post

Quick Hits Week 9: In a New York state of mind

It is a huge weekend in the East region with a pair of high profile clashes amongst conference unbeatens. Our panel tackles the Empire 8 and Liberty League showdowns as well as letting you know which teams will help and hurt their regional ranking profiles before the NCAA releases the first rankings for 2019 on Wednesday.

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?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Brockport at No. 18 Cortland. Union-Ithaca works too, and there are 42,000+ folks who want the Cortaca rivals to remain atop the Empire 8 and Liberty League, respectively.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No. 25 Union at No. 8 Ithaca. The Bombers’ dynamic pass game against a Dutchman D that hasn’t given up more than two touchdowns in any game this season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Johns Hopkins at No. 6 Muhlenberg. The Blue Jays are mere points away from this being a battle of unbeatens, and might be able to play spoiler.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Johns Hopkins at Muhlenberg. The rivalry is the ultimate test to see if Muhlenberg has really become the team to beat in the Centennial. The Mules have looked the part thus far.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 25 Union at No. 8 Ithaca. It’s win and you’re in — and has Pool C implications. I explain this on today’s ATN Friday Podcast.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 25 Union at No. 8 Ithaca. The first ticket to the 2019 playoffs is getting punched by one of these two teams Saturday at Butterfield.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: No. 6 Muhlenberg. There are people around the Johns Hopkins program who think the Blue Jays are better this year than last, even though the results don’t show it. This would be the time to show it.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No. 18 Cortland.  I feel like Brockport’s season-opening loss has left this 6-1 team flying under many people’s radars most of the season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 18 Cortland. Probably someone needs to keep picking Cortland until they get upset, and I will take the short straw this time.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No 18. Cortland. Brockport’s defense is the real deal, pitching three shutouts since allowing 33 points in a season-opening loss at Hobart. The top rushing and third down defense is also the fourth-best pass efficiency and total defense in the nation.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 8 Ithaca (vs. No. 25 Union). In 2009, the last time Ithaca was No. 8 in the D3football.com poll, Union beat the Bombers. As long as the Dutchmen come in healthy and have great ball control, history will repeat itself, this time at Butterfield.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 18 Cortland. The Golden Eagles have been largely off the radar since their week 1 loss to Hobart. Eight weeks later, that Brockport defense is as smothering as ever and are poised to take control of the E8 race.

Which conference leader or co-leader picks up a loss?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Benedictine, vs. Aurora. There are lots of candidates, but I think the front-runners will pull a near clean sweep. The Fightin’ Beebes take control in the NACC in a shootout.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Benedictine.  A de facto NACC title bout, co-leader Aurora has been more impressive throughout the season (though these last couple of weeks have been easier matchups).
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Hanover. Mount St. Joseph will be out to obliterate people the rest of the way and Hanover stands in the Lions’ way this week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Hanover. The Panthers go on the road to a Mount St. Joseph team playing with its season on the line. A Lions win would create a three-way tie atop the HCAC and keep MSJ’s postseason hopes alive.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Denison (vs. DePauw). DePauw’s defense should have enough in the engine to make this a close enough game to win over the Big Red.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Cortland qualifies, but I’ll give another here- Hanover. The Panthers are hot, but taking out Chaiten Tomlin in what is likely his last home game is a tall order.

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

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: McMurry at Hardin-Simmons.  I just want to see how the Cowboys bounce back from last week’s last-second loss. The War Hawks are 0-7 with two recent nailbiter losses of their own.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Fitchburg State at Worcester State. Friday night, under the light, one of these teams will get their first conference win.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Central at Simpson. If Central can’t handle Simpson, they can’t hope to challenge Wartburg in Week 10.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Marietta at Baldwin Wallace. I’m still trying to figure out who, if anyone, can give Mount Union a decent challenge in the OAC. I’ve been bullish on the Yellow Jackets since Jim Hilvert took the reins. He has his team positioned for a second straight 7-1 start.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Endicott at Western New England. It’s a huge CCC game between the co-leaders, and both teams can put up a crapload of points (wait, can I say that in Quick Hits?!).
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 15 Chapman at Pomona-Pitzer.  The last significant hurdle between Chapman and a SCIAC championship, the Panthers will have to survive do-it-all QB Karter Odermann and the Sagehens under the lights.

