RI)||Idle|
|25||22||Colorado College (Colo.)||Idle|
|27||26||East Stroudsburg (Pa.)||Idle|
|29||29||Central Connecticut (Conn.)||Idle|
|30||30||SUNY Oswego (NY)||Idle|
|32||32||Buffalo State (NY)||Idle|
|35||35||Plymouth State (NH)||Idle|
|36||36||Salve Regina (RI)||Idle|
|38||38||Rhode Island (RI)||Idle|
|39||39||East Carolina (NC)||Idle|
|43||42||Sacred Heart (Conn.)||Idle|
|45||44||Louisiana Tech (La.)||Idle|
|50||50||Saginaw Valley State (Mich.)||Idle|