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Quick Hits Week 10: It’s Bid Clinching Season!

We’ve reached the penultimate week of the regular season which means games with major Pool C implications, games that will decide conference champions, and a lot of teams playing the game before THE game. Our panel gets you ready for Week 10 as they take a look at who is getting in, who is getting trapped, and which bubbles are getting popped.

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. 25 TLU at No. 2 UMHB. It’s on the Bulldogs to hold up their end of the bargain vs. the champs to make this a GOTW, but given the defensive and turnover margin prowess by both, it should be one.
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Ryan’s take: No. 25 Texas Lutheran at No. 2 Mary-Hardin Baylor. I’ve got TLU much higher on my ballot than 25th, and this very well could be a play-in game for them for the postseason.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 11 Wartburg at Central. This has almost as much potential to mess things up, and should be a closer game.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Randolph-Macon at No. 24 Bridgewater. The overwhelming preseason ODAC favorite takes on the team that has dominated the conference all year. Each team has proven it can win with all three phases. A playoff berth is at stake. #ODACtion. .
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 25 Texas Lutheran at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor. The entire Pool C nation is going to be watching this game to see if a bubble bursts, and with TLU’s win vs. the Cowboys earlier this season — it’s not an impossible situation.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Birmingham-Southern at Trinity(TX). I preview the game and its SAA importance in today’s ATN, but Robert Shufford has been a must watch attraction for three weeks now and has his Panthers on the brink of the playoffs.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 10 John Carroll. If Heidelberg makes a two-point conversion on Sept. 28 vs. Baldwin Wallace, this is the Pool C elimination game, not BW/JCU next week, potentially.
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Ryan’s take: No. 11 Wartburg. The Knights and Central have the ARC’s top two offenses, and Central’s is balanced enough to do some real damage against a good defense like Wartburg’s.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 18 St. Thomas. Gustavus Adolphus almost pulled this off last year, and it seems more likely in 2019.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 23 Linfield. Whitworth has uncharacteristically lost two games already this season. Yet, the Pirates still have their playoff goal within reach. A win over the surging Wildcats would put Whitworth in the NWC driver’s seat.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 24 Bridgewater (vs. Randolph-Macon). I just haven’t had a high level of confidence with Bridgewater, even despite the Stevenson game earlier this season. The Yellow Jackets had their scare last week and bounce back well here.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 10 John Carroll. This one has all the makings. With a possible play-in game looming in Week 11, the Streaks have to survive a Senior Day afternoon against a quality Heidelberg side.

Which team makes a strong Pool C statement?

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Keith’s take: Bridgewater or Wartburg.  I don’t think this was the intent of the question, but the Pool C statement might be, “Come join us.”
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Ryan’s take: No. 6 North Central. IWU’s early-season losses knocked them out of many folks’ minds, but they have a good SOS and record, which will further bolster NCC’s resume with a win.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Ithaca. RPI lost twice in the past five games, and the three wins were against teams who are a combined 2-23.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 17 Ithaca. Every game from here on out is a chance for the Bombers to bounce back and prove themselves worthy of a playoff bid. But Union has already clinched the Liberty League’s automatic bid. The Bombers can’t look past RPI, even with the big game looming in Week 11.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 17 Ithaca (at RPI). Word from Ithaca was that the locker room was silent after last week’s Union loss. However, the Regional Rankings reminded the Bombers on how they can still make it into the NCAA Playoffs — they rebound in Troy.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 6 North Central. North Central’s SOS may garner a bit of side-eye from other Pool C hopefuls, but Saturday’s result against Illinois Wesleyan will be decisive and leave no doubt about the quality of these Cardinals.

