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ATN Podcast: The bracket reaction

We’re still feeling really good about this bracket — about the teams selected, about the first-round pairings, about so much of it. We’ll hear from the NCAA committee chair, Jack McKiernan, gets Keith’s view on watching his alma mater clinch an automatic bid and talk about that John Carroll-Mount Union game. Plus, we’ll discuss who got the best and the toughest draws, what the best first-round games are, what (if anything) the committee got wrong and more in this week’s Around the Nation Podcast.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by the City of Salem, hosts of Stagg Bowl XLIV. For more information about the Stagg Bowl or any national championship Salem hosts, visit salemchampionships.com.

The Around the Nation Podcast is a weekly conversation between Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan covering the wide range of Division III football. It drops on Monday morning weekly throughout the season.

Hit play, or subscribe to get this podcast on your mobile device. 
You can subscribe to the Around the Nation Podcast in iTunes. 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
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Quick Hits: One last week for all the marbles

As this portion of the Quick Hits season draws to a close, we tackle the big rivalry games, the playoff picture and all the rest. Our guest prognosticator is Frank Rajkowski, who covers St. John’s football for the St, Cloud Times.

— Pat Coleman

Which Week 11 game is the game of the week?

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Keith’s take: No. 18 St. John Fisher at No. 14 Alfred. There are other big games, but none impact the potential playoff field like whether or not the Cardinals are in Pool C.
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Ryan’s take: No. 18 St. John Fisher at No. 14 Alfred. Likely to be much more of a dogfight than the other game between Top 25 teams.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 8 St. John’s at Concordia-Moorhead. This game is frequently given to last-second heroics, and it has playoff implications.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 18 St. John Fisher at No. 14 Alfred. Every team on the Pool C bubble will have an eye on this one.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 16 John Carroll at No. 1 Mount Union. The Purple Raiders haven’t had a real test. This will show us where they’re at.
Frank Rajkowski
Frank’s take: I want to say St. John’s at Concordia since a lot is on the line and, you know, I’ll be covering it. But it’s hard to pick against ranked teams playing for a conference title, when top-ranked Mount Union plays host to No. 16 John Carroll.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 8 St. John’s, and to a lesser degree No. 17 Wabash. Each puts its 8-1 record on the line vs. 7-2 foe; Johnnies have lost 3 of 4 to Concordia-Moorhead.
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Ryan’s take: No. 25 St. Lawrence. WPI played Hobart close — in fact, the Engineers’ three losses all season were by a total of nine points.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: None. Going with a good old-fashioned slate of chalk. Get it, slate? Chalk?
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 8 St. John’s at Concordia-Moorhead. The Cobbers create some more Pool C chaos and stake a claim to one of the six bids.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 21 Case Western Reserve vs. Carnegie Mellon. CMU has been playing consistent ball while Case had a scare last week.
Frank Rajkowski
Frank’s take: I guess the Top 25 team with the toughest test is No. 8 St. John’s, which travels to Concordia in a game that both teams have to win if they want to keep their shot at an at-large bid alive.

Who salvages a poor season with a win in the finale?

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Keith’s take: Pacific has won six or seven games for three seasons running, but has three losses by four points or fewer this season. The Boxers win at home vs. Puget Sound to get to 4-5.
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Ryan’s take: Albion. My, how far the Britons have fallen.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Williams. I’m going with the Ephs because Amherst is having an uncharacteristically bad year and Williams, while winless, should smell a chance.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Hampden-Sydney defeats rival Randolph-Macon in The Game, because the ODAC can’t possibly have a clear outright champion two years in a row, can it?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Wesley. “Poor” is a relative term, and a two-loss season is considered such for Wesley. A win salvages the season with a playoff berth.
Frank Rajkowski
Frank’s take: Bethel can salvage a .500 season with a win at Hamline. The Pipers are already assured of finishing .500 for the first time since 1997. A victory would give Hamline its first winning season since 1995.

Which team ranked No. 1 in its region has the closest game in Week 11?

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Keith’s take: Mount Union. The Purple Raiders look as dominant as always, especially with a D that’s allowed 42 points in six games, but the Blue Streaks (39 in past six) could be their equal.
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Ryan’s take: Alfred, but I guess that goes without saying based on my answer to the first question.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Mount Union, vs. John Carroll. Going with an alternate view here.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Alfred is the top team in the East, but plays No. 2 St. John Fisher. It would be a stunner if this isn’t the closest.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Alfred, vs. St. John Fisher. Their closeness in ranking is fitting as these teams should battle to the finish line.
Frank Rajkowski
Frank’s take: Pretty obviously Alfred, which is ranked No. 1 in the East, but faces St. John Fisher, ranked No. 2.

