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Quick Hits Week 11: Easy as A-B-C

It’s last call for the NCAA tournament this week as the final six Pool A bids will be decided. No Pool B bids this year, but there are plenty of Bowls and Bells to go around. Which games influence one of the best Pool C fields we’ve seen in the D3football.com era? Our panel breaks it all down for you as we deliver our final Hits of the regular season.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas.

— Greg Thomas

Which game is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 3 UW-Whitewater at UW-Oshkosh. Especially with it under the lights, no game will have Pool C teams more on pins and needles.
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Ryan’s take: No. 9 Bethel at No. 17 St. Thomas. The only game between ranked teams makes this an easy pick.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 3 UW-Whitewater at UW-Oshkosh. Not only have there been a lot of close games involving Whitewater this season, but this game has the chance to upset the apple cart most in terms of playoff bids.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Cortaca. We’ve never seen anything like this before.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 3 UW-Whitewater at UW-Oshkosh. The final game of the season has the most playoff implications of the bunch this weekend.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 3 UW-Whitewater at UW-Oshkosh. It’s the title game in the Division’s best conference. There are Pool A and Pool C implications. And it is the last kickoff in the regular season. A grand finale if there ever was one.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 14 Union. RPI smoked Ithaca last week, and would be returning the favor from when the clinched-bid shoe was on the other foot last season.
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Ryan’s take: No. 10 John Carroll. This came has lost some of its cachet with BW’s loss last week, but an upset would mean the OAC is going to lose some postseason representation.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 14 Union. Not as much on Union as it is on RPI, which played with a little more fire last week and will be glad to get up for a rivalry fame and cost its archrival a playoff home game.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 14 Union. RPI has momentum and would like nothing more than to ruin its rival’s playoff seeding while reclaiming the Dutchman Shoes.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 20 Case Western Reserve (at Carnegie Mellon). The Tartans have been tough at home in season-ending games against the Spartans. This time, they knock them off.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 9 Bethel. Because, yes, you can have a top 25 team upset another top 25 team and because I trust the Tommies’ offense a hair more than I do the Royals offense this weekend.

Which rivalry game will produce the biggest upset?

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Keith’s take: Hampden-Sydney/Randolph-Macon. Psych. Dutchman Shoes, and RPI.
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Ryan’s take: RPI over Union. I’m going to duck now as Frank throws sharp objects in my direction.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Cuyahoga Gold Bowl Trophy. Playoff pictures will become a little more clear when Baldwin Wallace knocks off No. 10 John Carroll.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Monon Bell. Wabash has already clinched in what has been an overall down year for the NCAC. A DePauw upset would leave the league with a three-way tie at the top, and no team with fewer than two conference losses.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: DePauw over Wabash. Something just tells me that the Bell is going to be DePauw’s at the end of Saturday, which would make the middling Tigers season much easier to swallow.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: The Cuyahoga Gold Bowl. I’m not so sure Baldwin Wallace beating John Carroll is a massive upset, but our Top 25 certainly thinks so.

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

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Keith’s take: Huntington at LaGrange. The USA South gets wacky if the Hawks stumble.
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Ryan’s take: Millsaps at Birmingham-Southern. With seven SAA teams at .500 or better, the conference is interesting well beyond the top one or two teams.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Catholic at Maine Maritime. Hoping to see the alma mater get to 2-8 here at the end of the season, even after the 678-mile trip.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Mount St. Joseph at SUNY-Maritime. Will the Privateers be the lone playoff participant with a sub-.500 record? Will Lions quarterback Chaiten Tomlin become the HCAC’s all-time leading passer in his final game?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 22 Brockport at Morrisville State. The Mustangs hung 49 on a decent Fisher team that Brockport couldn’t score more than 17 against. This could be a “look past” game for Brockport if they’re not careful, and playoff seeding depends on it.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Ohio Wesleyan at Wittenberg. The Bishops are coming off of an impressive win against Denison and have a chance to take back Ye Olde Skull for the first time since 2006. Yes, they play for a skull.

Which team secures its Pool C ticket with a win?

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Keith’s take: Redlands, by winning at Occidental. I’m not confident that a win definitely gets many more teams in …
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Ryan’s take: Wartburg. With so many great 1- (and even 2-)loss teams out there, the 8-1 Knights falling to Loras would be the nail in their playoff-hopes coffin. But they have a strong SOS, so they would be a good candidate with a win on Saturday.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Redlands. As secure as anyone can be for an at-large spot, that is.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Susquehanna. With a win at Juniata, the River Hawks should clinch their first playoff berth since 2009. Back then, the team was called the Crusaders and played in the Liberty League.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 10 John Carroll (at Baldwin Wallace). This game will help keep John Carroll afloat enough to get one of the last Pool C bids.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Wesley. The Wolverines have had a habit of making things interesting this season, but they just need to grind out one more win to see their name in the field on Sunday.

