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Around the Nation Podcast 224: Prelude to a bunch of barnburners

If the second round of the playoffs is your big turkey dinner with all the trimmings and every side you could want, then the first round is like that tray of vegetables and dip that you end up nibbling on while you wait. You can smell that turkey, the stuffings, the greens, the bread, but you have to wait.

We all have to wait. And now, not only do we have to wait, but we’re hungry.

Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan get you all lined up for Saturday’s first-round games, with the usual previews from Adam Turer and Frank Rossi. Plus, we hear one Division III quarterback remind us exactly why it’s so important to be able to run the ball in the playoffs, and we’ll talk with Mark Baltz, the Division III coordinator of officials. He tells us how officiating crews get selected and what type of evaluations they go through in the playoffs, not to mention how far they can travel. Plus, there’s a well-known former NFL player who is now a Division III football head coach, and Andrew DiDonato, the head coach at Grove City, has some advice for Earlham and all those who are trying to pick a football program up off the mat.

That and more in the D3football.com Around the Nation podcast. The D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast is a regular conversation between Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan and guests covering the wide range of Division III football.

Hit play, or subscribe to get this podcast on your mobile device.
Full episode:

You can subscribe to the Around the Nation Podcast in Apple Podcasts, and many other places. You can also get this and any of our future Around the Nation podcasts automatically by subscribing to this RSS feed: http://www.d3blogs.com/d3football/?feed=podcast

Link: Our full NCAA playoff coverage
Mentioned in the podcast: Around the Nation on officials: It’s a thankless job, but these folks do it

Photo: Conor Davies running with the ball, trying to escape a Union safety. (RPI athletics photo)

Theme music: DJmentos.

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Around the Nation Podcast 223: ‘It’s definitely not what we want’

That line up top is what the national committee chair told us when talking about new restrictions on travel for the NCAA playoffs, as the NCAA clawed back one of the first-round flights the committee had previously been given to play with. What else did Jim Catanzaro say? We asked about seeding Mount Union and John Carroll to meet up in the quarterfinals, about whether St. John’s deserved a No. 1 seed, and about who were the last teams left on the board when the final at-large team was selected. You might be surprised to hear what the committee thought about Linfield’s loss to an NAIA team, and what the committee chair’s take was when the North Region rankings looked unlike the other three regions.

Plus our intrepid podcast hosts, Pat Coleman and guest host Frank Rossi, go through what the committee got right and wrong, the best matchups, toughest roads, and still have time for game balls, hidden highlights (and lowlights) and the interesting stats from Week 11.

That and more in the D3football.com Around the Nation podcast. The D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast is a regular conversation between Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan and guests covering the wide range of Division III football.

Hit play, or subscribe to get this podcast on your mobile device.
Full episode:

You can subscribe to the Around the Nation Podcast in Apple Podcasts, and many other places. You can also get this and any of our future Around the Nation podcasts automatically by subscribing to this RSS feed: http://www.d3blogs.com/d3football/?feed=podcast

Link: NCAA Division III playoff criteria, from our FAQ
Link: Playoff primer podcast (No. 216, with committee chair Jim Catanzaro)
Mentioned in the podcast: Cal Lutheran wears names of those who died in shooting on helmets

Photo: John Carroll athletics photo

Theme music: DJmentos.

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Quick Hits: All the marbles

This is it — the last regular-season weekend of the season. Maybe there’s snow on the ground where you are. Maybe you have a bitter rival coming to town and an epic tailgate with old friends — well, that’s what Quick Hits is like for us, too. Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer and Frank Rossi. Our sixth spot each week goes to a guest prognosticator, and this week’s is Greg Thomas, our bracketology guru. He’ll be joining us through the playoffs as well, when Quick Hits shifts to predicting the final score of each game.
Photo: File photo from 2017 Shoes game, by Mick Neal, RPI athletics

— Pat Coleman

What will be the Week 11 Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 25 Baldwin Wallace at No. 8 John Carroll/No. 9 St. Thomas at No. 22 Bethel. Both games match 8-1 teams; winners should be first at-large teams in field, losers’ seasons are over.
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Ryan’s take: Thomas More at No. 4 St. John’s. After the way their season began, the Saints should be stoked they’re still so relevant to the conversation.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 25 Baldwin Wallace at No. 8 John Carroll. Not only does it have all the playoff implications, but it’s a bona fide local rivalry as well.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 9 St. Thomas at No. 22 Bethel. A rivalry game with a playoff berth at stake. Nothing better in Week 11.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Salisbury at No. 6 Frostburg State. It’s the NJAC championship, and a Pool C bid could be taken from a bubble team if Salisbury wins. Hear more about it in today’s ATN Gameday Podcast.
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Greg’s take: St. Thomas at Bethel. There are many good games, but this is a Top 25 showdown and a de facto elimination game between two teams that have the chops to make deep tournament runs.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 6 Frostburg State. Not because the Bobcats are vulnerable so much as their Regents Cup opponent, 8-1 Salisbury, has had a great defense and running game all year.
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Ryan’s take: No. 11 Berry. The Vikings may be sailing high right now, but Trinity has already shown this year that they can hold their own against tough competition.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 24 Linfield. Wildcats’ scare last week might give Pacific something on tape to work with.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 14 RPI. The resurgence of the Dutchmen has revitalized the Shoes rivalry. The Engineers have already clinched the LL title. Union could pull off the upset.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 11 Berry. Berry has won the SAA already, so how the Vikings will approach the game at Trinity (Texas) will be interesting. Remember, Trinity challenged HSU earlier this season.
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Greg’s take: No. 14 RPI. This game is actually pretty even on paper and I believe QH is contractually obligated to have one panelist pick RPI to be upset.

