Here’s a look at our four leagues and how the races for titles are playing out – obviously the Jayhawk is a little unique because of a postseason tournament. It’s far enough into the season that I feel like we can safely say what teams are still in the hunt, what teams are hoping for a miracle and what teams have no hope – relying more on math than emotion, hopefully.
Still in the hunt: Butler (7-0 overall, 5-0 Jayhawk), No. 12 Hutchinson (6-1, 5-0). If they both can win this weekend, they’ll play for the regular-season title on Oct. 27 and then, possibly, again for the Region VI title on Nov. 11. The Grizzlies have national-title hopes, and if the Blue Dragons win out they’ll have them, too.
Hoping for a miracle: Coffeyville (5-2, 4-1). Red Ravens would need to pull off one of the biggest upsets in school history on Saturday in El Dorado to stay in the race.
No hope: Garden City (5-2, 3-2), Fort Scott (3-4, 3-3), Independence (3-5, 1-5), Highland (1-6, 1-5), Dodge City (0-7, 0-6). Broncbusters might prefer another shot at Hutchinson in Region VI playoffs after a 63-49 loss to the Blue Dragons on Sept. 8.
Still in the hunt: Emporia State (7-0 overall, 7-0 MIAA), Washburn (6-1, 6-1), Northwest Missouri (6-1, 5-1), Missouri Western (6-1, 5-1), Pittsburg State (5-1, 5-1). League champion will likely have one loss … maybe two. Emporia State faces Missouri Western, Northwest Missouri and Washburn over final three weeks.
Hoping for a miracle: Central Missouri (5-2, 5-2), Missouri Southern (5-2, 4-2), Lindenwood (5-2, 4-2)
No hope: Truman (4-3, 3-3), Fort Hays State (2-5, 2-5), Central Oklahoma (1-6, 1-6), Lincoln (1-6, 1-6), Southwest Baptist (1-6, 1-6), Northeastern State (0-6, 0-6), Nebraska-Kearney (0-7. 0-7). Rough introduction to MIAA newbies Central Oklahoma, Lincoln and Northeastern State.
Still in the hunt: Tabor (5-2 overall, 4-1 KCAC), Ottawa (4-2, 4-1), Kansas Wesleyan (4-3, 4-1), Friends (4-3, 3-2), Southwestern (4-3, 3-2), McPherson (3-3, 3-2). None of these teams play each other over the final month. Tabor is ranked No. 22 and has two weeks off before finishing the regular season at Southwestern on Nov. 3 and hosting Friends in the regular-season finale on Nov. 10. Win those two, and they’re in the NAIA playoffs. Ottawa’s toughest game remaining is at home against Friends. KWU has the toughest road of the three teams with games at Southwestern and Saint Mary and at home against McPherson.
Hoping for a miracle: Saint Mary (2-5, 2-3). Far-fetched, but not impossible.
No hope: Bethany (2-5. 1-4), Sterling (1-5, 1-4), Bethel (0-6, 0-5). Evidence of what kind of season this has been – Swedes were far and away preseason favorite … right up until this.
Still in the hunt: Missouri Valley (6-0 overall, 5-0 HOA), Evangel (5-2, 4-1), MidAmerica Nazarene (4-2, 4-1), Baker (5-2, 4-2), Benedictine (5-2, 3-2). Last man standing. Will be fun to watch, and the HOA seems almost certain to get two NAIA playoff bids.
Hoping for a miracle: Graceland (4-3, 3-2)
No hope: Central Methodist (2-5, 2-4), Peru State (3-4, 1-4), Avila (2-5, 1-4), Culver-Stockton (0-7, 0-7