ATN Podcast: Bracket breakdown

Thirty-two teams, 16 games and one fairly controversial Pool C decision.

What does the selection of Washington and Jefferson mean for future NCAA playoffs? What message does it send to coaches who want to schedule to help their teams get into the tournament? I think it’s fair to say Keith McMillan and Pat Coleman are more than a little concerned.

Plus, Keith and Pat break down the entire bracket and talk about all 16 first-round games, including the fact that one bracket has the No. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 teams in the country in it? If only it had No. 1 and No. 2, it would be a men’s basketball bracket.

Yes, truth be told, it could be worse. That’s why we’re not calling it a Bracket of Death. But it’s a great bracket, with four games between teams that all have a legitimate chance of winning first-round games.

That makes this a long podcast, but hopefully worth it. At least if you’re a fan of a playoff team. Or the playoffs in general.

Click the play button below to listen.

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40 thoughts on “ATN Podcast: Bracket breakdown

  1. Just listened to the podcast……………..What, no love for Del Val? you guys spoke about Susquahanna the whole time. Comments????

  2. That’s just a coincidence, Beana … we’ve frequently referenced in other podcasts how we respect the schedule Del Val played (Kean, Hopkins, Wesley, Albright, LV each won at least 8 games), and we’ve written about them as one of the great turnaround teams of the decade. Also, one of our key staff members is the gameday broadcaster … I think they’re the team most likely to make it out to Alliance in the quarters.

    Apologize for not being able to squeeze more in about them, but if you’re patient, I think Del Val will get its propers around the site this week and throughout the playoffs.

    Also, it occurred to me that I mentioned in the podcast that the Choctaws should be excited about playing at home, and of course they are are Huntingdon. I had the bracket in front of me and actually realized it later when we were recording, but I didn’t have an opportunity to correct myself. So here it is. My mistake.


  3. Check this out: The bracket has 4 guaranteed flights in rounds 1 & 2:
    -UMHB v Central
    -Linfield v Cal Lu
    -winners of the above games
    -MC/HC winner v NCWC/Wesley winner

    with more potential 2nd round flights:
    -Maine Maritime if they win their first game
    -DePauw if they win their first game
    -TMC v JHU (this might be just under 500 mi)

    And as for 3rd round flights, these two are somewhat likely:
    -The South final if it involves DePauw or MC or HC, or if it’s Wesley or NCWC vs. TMC (75% of all possible combinations, and this is a pretty balanced bracket)
    -The West final unless Central wins 2.

    So I can see clear potential for up to 8 flights in the first 3 rounds (2 of the 2nd round ones listed are mutually exclusive).

    I wondered how much that could be reduced, and how different the brackets would look. It didn’t take long (probably less time than it will take to type this).

    My version has 3 guaranteed flights (only 1 in round 2), with only 4 more possible ones in rounds 2 and 3, 2 of which are very unlikely.

    Here’s how you do it: put all the “outliers” (Deep South/Texas and West Coast) in one bracket, along with SJU, STU and Lakeland.

    STU (4 seed) hosts UMHB;
    The MC/HC and CLU/LC matchups remain, with winners playing in round 2. That’s the 3 guaranteed flights.
    The final will likely be a flight, unless it’s UMHB v MC, and there’s a potential 2nd round flight with UMHB v SJU/Lakeland winner.

    The other brackets are:
    -UWW, Central, Coe, Monmouth, IWU, DePauw, Wabash, Trine
    Seed it however you want, give Central a well-deserved #2, no flights necessary.

    -MUC, Wittenberg, MSJ, TMC, CWRU, W&J, Alfred, Susquehanna
    The only potential flight is Susquehanna v. MSJ or TMC. Match ’em up with MUC in the first round and that’s unlikely.

    -Maine Maritime, Montclair, Del Val, Albright, JHU, Wesley, NCWC, H-SC
    Only if Maine Maritime beats Montclair will any flights be necessary.

    I think my version eliminates 2 or more flights, keeps the same 4 top seedds, and yes the “West” is still a beast, but maybe not quite as much. Central gets a better draw, while STU gets maybe a tougher one, but hey, they’re a Pool C team.

    I wonder if the committee would consider this. I bet they would if they had an extra day to do the matchups after they pick the field and sleep on it.

  4. That was part of my thinking with pairing Maine Maritime and Mary Hardin-Baylor with the winner going to Mount Union. You eliminate the flight risk of Maine Maritime beating Montclair State because your winner would have to fly anyway.

