Villanova was looking forward to Selection Sunday and by that I don’t mean for March Madness. The football team locked up a first-round bye with their dramatic last-minute win against Delaware. The only thing left was to wait and see where they would land in the bracket. The 10-2 Wildcats boast one of the best offenses in the FCS, led by one of the top playmakers in the NCAA. John Robertson has made the magic happen this season and he did it again against Delaware. The Wildcats have hung around in the top ten for most of the season. Their stellar résumé only features a small pair of blemishes – two one-point losses to Syracuse and Richmond. Other than that, they have been great this year. The Wildcats will look to put their past mistakes behind them as they gear up for a whole new beast altogether, the postseason. They’ll have one week to rest and strategize, as they await to see who wins the James Madison-Liberty matchup. The winner of that game will have the luxury of traveling to face Villanova at home on December 6th, where they are undefeated this season.
The Wildcats will be joined by three other CAA teams. As mentioned, James Madison will be in the tournament field and will have a chance for a rematch with the Wildcats. The Dukes are led by Vad Lee, the transfer from Georgia Tech, who has had an immediate impact on the offense as a dual-threat quarterback. James Madison finished 9-3 in the regular season and had a pair of key wins over William & Mary and a road win at Richmond.
Another team that captured an at-large bid is the Richmond Spiders. The Spiders lost Michael Strauss, but have been getting good production out of Michael Rocco and their defense. Their key wins include beating William & Mary on the road and the one-point win over Villanova that launched them up the rankings. The Spiders also went toe-to-toe with the eventual CAA champions New Hampshire, losing 29-26. A real head scratcher is the fact that James Madison blew them out on their homecoming. They will take on another Villanova opponent, Morgan State in the opening round. The winner will go on to play Coastal Carolina.
The final CAA team is definitely deserving of their ranking. The other Wildcats went undefeated in FCS and conference play, earning them a CAA title. After a blowout loss to the Toledo Rockets of the FBS, they have won every game since. New Hampshire moved up to #1 in the FCS and have retained that ranking for the last few weeks. Due to their accomplishments thus far, they were named the #1 overall seed of the tournament. They will host the winner of Fordham-Sacred Heart.
The Top 8 Seeds are:
1. New Hampshire
2. North Dakota State
3. Jacksonville State
4. Eastern Washington
5. Illinois State
7. Coastal Carolina
Schedule & Bracket:
Opening Round, Saturday, November 29
Fordham vs. Sacred Heart, 12 p.m.
Eastern Kentucky vs. Indiana State, 1 p.m.
Richmond vs. Morgan State, 1 p.m.
Sam Houston State vs. SE Louisiana, 2 p.m.
Montana vs. San Diego, 4 p.m.
James Madison vs. Liberty, 4 p.m.
Montana State vs. South Dakota State, 4 p.m.
UNI vs. Stephen F. Austin, 8 p.m.
Second round, Saturday, December 6
#1 New Hampshire vs. Fordham/Sacred Heart, 1 p.m.
#7 Coastal Carolina vs. Richmond/Morgan State, 1 p.m.
#8 Chattanooga vs. Eastern Kentucky/Indiana State, 1 p.m.
#5 Illinois State vs. UNI/Stephen F. Austin, 2 p.m.
#3 Jacksonville State vs. Sam Houston State/SE Louisiana, 2 p.m.
#2 North Dakota State vs. Montana State/South Dakota State, 4p.m.
#4 Eastern Washington vs. Montana/San Diego, 4 p.m.
#6 Villanova vs. James Madison/Liberty, 4:30 p.m.
Quarterfinals, Saturday, December 12 – Sunday, December 13
Semifinals, Saturday, December 19 – Sunday, December 20
National Championship Game, Saturday, January 10
Bracket (Click to Zoom):