Nov. 16, 2010

By Amy Farnum

Do you think you know which team will capture the 2010 NCAA Division II Championship? Take your best guess with the NCAA Bracket Challenge!

And, heres a little more information on the first-round match-ups to help you out:

Super Regional Three
No. 5 Hillsdale (9-2) at No. 4 St. Cloud State (9-2), 12 p.m. CT

St. Cloud State posted its best record since 2005 to earn the Huskies first NCAA playoff berth since 2004 behind Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Offensive Newcomer of the Year Phillip Klaphake. The redshirt first-year quarterback leads the squad in both passing and rushing. Klaphake has thrown for 23 TDs and is the first Husky signal-caller to collect over 2,000 yards passing since 2004. St. Cloud State is making its third NCAA playoff appearance.

Hilldale will make its second consecutive postseason appearance after finishing the regular season on a three-game winning streak in which the Chargers compiled 97 total points. The last time the Chargers made back-to-back postseason trips was 1985-86 when they were an NAIA school. Hillsdale is led by the schools all-time passing leader Troy Weatherhead, who tops the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in passing yards (255.91) and paces the nation in pass efficiency rating (173.97). Last year, the Chargers went on the road to Minnesota State-Mankato for the NCAA first round, and survived a 27-24 overtime battle to advance to the second round before ending their season against fellow GLIAC member Grand Valley State.

No. 6 Colorado School of Mines (9-2) at No. 3 Grand Valley State (10-1), 1 p.m. ET
The Orediggers are making their second NCAA playoff appearance, and first since 2004, after claiming the co-championship of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference with a thrilling 55-53 triple-overtime victory versus Nebraska-Kearney last weekend. CSM ranks sixth in the nation in passing offense with 360.64 yards per game led by quarterback Clay Garcia. The Orediggers won their first-ever NCAA playoff game in 2004 before falling to national runner-up Pittsburg State in second round action.

The Lakers have advanced to the NCAA playoffs for the 10th straight year - the only school in the nation to accomplish the feat after capturing their sixth consecutive GLIAC title. GVSU is making its 15th NCAA playoff appearance and has compiled a 28-10 mark all-time, and 27-5 record since 2001. The Lakers are 17-1 at home in NCAA playoff games since 2001. GVSU has won the NCAA title four times (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006), and finished as the national runner-up two other times, including last season. The Lakers are scoring 38.91 points per game, and rushing for 230 yards per game - both of which rank 10th in the nation.

Super Regional Four
No. 5 West Texas A&M (8-3) at No. 4 Central Missouri (9-2), 12 p.m. CT

The Buffaloes, who made four straight postseason appearances from 2005-08, have returned to the NCAA playoffs after a one-year absence fresh off a dominating 52-21 defeat over East Central in which they amassed a school single-game record 735 yards total offense. WTAMU ranks second in Division II in both passing (416.36) and total offense (529.18), while scoring 42.64 points per game for fourth in the nation behind senior quarterback Taylor Harris, who is a Harlon Hill Trophy finalist.

The Mules are back in the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 2002 with the help of stellar play by Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year Eriz Czerniewski. The senior quarterback, also a Harlon Hill Trophy finalist, led the league in passing with 4,150 yards (377.3 ypg) and 34 touchdowns. He is the conferences all-time leader in passing yards (11,790) and tops the nation in passing yards this season. UCM is hosting an NCAA playoff game for the first time in school history, and is making its second overall NCAA appearance.

No. 6 Missouri Western State (8-3) at No. 3 Northwest Missouri State (9-1), 12 p.m. CT
The Griffons have advanced to the NCAA playoffs for the second time in program history and first time since 2006 after concluding the regular season with three straight wins. For their efforts, the Griffons earned a rematch with defending national champion and fellow MIAA member Northwest Missouri State, which defeated Missouri Western 42-0 earlier this season. Northwest leads the series 20-10, and has won the last seven meetings, but this will be the first postseason match-up between the two schools.

The Bearcats are making their 15th NCAA playoff appearance and 13th in the last 15 seasons. They have advanced to the NCAA championship game in each of the last five years. After losing its season-opener to Lone Star Conference foe Texas A&M-Kingsville, Northwest has reeled off nine straight victories. With a win over the Griffons, the Bearcats will have a chance at redemption as second-seeded TAMUK awaits as a second-round opponent.

Super Regional Two
No. 5 Morehouse (8-2) at No. 4 Wingate (8-2), 12 p.m. ET

It will be a battle between two first-time NCAA playoff teams as the Maroon Tigers visit the Bulldogs in the first-ever meeting between the two programs. The Maroon Tigers finished in a three-way tie for second place in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings, and have a shot at a rematch with league champion and top-seeded Albany State if they can get past the Bulldogs. Morehouse ranks ninth in the nation in total defense (253.30 ypg), and tops Division II in turnover margin at 1.70.

Wingate claimed the schools first outright South Atlantic Conference title with a 6-1 mark behind the play of junior quarterback Cody Haffley, who ranks eighth in the nation with a 161.75 pass efficiency rating. The Bulldogs are throwing for 317.20 yards per game, also good for eighth in the nation.

No. 6 North Alabama (8-3) at No. 3 Valdosta State (8-2), 12 p.m. ET
The Lions and Blazers will clash in a rematch of Gulf South Conference foes - a meeting that Valdosta State won, 5-0, on October 14 on UNAs home field. The Blazers held the Lions to a UNA record low offensive output of 101 yards in that contest, however, the Lions are 10-5 all-time in rematch games.

North Alabama is making its sixth straight and 16th overall NCAA playoff appearance, and only its second bid with three losses in a season, although the three setbacks were by a combined seven points. VSU is making its 11th NCAA playoff appearance, and first since 2008. The two teams have tangled three previous times in the NCAA playoffs, and the Lions have won two, including a meeting in 2008.

Super Regional One
No. 5 Shaw (9-2) at No. 4 Shepherd (9-1), 12 p.m. ET

The Bears went unbeaten in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and then won the conference title game against Virginia State last weekend, holding VSU to just 132 yards of total offense. They have won eight straight games since starting the season with a 1-2 mark. Shaw ranks sixth in the nation with a pass efficiency defense of 98.29.

Shepherd went unbeaten in its first nine contests before suffering an upset loss to Glenville State on a last-minute TD pass last weekend in West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action. The Rams are fifth in the nation with a scoring average of 40.20 points per game, and rank first in the nation with a 1.70 turnover margin.

No. 6 Bloomsburg at No. 3 California (Pa.), 12 p.m. ET
Two Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference foes will meet for the sixth time since 2006, and second time in NCAA postseason play as the Vulcans and Huskies face off in an East vs. West meeting. The Huskies have advanced to the NCAA playoffs for the eighth time, and second appearance in the last three years, while the Vulcans are in the playoffs for the fourth straight season. In Bloomsburgs last appearance in 2008, Cal defeated the Huskies in the Super Regional One Championship, 27-24.

The Huskies rank sixth in the nation in rushing with 267.45 yards per game, and are scoring 38.73 points per game (11th). On the flip side, the Vulcans are ranked fourth or better in Division II in every defensive category, including rushing defense, allowing just 74 yards on the ground per game.