  5. Well, at least we aren’t having to play HSU or MC! Finally, we are playing someone other than our conference foe in round 1. Go ASC! Represent!

  6. Wow? How telling was the chat with the AD from Rowan? Wow! Its all making sense now that I’ve heard from the Committees Horses’ Patoot. It seemed to me that she was really defensive and was playing favorites all the way. For example: She says that UMHB was sent to the West and was “NOT” disagreed with by “anyone” on the committee? Then, her explanation of putting W & J into the bracket by making the argument that they lost to the #2 from the East vs. St. Norbert losing to #5 in the West? WOW! What a whiff on the logic there! What an East coast HOMER!!!

    Not only is it apparent that she is taking her dislike out on UMHB by sending them to the West so that none of her CRONY pals would have to get pounded by them say 63 – 7 LOL (Way to go W & J!) Something smells like bad FISH here!

    The West has beaten each other up for the last twenty years, and when the survivor gets to the championship game, travel and injuries take there toll. Still, her Rowan school has been Pounded by the West EVERY TIME THEY have faced each other in the past. Remember the NWC #2 team from 1999, they beat Rowan by 4 touchdowns, after having traveled five weeks in a row, to include Iowa, Minnesota, and Texas, before traveling to Virgina! Then Rowan got the chance to travel to Oregon and Linfield beat them 52 – 0 in 2004. It would have been 100 – 0 if Linfield didn’t call off the dogs in the second quarter of that one!

    WOW? Is all I have to say! There are a number of teams that should be in the bracket that are not. And the weak argument of not having TOO MANY Flights, is out the window now. It sure doesn’t look like that had anything to do with it this year!

    This committee should be investigated!!! Hahahahahahaahahahahaahaha!!!

    Also, Three of the top Four Conferences considering Playoff records are ALL FROM THE WEST REGION!!! These records are a result of Head-to-head play, as well, where someone has to lose! If MUC had to play more than one of these teams in a row, they would not have had half the championships that they currently have. I am confident of that!

    If Mt. Union has a hard time booking there non-league games, maybe they should call St. Johns, Linfield, Willamette, or Central? Then they can see what TRAVEL really means! They think a two hour bus ride is a long way? LOL How about these West teams that have to travel 4, 5, 6, or even 7 hours by PLANE!!!

    This bracket is just a BIG SHAM, AGAIN!!! Worst that I’ve seen in 5 or 10 years!

    I’m OUT!

  7. Don’t mince words. Tell us how you really feel. 🙂

    I seem compelled to point out that Thomas More is the No. 2 in the South, not the East.

  8. Thanks for the clarification, PAT! 🙂 My bad? My emotions have come unhinged! And I didn’t even talk about the unprofessionalism of NOT ESTABLISHING SEEDING! Wow? How amateur is this complete CLUSTER! Although, I’m referring to a different CLUSTER, OBVIOUSLY! Thanks! 🙂

  9. So, what was your pick for UMHB and Central. Knowing nothing about Central, it would have been nice to hear something.

  10. I’m from Dover, DE and know nothing much about Lakeland. I know Lakeland was conference winners at 6-4, but 2nd place Concordia (Ill.) got screwed. An 8-2 Concordia should have made it especially with all of their wins came in their region.

    Plus why was UMHB put in the West not south? I was looking forward to a Wesley/UMHB game for the 5th year in a row.

  11. Check this out: The bracket has 4 guaranteed flights in rounds 1 & 2:
    -UMHB v Central
    -Linfield v Cal Lu
    -winners of the above games
    -MC/HC winner v NCWC/Wesley winner

    with more potential 2nd round flights:
    -Maine Maritime if they win their first game
    -DePauw if they win their first game
    -TMC v JHU (this might be just under 500 mi)

    This is all starting to come together, the no seeds and all. The folks on the committee, several of whom I know, are too smart to have plainly bungled this.

    No seeds perhaps means they’re not committed to flying anyone anywhere in later rounds and can re-seed without recourse.

    I don’t want to call anybody’s credibility into question here without all the facts, but the absence of seeds … there’s a piece missing to that story, and there’s too much experience on the committee for that piece to be “we didn’t know we had to do seeds.”

  12. I’m from Dover, DE and know nothing much about Lakeland. I know Lakeland was conference winners at 6-4, but 2nd place Concordia (Ill.) got screwed. An 8-2 Concordia should have made it especially with all of their wins came in their region.

    How do you figure? 2nd place, by definition, means “didn’t win automatic bid.”

  13. hamst64,
    I think I said or wrote somewhere that there’s a bit of backwards planning involved, because the concern is always the flights in the first round.

