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Quick Hits Week 5: Ringing in October

Our Quick Hits panel is back with (Little Brass) bells on to get you ready for the second month of the season. This week we’re looking at big games in the Liberty League and the MIAA, who is circling the wagons, and who might springboard into the Top 25 after this weekend. Oh, and there’s a big one in Chicagoland as well.

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

— Greg Thomas

Photo: Union athletics

Which game not involving a brass bell is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. There are a handful of WIAC & MIAC games that belong, and this one might effectively end someone’s playoff hopes. Already.
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Ryan’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. We’re all still trying to gauge the No. 2 and 3 spots in the WIAC. Both teams already have quality wins, and this will provide clarity.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. I haven’t investigated whether there is a bell involved in this game, to be honest. Hope it qualifies.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Concordia-Moorhead at No. 14 St. Thomas. Every game is now a must-win for the Tommies. The Cobbers fared equally well, if not better than, St. Thomas against WIAC competition. Interested to see how UST responds after last week’s setback.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 21 Hobart at Union. I explain the intriguing matchup in today’s ATN Podcast.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Hope at Trine. This game has decided the MIAA champion in each of the last two seasons and may be the de facto championship game again this year.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 14 St. Thomas. The loss last week was quirky and not too concerning. But Concordia-Moorhead might be really good.
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Ryan’s take: No. 24 Trine. The Thunder seem shaky at times considering how many points they’ve given up so far this season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 24 Trine. Probably others as well, but Trine seems like a team trading on 2018 success in the 2019 Top 25.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse. The narrow non-conference wins over quality opponents aren’t looking quite as impressive since those teams have both underwhelmed this year. Facing UW-Platteville on the road will give the Eagles a chance to prove themselves worthy of this high ranking.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse (at UW-Platteville). It seems like the roles are reversed this year for these teams, with Platteville having the chance to play spoiler instead of having to protect its ranking.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 15 Wesley. Yes, Rowan is winless, but the Profs have shown well against Linfield and Hobart. Reports out of Dover that E.J. Lee has been shut down for the year create more questions for a Wesley offense that hasn’t really taken off yet.

North Central’s top ranked offense or Wheaton’s top ranked defense?

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Keith’s take: Wheaton’s defense. I watched Wheaton shut down Illinois Wesleyan, so give me the Thunder.
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Ryan’s take: North Central’s offense. I’m normally all about D in these situations, but this year’s NCC offense under Rutter is too potent to slow down.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: North Central’s top-ranked offense. This game has been pretty high-scoring over the past few meetings and don’t expect a change now.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: North Central. As much as it pains me to ever choose offense, I can’t pick against two of the nation’s top offensive players in quarterback Broc Rutter and offensive lineman Sharmore Clark.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: North Central’s offense. Defense wins championships, but offense wins games like these.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: North Central’s offense. These teams have split the last 14 Little Brass Bell games and it feels like Broc Rutter has started all of them. I’m not betting against him in his last shot at rival Wheaton.

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

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Keith’s take: Albright at FDU-Florham. After three games against teams that are 8-1, the Lions get to face someone on their level and try to snap a 14-game losing streak.
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Ryan’s take: Willamette at Whitworth. I’m eager to see how the bye week treated the Pirates, after the Week 3 upset by Chapman.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Kenyon at Oberlin. But, you’ll have to listen to today’s podcast (No. 247) to find out why.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Carnegie Mellon at Grove City. The Tartans are on some Top 25 ballots already and can continue to climb if they knock off the Wolverines on the road. Grove City is trying to avoid a three-game losing skid on the heels of a nine-game winning streak.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Mass-Dartmouth at Framingham State. The Corsairs look to move to 5-0, but 1-2 Framingham State looks to remain undefeated in the conference and defend its MASCAC crown.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Eureka at Aurora. Look, I like points. Lots of points. These teams both score over 40 points per game and gain over 500 yards per game. If you like wide open offense, this game is for you.

