post

Quick Hits Week 2: Titanic games on tap

This week we’ve got our eyes on two big games featuring midwestern Titans, plenty of contests with titanic travel, a throwback Texas showdown, and a huge game between East region powers.

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

— Greg Thomas
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com

Which game is the Game of the Week?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: No. 22 Wesley at No. 13 Delaware Valley. Even though I get all googly-eyed when Linfield and UW-Oshkosh visit the East Coast, I got assigned Wesley-Del Val for the podcast, and it holds up as GOTW.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No. 14 Illinois Wesleyan at No. 23 UW-La Crosse. The Eagles are certainly happy to already have a game under their belt, but I’m not sure they have to tools to slow IWU’s skilled returning offense.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 14 Illinois Wesleyan at No. 23 UW-La Crosse. Losing this game last year derailed IWU’s postseason hopes, while UWL can solidify contender status with another W.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 22 Wesley at No. 13 Delaware Valley. The Wolverines are back in the Top 25. Now, they have a chance to show that they are back in contention as one of the top programs in the nation.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 22 Wesley at No. 13 Delaware Valley. With Brockport’s loss, and with RPI facing a strong WPI team this week, the winner of this game could be considered the front runner of the East Region.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 14 Illinois Wesleyan at No. 23 UW-La Crosse. The Eagles upset the Titans last year, a loss that ultimately cost IWU a spot in the playoffs. There is little reason to believe that the stakes won’t be similar this time around.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: No. 21 Wabash. Susquehanna beat No. 7 Johns Hopkins last year, which takes a savvy pick out of the “upset” category. The Little Giants could struggle against UW-Stevens Point though.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No. 7 Johns Hopkins. It happened last year against Susquehanna, and the River Hawks already have debuted strong this season. (Apologies for the earlier typo, River Hawks!!)
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 9 Hardin-Simmons. The game with Trinity (Texas) last year was a two-point game until the final 60 seconds and Trinity looks to be just as strong, if not better than 2018.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 9 Hardin-Simmons. The Cowboys haven’t lost a non-conference regular season game since 2014. Trinity (Texas) is a program on the rise and gave the Cowboys a battle last season. This would be Jerheme Urban’s signature win as head coach of his alma mater.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 19 RPI (at WPI). Yes, Coach Isernia, I’ll bring the thumbtacks for your bulletin board. WPI’s record-sized senior class wants a signature win to go out on; this could be it.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 9 Hardin-Simmons. A lot has to go right for Trinity to pull this off, but Jerheme Urban has been steadily building his alma mater back into a player in the South region. Knocking off the Cowboys would be the perfect springboard into SAA play.

Which team debuting this week will most wish they played in Week 1?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: No. 14 Illinois Wesleyan. While this week’s opponent, No. 23 UW-La Crosse, was busy battling it out with Concordia-Moorhead, the Titans were doing who knows what.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No. 21 Wabash. The Little Giants will need its veteran defense to really shine to help avoid the tension of last year’s narrow contest against UW-Stevens Point.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 21 Wabash. UW-Stevens Point had a quality first-week performance in a loss at No. 17 John Carroll, so the Pointers will definitely have a leg up on the Little Giants.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: DePauw. The Tigers are eager to wash away a disappointing 4-6 season marked by narrow defeats. Traveling to face a 1-0 Central team is their first chance to avenge one of those losses, but it won’t be easy.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Massachusetts Maritime. SUNY-Maritime won in a huge late comeback last week, giving the Privateers important momentum heading into this rivalry game.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 21 Wabash. The Little Giants have a tricky road trip up to UW-Stevens Point this week. The Pointers pushed Wabash in Crawfordsville last year without the benefit of one game head start.

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

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Northwestern (Minn.). The Stags lost in Washington last week, but hit the road again, and should bring back a W this time.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Hampden-Sydney at Christopher Newport. Two Virginia teams (and past state powers) that faltered in Week 1 are sure to be looking for the right footing this time around.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Catholic at Georgetown. The last time these teams played, I was a senior in college and a pretty crappy broadcaster to boot. I won’t be there on Saturday, and neither will be TE Jim Opfinger, who had a huge game against the Hoyas.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Rose-Hulman at Rhodes. It’s the Fightin’ Engineers’ only non-conference game against a team without a national championship pedigree and realistic 2019 Stagg Bowl aspirations.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Montclair State at Salve Regina. Both teams were surprise losers in Week 1. They both need momentum before conference plays begins. This could be a close game.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Aurora at Elmhurst. In this game featuring two first year head coaches, I want to see if last week’s points avalanche is going to be the norm for Don Beebe’s squad or if Jeff McDonald’s Blue Jays can slow them down.

