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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.
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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.

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ATN Podcast: Breaking down the conference races

We started our deep dive into the playoffs on last week’s edition and we know we had a lot of new listeners — now we have to really talk about some of the automatic bids. Some conferences have pretty interesting races here in the final two weeks of the regular season and Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan look closely at the PAC, where two teams could finish unbeaten and never play each other, along with the NACC, NCAC, NJAC and the American Southwest Conference. Plus, even though this never has any playoff relevance, Pat and Keith debate whether you can rank a NESCAC team in the Top 25.

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: Hard act to follow

Last week was such a great one in Division III that it might be hard to follow, but we will do our best, since there are quite a few great games and some really intriguing ones on tap. Our guest prognosticator this week is Mary Hardin-Baylor fan Chad Hammonds, someone who follows UMHB very closely and knows that in order to be a fan of a top team, you need to know a little bit about the rest of the country, since you could be playing them in Week 12, 13, 14, etc. (Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com)

— Pat Coleman

Which game is your game that’s a must-watch this week?

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Keith’s take: No. 11 Wheaton at No. 6 North Central. Loser could make the playoffs, but within 500 miles of WIAC, MIAC and OAC, you want as high a seed as possible.
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Ryan’s take: No. 3 UMHB at No. 16 ETBU. One of these sets of initials will earn an exclamation point on the season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 11 Wheaton at No. 6 North Central. You can almost never go wrong with this game — it’s a rivalry that has blown up in the past decade.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 11 Wheaton at No. 6 North Central. We’ll finally find out what kind of team the Thunder is.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 3 UMHB at No. 16 ETBU. ETBU needs to prove itself as better than the team that lost by 47 last year. Their playoff lives depend on it.
Guest
Chad’s take: No. 3 UMHB at No. 16 ETBU. Scotty Walden has the Tigers flying high. Can the Tigers take their outright conference hopes a step further, or will the Cru continue their dominance?

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 13 St. John Fisher or No. 23 Alfred. The two best teams in the Empire 8 face Utica and Cortland, respectively, and neither has been defensively smothering.
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Ryan’s take: No. 22 Hendrix. I’m not sure I’d put money on this happening, but Berry is as tough as they come in the SAA.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 21 Dubuque. A little far for me to drive this weekend but I will be paying attention to their game vs. Coe.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 21 Dubuque. Can Coe make it two wins in a row over ranked conference opponents?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 13 St. John Fisher. Fisher’s defense has begun to struggle. This game will be a track meet on enemy turf — and Utica likes the spoiler role.
Guest
Chad’s take: No. 22 Hendrix. This game has playoff ramifications. Can the anchor of the DLine for Berry stop the dual threat of Winn and Millsap?

Predict the winner in a game between unbeaten conference opponents.

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Keith’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor beats East Texas Baptist. I wouldn’t be surprised if the teams combine for 80 or 90 points.
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Ryan’s take: Wittenberg over Denison. Next.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: UW-Whitewater over UW-La Crosse. It’s been a great start to the season for La Crosse, but they’re not ready to pick off the Warhawks.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 15 Wittenberg stays unbeaten by handing fellow NCAC unbeaten Denison its first loss of the season.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 6 North Central. I grabbed a coin. I flipped it. North Central was heads. Heads it was. This is a tremendous game with so much on the line.
Guest
Chad’s take: Besides the Cru, I have to go North Central over Wheaton. The home night game  in Naperville and the 28th defense will prove too much for the Thunder.

The Centennial Conference is back after its midseason break. Pick an upset.

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Keith’s take: I’ll take 0-5 Ursinus to win at Juniata. The Bears held one-touchdown leads with 7 and 4 minutes left in its past two games.
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Ryan’s take: Susquehanna over Moravian. Even 1-1 the last two games, the River Hawks have shown they’re trending upward.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Ursinus over Juniata. It does seem like Ursinus is playing better the past two weeks and if forced to pick an upset, this is the one.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Ursinus finally gets in the win column by knocking off Juniata.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: McDaniel (at Franklin & Marshall). McDaniel can put up points, making me believe they’re not a one-hit wonder. With a rested defense, F&M might struggle.
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Chad’s take: Susquehanna over Moravian. The River Hawks were left with a sour taste in their mouth after that close loss two weeks ago. They’ll look to bounce back here.

Who bounces back from a noteworthy loss?

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Keith’s take: UW-Oshkosh has to bounce back. UW-Stevens Point is 4-1 and trailed UW-Platteville by only four in the second half last week.
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Ryan’s take: Trinity (Texas). Southwestern won’t get a repeat of a conference win, at least not this week.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: DePauw. Allegheny is improved but is still a cure for what ails you in the NCAC. Just need to show up to play after losing to Witt last week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Concordia-Moorhead, which suffered a whirlwind of emotions. They have to move forward against a surprisingly 4-1 Hamline team.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: 25 Salisbury (at William Paterson). The NJAC woke up once Paterson beat Montclair. Salisbury knows another loss spells playoff doom. This won’t even be close.
Guest
Chad’s take: Oshkosh looks to prove that they deserve a second shot at UWW in the playoffs, and to do that, they must bounce back at Stevens Point.

Which of the 3 winless SCIAC teams finally gets a W?

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Keith’s take: Whittier can hardly score, and Occidental allows more than 30 per game. So that leaves La Verne, which looked bad in its past two but hung with Whitworth in Week 2.
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Ryan’s take: Occidental. Despite being winless, they’ve at least been putting points on the board.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Occidental. Once upon a time, picking Whittier over Pomona-Pitzer would have been a no-brainer, but Oxy-ULV is the only viable option here.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: If Occidental’s defense can step up, the Tigers have enough offense to get a win and keep defending conference champion La Verne winless through five games.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Occidental (at La Verne). So, I grabbed that coin again… And then, I looked at offensive output for both teams (since they’ve both faced routs) and gave the advantage to Oxy.
Guest
Chad’s take: Occidental. The Tigers will go into La Verne and pick up the much needed win.

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.