    The committees have been very lucky over the years to be able to have the flight scenarios work out to where after the first round, fewer flights were necessary even though it’s certainly plausible that as fewer teams remain, more would be.

    Or rather, when instances of unnecessary second-round flights were possible, they did not come to pass. With the group who made it this year, there was quite a bit of shuffling that needed to be done.

    I thought they did a nice job with the UMHB/Central/Cal Lu/Linfield cluster flight-wise, but splitting it from MC/HC didn’t do the penny-pinchers any favors. And Maine Maritime winning and only the one NY team being in the field is a problem no matter what.

  14. Pat and Keith,

    Has there ever been any consideration to making a team with 3 or 4 losses lose their pool A bid or require such a team to be ranked in lets say the top 40 or 45 to keep their bid?

  15. I like mille125 idea, but if not a ranking how about a SOS (strength of schedule) that is at least in the top third or half of D3 if they have more than 3 losses?

  16. I think Keith has nailed it as far as the lack of seeds. The Committee is keeping their round two and beyond options open. In my opinion, this is not a great precedent to set. I don’t think it hurts the teams themselves all that much. It probably helps the coaches keep their team’s focus on the next opponent only. However, IMHO, it does affect administration and fans. I would think there would be people working a week in advance on “what if” travel and hosting scenarios. And for fans, part of the fun of a bracket is seeing what it might take for your team to make it to the championship. Although we can kind of guess, it seems like it will make scoreboard watching less fun on Saturday.

  17. As a W&J grad I can truthfully say cry all you want about the Pool C choices. The fact of the matter is that teams get screwed every year in every bracket at every level. It is the nature of the beast.

    Plus, karma is on the President’s side. Those of you who follow baseball know they got screwed several times before the PAC was given a Pool A bid.

    Is it bad they didn’t play anyone? Yes, it is, but it doesn’t matter because Mount Union is almost assuredly going to roll anyway.

  18. Pat and Keith, great job!!!!!!!! Well worth the hour! I also enjoyed the interview with J.S. She certainly worked hard to answer “around” Pat’s super questioning.

  19. Although Keith’s theory is, unfortunately, plausible, the committee would have to not only be messing with seeds, but switching brackets around, if they want to wait until first-round results to make non-flight matchups. DePauw can’t bus to any other team in its bracket if it wins the first game. MC and UMHB are in different brackets.

    I think they did bungle the placement of DePauw, and it looks like they’re still thinking of the brackets in “regional” terms. Even though 10 South teams made the field, the “South” bracket is still full of South teams regardless of their actual geography. They would have been better off putting Wittenberg in the Wesley bracket, at least in terms of bus vs plane.

  20. There are no seeds? Then I assume that they put the names in a hat and made a random draw. Why to they think we believe their BS?

  21. Maybe the committee should figure out new regions after this year as to try and limit travel in the first place instead of throwing out some screwy bracket. When I think of the South, I do not envision a team from Pennsylvania———-that’s north. Wesley——–that’s not a south team either. Where do they come up with the geographical reasoning behind this insanity. “Let’s save a few bucks and cut down on travel” Good job this year, you could have saved more by switching to Geico!

  22. And those of us in the Midwest would see Pennsylvania as East.

    The problem is there are 240 football programs and to decide that the Centennial Conference and Wesley are not in the South means that you will have more East teams than South teams. The header tells you: 65 teams (55 without the playoff-snubbing NESCAC) 59 teams 56 teams 58 teams

    In a year in which apparently the final playoff spot was decided by which 9-1 team lost to a team ranked higher in its regional rankings, the last thing you want to do is have an imbalance among regions that would make it easier to get ranked in one than in another.

  23. Pat,

    Has the committee ever given thought to removing a pool A spot for a team that has three or more losses? It seems like this could be a good idea. You could stipulate that this team would also need to be outside of the top 40 teams by ranking. This would have made another spot for ONU and St Norbert and eliminate Lakeland..

  24. Mille,

    This would completely defeat the purpose of an “automatic” qualifier. It seems that a major consequence would be teams being less likely to play challenging non-conference schedules and although the committee seems to be indicating that this is a practice they will tolerate, it generally serves to dilute the allure of D3 football by shifting the focus to getting into the playoffs instead of allowing the athletes to challenge themselves. Coaches attempting to use D3 programs as stepping stones to more high profile jobs (and I don’t think there is a lot of this going on) might enjoy the opportunity to pad their resumes with more playoff appearances but I don’t think anyone really wants to encourage that type of thinking. It’s like the BCS powerhouses scheduling cupcakes every year because they have nothing to gain by playing a team that might beat them.