Which team will be a surprising 0-2?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Bridgewater State. The Bears might still be contenders once MASCAC play begins, but they got roughed up by the Empire 8’s Morrisville State last weekend and go to St. John Fisher.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: George Fox. The Bruins came out flat last week — slow to score and stuggling to step up on defense. Against a team like Alfred that shut out its first opponent, that kind of play spells trouble.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Bridgewater State. The Bears have had some wild swings in won-lost record in recent seasons and with a 32-point loss to Morrisville State in Week 1, it might sound reasonable to expect a loss at St. John Fisher on Saturday..
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Misericordia. The Cougars shocked the world with an 8-win campaign in 2018. Losses to McDaniel and Lebanon Valley to start 0-2 would be more in line with the program’s historic struggles.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Framingham State. The Endicott win last week was unexpected, and Brockport needs a rebound. That ends up making the two-time reigning MASCAC champs 0-2.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Ohio Northern. Muskingum shouldn’t be a big problem for ONU, but the Polar Bears have a lot of things to correct from their Week 1 loss at Denison.

Which region wins the East vs. West games?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: West. I’ve got Linfield over Rowan, Alfred over George Fox, and UW-Oshkosh edging Salisbury to break the tie.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: East gets the majority, with Linfield being the West’s bright spot.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: West: Linfield over Rowan, UW-Oshkosh over Salisbury, but Alfred beats George Fox to avoid the sweep.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: West. Alfred notches a win for the East over George Fox. Linfield evens the score for the West by defeating Rowan. In what should be the marquee Week 2 game between unranked opponents, UW-Oshkosh squeaks past Salisbury.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: East. (Salisbury, Alfred, Linfield).
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: East. I’ll take Linfield to win at Rowan and Alfred to defeat visiting George Fox. Salisbury holds serve at home against UW-Oshkosh to give the East a 2-1 series 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.

post

Around the Nation 218: The bid-clinching has begun!

Yep, three teams have clinched their automatic bids to the NCAA Division III football playoffs, with 23 more to go, plus five true at-large bids. And it’s those at-large bids which will receive a ton of attention … first off, because they’re the most difficult decisions the committee will make, and secondly, because those teams are going to be candidates to get a first-round home game, and perhaps win a game or two.

Who played their way into consideration? Who played their way out? Which teams are being set up for multiple home games in the tournament, should they win out? Plus, how did Pat and Keith deal with this weekend’s losses on their Top 25 ballots? Who had amazing games that were just a bit under the radar? Which conference has games that just aren’t competitive at all? And everyone’s favorite backup quarterback wasn’t a backup this week.

Plus game balls, the week’s interesting stats and more in the latest 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: St. John’s, UW-Whitewater and Berry athletics photos

Theme music: DJmentos.

post

Quick Hits: What’s left to do? Lots.

Week 9 this year is too early for anyone to clinch a bid to the playoffs, but those days are coming, and a couple of the games that will be key in deciding automatic bids are being played this weekend.

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 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. .

