The road to the DII Men’s Elite Eight is a five-month journey that culminates with the DII men’s basketball championship tournament. Sixty-four teams begin the battle every March, but only one comes out the victor.
Let’s take a look at how the DII men’s basketball tournament works.
When did the DII men’s basketball tournament begin?
You can date the tournament back to 1957 when it was the NCAA College Division Basketball Championship. Wheaton (Ill) finished off its 28-1 season by defeating Kentucky Wesleyan 89-65 in Evansville, Indiana for the first national championship. It would remain that way — and in Evansville — until 1974, when Morgan State defeated Missouri State 67-52 in what is considered the first official Division II basketball championship. By 1982, NCAA DII was rolling with both men's and women's sports, and with the DII women’s basketball tournament joining into the mix, the tournament was coined the DII men’s basketball championship.
How do teams get into the DII men’s basketball tournament?
Like March Madness on the Division I level, there are 64 teams that enter the DII men’s basketball tournament. Of those 64 teams, 23 enter the bracket as automatic qualifiers from winning their respective conference tournaments. Those 23 conferences are split up into eight regions. It looks like this:
|Atlantic||CIAA, MEC, PSAC (Independent — 2)*|
|Central||GAC, MIAA, NSIC|
|East||CACC, ECC, NE10|
|Midwest||GLIAC, GLVC, G-MAC, (Independent — 1)*|
|South||GSC, SIAC, SSC (Independent — 3)*|
|South Central||LSC, RMAC|
|Southeast||CC, PBC, SAC|
|West||CCAA, GNAC, PacWest|
(* = Independents do not receive automatic bids)
So, where do the other 41 teams come from? You could say the process begins three weeks before the season ends. This is when the NCAA releases its first regional rankings. Those rankings, released every Wednesday over the final three weeks of the season, give us an idea of the top eight teams in each region.
Once the conference tournaments are complete and the 23 automatic bids are resolved, the DII men’s basketball selection committee goes to work. What are the criteria they are looking for?
It starts with the won-lost record in Division II which needs to be .500 or better while having competed against at least 22 DII men's basketball programs. If the program qualifies, next the committee looks at the following.
- In-region winning percentage
- DII winning percentage
- Strength of schedule against DII programs
- Head-to-head wins and losses against DII programs
- Results against common DII opponents
- Performance indicator
- Record vs. ranked teams
Once the committee comes to its consensus 41 at-large teams, the bracket is announced in a Selection Show on NCAA.com the Sunday before the tournament begins.
What does the DII men’s basketball championship bracket look like?
The championship bracket is set up like the traditional 64-team bracket we have become accustomed to thanks to March Madness. Two regions are placed in four separate quadrants. Play begins in eight single-elimination regional tournaments. The eight regional champions emerge as the DII Men’s Elite Eight and head to a final site for the remainder of the three rounds of play.
Beginning with the 2016 DII Men’s Elite Eight field, the remaining teams were seeded Nos. 1 through 8. The 2019 season was the first time that lower seeds advanced to semifinals play, as three of the four lower seeds accomplished the feat.
Important dates for the 2021-22 DII men’s basketball tournament
Here are the dates you need to know for the coming DII men’s basketball championship.
|Event||Date||How to watch||City|
|Selection show||March 6, 2022||NCAA.com||N/A|
|Regional tournaments||March 12,13 and 15, 2022||N/A||Eight host sites (No. 1 seeds)|
|Elite Eight||March 22, 24 and 26 2022||NCAA.com | CBS Sports||Evansville, IN|
DII men’s basketball history
Wheaton was able to defeat Kentucky Wesleyan for that first national championship in 1957. Kentucky Wesleyan apparently took that personally. Since that loss, it has become the all-time winningest championship team in DII men’s basketball history with eight titles to its name.
Northwest Missouri State won the most recent championship in 2021, the Bearcats third in four years. The 2019 team also became just the fifth DII men’s basketball team to finish a season undefeated, ending 38-0 and joining Evansville (1965), Cal State Bakersfield (1993), Fort Hays State (1996), and Findlay (2009) in the exclusive club.