Which team will be the highest ranked team to miss the NCAA tournament?

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Keith’s take: No. 17 St. Thomas, because it moves up after beating Bethel, No. 6 North Central dodges a bullet and No. 10 JCU loses. Maybe?
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Ryan’s take: No. 15 Hardin-Simmons. They’re a great squad, but with two losses (and one of the teams that beat them also at two losses), there’s really no chance to see HSU in the mix come Sunday.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Hardin-Simmons.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: John Carroll. Many voters have the Blue Streaks ranked in their top ten. A win over Baldwin Wallace on Saturday may get them in the top 15 on my ballot. It appears that still won’t be enough to get the OAC a second team in the playoffs this year.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 15 Hardin-Simmons. Losing to only UMHB and TLU shouldn’t lead to this type of ending, but with just five at-large bids, we can say to the Cowboys, “Thanks for playing, and enjoy your lovely parting gifts.”
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: St. Thomas. With the BW assist forecasted above, a Tommies win over Bethel should push them up and over current No. 15 Hardin-Simmons and be the highest ranked team to not move on to Week 12.

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.

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Quick Hits Week 9: In a New York state of mind

It is a huge weekend in the East region with a pair of high profile clashes amongst conference unbeatens. Our panel tackles the Empire 8 and Liberty League showdowns as well as letting you know which teams will help and hurt their regional ranking profiles before the NCAA releases the first rankings for 2019 on Wednesday.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas.

— Greg Thomas

Which game is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: Brockport at No. 18 Cortland. Union-Ithaca works too, and there are 42,000+ folks who want the Cortaca rivals to remain atop the Empire 8 and Liberty League, respectively.
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Ryan’s take: No. 25 Union at No. 8 Ithaca. The Bombers’ dynamic pass game against a Dutchman D that hasn’t given up more than two touchdowns in any game this season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Johns Hopkins at No. 6 Muhlenberg. The Blue Jays are mere points away from this being a battle of unbeatens, and might be able to play spoiler.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Johns Hopkins at Muhlenberg. The rivalry is the ultimate test to see if Muhlenberg has really become the team to beat in the Centennial. The Mules have looked the part thus far.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 25 Union at No. 8 Ithaca. It’s win and you’re in — and has Pool C implications. I explain this on today’s ATN Friday Podcast.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 25 Union at No. 8 Ithaca. The first ticket to the 2019 playoffs is getting punched by one of these two teams Saturday at Butterfield.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 6 Muhlenberg. There are people around the Johns Hopkins program who think the Blue Jays are better this year than last, even though the results don’t show it. This would be the time to show it.
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Ryan’s take: No. 18 Cortland.  I feel like Brockport’s season-opening loss has left this 6-1 team flying under many people’s radars most of the season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 18 Cortland. Probably someone needs to keep picking Cortland until they get upset, and I will take the short straw this time.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No 18. Cortland. Brockport’s defense is the real deal, pitching three shutouts since allowing 33 points in a season-opening loss at Hobart. The top rushing and third down defense is also the fourth-best pass efficiency and total defense in the nation.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 8 Ithaca (vs. No. 25 Union). In 2009, the last time Ithaca was No. 8 in the D3football.com poll, Union beat the Bombers. As long as the Dutchmen come in healthy and have great ball control, history will repeat itself, this time at Butterfield.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 18 Cortland. The Golden Eagles have been largely off the radar since their week 1 loss to Hobart. Eight weeks later, that Brockport defense is as smothering as ever and are poised to take control of the E8 race.

Which conference leader or co-leader picks up a loss?

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Keith’s take: Benedictine, vs. Aurora. There are lots of candidates, but I think the front-runners will pull a near clean sweep. The Fightin’ Beebes take control in the NACC in a shootout.
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Ryan’s take: Benedictine.  A de facto NACC title bout, co-leader Aurora has been more impressive throughout the season (though these last couple of weeks have been easier matchups).
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Hanover. Mount St. Joseph will be out to obliterate people the rest of the way and Hanover stands in the Lions’ way this week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Hanover. The Panthers go on the road to a Mount St. Joseph team playing with its season on the line. A Lions win would create a three-way tie atop the HCAC and keep MSJ’s postseason hopes alive.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Denison (vs. DePauw). DePauw’s defense should have enough in the engine to make this a close enough game to win over the Big Red.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Cortland qualifies, but I’ll give another here- Hanover. The Panthers are hot, but taking out Chaiten Tomlin in what is likely his last home game is a tall order.