    I mean it’s fun to manipulate numbers and see different how different scenarios play out but ultimately I don’t think it necessitates a changing of the playoff selection criteria.

  25. In reply
    # CaptainCru Says:
    November 17th, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Easy, they didn’t get it done when they needed to!

    Yes, they lost to other ranked teams which most of the other one loss teams avoided. Easy to fix for most. When you pick out of conference games don’t choose a likely ranked team – go for a 1-9 or 0-10 from the previous year and smash them.

  26. Actually, all 6 of the one-loss teams that were awarded Pool C bids lost to ranked teams:

    UMHB lost to #19 Mississippi College
    St. Thomas lost to #4 St Johns
    Wabash lost to #12 Wittenberg
    W&J lost to #11 Thomas More
    Coe lost to #6 Central
    Albright lost to #16 Delaware Valley

    Granted they were unavoidable conference games and NCC decided to challenge themselves with ONU, but ONU wasn’t even receiving votes at the start of the season so making that argument may be difficult as well. The opposite could be said about teams that scheduled Hardin-Simmons only to watch the Cowboys go from a potential SOS boost to an average team. NCC also scheduled 0-10 Olivet…I will say on your behalf that NCC probably has the best win of the group by beating Wheaton.

  27. Username,

    I dont think that that my proposal would eliminate automatic qualifiers. This year only one team would be affected. The provision of keeping your pool A bid if you are ranked in the top 40 would encourage a tougher schedule. It just doesnt seem fair if one loss can keep you from Pool C but yet you can still get into pool A with four losses.

  28. UMHB lost at #19 Mississippi College by 3 with 0:04 left.
    St. Thomas lost at #4 St Johns by 3 in OT
    Wabash lost to #12 Wittenberg at home by 3 with 0:01 left.
    W&J lost to #11 Thomas More at home by 14-7 (#20 TMC scored 14 pts in the 3rd over #11 W&J.)
    Coe lost at #6 Central by 18
    Albright lost at #16 Delaware Valley by 29

  29. Mille: The football committee doesn’t have the ability to do that. That’s a decision that would have to be made for all of Division III.

    I agree football is reaching a difficult stage. When the UMAC and ECFC get automatic bids, we’re going to be in trouble.

  30. I agree football is reaching a difficult stage. When the UMAC and ECFC get automatic bids, we’re going to be in trouble.

    With more schools adding football, more conferences getting AQs and the possibility of a merger with the NAIA (remote as that may be at present) would a future expansion of the playoff field to 48 teams make any sense? I’m not necessarily advocating for it, but I’d be curious to know what others think.

  31. Any more than 32 teams in the tournament and it becomes a 6-week playoff. THat’s too much. I think it would be better to eliminate Pool B and make all the non-AQ teams compete for at-large bids. The best teams, Wesley and CWRU, still get in. Maybe it punishes Huntingdon for not being in a conference, but not any more so than St. Norbert is being punished for being in a big, weak conference, or ONU or NCC for being in strong conferences.

    If we merge with the NAIA, the NCAA might have to go to 4 divisions in order to keep the playoffs manageable. Yikes!

  32. By the way, I never got an answer about why the Empire 8 still has an AQ. I always thought the minimum was 7 teams in a conference.

  33. Hamst64,

    Two points…

    The bids for the UMAC and the ECFC have already been calculated into the field and are awarded as Pool B bids. The AQ’s that go to those conferences will be deducted from the allocation to Pool B. The ECFC and the UMAC increase the number of Pool A conferences to 25, leaving one bid for Pool B.

    I can foresee a time for Pool B teams, when there are fewer Pool B schools than that number required by the access ratio to give a Pool B bid, or roughly 8 or fewer schools. The crunch would come if the NEFC were to divide into 2 separate Pool A conferences.

    Please go the the Pool B message board for that discussion. D3 can have up to 15-17 schools in Pool B and only allocate one bid. The Empire 8 has done what it needed to do to stay in Pool A by giving affiliation to Frostburg and Salisbury in 2011 rather than tempt the fates of Pool B.

  34. It can, Ralph, but will it? And will the UMAC and ECFC champions be better than the second and third Pool B teams have been in recent years?

  35. Thanks for the info. Didn’t know about Frostburg and Salisbury switching. Is Wesley going independent, then?

  36. I agree with others on the BCS analogy. I think if the BCS was used to determine the top 16 teams (instead of the top 2) that it would be celebrated as one of the best playoffs systems in major sports.

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