— Pat Coleman

Which game is the Week 9 game of the week?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: No. 15 Illinois Wesleyan at Millikin. Titans win sets up a huge showdown with NCC next week. A Big Blue win makes CCIW a five-way race to the finish.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No. 18 Muhlenberg at No. 23 Johns Hopkins. Hard not to love this matchup, with the winner being in the driver’s seat for Centennial crownery.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 18 Muhlenberg at No. 23 Johns Hopkins. The Centennial’s game of the year most years.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Muhlenberg at Johns Hopkins. Despite losing their conference opener, the Blue Jays still control their destiny in the Centennial Conference. This is a must-win for the conference’s perennial champion.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 25 Salisbury at Rowan. It’s a game with Pool A & C implications for an undefeated team that’s entering the meat of its schedule (Salisbury). Look for a defensive battle.
Guest
Chad’s take: Muhlenberg at Johns Hopkins. An early-season hiccup by the Blue Jays was quickly erased. While the Mules average 459 yards a game, the Blue Jays defense will be up to the challenge.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: No. 13 Berry. Four of Vikings eight wins were within one score in the fourth. Birmingham Southern is 5-2.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No. 25 Salisbury. It’s been talked about several times that the undefeated Gulls haven’t been tested much yet. But Rowan certainly has been and is all the better for it.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 25 Salisbury. This is the first big test for Salisbury, while Rowan is battle-tested.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 25 Salisbury. The NJAC gauntlet starts now for the unbeaten Gulls, who travel to Rowan, then host Wesley, then close at Frostburg. The Profs have momentum after knocking off the Wolverines last week.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 11 Wittenberg. “Wabash always fights [Wittenberg hard].” Except for Wabash’s 2015 big win, lately, this matchup is always close. It’s a must-win for Wabash.
Guest
Chad’s take: No. 11 Wittenberg. I expect a close game throughout with the Little Giants making a big play late to upend Witt.

Which team hurts its regional ranking before it is even announced?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: I haven’t been this deep in the weeds, but No. 25 Salisbury has a tough matchup at Rowan.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Western New England. Not only is this a tough outing against Nichols, but it’s also a trap game for WNE with Endicott coming up next week.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 17 RPI. The Engineers will win, but their strength of schedule will take a hit this week vs. Rochester.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Baldwin Wallace. The second-best game of the week pits the 6-1 Yellow Jackets at 6-1 Marietta. The winner remains in Pool C contention.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 17 RPI. They currently possess the 24th best strength of schedule figure nationally, but facing 1-6 Rochester won’t help, especially if it’s a remotely close score.
Guest
Chad’s take: Millikin. Needing a big win, the 151st ranked defense can’t keep tabs with the 46th ranked offense. A win here would have propelled them to a nice ranking, but the Titans are too much.

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

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Wartburg at Loras. The glut at the top of the ARC might remain; Knights are only top-half team to play opponent with winning record.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Millsaps at Centre. Compared to Centre’s 6-1 record, Millsaps’ 4-3 is a bit misleading considering more than half of their games had margins of 7 points or less.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Eureka at Concordia (Wis.). More on that game in the podcast.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Averett at Maryville. The two conference unbeatens in the USA South meet with much on the line. The Scots’ 2013 appearance is the only playoff berth between these two programs.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: WPI at MIT. It’s a crucial Pool B game in the NEWMAC. An MIT loss could reopen a playoff path for Thomas More and throw the NEWMAC standings into chaos.
Guest
Chad’s take: Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern. HSU is playing for its playoff life as they take on a Pirate team who runs well and stops the run well. A traditional, smash-mouth game will not disappoint. HSU with the close win.

Kalamazoo, Misericordia or Eureka?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Misericordia. Concordia (Wis.), King’s and Olivet are tough opponents, but Misericordia loves company … or something.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: All three. Kzoo and Eureka have interesting/challenging games, so all three winning is far from a sure thing — and we continue to stay highly vested in their conference races.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Misericordia. Oh. Maybe people will be following Eureka.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Misericordia. A road trip to King’s won’t be easy, but it’s the most favorable matchup among three of the season’s most pleasant surprises.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Kalamazoo over struggling Olivet, Misericordia over inconsistent King’s, and Eureka over a very good Concordia (Wis.) team.
Guest
Chad’s take: Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo keeps its MIAA championship dreams alive and keeps an eye on Trine and that Nov. 10 game. .

Defiance, Earlham or William Paterson?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: William Paterson. The Pioneers and their 1-6 opponent, TCNJ, are similarly challenged, scoring 40 and 62 points, respectively, this season.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: William Paterson. The Pioneers will pick up not just their first win of the season, but also their first win in more than two years.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Earlham. I’m going with the team on the bye because it’s a good time of the year for a small roster to get a break.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Earlham. If not now, against winless Defiance, when will the Quakers finally snap their streak? At least the Quakers can’t take an L this week, on their bye.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: I won’t be Defiant against Rose-Hulman, nobody is Quaking at the thought of idle Earlham, but Pioneers will shock TCNJ — even without covered wagons.
Guest
Chad’s take: William Paterson. The Pioneers get off the schneid against TCNJ.

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.