The defending NCAA Division II men's basketball champion Barton College Bulldogs have their work cut out for a return to the Elite Eight for a third consecutive year.
The first Div. II regional rankings came out today and Barton came in No. 10 in the East Region. While the rankings are merely a barometer of the current situation in the region, keep in mind that only eight teams can make it to the regional. The champions of Conference Carolinas, Pennsylvania State Athletic Association and the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Association plus five at-large teams from the region.
Right now, Mount Olive, Barton's Conference Carolinas archrival holds the top spot in the East poll as well as the conference standings by a half-game over Pfeiffer, No. 8. Another CC member, Queens, is ranked No. 2.
The Bulldogs could possibly host the regional if they were to run the table through the conference regular season and tournament. Of course, they can return to Springfield, Mass., and the Elite Eight if they win the East Regional tournament in March. But they'd probably have to do it away from "The Dog House," which has been a house of horrors for the other regional teams the past two years.
In the spirit of the times, to paraphrase a famous political slogan from years gone by, at least now the Bulldogs know where they stand.
NCAA Division II men's basketball regional rankings