UNDEFEATED SEASON: We tracked the 2018-19 Bearcats season
You can take a look at the programs with the most DII men’s basketball championships here and see the complete championship game history below.
|2023||Nova Southeastern||Jim Crutchfield||111-101||West Liberty||Evansville, Ind.|
|2022||Northwest Missouri State (35-5)||Ben McCollum||67-58||Augusta||Evansville, Ind.|
|2021||Northwest Missouri State (28-2)||Ben McCollum||80-54||West Texas A&M||Evansville, Ind.|
|2020||No tournament (COVID-19)|
|2019||Northwest Missouri State (38-0)||Ben McCollum||64-58||Point Loma||Evansville, Ind.|
|2018||Ferris State (38-1)||Andy Bronkema||71-69||Northern State||Sioux Falls, S.D.|
|2017||Northwest Missouri St. (35-1)||Ben McCollum||71-61||Fairmont State||Sioux Falls, S.D.|
|2016||Augustana [S.D.] (34-2)||Tom Billeter||90-81||Lincoln Memorial||Frisco, Tex.|
|2015||Florida Southern (36-1)||Linc Darner||77-62||Indiana (Pa.)||Evansville, Ind.|
|2014||Central Missouri (30-5)||Kim Anderson||84-77||West Liberty||Evansville, Ind.|
|2013||Drury (31-4)||Steve Hesser||74-73||Metro State||Atlanta, Ga.|
|2012||Western Washington (31-5)||Brad Jackson||72-65||Montevallo||Highland Heights, Ky.|
|2011||Bellarmine (33-2)||Scott Davenport||71-68||BYU-Hawaii||Springfield, Mass.|
|2010||Cal Poly Pomona (28-6)||Greg kamansky||65-53||Indiana (Pa.)||Springfield, Mass.|
|2009||Findlay (36-0)||Ron Niekamp||56-53 (ot)||Cal Poly Pomona||Springfield, Mass.|
|2008||Winona State (38-1)||Mike Leaf||87-76||Augusta State||Springfield, Mass.|
|2007||Barton (31-5)||Ron Lievense||77-75||Winona State||Springfield, Mass.|
|2006||Winona State (32-4)||Mike Leaf||73-61||Virginia Union||Springfield, Mass.|
|2005||Virginia Union (30-4)||Dave Robbins||63-58||Bryant||Grand Forks, N.D.|
|2004||Kennesaw State (35-4)||Tony Ingle||84-59||Southern Indiana||Bakersfield, Calif.|
|2003||Northeastern State (32-3)||Larry Gipson||75-64||**Kentucky Wesleyan||Lakeland, Fla.|
|2002||Metro State (29-6)||Mike Dunlap||80-72||Kentucky Wesleyan||Evansville, Ind.|
|2001||Kentucky Wesleyan (31-3)||Ray Harper||72-63||Washburn||Bakersfield, Calif.|
|2000||Metro State (33-4)||Mike Dunlap||97-79||Kentucky Wesleyan||Louisville, Ky.|
|1999||Kentucky Wesleyan (35-2)||Ray Harper||75-60||Metro State||Louisville, Ky.|
|1998||UC Davis (31-2)||Bob Williams||83-77||Kentucky Wesleyan||Louisville, Ky.|
|1997||Cal State Bakersfield (29-4)||Pat Douglass||57-56||Northern Kentucky||Louisville, Ky.|
|1996||Fort Hays State (34-0)||Gary Garner||70-63||Northern Kentucky||Louisville, Ky.|
|1995||Southern Indiana (29-4)||Bruce Pearl||71-63||UC Riverside||Louisville, Ky.|
|1994||Cal State Bakersfield (27-6)||Pat Douglass||92-86||Southern Indiana||Springfield, Mass.|
|1993||Cal State Bakersfield (33-0)||Pat Douglass||85-72||Troy||Springfield, Mass.|
|1992||Virginia Union (30-3)||Dave Robbins||100-75||Bridgeport||Springfield, Mass.|
|1991||North Alabama (29-4)||Gary Elliot||79-72||Bridgeport||Springfield, Mass.|
|1990||Kentucky Wesleyan (31-2)||Wayne Chapman||93-79||Cal State Bakersfield||Springfield, Mass.|