Who goes into the playoffs without momentum?

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Keith’s take: I really looked for other options here, but Alfred seems like the likeliest team to both lose and still get into the postseason..
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Ryan’s take: John Carroll. Finishing out the season against The Machine takes its toll.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: The winner of the ODAC. The fact that I can’t even easily determine who that will be says it all.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 23 Stevenson may have peaked too soon. The Mustangs enter the playoffs following a loss to 3-6 Wilkes and an uninspiring performance against 3-6 Lycoming.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Western New England. With a QB named “Victory,” Coast Guard ends the season with a victory as the Golden Bears potentially rest some players.
Frank Rajkowski
Frank’s take: Olivet has already wrapped up an automatic bid. But the Comets have given up 115 points over three games. That could continue against Trine (6-3), averaging 35.4 points per game.

Alma mater excluded, pick a winner in a rivalry game.

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Keith’s take: Wesleyan (6-1) keeps Trinity Conn. from an unbeaten season and opens the door for Tufts (6-1) to claim NESCAC by beating Middlebury (6-1).
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Ryan’s take: Case Western Reserve over Carnegie Mellon. Finishing undefeated, this is a team that WILL be riding high going into the postseason.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Monmouth. Haven’t lost to Knox in how long? Add one year to the streak.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 17 Wabash could extend its Monon Bell win streak to a record eight in a row. A win could also secure a Pool C berth for the Little Giants. I’m picking the Tigers to play spoiler and snap DePauw’s losing streak.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: RPI, vs. Union. RPI has played very strong football at home vs. Union over the past years, even as the underdog. Their experience at defense helps keep it close enough for a late win.
Frank Rajkowski
Frank’s take: Well, I went to St. Cloud State (which closes its season vs. Minnesota-Duluth). But Mount Union-John Carroll is usually a game to watch. I’m not going out on any limb here. But I’ll take the Purple Raiders.

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

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Quick Hits: Eyes on Texas, New York, Maryland

And as the end of the football regular season approaches and a bunch of schools turn their sights on basketball, we figured it was time to bring in a basketball expert to join us on Quick Hits. Hence, Dave McHugh, of Hoopsville and D3hoops.com, stops by to give us hits that resemble quickness. (Possibly edited for extra quickness.) Who will clinch this week? Who can still play their way into the regional rankings? We predict that and more in this week’s Quick Hits.

— Pat Coleman

Which game would you rather be at this weekend?

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Keith’s take: No. 21 ETBU at No. 10 HSU is the best game. But I’ve never seen a game at Westminster (Pa.), and their battle with Case should be huge.
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Ryan’s take: No. 21 ETBU at No. 10 HSU. A one-loss ASC team should be primed for a Pool C spot, which means this is likely a game to determine who gets to take the field on Nov. 19.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Hobart at No. 16 St. Lawrence. I’m taking a pretty crazy trip to get there, so what else would I say?
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: The only game between ranked opponents, No. 21 East Texas Baptist’s electric offense against No. 10 Hardin-Simmons’ stout defense.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Hobart at No. 16 St. Lawrence. I cover the Liberty League on “In the HuddLLe” each week. Where else would I be?  Plus, Pat Coleman will be there. That’s like the sprinkles on an already great sundae.
Guest
Dave’s take: Lycoming at Delaware Valley. While the Warriors are not in the race, they have Del Val this week and Stevenson the next and could change the complexion of the conference. The Aggies have to stay in postseason position.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 18 Salisbury. The Sea Gulls finally beat their Route 13 rival last season, but Wesley is scrapping for its playoff life.
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Ryan’s take: No. 18 Salisbury. Wesley’s slow start is behind them, and they’re trending upward going into the famed Route 13 rivalry game.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 18 Salisbury. It might be a chic pick by this point, but I’m going to buy into the Wesley resurgence and see if they can’t go down Rte. 13 and get a W.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Wesley is playing with its back against the wall, needing to upset No. 18 Salisbury on the road. I think the Wolverines pull it off to keep their playoff streak alive, for now.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 16 St. Lawrence. SLU hasn’t faced an air attack like Hobart’s. While I don’t usually favor one-dimensional offenses, SLU’s offense has also been somewhat off since their bye. Close game favors Hobart’s cardiac kids.
Guest
Dave’s take: No. 16 St. Lawrence. I decided to look for the best basketball matchup. The teams’ similar outcomes against common opponents intrigues me. I like Hobart finishing on top Saturday and in February, too.