Which team boosts its profile ahead of Wednesday’s first regional rankings?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: UW-Platteville, at home facing a 5-2 UW-Oshkosh coming off a 31-3 loss to UW-La Crosse, should make a move in the West.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Muhlenberg. While Hopkins isn’t the beast they were last year, they’re still an above-average team that make a Mules win meaningful.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Bridgewater. Just by playing Emory & Henry, the Eagles’ strength of schedule stands to improve from .478 to around .499.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Ithaca. The Bombers should be able to lock down the number one spot in the East with a win over fellow unbeaten Union.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 18 Cortland (vs. Brockport). Cortland’s SOS will take a nice jump, and that’s going to be needed to help the Red Dragons to overtake Salisbury, especially if Ithaca loses against Union.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 14 Wesley. The Wolverines won’t have too much trouble at TCNJ, but their already robust Pool C profile will be fortified with road wins by Delaware Valley and Endicott, who I expect will be regionally ranked on Wednesday.

Which team hurts its profile ahead of Wednesday’s first regional rankings?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Western New England. The Golden Bears are at home, 6-1 and regionally ranked higher than Endicott, but the Gulls can be part of the big shuffle in the East rankings coming this weekend.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Bethel. Yeah, they beat Hamline (of course), but Hamline isn’t a win that resonates, piled on by expected losses this week by past Royals opponents St. Olaf, River Falls and Simpson. Bethel’s criteria stock drops.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Union. Because a loss is imminent and while their SOS will increase, that won’t offset the defeat.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Bridgewater. I think Emory and Henry can pull off the upset of the unbeaten Eagles.The Wasps have averaged 50 points per game during their current five-game winning streak. This would be a Top 25 upset in my poll.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 10 Salisbury. Their next three games will kill their Strength of Schedule. With currently six undefeated teams (vs. D3) in the East, their SOS & results vs. regionally ranked opponents need to prop them up — but their remaining schedule doesn’t help.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No 10. Salisbury. Our mock regional rankings had Salisbury grade out as the top team in the East. But Salisbury is about to get a triple whammy; CNU drops their SOS, East challenger Ithaca picks up a ranked win and their own SOS boost, and UW-Oshkosh loses touch with the West rankings. It’s a fickle game this.

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

Quick Hits Week 7: All eyes on Minnesota

This week our Quick Hits panel delivers takes on Johnnie-Tommie, of course, but also points out upsets brewing out east, undefeated runs coming to an end, and which teams are going to go home victorious for the first time this season.

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

— Greg Thomas
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com

Which game is the Game of the Week?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Johnnie-Tommie. I might have gotten it wrong on the pod, but I’m right here. Given the rankings and the atmosphere, don’t think you can go anywhere else for GOTW.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: The Johnnie-Tommie Game. As Pat would say … next question.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: The Johnnie-Tommie game. Not to go MIAC two weeks in a row, but to be honest, you have to.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Johnnie-Tommie. This should be unanimous. Next question.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 4 St. John’s vs. No. 11 St. Thomas. It’s a survival game for St. Thomas and a major rivalry game — you can’t ask for much more than that.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Johnnie-Tommie, yes. But also Hobart @ Ithaca, Middlebury @ Wesleyan, Wartburg @ Simpson, Delaware Valley @ Wilkes, and Alfred @ Cortland make for a nice undercard.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: No. 9 Ithaca. The Bombers (5-0) would probably have to play their worst game of the season to lose to visiting Hobart (4-1), but I don’t like to cop out and say none for this question.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No. 19 UW-Platteville. Opponent UW-Stout has been playing better than their record would show, and Platteville is coming off a difficult loss last week.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 12 Salisbury. Rowan has played well against a tough schedule and Salisbury can’t possibly execute as well as it did against Wesley.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 22 Cortland. The Red Dragons have looked impressive, but against inferior competition. The first real test of the season comes in Week 7 against 5-1 Alfred. The Saxons are 4-1, coming off a bye week, and are faced with a must-win.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 22 Cortland (vs. Alfred). Alfred had a bye week in Week 6, while Cortland struggled with Morrisville St. With 21 sacks in five games, the Saxons’ defense needs to reach Cortland QB Brett Segala to win this.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 16 Delaware Valley. If there is a serious challenger in the MAC to the Aggies, it’s got to be the undefeated, home standing Wilkes Colonels.

Pick a winner from a game between unbeaten conference opponents.

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: I think Del Val handles Wilkes, which is 5-0 against a schedule that’s 6-16 in its other games, and ranked 209th by one metric and 230th by another.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No. 22 Cortland, over Alfred. The Red Dragons’ margins of victory have been impressive all year, though this week starts the first game in a very tough back half of the season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: St. Norbert, vs. Beloit. This might be the biggest gimme on the board.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Monmouth. The Scots haven’t lost an MWC South contest since 2014. After laboring through an unexpected bye week due to Grinnell cancelling its season, the Scots will take out their frustration on Illinois College.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Anna Maria (vs. Dean). This ECFC game could go a long way in deciding the conference winner, since there are just five league games per member. Anna Maria “rings the bell” in Paxton, Mass.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 18 Wartburg. I’m higher on the Knights than the Top 25 is overall and I expect they’ll be able to weather the Storm on Saturday.

