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FootballScoop's FCS weekend preview: Where things stand heading into Selection Sunday

We're now a matter of days from Selection Sunday -- 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday, ESPNU -- and there's a lot to get to, so let's dive in.

For those unfamiliar, this year's 16-team bracket (down from a normal 24) will have 10 automatic berths and six at-larges. Five of the 10 auto bids have already been clinched:

Big Sky -- Weber State
Big South -- Monmouth
NEC -- Sacred Heart
Ohio Valley -- Jacksonville State
Southland -- Sam Houston

Here's a look at where things stand in the five remaining conferences, plus the race for at-large bids. (All rankings reflect STATS FCS Top 25.)

CAA
No. 7 Delaware (4-0, 3-0 CAA) at No. 10 Villanova (2-1, 2-1 CAA)
No. 11 Richmond (3-0, 3-0 CAA) at No. 1 James Madison (4-0, 2-0 CAA)

A funky CAA season has met its perfectly funky end. The league split into two divisions, and the North and South leaders happen to meet on the final weekend of the regular season. James Madison has played just once since March 6, and so they needed this re-scheduled game to become eligible for the CAA crown. Because not every scheduled game was played, the league champion will be chosen by a panel of the other CAA ADs, meaning all four of the above teams are still in competition for the title.

The bet here is the panel goes with the Richmond-JMU winner.

Missouri Valley
No. 4 South Dakota State (4-1, 4-1 MVFC) at No. 2 North Dakota State (6-1, 5-1 MVFC)

The MVFC has four 1-loss teams, but 5-1 Missouri State and 4-1 North Dakota are both off, and so SDSU-NDSU is the league title game. North Dakota State would be the clear winner at 6-1 with a victory over the Jackrabbits, and South Dakota State wins the AQ even with a head-to-head loss to North Dakota.

Patriot League
Holy Cross (2-0) at Bucknell (2-1)

The postseason begins early in the Patriot League, where the first and only conference title game (2 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network) will send the winner to the playoffs and the loser home for the spring.

Pioneer League
Stetson (0-4, 0-4 PFL) at Davidson (4-2, 4-1 PFL)
San Diego (4-1, 4-1 PFL) at Valparaiso (3-2, 3-2 PFL)

Thanks to their 31-25 win at San Diego on April 3 -- snapping the longest conference winning streak in FCS history -- Davidson is in the FCS playoffs as the Pioneer Football League champion for the first time ever with a win. Should Davidson lose, San Diego is in with a win at Valpo. Even with a Davidson win, USD can claim a share of its 12th PFL championship, tying Dayton for the most in the conference.

Update: The Davidson-Stetson game has been canceled due to covid issues at Stetson. By PFL decree, Davidson is the league champion.

"Prior to the start of this season, the PFL Presidents’ Council affirmed that teams with the same number of league losses and within one game of the league leader by win percentage would be considered tied if they did not play an equal number of games," the league statement, released Thursday night, said.

"Davidson and San Diego each entered this weekend with one league loss. The previously announced cancellation assures Davidson will finish its season with one loss while a San Diego win at Valparaiso would assure it a one-loss season as well. In that scenario, the tiebreaker would be utilized to determine the automatic qualifier."

SoCon
The Citadel (2-9, 2-5 SoCon) at No. 15 VMI (5-1, 5-1 SoCon)
No. 23 Mercer (5-5, 5-2 SoCon) at Samford (3-3, 3-3 SoCon)

VMI has sold all 3,000 tickets for the Military Classic of the South, but there's more than just bragging rights on the line. The Keydets clinch the SoCon title -- the institute hasn't won a conference crown since 1977 -- but Mercer, a 41-14 loser to VMI on March 13, wins the league with a victory over Samford and a VMI loss.

The Bubble

If we go simply by the FCS STATS Top 25 and assume the higher-ranked teams win on Saturday, these would be your six at-large teams: No. 4 South Dakota State, No. 6 North Dakota, No. 7 Delaware, No. 8 Eastern Washington, No. 10 Villanova and No. 11 Richmond.

Since I'm just an amateur FCS bracketologist, here are how some professionals think the bracket looks come Sunday morning.

College Sports Madness
(1) Sam Houston vs. (16) Davidson | (8) Jacksonville State vs. (9) Southeastern Louisiana
(4) Weber State vs. (13) South Dakota State | (5) Richmond vs. (12) VMI

(2) James Madison vs. (15) Sacred Heart | (7) Delaware vs. (10) Monmouth
(3) North Dakota State vs. (14) Holy Cross | (6) North Dakota vs. (11) Eastern Washington

HERO Sports
National seeds: (1) North Dakota State, (2) James Madison, (3) Sam Houston, (4) Weber State

At-large bids: (11) Eastern Washington, (12) Delaware, (13) North Dakota, (14) South Dakota State, (15) Richmond, (16) Mercer

No Bowls
(1) James Madison vs. (16) VMI | (8) Richmond vs. (9) Davidson
(4) Weber State vs. (13) North Dakota | (5) Holy Cross vs. (12) Monmouth

(2) North Dakota State vs. (15) Eastern Washington | (7) Jacksonville State vs. (10) South Dakota State
(3) Sam Houston vs. (14) Missouri State | (6) Delaware vs. (11) Sacred Heart

Off the Playoff Path

The playoff race isn't the only thing happening in the FCS this week.

The SWAC will stage its championship game on May 1, and so the league has a full slate both this weekend and next. Southern (3-1 and still in the hunt in the West) faces Grambling in the Bayou Classic, airing at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. In the East, Alabama A&M and Alabama State stage the Magic City Classic (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU) with the division title likely on the line; A&M enters at 2-0, State at 3-1.

Finally, UAPB (3-0) hosts Prairie View A&M (2-0) with first place in the West on the line.

Top 25 Schedule

1. James Madison (4-0) -- vs. No. 11 Richmond (2 p.m. ET, FloSports)
2. North Dakota State (6-1) -- vs. No. 4 South Dakota State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
3. Weber State (5-0) -- Off
4. South Dakota State (4-1) -- at No. 2 South Dakota State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
5. Sam Houston (5-0) -- at No. 25 Incarnate Word (noon ET, ESPN+)
6. North Dakota (4-1) -- Off
7. Delaware (4-0) -- at No. 10 Villanova (1 p.m. ET, FloSports)
8. Eastern Washington (5-1) -- Off
9. Jacksonville State (9-2) -- Off
10. Villanova (2-1) -- vs. No. 7 Delaware (1 p.m. ET, FloSports)
11. Richmond (3-0) -- at No. 1 James Madison (2 p.m. ET, FloSports)
12. Monmouth (3-0) -- Off
13. UC Davis (3-2) -- Off
14. Missouri State (5-4) -- Off
15. VMI (5-1) -- vs. The Citadel (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
16. Kennesaw State (4-1) -- Off
17. Southeastern Louisiana (4-2) -- at No. 18 Southern Illinois (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
18. Southern Illinois (4-3) -- vs. No. 17 Southeastern Louisiana (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
19. Rhode Island (2-1) -- Season complete
20. Murray State (5-2) -- Off
21. Nicholls (4-3) -- Off
22. Austin Peay (4-5) -- Off
23. Mercer (5-5) -- at Samford (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
24. East Tennessee State (4-2) -- Off
25. Incarnate Word (3-2) -- vs. No. 5 Sam Houston (noon ET, ESPN+)

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.

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