By BRAD KEITH
(February 25, 2016) — It appears strength of schedule is helping members of the deep Lone Star Conference.
It’s certainly helping Tarleton State, for one, and is most definitely hurting Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference front runner Fort Lewis (Colo.).
Tarleton jumped three spots to No. 4 in the latest South Central Region rankings, released Wednesday by the NCAA Division II Championship Committee. Tarleton defeated Eastern New Mexico on the road and regionally-ranked West Texas A&M since the first poll came out one week prior.
The Texans conclude their regular season Saturdag in an important game loaded with LSC Championship seeding and regional ranking implications at Texas A&M-Commerce on Saturday. Well at least for Tarleton. A&M-Commerce enters the 6 p.m. contest at The Field House with little to play for – on paper, at least – as the Lions are locked into the No. 6 seed in the upcoming LSC Championship that they must win in order to reach the regional tournament.
Midwestern State has secured at least a share of the LSC regular season title for the seventh time in 10 years and is the newly-minted No. 1 in the region after knocking off prior top-ranked Angelo State, which dropped to No. 2.
Fort Lewis is No. 3 in the poll despite having the best record in the region with two less losses than any other South Central competitor. The only other RMAC team in the top 10 of the region is No. 5 Colorado School of Mines.
Heartland Conference teams hold down the four of the final five spots in the top 10. No. 6 is Dallas Baptist which lost and fell from the No. 2 spot. No. 7 is Lubbock Christian, No. 8 Arkansas-Fort Smith and No. 10 St. Edward’s.
West Texas A&M represents the LSC at No. 9.
The regional rankings will be released again next Wednesday as the LSC, Heartland and RMAC each begin conference tournaments, with champions receiving automatic bids into the regional tournament. The LSC Championship is again at the Allen Event Center.
Tarleton has reached the South Central Regional each of the past six years and 12 of the last 14 seasons. The Texans won regional championships in 2005, 2006 and last year.