Unlike D2 and D3, the NAIA managed to play a postseason tournament in 2020, and the champion of that event -- Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) -- begins the 2021 playoffs as the top seed.
Also unlike Divisions II and III, as well as any other college football tournament, the NAIA does not play a true bracket. If 16-seeded Montana Western manages to knock off the top-seeded defending national champions on Saturday, they would play the highest-seeded team still playing.
While 2020 champion Lindsey Wilson is the top seed, 2018-19 champ Morningside (Iowa) is the No. 2 seed. Those two and Grand View (Iowa) carry undefeated records into the playoffs, and five more teams have lost but one game.
No. 5 Indiana Wesleyan and No. 13 Central Methodist (Mo.) are in the field for the first time ever, while No. 9 Southwestern (Kan.) and Montana Western ended playoff droughts of at least 19 years.
Most games are seeded in the "true" fashion -- 1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, 3 vs. 14, etc -- with a few exceptions. No. 12 Keiser (Fla.) visits No. 6 Reinhardt (Ga.) rather than trekking to Indiana Wesleyan, who hosts 10th-seeded Kansas Wesleyan instead. (We all know what happens when you get warring Wesleyans together. Look out.)
No. 9 Southwestern visits No. 7 Marian (Ind.), while No. 11 Saint Xavier (Ill.) visits No. 8 Concordia (Mich.) instead of going to Georgia.
The 2021 NAIA National Championship will be played at Durham County Memorial Stadium in Durham, N.C.
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