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

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Keith’s take: McMurry at Hardin-Simmons.  I just want to see how the Cowboys bounce back from last week’s last-second loss. The War Hawks are 0-7 with two recent nailbiter losses of their own.
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Ryan’s take: Fitchburg State at Worcester State. Friday night, under the light, one of these teams will get their first conference win.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Central at Simpson. If Central can’t handle Simpson, they can’t hope to challenge Wartburg in Week 10.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Marietta at Baldwin Wallace. I’m still trying to figure out who, if anyone, can give Mount Union a decent challenge in the OAC. I’ve been bullish on the Yellow Jackets since Jim Hilvert took the reins. He has his team positioned for a second straight 7-1 start.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Endicott at Western New England. It’s a huge CCC game between the co-leaders, and both teams can put up a crapload of points (wait, can I say that in Quick Hits?!).
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 15 Chapman at Pomona-Pitzer.  The last significant hurdle between Chapman and a SCIAC championship, the Panthers will have to survive do-it-all QB Karter Odermann and the Sagehens under the lights.

Which team boosts its profile ahead of Wednesday’s first regional rankings?

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Keith’s take: UW-Platteville, at home facing a 5-2 UW-Oshkosh coming off a 31-3 loss to UW-La Crosse, should make a move in the West.
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Ryan’s take: Muhlenberg. While Hopkins isn’t the beast they were last year, they’re still an above-average team that make a Mules win meaningful.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Bridgewater. Just by playing Emory & Henry, the Eagles’ strength of schedule stands to improve from .478 to around .499.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Ithaca. The Bombers should be able to lock down the number one spot in the East with a win over fellow unbeaten Union.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 18 Cortland (vs. Brockport). Cortland’s SOS will take a nice jump, and that’s going to be needed to help the Red Dragons to overtake Salisbury, especially if Ithaca loses against Union.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 14 Wesley. The Wolverines won’t have too much trouble at TCNJ, but their already robust Pool C profile will be fortified with road wins by Delaware Valley and Endicott, who I expect will be regionally ranked on Wednesday.

Which team hurts its profile ahead of Wednesday’s first regional rankings?

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Keith’s take: Western New England. The Golden Bears are at home, 6-1 and regionally ranked higher than Endicott, but the Gulls can be part of the big shuffle in the East rankings coming this weekend.
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Ryan’s take: Bethel. Yeah, they beat Hamline (of course), but Hamline isn’t a win that resonates, piled on by expected losses this week by past Royals opponents St. Olaf, River Falls and Simpson. Bethel’s criteria stock drops.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Union. Because a loss is imminent and while their SOS will increase, that won’t offset the defeat.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Bridgewater. I think Emory and Henry can pull off the upset of the unbeaten Eagles.The Wasps have averaged 50 points per game during their current five-game winning streak. This would be a Top 25 upset in my poll.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 10 Salisbury. Their next three games will kill their Strength of Schedule. With currently six undefeated teams (vs. D3) in the East, their SOS & results vs. regionally ranked opponents need to prop them up — but their remaining schedule doesn’t help.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No 10. Salisbury. Our mock regional rankings had Salisbury grade out as the top team in the East. But Salisbury is about to get a triple whammy; CNU drops their SOS, East challenger Ithaca picks up a ranked win and their own SOS boost, and UW-Oshkosh loses touch with the West rankings. It’s a fickle game this.

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.

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Quick Hits Week 7: All eyes on Minnesota

This week our Quick Hits panel delivers takes on Johnnie-Tommie, of course, but also points out upsets brewing out east, undefeated runs coming to an end, and which teams are going to go home victorious for the first time this season.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas.

— Greg Thomas
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com

Which game is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: Johnnie-Tommie. I might have gotten it wrong on the pod, but I’m right here. Given the rankings and the atmosphere, don’t think you can go anywhere else for GOTW.
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Ryan’s take: The Johnnie-Tommie Game. As Pat would say … next question.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: The Johnnie-Tommie game. Not to go MIAC two weeks in a row, but to be honest, you have to.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Johnnie-Tommie. This should be unanimous. Next question.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 4 St. John’s vs. No. 11 St. Thomas. It’s a survival game for St. Thomas and a major rivalry game — you can’t ask for much more than that.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Johnnie-Tommie, yes. But also Hobart @ Ithaca, Middlebury @ Wesleyan, Wartburg @ Simpson, Delaware Valley @ Wilkes, and Alfred @ Cortland make for a nice undercard.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 9 Ithaca. The Bombers (5-0) would probably have to play their worst game of the season to lose to visiting Hobart (4-1), but I don’t like to cop out and say none for this question.
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Ryan’s take: No. 19 UW-Platteville. Opponent UW-Stout has been playing better than their record would show, and Platteville is coming off a difficult loss last week.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 12 Salisbury. Rowan has played well against a tough schedule and Salisbury can’t possibly execute as well as it did against Wesley.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 22 Cortland. The Red Dragons have looked impressive, but against inferior competition. The first real test of the season comes in Week 7 against 5-1 Alfred. The Saxons are 4-1, coming off a bye week, and are faced with a must-win.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 22 Cortland (vs. Alfred). Alfred had a bye week in Week 6, while Cortland struggled with Morrisville St. With 21 sacks in five games, the Saxons’ defense needs to reach Cortland QB Brett Segala to win this.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 16 Delaware Valley. If there is a serious challenger in the MAC to the Aggies, it’s got to be the undefeated, home standing Wilkes Colonels.

