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D-II weekend playoff primer: Quarterfinal preview

The Division II bracket so far has been full of surprises. Of the top 8 teams to receive first round byes, only three of them remain (Shepherd, Lenoir-Rhyne, Northwest Missouri), while two six seeds (West Texas A&M, St. Cloud), and a four seed (Grand Valley) remain in the field 

All in all, eight teams remain to fight it out for a D-II national title, and if the rest of the playoffs have taught us anything at this point, it's that anything can happen.

Here are the eight remaining teams and some quick notes on their match ups.

3 seed West Chester (12-1) vs. 1 seed Shepherd (11-0) -Last week Shepherd scored the lone touchdown in their game against Winston-Salem State in the third quarter for a 7-0 victory, so this one could be a low scoring affair. In their past two playoff games, West Chester has put up at least 38 points, and this is not unfamiliar territory for the Golden Rams. Back in 2004 they advanced to the semifinals before falling to Valdosta State. This has all the makings of an explosive offense vs. dominant defense back and forth battle so something has to give.

6 seed St. Cloud (12-1) vs. 1 seed Northwest Missouri (12-0) - If this one comes down to experience, NW Missouri is in the 18th NCAA tournament (complete with three national titles), while St. Cloud is making just their 5th appearance in the tourney. However, St. Cloud upset two top five teams in the final rankings make it this far (and NW Missouri will be the third straight), so they aren't going to be an easy team to beat. if I had to guess, this one is going to come down to slowing down Northwest Missouri's passing attack, which is one of the most potent and efficient in the country.

3 seed North Alabama (10-2) vs. 1 seed Lenoir-Rhyne (11-1) - Lenoir-Rhyne leads the nation in rushing yards per game (372 ypg) and bring an 11 game win streak into the game, and that potent attack will face one of the most decorated D-II programs in football history when they take on Bobby Wallace and North Alabama, who have 18 playoff appearances, and a nine game winning streak to their name. This one has all the makings of a classic.

6 seed West Texas A&M (11-2) vs 4 seed Grand Valley (11-2) - Grand Valley made it to this point by beating conference foe Saginaw Valley State in back to back weeks, and then knocking off top seeded Colorado State-Pueblo, and West Texas A&M handed Ohio Dominican (the #2 seed) their first loss of the season. Grand Valley brings a rich playoff history (the third most wins in D-II football history), but West Texas is riding a hot streak that is going to be tough to overcome.