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

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Keith’s take: Middlebury at Tufts. Of all the great NESCAC rivalry games, it’s a non-rival that stands between the Panthers and 9-0. And since five of their wins are by 7 points or fewer, beating the 4-4 Jumbos is no gimme.
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Ryan’s take: Oberlin at DePauw.  I’ve already seen Wabash this year, but I haven’t gotten a great look at DePauw just yet, and now’s the time with just a week before Monon Bell.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Springfield at Maine Maritime. If you’re following, don’t blink. Game should last about 2 hours, 15 minutes.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Hanover at Rose-Hulman. The HCAC championship game comes a week earlier than expected. The Panthers dispatched Mount St. Joseph in Week 9, and perennial power Franklin has already stumbled to two conference losses. The Fightin’ Engineers will host a de facto conference championship game for the first time.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Coast Guard at WPI. The NEWMAC race will become much clearer after this game. A WPI win makes it more of a WPI/MIT race in Week 11. A WPI loss makes it more of a MIT/Springfield race then, assuming MIT and Springfield win this week.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Hiram at Wabash. The gates at Byron P. Hollett Little Giant Stadium close tomorrow for the last time, home of Wabash football since 1966. What’s that? My eyes? That’s nothing. Just a little demolition dust.

Which team stumbles before its Week 11 rivalry game?

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Keith’s take: No. 17 Ithaca.  I wouldn’t bet on the Bombers to lose, since RPI has looked nothing like the quarterfinalist it was last season. But no team has a bigger trap game, with a 42,000+ rivalry game crowd and potential play-in looming.
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Ryan’s take: Hanover. Rose-Hulman is 6-2, with a lot of similar scores against common opponents. It’ll be a very tough matchup for the Panthers ahead of the Victory Bell game against Franklin.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Rowan, with a loss on the grass at CNU before their big game with rival TCNJ next week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Hampden-Sydney. The Tigers stumble to a shocking 1-8 start before The Game. The worst season in program history since 1999 could still be salvaged in Week 11 against rival Randolph-Macon.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: RPI (vs. No. 17 Ithaca). After RPI came and eked out a one-point win at Ithaca last year, an improved Bombers team is going to get revenge on RPI’s home turf this year.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Ohio Wesleyan. Double dipping in the NCAC here, but Denison has looked fantastic this season outside of their trip to Wabash. The Battling Bishops may have a rough time on Saturday ahead of their Week 11 battle for Ye Olde Skull at Wittenberg.

Which unranked team clinches a bid to the tournament?

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Keith’s take: Randolph-Macon.  (drops mic, struts out of room)
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Ryan’s take: Framingham State. This is absolutely no gimme, however, going up against MASCAC No. 2 Bridgewater State, Framingham does have all the pieces in place to clinch.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Hanover. And if they don’t, I blame the next guy on the list.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: SUNY-Maritime. Although it comes with an asterisk, it’s still an impressive debut for rookie head coach Mickey Rehring.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Framingham St. (vs. Bridgewater St.). The Rams are always tough at home, and the MASCAC is up for grabs in this game — FSU wins it with a win; BSU can’t win it until next week if the Bears win.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Hanover. I couldn’t have been more wrong about the Panthers last week, so I’m bringing them back and picking them here to win at RHIT and punch their ticket to a second consecutive NCAA tournament.

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: 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.
Guest
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.
Guest
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.
Guest
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.
Guest
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.
Guest
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.
Guest
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.

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Around the Nation Podcast 222: We predict at-large teams

Often this time of year we do a projected Division III NCAA Tournament field, but this year we’re so busy making podcasts that we didn’t do one. Instead, Pat and Keith are doing both at the same time: talking through the process of selecting at-large teams right on this podcast.

This is a projected playoff field if the season ended today. All six teams that we got to choose can affect their playoff resume on the field on Saturday, and for that matter, so can all of the teams with automatic bids. Even those who are already in the field could impact their seeding with a loss or by winning while others around them lose.

And those are just the normal scenarios. We could see crazy scenarios, such as, say, last year when Carnegie Mellon committed a penalty and had a punt blocked to kill its potential upset of Case Western Reserve. What are the unlikely, but awesome scenarios that could occur? Greg Thomas threw a few out there and we discuss those as well.

Plus Kevin Bullis tells us how his UW-Whitewater team is looking entering Week 11, Keith asks Pat what could go wrong with this projection and Pat asks Keith to figure out what the Mayors Cup is. 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 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

Link: NCAA Division III playoff criteria, from our FAQ
Link: Playoff primer podcast (No. 216, with committee chair Jim Catanzaro)

Photo: Frostburg State back Grayson Boyce (Frostburg State athletics photo)

Theme music: DJmentos.