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

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Morrisville State at Utica: The Mustangs nearly knocked off Alfred and Cortland the past two weeks. They are going to catch someone napping.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: The middle of the NCAC. With 4-1 OWU squaring off against 3-2 DePauw, and 4-1 Denison against 3-2 Wooster, we’ll get a whole new (clearer?) picture of the conference after this weekend.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: The panel is pretty solid. But I know that if I don’t punch in the score of the Central-Buena Vista game, nobody else will either.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Misericordia at FDU-Florham. For the second straight season, the Cougars have opened conference play with a win streak. Impressive after the program failed to string together consecutive wins through its first six years. I’ll be keeping an eye on Misericordia as long as the streak is alive.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Springfield at Merchant Marine. The Mariners can’t get caught looking ahead to a potential NEWMAC undefeated showdown in Week 8 at WPI. Springfield needs to win the game to survive in the NEWMAC race.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Washington U. @ No. 5 Wheaton. Wheaton has a game in hand against their chief CCIW rivals, but the Bears can formally insert themselves into the CCIW race by duplicating their 2018 upset of the Thunder.

Pick one of the remaining 23 undefeated teams to drop their first game.

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: St. Olaf‘s schedule (8-17, 204th, 215th) is not much better than Wilkes’. Bethel gets it done.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Wilkes, to Delaware Valley.  Though having a loss to a nationally ranked team, the Aggies are still likely to come out on top in the MAC in Week 11.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Picked one above and will add Wilkes to the list.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: St. Olaf. I discussed this deja vu in today’s podcast. For the second straight season, the Oles opened 5-0. They will likely once again suffer their first loss at the hands of the Royals. Winning just one of their final five contests will give the Oles their best season since 2012.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 4 St. John’s St. John’s has been somewhat inconsistent on offense, while St. Thomas has been more consistent on both sides of the ball. We’ll see if Eau Claire was a fluke or not by the end of this game.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: St. Olaf. I expect a solid rebound game from Jaran Roste and the Bethel Royals and a reminder about the pretty clear tiers that exist in the MIAC.

Pick one of the remaining 28 winless teams to pick up their first win.

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Allegheny (0-5) has had a top-loaded schedule, and will get on the right track against 3-2 Kenyon.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Buffalo State, over Rochester. In a game not as close as you’d think between two winless teams.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Buffalo State. At least we know there will be one.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Maryville. The only 2018 playoff participant still seeking its first victory of 2019, the Scots face an improved Methodist squad. Maryville’s offense finally got going in Week 6, putting up a season-high 35 points against Huntingdon. The defense will have its hands full once again against running back Vontre Howard and the Monarchs.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Gettysburg (at Juniata). Juniata has had an inconsistent path this season, making the Week 5 win before the bye potentially lead to a Week 7 loss, if the trend continues.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Allegheny. The Gators’ first half schedule was tough, but I’m not sure 0-5 is how most saw the Rich Nagy era starting. Kenyon has been a good first half story, but I think it is Allegheny’s turn to notch a 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

Quick Hits Week 1: Ready, set, go!

Welcome to Quick Hits 2019! If you’ve just discovered us, this is where we get together six Division III writers and observers to give you their takes on where the best games are each week, which ranked teams are on upset alert, and many other rotating categories throughout the season.  Without further delay, here are our first set of Hits for 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?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: No. 18 Wittenberg at No. 21 W&J. There are better teams in action, but no matchup that already has these playoff implications. Its winner files away a potential future win over regionally ranked opponent, and the loser’s Pool C hopes are already shot.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No. 6 Johns Hopkins at No. 24 Randolph Macon. The 2018 postseason Cinderellas: one for its deep run, the other for its epic upset. We’re all eager to see what they bring for 2019.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 18 Wittenberg at No. 21 W&J. At least one of these rankings is wrong, and we’ll know by sundown on Saturday.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 18 Wittenberg at No. 21 Washington and Jefferson. I always get excited for and appreciate Week 1 games that could just as easily be Week 13 or 14 games. Kudos to both teams for taking on the challenge.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 6 Johns Hopkins at No. 24 Randolph Macon. Emotion for Hopkins without Jim Margraff on #d3fb Opening Night in a battle of Top 25 teams – it’ll be a big night.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 18 Wittenberg at No. 21 W&J.  These are the second and third winningest teams all time in Division III with over 1,500 wins between them. The winner has a great chance at banking a regionally ranked win which will come in handy in about 11 weeks.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: No. 13 Brockport. Hobart is tough at home, but this is about seeing how the Golden Eagles replace the seven all-Region players it lost. Is Brockport a reload program?.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No. 19 RPI. Two teams on different trajectories: RPI graduated a huge number of starters, and Allegheny has lots coming back to upset the Engineer apple cart.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 10 Bethel. It would be unethical of me to say more, however.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Aurora defeats No. 25 St. Norbert. Don Beebe’s head coaching debut is a memorable one.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 17 John Carroll (by UW-Stevens Point). Honestly, it’s unlikely we see any upsets, but this is the one I feel least sure about.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 20 Centre. Hanover has 20 starters back from a conference championship team. Centre is going to have a lot of debutantes. Experience can carry the Panthers to a win.

