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NAIA announces first round playoff pairings

Defending national champion Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) enters as the top seed, while 2018-19 champ Morningside (Iowa) is No. 2.

Joining in on the action in Division II and Division III, the NAIA announced its postseason pairings on Sunday.

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. 

NAIA bracket

The 2021 NAIA National Championship will be played at Durham County Memorial Stadium in Durham, N.C. 

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

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