ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

FRIEZ COLUMN: A Bemidji State football fan’s guide to this week’s rooting interests

How can the Beavers maximize their chance at the highest possible seed and a favorable postseason path? And what about winning the NSIC championship? Let’s map it all out.

092921.S.BP.BSUFOOT Fans.jpg
Bemidji State fans cheer on the Beavers during a 2021 game against Augustana at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer
We are part of The Trust Project.

When the football season begins, the field is so broad, so open, so full of possibilities.

But not anymore.

With one week left in the regular season, NCAA Tournament hopefuls all across the country are vying to make their closing arguments to the selection committee.

For the Bemidji State football team, the formula is pretty simple: win, and they’re in.

But how can the Beavers maximize their chance at the highest possible seed and a favorable postseason path? And what about winning the NSIC championship?

ADVERTISEMENT

Let’s map it all out: Here is a BSU fan’s ultimate guide to Saturday’s rooting interests.

Bemidji State beats U-Mary

111721.S.BP.BSUFB Offensive line.jpg
The Bemidji State offensive line readies for the snap on a snow-covered field in the second quarter against U-Mary on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

This is a pretty obvious first step. The Beavers (8-2) likely have to beat U-Mary (2-8) in order to make the NCAA Tournament field, and a victory of course increases their odds at climbing up in the Super Region Four rankings. (Not to mention, a 30-point win looks much better than a one-score win.)

But after that, plenty of moving parts have yet to settle.

Bemidji State is currently No. 4 in the Super Region Four rankings. The rest of the field is as follows: No. 1 Angelo State (10-0), No. 2 Colorado School of Mines (8-2), No. 3 Minnesota State (8-2), No. 5 Winona State (8-2), No. 6 Wayne State (8-2), No. 7 Sioux Falls (7-3), No. 8 Colorado State Pueblo (7-3), No. 9 Minnesota Duluth (7-3) and No. 10 Augustana (6-4).

With a little bit of luck, BSU could jump another spot or two when the NCAA Tournament field is revealed at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13, at www.ncaa.com.

Pick your poison: Minnesota State or Winona State?

092122.S.BP.BSUFOOT Brandon Alt.jpg
Bemidji State junior Brandon Alt (10) hands off the ball to Jalen Frye (1) during the second quarter against Winona State on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The big-ticket game of the week is between Minnesota State and Winona State. Both teams are 8-2 and respectively rank No. 3 and No. 5 in the super region, with BSU right in between.

Admittedly, this is a little bit of a double-edged sword. Could a WSU win knock Mankato below Bemidji State, or would it be too impressive and send the Warriors above the Beavers? Conversely, would a Mavericks win eliminate any chance of BSU being the top-ranked NSIC team?

My best guess, based on this week’s regional rankings, is that Bemidji State will land right below the winner and somewhere above the loser. But because of head-to-head results ( MSU beat BSU 37-34 in Week 1, while BSU beat WSU 34-24 in Week 3), I think it’s a safer bet to root for the Mavericks in this one.

ADVERTISEMENT

Here’s why: Winona State’s resume already features wins over regionally-ranked Wayne State, Sioux Falls and Augustana, and another victory over Minnesota State likely puts them above the Beavers; but I also fear that a close Mankato loss won’t deter the selection committee from keeping them ranked ahead of Bemidji State by virtue of their head-to-head victory. It’s unlikely, but I wouldn’t be interested in leaving it up to chance.

If the Mavericks were to win, I don’t see a three-loss Warriors team supplanting the Beavers in any way.

But, hey, if you’re feeling lucky, forget everything I said, root for Winona State and hope BSU can land that No. 3 seed. After all, facing Angelo State -- the No. 2 team in the country -- in the second round isn’t exactly a favorable matchup.

The good news for Bemidji State is that one of those teams will have three losses by the end of the day.

The rest of the NSIC

102622.S.BP.BSUFOOT Spencer Wehr.jpg
Bemidji State junior Spencer Wehr (9) chases down Minnesota Duluth's Wade Sullivan during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The rest of the NSIC South contenders face below-average competition, and none are particularly likely to fall victim to an upset. But still, root for Minnesota State Moorhead to beat Wayne State, Upper Iowa to beat Sioux Falls, and Southwest Minnesota State to beat Augustana.

Minnesota Duluth also appeared in this week’s rankings at No. 9, but it’s in the Beavers’ best interest that the Bulldogs win against a respectable Northern State team. The quality of Bemidji State’s head-to-head victory over UMD improves the longer that Minnesota Duluth is in the super region conversation.

Now, if you’re thinking about an NSIC championship for BSU, here’s how that shakes out.

If the Beavers beat U-Mary, they win the NSIC North Division championship outright and a share of the NSIC overall championship. Whoever else wins between Minnesota State, Winona State and Wayne State would share the overall crown with Bemidji State, with the title then ending up as either a two- or three-way tie.

ADVERTISEMENT

BSU can also lose and still win the North Division title outright with a Minnesota Duluth loss.

The rest of Super Region Four

120121.S.BP.BSUFOOT Brandon Alt.jpg
Bemidji State's Brandon Alt (10) throws the football during an NCAA Tournament game against Colorado School of Mines on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Golden, Colo.
BSU photo

Only three non-NSIC schools cracked the latest Super Region Four rankings, but they’re some of the heavyweights in Division II.

Top-ranked and undefeated Angelo State won’t be budging from that top spot. They play 6-4 Midwestern State on Saturday and will receive their first-round bye on Sunday.

Second-ranked Colorado Mines, the team that beat Bemidji State in last year’s playoffs, is one of five 8-2 teams in the super region. The Orediggers are ranked No. 11 in the country and play 0-9 Fort Lewis this weekend, so don’t put too many eggs in this basket, either.

Eighth-ranked Colorado State Pueblo ends the regular season against Black Hills State in a matchup of 7-3 teams. If the Beavers don’t beat U-Mary, it’ll be a very stressful selection show, but a loss from the region’s eighth-ranked team would at least add an ounce of additional breathing room, so root for Black Hills State here.

Micah Friez is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he worked at the Pioneer from 2015-23 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing.
What To Read Next
A three-time CCHA Rookie of the Week honoree during the month of January, Lleyton Roed paced all league freshmen with eight points off two goals and six assists in eight games.
Hans Martin Ulvebne, who recently committed to the Beavers, could become the first player from Norway on the Bemidji State men's hockey roster in its Division I era.
And why shouldn’t she? Indiana brings a 20-1 record and No. 4 national ranking into Wednesday’s game at the Barn
The junior forward from Grand Rapids averaged a double-double, compiling 21.5 points and 11 rebounds per game in Bemidji State's weekend split against Southwest Minnesota State and Sioux Falls.