|1989||North Carolina Central (28-4)||Michael Bernard||73-46||Southeast Missouri State||Springfield, Mass.|
|1988||Massachusetts-Lowell (27-7)||Don Doucette||75-72||Alaska Anchorage||Springfield, Mass.|
|1987||Kentucky Wesleyan (28-5)||Wayne Chapman||92-74||Gannon||Springfield, Mass.|
|1986||Sacred Heart (30-4)||Dave Bike||93-87||Southeast Missouri State||Springfield, Mass.|
|1985||Jacksonville State (31-1)||Bill Jones||74-73||South Dakota State||Springfield, Mass.|
|1984||Central Missouri (29-3)||Lynn Nance||81-77||Saint Augustine's||Springfield, Mass.|
|1983||Wright State (18-4)||Ralph Underhill||92-73||District of Columbia||Springfield, Mass.|
|1982||District of Columbia (25-5)||Wil Jones||73-63||Florida Southern||Springfield, Mass.|
|1981||Florida Southern (24-8)||Hal Wissel||73-68||Mount Saint Mary's||Springfield, Mass.|
|1980||Virginia Union (26-4)||Dave Robbins||80-74||SUNYIT||Springfield, Mass.|
|1979||North Alabama (22-9)||Bill Jones||64-50||Green Bay||Springfield, Mo.|
|1978||Cheyney (26-2)||John Chaney||47-40||Green Bay||Springfield, Mo.|
|1977||Chattanooga (27-5)||Ron shumate||71-62||Randolph-Macon||Springfield, Mass.|
|1976||Puget Sound (27-7)||Don Zech||83-74||Chattanooga||Evansville, Ind.|
|1975||Old Dominion (25-6)||Sonny Allen||76-74||New Orleans||Evansville, Ind.|
|1974||Morgan State (28-5)||Nathaniel Frazier||67-52||Missouri State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1973||Kentucky Wesleyan (24-6)||Bob Jones||78-76 (ot)||Tennessee State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1972||Roanoke (28-4)||Charles Moir||84-72||Akron||Evansville, Ind.|
|1971||Evansville (22-8)||Arad McCutchan||97-82||Old Dominion||Evansville, Ind.|
|1970||Philadelphia University (29-2)||Herb Magee||76-65||Tennessee State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1969||Kentucky Wesleyan (25-5)||Bob Daniels||75-71||Missouri State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1968||Kentucky Wesleyan (28-3)||Bob Daniels||63-52||Indiana State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1967||Winston-Salem (30-2)||C.E. Gaines||77-74||Missouri State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1966||Kentucky Wesleyan (24-6)||Guy Strong||54-51||Southern Illinois||Evansville, Ind.|
|1965||Evansville (29-0)||Arad McCutchan||85-82 (ot)||Southern Illinois||Evansville, Ind.|
|1964||Evansville (26-3)||Arad McCutchan||72-59||Akron||Evansville, Ind.|
|1963||South Dakota State (22-5)||Jim Iverson||44-42||Wittenberg||Evansville, Ind.|
|1962||Mount Saint Mary's (24-6)||James Phelan||58-57 (ot)||Sacramento State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1961||Wittenberg (25-4)||Ray Mears||42-38||Southeast Missouri State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1960||Evansville (25-4)||Arad McCutchan||90-69||Chapman||Evansville, Ind.|
|1959||Evansville (21-6)||Arad McCutchan||83-67||Missouri State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1958||South Dakota (22-5)||Duane Clodfelter||75-53||Saint Michael's||Evansville, Ind.|
|1957||Wheaton (Ill.) (28-1)||Lee Pfund||89-65||Kentucky Wesleyan||Evansville, Ind.|
|**Student-athletes declared ineligible|