Pick a winner from a game between unbeaten conference opponents.

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Keith’s take: I think Del Val handles Wilkes, which is 5-0 against a schedule that’s 6-16 in its other games, and ranked 209th by one metric and 230th by another.
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Ryan’s take: No. 22 Cortland, over Alfred. The Red Dragons’ margins of victory have been impressive all year, though this week starts the first game in a very tough back half of the season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: St. Norbert, vs. Beloit. This might be the biggest gimme on the board.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Monmouth. The Scots haven’t lost an MWC South contest since 2014. After laboring through an unexpected bye week due to Grinnell cancelling its season, the Scots will take out their frustration on Illinois College.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Anna Maria (vs. Dean). This ECFC game could go a long way in deciding the conference winner, since there are just five league games per member. Anna Maria “rings the bell” in Paxton, Mass.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 18 Wartburg. I’m higher on the Knights than the Top 25 is overall and I expect they’ll be able to weather the Storm on Saturday.

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

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Keith’s take: Morrisville State at Utica: The Mustangs nearly knocked off Alfred and Cortland the past two weeks. They are going to catch someone napping.
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Ryan’s take: The middle of the NCAC. With 4-1 OWU squaring off against 3-2 DePauw, and 4-1 Denison against 3-2 Wooster, we’ll get a whole new (clearer?) picture of the conference after this weekend.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: The panel is pretty solid. But I know that if I don’t punch in the score of the Central-Buena Vista game, nobody else will either.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Misericordia at FDU-Florham. For the second straight season, the Cougars have opened conference play with a win streak. Impressive after the program failed to string together consecutive wins through its first six years. I’ll be keeping an eye on Misericordia as long as the streak is alive.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Springfield at Merchant Marine. The Mariners can’t get caught looking ahead to a potential NEWMAC undefeated showdown in Week 8 at WPI. Springfield needs to win the game to survive in the NEWMAC race.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Washington U. @ No. 5 Wheaton. Wheaton has a game in hand against their chief CCIW rivals, but the Bears can formally insert themselves into the CCIW race by duplicating their 2018 upset of the Thunder.

Pick one of the remaining 23 undefeated teams to drop their first game.

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Keith’s take: St. Olaf‘s schedule (8-17, 204th, 215th) is not much better than Wilkes’. Bethel gets it done.
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Ryan’s take: Wilkes, to Delaware Valley.  Though having a loss to a nationally ranked team, the Aggies are still likely to come out on top in the MAC in Week 11.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Picked one above and will add Wilkes to the list.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: St. Olaf. I discussed this deja vu in today’s podcast. For the second straight season, the Oles opened 5-0. They will likely once again suffer their first loss at the hands of the Royals. Winning just one of their final five contests will give the Oles their best season since 2012.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 4 St. John’s St. John’s has been somewhat inconsistent on offense, while St. Thomas has been more consistent on both sides of the ball. We’ll see if Eau Claire was a fluke or not by the end of this game.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: St. Olaf. I expect a solid rebound game from Jaran Roste and the Bethel Royals and a reminder about the pretty clear tiers that exist in the MIAC.

Pick one of the remaining 28 winless teams to pick up their first win.

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Keith’s take: Allegheny (0-5) has had a top-loaded schedule, and will get on the right track against 3-2 Kenyon.
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Ryan’s take: Buffalo State, over Rochester. In a game not as close as you’d think between two winless teams.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Buffalo State. At least we know there will be one.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Maryville. The only 2018 playoff participant still seeking its first victory of 2019, the Scots face an improved Methodist squad. Maryville’s offense finally got going in Week 6, putting up a season-high 35 points against Huntingdon. The defense will have its hands full once again against running back Vontre Howard and the Monarchs.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Gettysburg (at Juniata). Juniata has had an inconsistent path this season, making the Week 5 win before the bye potentially lead to a Week 7 loss, if the trend continues.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Allegheny. The Gators’ first half schedule was tough, but I’m not sure 0-5 is how most saw the Rich Nagy era starting. Kenyon has been a good first half story, but I think it is Allegheny’s turn to notch a win.

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.