Pick one of the seven six groups of Pioneers in action to get a win this week.

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Keith’s take: William Paterson. A lot of tough matchups for Pioneers this week, but this is both podcast appropriate, and vs. TCNJ, a safer bet.
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Ryan’s take: Marietta, though it won’t be as close as last-year’s one-point win was.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Marietta. Literally the only one I can get on board with here.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Marietta. Whatcha gonna do, brotherrrr, when Tanner Clark runs all over you? He’s sixth in D-III at 145.7 yards per game. ONU’s defense has underwhelmed so far.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: William Paterson (vs. TCNJ). Dustin Johnson has the Pioneers clicking right now, and TCNJ continues to struggle at 0-3.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: UW-Platteville. The Pioneers from Wisconsin have been impressive through the early part of the season while La Crosse has been forced to overtime twice already.

Which unbeaten, unranked team makes the strongest statement for Top 25 votes this weekend?

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Keith’s take: The Case Western Reserve/Westminster winner. If you’re making me pick, I’ll take the Titans, I suppose.
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Ryan’s take: Cortland. They don’t need much of a nudge to crack the Top 25, and taking down a 2-1 Utica team should get them there, especially if it’s as lopsided as their other games have been.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Cortland, vs. Utica. These Pioneers are off to a pretty good start and if Cortland handles Utica, it should open some eyes.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Union. A win over ranked Hobart would almost assuredly get the Dutchmen into the Top 25. At least if other voters share my belief that winning all your games this season is more representative than program pedigree or past seasons’ performance.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Union (vs. No. 21 Hobart). Because I’m a 1998 grad, and because I’m making my first appearance at Union in three years.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Carnegie Mellon. The Tartans only need to find themselves on a few more ballots to crack the Top 25 and an impressive win over Grove City may well collect the additional support they need. Also, Platteville (see above).

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 4: Cracking the win column

This week the panel looks at a top-12 clash in the OAC, some big games down south, and which teams are poised to get their first win of 2019.

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. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll.  On the pod I took SJF-Ithaca, but I think this is the right call.
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Ryan’s take: No 8 Bethel at Gustavus Adolphus.  The Gusties hung tough with St. John’s already, and Bethel will need to be ready for its first real test of the season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Franklin & Marshall at No. 24 Susquehanna.  Also in contention for the longest game when listed on scoreboards.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll. After thrashing Baldwin Wallace last week, the Purple Raiders face their biggest test of the regular season. If the Blue Streaks can’t put up a fight, expect The Machine to pick up even more top votes in next week’s poll.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll. Mount was moved to the No. 1 slot on my ballot last week, and John Carroll did a huge leap on it. I’m curious to see how this plays out, even if it’s a close JCU loss.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: St. Norbert at Monmouth. It’s a rematch of last year’s MWC championship. And the one before that. And maybe a preview of this year’s MWC championship. These teams know each other well is what I’m saying.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 24 Susquehanna.  I hate when panelists do the none thing, and F&M is averaging 41 points a game.
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Ryan’s take: No. 13 Ithaca.  Oppenent St. John Fisher is already better than they were last year, and there’s a sense of returning to form. And the Bombers have crept up unusually high in the poll.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor.  I actually feel we are unlikely to have any upsets at all, but HPU is improving and UMHB has struggled.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 24 Susquehanna. If there’s any week to pick “None” this is it. But what’s the fun in that? I’ll take undefeated Franklin and Marshall to contribute to the Centennial Conference chaos.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 18 Johns Hopkins. I think the topsy-turvy season for Hopkins continues here against a Dickinson team that has been a little inconsistent, but that has the pieces needed to win at home.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 25 Hobart. It took a pretty furious rally for the Statesmen to survive winless Rowan last week. This week, Montclair State closes the deal.

Which 0-3 team cracks the win column this weekend?