Pick a Chicago-area team to win and a Cleveland-area team to lose.

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Keith’s take: Baldwin Wallace has lost its past three by a total of five points, and Heidelberg should send them to another loss. Benedictine, while keeping one eye on Aurora-Lakeland, tops Concordia-Chicago.
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Ryan’s take: North Central and Oberlin. NCC will notch an impressive and SOS-boosting win over 6-2 Cathage. Oberlin’s first win of the season will continue to be elusive against DePauw.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Elmhurst and Oberlin. Elmhurst hosts Millikin, which is having a strong season, but I like the Bluejays at home. Oberlin hosts DePauw and it’s not enough of a trap game for the Tigers to lose.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Wheaton and Case. Wheaton continues to build its Pool C resume. I have a feeling Westminster (Pa.) is going to resolve a lot of playoff questions by ending Case’s perfect season, sending Indians fans into a deeper spiral.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: North Central and Case Western Reserve. NCC will beat a Carthage team with just two losses (both by 19-14 scores), and Case will lose against Westminster (Pa.), which would potentially open up a Pool C bid.
Guest
Dave’s take: Benedictine and Baldwin Wallace. The Cubs already won. Why do we need to pick someone else? Benedictine’s men’s basketball tournament run allowed me to get back to my childhood home of Chicago, and sorry, Baldwin Wallace — Heidelberg wins this.

How many yards will Belhaven throw for vs. Mary Hardin-Baylor?

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Keith’s take: Belhaven averages 420. UMHB allows 194. So let’s split the difference and say 307.
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Ryan’s take: 305. The Cru defense is sure to rein in the average.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: 347. Not a random number — this is the number of yards Linfield threw for vs. UMHB in September.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: 298, with the majority coming in fourth-quarter garbage time.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: 307. Belhaven averages 419.75 yards per game, and UMHB gives up 193.9 yards in the air. I split the difference here.
Guest
Dave’s take: 450. A top 5 squad whose pass defense is not the strongest suit against an offense that likes to throw. This is like when basketball teams play Grinnell. I would be surprised if they throw for less than 450 yards.

Pick a team outside the regional rankings who will clinch an automatic bid.

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Keith’s take: Husson clinches the ECFC by beating Norwich, and causes a 500-mile radius problem for the playoff field.
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Ryan’s take: Redlands, back in the dance after missing the last two seasons.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Eureka. When I predicted in Kickoff the Red Devils would go 8-2, that left them one game short of the playoffs. They’re in position to do that prediction one better if they beat Northwestern.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Bridgewater State. The Bears opened the season 0-2 but have been perfect in MASCAC play. A win at Framingham State will clinch the conference title, but it won’t be easy.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Husson. This takes two events: 1) Husson beats 4-4 Norwich; and 2) SUNY-Maritime beats 4-4 Mount Ida (the Privateers nearly beat Norwich a week earlier).
Guest
Dave’s take: Eureka! The Red Devils are having an outstanding season. Despite the fact Northwestern has been on top of the conference and now regionally ranked, I think Eureka pulls off the upset.

Who plays their way into next week’s regional rankings?

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Keith’s take: Salve Regina moves in if it beats Western New England, although I am not making a pick one way or another in that clash.
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Ryan’s take: Huntingdon. Against Maryville, this is basically for the conference crown.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Redlands. I’m not sure why the Bulldogs weren’t in there already. They have a similar record to Northwestern and a much better strength of schedule.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: At least two ranked East Region teams are guaranteed to lose on Saturday. That opens the door for a two-loss Delaware Valley team to creep into next week’s rankings.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Husson. Staying at one loss should be enough for the Eagles to crawl into the East Regional Rankings.
Guest
Dave’s take: I think the matchup between Wash U and Hendrix could potentially result in one of them being regionally ranked, though the Bears have the best chance. Wash U enters the week with a .564 SOS. The bottom of the South Region appears to be rather fluid.

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