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NACE STARLEAGUE Conference Playoffs Outlook

NACE STARLEAGUE CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS OUTLOOK

We are coming down to the nitty gritty in the NACE Fall 2021 Varsity Call of Duty league. There is still plenty of money to be won here with an $8,000 prize pool! Which teams are still in the hunt? Which teams have locked down a spot in Conference Playoffs? With only 2 weeks left of regular season play, we’re going to take a look at the potential playoff candidates from each conference.

Conference playoffs take the #2 and #3 seeds in each conference, pit them against each other in a play-in, and winner plays the #1 seed for the Conference Championship.

East Conference

The most exciting race in the entire league is right here in the East Conference. Lebanon Valley College sits atop the standings at 7-0 (21-5) followed by the University of Akron at 6-1 (18-5), Old Dominion University 6-1 (17-9), and Stockton University at 5-2 (17-7).

Lebanon Valley College is pretty much a lock, regardless of the outcome in the next two weeks. They have the University of Akron this coming week (10/27/21) and Virginia Commonwealth University in the last week of the regular season. They just came off a thrilling 3-2 series victory over Old Dominion University last week and I don’t see them losing to Akron or VCU. In the possible event that the Zips pull off the upset, Lebanon Valley College will fall to 7-1, which won’t knock them out of the top 3 of the conference. I don’t see a scenario where they lose to VCU, so at worst, they finish 8-1.

The University of Akron holds their destiny in their hands. As mentioned above, they have the #1 team in the conference, Lebanon Valley College, next up on the schedule followed by a team that almost reverse swept that same team in Old Dominion University. If the Zips lose their next two games, and Stockton wins out, Akron could potentially be knocked out of the Top 3 as Stockton holds a 3-0 series win over their head from Week 3. If Akron can at least beat Old Dominion and Stockton University still wins out, this could serve for a spicy tiebreaker. Akron would be at 7-2 with a win over ODU and a loss to Stockton, ODU would be 7-2 with a win over Stockton but a loss to Akron and Stockton would be 7-2.

Old Dominion University is the only team (of the 4) with only one game left this season (11/3/21), as they have a BYE this coming week. They had an unfortunate circumstance of receiving a forfeit loss to rival, VCU, in Week 1 of the season. No doubt they would’ve taken that match against the Rams which would’ve put them in a much better position now. They need a win over Akron in Week 9 to all but guarantee them into the top 3 of the conference.

Stockton University, sitting at 5-2, has a 4-3 Shawnee State University in Week 8 and a 2-5 WVU PSC left on their schedule. If they want a shot at making the top 3, they need to win both matches and I expect them to do so. BUT, if they lose to Shawnee State (the only realistic scenario) and beat WVU PSC, they’ll end at 6-3. If Akron loses both their matches, they’ll be at 6-3. Stockton holds the tiebreaker over Akron. If Shawnee State wins out their next two games, they’d also be at 6-3 with a tiebreaker over Stockton but a loss to Akron for yet ANOTHER spicy tiebreaker that could come down to map differential.

This is the conference you want to keep your eyes on!

Northeast Conference

The Northeast Conference has been dominated by the Saints of St. Clair since the start of the season. They sit atop the standings comfortably at 7-0 (21-0). They’re followed by Utica College at 6-1 (19-3), University of Ottawa at 4-3 (12-10) and Ryerson University at 4-3 (12-10).

St. Clair College does face Utica College this coming week in a #1 vs. #2 conference matchup. I still fully expect the Saints to sweep this series over an Utica College team who has benefitted from a weak conference. Regardless, both teams are still guaranteed to make the conference playoffs, even if  Utica loses their next two games to fall to 6-3, as they have a tiebreaker over the University of Ottawa.

The game to watch here will be this week’s matchup between Ryerson University and the University of Ottawa. Both teams with identical 4-3 (12-10) records will face off to hopefully solidify a third place spot in the conference. Ryerson has a bye in Week 9 so uOttawa will need to win out vs. Ryerson and then a 3-4 University of Albany team to try to secure the #3 spot.

Southeast Conference

One of the better overall conferences in the league has the University of Central Florida atop the standings at 7-0 (21-1) followed by University of Tennessee-Knoxville at 6-1 (19-3), and then University of North Carolina Wilmington at 6-1 (18-7).

The Knights of UCF face off against Full Sail University in Week 8 and finish off their season against the Seahawks of UNCW. Although possible, I don’t see UCF losing either game. Worst possible scenario is they could be looking into a 3rd place finish at 7-2 after seeing what the rest of the conference does these next two weeks.

UTK should finish at 8-1 after they face a 4-3 Keiser Lakeland team and a 3-4 Midway University team. Their only loss comes to the University of Central Florida. I don’t see a world where UTK does not make the top 3 in the conference.

UNCW has a pretty guaranteed win in Week 8 when facing a 1-6 St. Andrews team and end with a match vs. UCF. At worst, they’ll finish with a 7-2 record if they can’t pull an upset over UCF. They hold the tiebreaker over Full Sail University after a 3-1 series win in Week 3.

Midwest Conference

This conference has their first three teams set. Illinois State University sits at #1 with a 7-0 (21-1) record followed by Minnesota State Mankato at 6-1 (19-4) and Northwood University at 6-1 (18-4). Trine University sits too far back at 4-3 with all their losses coming to the above teams. Only notable game left the rest of the season is the match of Illinois State vs. Minnesota State Mankato in Week 9 to potentially determine the order of the top 3 seeds. If Minnesota State beats Illinois State, they’d have the tiebreaker over them and a loss to Northwood. ISU would have the win over Northwood, but a loss to MN State.

Central Conference

This is another conference with the top 3 pretty much locked down. St. Edward’s University will finish this conference out as the #1 seed. They’re followed by Independence Community College at 6-1 (19-3) and rival, St. Mary’s University, at 5-2 (15-8).

Both SEU and ICC have nothing but “guaranteed” wins the rest of the season over weak teams to finish at #1 and #2. St. Mary’s has a BYE in Week 8 and Northwestern State University (4-3) in Week 9. I expect the Rattlers to beat NSU, but, just for fun, if NSU can win out their next two games vs. a 4-3 St. Ambrose and St. Mary’s, they could finish at 6-3 with a tiebreaker over St. Mary’s, who’d end at 6-3. University of Alabama-Huntsville could win out and also finish 6-3 with a win over Spring Hill University in Week 9. This would have St. Mary’s, UAH and Northwestern State all at 6-3 with St. Mary’s over UAH, UAH over Northwestern State, and Northwestern State over St. Mary’s.

It’s a possible outcome for the #3 spot, but I still expect St. Mary’s to win out vs. NSU and lock in #3.

West Conference

The top two in this conference are locked down with Arizona State University and Texas A&M International University both at 7-0 (21-0). They play each other in Week 9, the last week of the season, for an excellent topper to the season. Winner guarantees themselves the #1 seed and a bye in the conference playoffs.

The 3 seed right now is looking good for Boise State University who is expected to finish at 6-3 after a BYE and a CBC Cougar team who is 2-5. Even if Irvine Valley College, who is also expected to finish 6-3, the Broncos should be in as they have a 3-1 series win over IVC in Week 4 of the season.

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