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Keith’s take: Hiram. Of the 35 choices, I like Hiram, as its level of competition has been tougher so far than Kenyon, this week’s opponent.
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Ryan’s take: Bridgewater State.  The Bears line up against Fitchburg, which statistically has the worst defense in the conference.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Belhaven.  In the battle of 0-3 teams, taking the one that looked good last week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Belhaven. The Blazers put a scare into Mary Hardin-Baylor on Saturday. If they can get the offense on track, they should be able to defeat fellow winless ASC foe McMurry.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Belhaven. Their three losses have been by a combined 30 points, but they include a close 10-point loss to UMHB last week. Their experience should lead to a win.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Belhaven. It’s hard to see the Blazers’ 23-13 loss at UMHB last week and not think they’re close to a cracking the win column in 2019. Hosting McMurry is a great opportunity.

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

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Keith’s take: Southwestern at Texas Lutheran. I am very fascinated by Southwestern’s hot start, yet Texas Lutheran is no easy W.
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Ryan’s take: Southern Virginia at Bridgewater.  The Knights are 2-0 for the first time in … ever. Curious to see if lightning will strike a third time.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Defiance vs. Anderson.  I think Anderson is beyond the point where it can be Defiance’s only win, but watching to be sure.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Mount St. Joseph at Franklin. Listen to my preview on today’s podcast. The Grizzlies will try to extend their win streak over the Lions to 10 games. Mount St. Joe has the edge at quarterback. Will that be enough to shake up the HCAC standings?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Western New England at University of New England. For a second-year program like UNE, a huge upset like this would be a signature win. But UNE has a small chance here. WNE can’t look past this game.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Denison at Wabash. It’s Homecoming. It’s Senior Day. It’s a critical conference game for both teams. And it’s also the first of the last five games at the current iteration of Hollett Little Giant Stadium.

Pick a winner in a LL vs. E8 game.

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Keith’s take: Cortland. SUNY Buffalo State and SUNY Cortland are in different conferences, and tiers. The Dragons outscoring opponents 94-7, and will get top 25 consideration soon.
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Ryan’s take: St. Lawrence over Hartwick.  The Saints’ Tyler Grochot puts up good numbers even in losses — he’ll be hard for the Hawks to stop.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Alfred.  There are a bunch of games that seem like pretty easy picks in this group, so I’m sure we’ll have a bunch of upsets instead.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 13 Ithaca defeats St. John Fisher. A battle of unbeatens, a turning point for two resurgent programs trying to reclaim the top spot in the East Region. I think this is Ithaca’s year.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: St. Lawrence (vs. Hartwick). The Saints got their first win last week and have played stronger generally based on schedule comparisons and scores. Home cookin’ seals this deal for them.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Cortland over Buffalo State. In their first season out of the E8, the Bengals are on the verge of a four-game non-conference sweep courtesy their former conference rivals. The good news is that they’re still 0-0 in league play.

Which Week 3 upset victim gets back on course this week?

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Keith’s take: Ursinus.A surprise 44-38 loser to Juniata last week, Ursinus gets a chance to get right against 0-3 Moravian.
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Ryan’s take: Washington & Jefferson. The game won’t come down to the fourth quarter for the Presidents, like it has two of the past three weeks already.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Ohio Northern. I’m not confident in any of them, but will take ONU to beat Otterbein.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Washington & Jefferson. Most of last week’s upset victims have an unwelcome bye week. They would much rather be on the field with the opportunity to get back on the winning path. The Presidents face a hungry Grove City team, which just had its nine-game winning streak snapped by Case Western Reserve.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Washington & Jefferson (at Grove City). That said, I think Grove City plays them very close, unlike last year and unlike last week’s disappointing Case Western Reserve loss.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Ohio Northern. Back home and under the lights, the Polar Bears shake off last week’s shocker and get a win over winless Otterbein.

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 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?

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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.
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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?

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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.
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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?

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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.
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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?

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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.
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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?

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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.
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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?

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Keith’s take: West. I’ve got Linfield over Rowan, Alfred over George Fox, and UW-Oshkosh edging Salisbury to break the tie.
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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.