There are actually 32 DII women's colleges heading to the first round of nationals on April 6-7; however, RugbyMag.com's rankings is sticking to the Top 20 for now. Once the Round of 32 has concluded, and we can gauge relatively untested teams against better known entities, then we'll entertain expanding the rankings.
Not too much movement since the last ranking, with the exception of UC Santa Cruz's addition. The former DII champs looked back to form and won the West Coast after a 7-5 league-ender against Humboldt. Both West Coast teams head to national playoffs, with UCSC taking on Washington State at home, and Humboldt traveling to Southern California to face that conference winner (TBD this weekend).
CSU Northridge is Humboldt's most likely contender; however, we're keeping an eye on CSU Long Beach, which played the 8-0 team to a 17-7 loss.
The South, True South and Carolinas are also contesting conference championships this weekend. Appalachian State killed it in the fall and continued with a perfect record during spring league; however, a slew of forfeits and cancellations may have slowed their momentum. We're keeping an eye on the College of Charleston, which has been the team to beat in that area for the last few years, and continues that tradition in 2013. Lee has typically been the strongest South team in the last couple of years, but a couple of long-term injuries may have hurt this year's chances.
The rest of the country is desperately trying to bank some friendlies, gearing up for nationals. Some have been extremely successful, like Mary Washington, which is 5-1 in 2013. Others, like 2012 finalist Winona, have not. Snow cancellations have riddled their pre-season build-up (see photo), and it's very likely they could go into their Round of 32 having not played a game in over a month.
Lack of games is one reason we knocked AIC down a couple of pegs. Despite being a young team that's still finding their groove, they'll only play one 15s match (against Amherst College this Saturday) before the Round of 32.
And finally, we would have liked to bump up Buffalo a couple more pegs, after their near-win over DI Boston University in last weekend's Four Leaf 15s final, but didn't want to weight tournament play too heavily.
This weekend will provide some clarity as to teams' relative strength, so be on the lookout for next week's rankings.
WOMEN'S DII COLLEGE TOP 20 - MARCH 27, 2013
1 (1) Washington State (6-0). Cascade Conference champion; plays Mesa State in R32
2 (2) Winona (7-0). Northern Lights champion. Lost to DI Northern Iowa 34-19
3 (3) Quinnipiac (10-0). Won Tri-State Conference
4 (4) Mary Washington (7-0). Top seed in Virginia; 5-1 this year already
5 (5) Grand Valley (7-0). Great Lakes champion; defeated DI Notre Dame 49-7 in pre-season
6 (6) CSU Northridge (8-0). Top seed in Southern California
7 (7) Temple (7-0). Was originally barred from post-season until USA Rugby reversed their decision in January; best team in MARC
8 (8) Utah Valley (5-1). Rocky Mountain champion
9 (9) Shippensburg (3-2). Defeated American University 24-5 in a friendly
10 (12) Bowdoin (7-0). Won NESC championship; plays AIC in Round of 32
11 (unr) UC Santa Cruz (4-1). Won West Coast; defeated Humboldt 7-5 in league-ender
12 (11) Humboldt (3-1). Finished 2nd in West Coast; lost league-ender 7-5 to UC Santa Cruz
13 (10) American International College (4-0). Won New England; first game March 30 v Amherst; plays Bowdoin in Round of 32
14 (13) Appalachian State (6-0). Defeated a bunch of South D1 teams in fall; won Pool A of Carolinas but lots of games forfeited in their favor
15 (15) St. Michael's (8-1). Won Rugby Northeast over Stonehill 17-10; plays SUNY Cortland in Round of 32
16 (16) Albany (6-1-1). 2nd in Tri-State Conference.
17 (14) Stonehill (8-1). Second in Rugby Northeast
18 (17) UW La Crosse (7-0-1). Great Waters champion.
19 (20) Buffalo (7-0). Won Empire State Conference. Finished 2nd to DI Boston University at Four Leaf 15s
20 (18) Lee University (2-0). Played a solid 6-2 fall.