Which rivalry game will have the closest score?

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Keith’s take: Dutchman Shoes. Almost all of them look like tight matchups. Union and RPI have already played one-point games; what’s one more?
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Ryan’s take: The Secretaries Cup. Coast Guard’s resurgence this year has added some new life to the annual game against Merchant Marine — and could shake up the NEWMAC significantly.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: The Game. It wouldn’t be a “Game” between Randolph-Macon and Hampden-Sydney if it didn’t have some grinding and a little bitterness to boot.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Monon Bell. The last two meetings were decided by a total of four points. DePauw will keep it close against No. 20 Wabash, trying to avoid its first losing season since 2013.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Dutchman Shoes. RPI has won more with great defense in close games this year. I think this game lines up the same way.
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Greg’s take: Cortaca Jug. This game looks like a low scoring grinder to me with a single point keeping the winner’s tournament hopes alive into Selection Sunday.

Which game are you following that nobody else on this panel is following?

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Keith’s take: Alvernia at UNE. Both first-year programs have a win, but the Wolves haven’t scored since a garbage-time TD Oct. 13, and the Nor’Easters have been outscored by 117 since their win a week earlier.
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Ryan’s take: N.C. Wesleyan at Maryville. Even with a loss, the Scots are in the playoffs, but if they do lose, it’s worth noting that Google Maps has them at 485 miles from Alliance, Ohio.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Maine Maritime at Catholic. Just to hope that the alma mater doesn’t finish 0-10 this year. Go Cards!
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Shenandoah at Washington & Lee. I doubt anyone else is interested to see if my alma mater can win at least six games for the fourth straight year, a feat not accomplished since back when Garret LeRose and I were playing for the Generals.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Coast Guard at Merchant Marine. More than 600 votes determined that I’d attend the Secretaries Cup Game between these two service academies. The Mariners even have a potential playoff bid still alive.
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Greg’s take: Berry at Trinity (Texas).Berry has already clinched and Trinity isn’t in the playoff picture but a Berry loss here could significantly impact the playoff fortunes of Centre, Hardin-Simmons, and Muhlenberg. All the pieces matter.

Which team plays its way in or out of a home playoff game?

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Keith’s take: North Central, in. Based on its result against Millikin, NCC has the widest range of outcomes; winnable home game in Round 1 or season over. I’ll guess the former.
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Ryan’s take: Baldwin Wallace, out. I’m guessing that the matchup with JCU is someone’s game of the week, and I think BW will be out and JCU a shoo-in for Pool C after Saturday.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: St. Thomas, in. Despite the fact that Bethel looked better against St. John’s, the Royals don’t have Jackson Erdmann at QB to test Tommie DBs.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 25 Baldwin Wallace. With a win over John Carroll, the Yellow Jackets would get in via Pool C and likely host a first round game. A loss to JCU not only means no home game, but likely no playoff appearance at all.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Frostburg State. If the Bobcats lose, they could still win a Pool C bid but drop below fourth in the East because of a lack of regionally ranked opponents in their profile.
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Greg’s take: John Carroll. The Streaks are a lock for an at-large bid and a home game with a win against Baldwin Wallace. A loss, and the Streaks are most likely done for 2018.

Pick a random Week 11 game and give it a trophy name.

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Keith’s take: Tufts at Middlebury. Most of the season-ending games in the NESCAC are longstanding rivalries. This is what … the Tuftlebury Classic?
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Ryan’s take: Olivet at Albion. The Six-Letter Shuffle — or — The MIAA Founder’s Faceoff.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Alma at Finlandia, for the 445 Mile Marker Trophy. Finlandia is in the same state as almost everyone else in the MIAA, but it’s hideously far. Alma is its closest MIAA opponent, at 445 miles.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Pacific at No. 24 Linfield. The Mass Hysteria Bowl. Dogs and cats living together! No human sacrifice, please. (Yes, I know Boxer the mascot isn’t technically a dog.)
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Alvernia at University of New England, for The 2018 Debut Supremacy Cup.
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Greg’s take: Benedictine vs. Concordia-Chicago, for the I-88 Trophy.The Chicagoland rivals square off for a trophy which doesn’t actually exist yet as it is perpetually under construction.

We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Fridays, where Pat and Keith review the Quick Hits that were prescient, and the Quick Misses that were terribly off base.