Which team in Kickoff’s bottom 25 will start 2019 with a win?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: No. 232 Alvernia. This one could go either way and I’d be right, but I think the Golden Wolves win in Washington against No. 235 Gallaudet.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No. 235 Gallaudet. Granted they’re playing a team only three spots removed, yet the Bison have more than half their starters back and won’t fall off as much as some predict.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 235 Gallaudet. The Bison lost in Alvernia’s first-ever football game last fall, but Alvernia still has lots of lineup questions to answer in Year 2.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: The winner of No. 238 Cornell vs No. 248 Iowa Wesleyan. I’ll put my faith in the Rams.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 235 Gallaudet (vs. Alvernia). Assuming the game gets played, the return of senior QB Timel Benton from injury will help the Bison win Game 1.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 240 Kenyon. The Lords are headed to the nation’s capital with a 26-game losing streak, but a whole new energy under new head coach James Rosenbury. Kenyon is going to pay this long road trip off with a win.

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

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Concordia-Moorhead at UW-La Crosse. These two play insane schedules already, and then lined one another up for a Week 1 doozy.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Southwestern at Sewanee. The Pirates are stacked on defense and have school-record potential this season, while the Tigers don’t struggle the way they used to in games. A very fun opener to watch!.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Buena Vista at Hamline. The Thursday night opener comes to the Twin Cities, so I’ll be there, after work, that is.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Guilford at Huntingdon. The teams combined for 106 points last year in a game that didn’t count. Lightning forced the offensive onslaught to be called a no contest. The rematch could be just as high scoring and will hopefully enter the record books.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 14 Delaware Valley at Kean. What seems like a gimme-game for DelVal could be interesting as they adjust to life without Darden.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Redlands at George Fox. The Bulldogs begin their NWC gauntlet this week. Head coach Mike Maynard is sitting on 197 career wins and could set up a shot at win number 200 when Redlands hosts Linfield in two weeks.

Which 2018 playoff team starts 2019 on the wrong foot?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Hanover, which won the HCAC in Week 11 last season, gets a Week 1 visit from No. 20 Centre this year. :eek emoji:.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No. 21 Washington & Jefferson. This will be a good year for Wittenberg (despite a noticeable gap on offense) as well as a return to the playoffs. W&J has a tough outing to avoid starting 2019 the way it ended in Round 1 of 2018.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 25 St. Norbert (at Aurora). This is another upset possibility, for sure.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Hanover. The Panthers were a surprising 2018 playoff participant and face a tall task against No. 20 Centre. The Colonels needed a fourth quarter rally to eke past the Panthers in last year’s opener, but the offense should come out of the gates hotter in 2019.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: MIT (vs. Carnegie Mellon). The Battle of the Brains could go to CMU as both teams replace graduated QBs.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Denison. The Big Red are entering the post-Gebele era, while Ohio Northern welcomes back 2017 All-American running back Christiaan Williams. The Polar Bears are going to be a big challenge for a team trying to stay on top of the NCAC.

Who has the most successful head coaching debut?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Wes Beschorner at UW-Eau Claire. There could be a ton of points scored when Beschorner, a former offensive star and whiz assistant, gets a visit from Loras.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Mike Barainyak at Widener. The Pride haven’t been in the MAC discussion for several years — now a fresh and positive approach, coupled with lots of veterans returners, will change that against Rowan.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Jason Aubry, Concordia-Chicago. In the battle of new head coaches, taking CUC over Beloit.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Greg Chimera, Johns Hopkins. The aforementioned Beebe isn’t the only rookie head coach with a chance to knock off a ranked opponent. Chimera will lead his alma mater to victory in his debut, knocking off No. 24 Randolph-Macon.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Mike Barainyak (Widener). After the 2018 “Blame Google” debacle, the Pride seniors get their first win against Rowan with more cohesion internally.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Greg Chimera, Johns Hopkins. Judging against expectations, other first time head coaches are likely to have more impressive wins this weekend.  This first game without Jim Margraff, however, is going to mean just a little bit more to Chimera and the Blue Jay community.

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.