Around the Nation Podcast: Shaking up the bracket

Linfield's big win was the biggest news of Saturday. (Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com)

Linfield’s big win was the biggest news of Saturday.
(Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com)

Linfield upset the apple cart with its big win on Saturday, knocking off a UMHB program that had been a play or two from making the Stagg Bowl the past two years. Plus Wartburg, John Carroll and Hobart each survived second-round squeakers.

Pat and Keith summarize the high points of all eight games, give their analysis and look ahead to next week’s quarterfinals. That and much more in this week’s Around the Nation Podcast.

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Triple Take: Predicted scores for the second round of the playoffs

Tyre Coleman needs one sack to move into sole possession of second place all-time in the history of the NCAA tracking stats, and 4.5 to move into a tie for first. (Hobart athletics photo)

Tyre Coleman needs one sack to move into sole possession of second place all-time in the history of the NCAA tracking stats, and 4.5 to move into a tie for first. (Hobart athletics photo)

Consider for a moment the quality of the 16 teams remaining in the postseason. Nine of them are still unbeaten, and six of the other seven teams have one loss. Together, the teams who will take the fields on Saturday have experienced defeat just nine times, with one of the losses coming to a scholarship-level team and another coming against Mount Union, which is one of the 16 teams still alive.

Saturday’s road teams  the ones which the bracket-makers consider the underdogs will include Linfield and St. John’s, the past two programs other than Mount Union or UW-Whitewater to win Stagg Bowls. The field still includes both the Purple Raiders and Warhawks, all eight No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, and the top 11 teams in the D3football.com top 25, as well as 13 of the top 14.

In other words, this is the best of the best. The one drawback to having such an expansive playoff is that eight very good seasons come to an end this week. But they do so having satisfied the competitive urge, going against the best the 244-team division has to offer. And the eight that move on to the quarterfinals do so knowing they had to pass pretty serious tests, for the most part, to move on.

The purpose of Triple Take this week is to set the national expectation. We know most folks don’t have the time or inclination to follow all 16 of these teams, or really develop an idea of what we’re in for Saturday. It’s a much more difficult week to forecast than last, but publisher Pat Coleman, national columnist Ryan Tipps and I take a crack at this week’s scores. If you see something on Saturday that runs contrary to the picks you see below, realize you are witnessing history in the making.

– Keith McMillan

UW-WHITEWATER QUADRANT
Keith’s take:  UW-Whitewater 28, Wabash 14
Ryan’s take: UW-Whitewater 31, Wabash 14
Pat’s take: UW-Whitewater 38, Wabash 14
Consensus: Unanimous. We’ve each got the Little Giants scoring a couple touchdowns, making the giants of Division III fight for their pass into the next round.

Keith’s take: Wartburg 31, St. John’s 17
Ryan’s take: St. John’s 21, Wartburg 20
Pat’s take: Wartburg 31, St. John’s 17
Consensus: Split decision. Ryan’s got the Johnnies pulling some upset wizardry in Waverly. Pat and I see the same two-TD margin for the Knights.

MARY HARDIN-BAYLOR QUADRANT
Keith’s take: Widener 38, Christopher Newport 28
Ryan’s take: Widener 41, Christopher Newport 24
Pat’s take: Widener 35, Christopher Newport 14
Consensus: Unanimous. We aren’t expecting these guys to need late field goals to decide it this week.

Keith’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor 28, Linfield 27
Ryan’s take: Linfield 38, Mary Hardin-Baylor 34
Pat’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor 27, Linfield 24
Consensus: Split decision. Although we all agree that two of the legendary programs in D-III should be engaged in a down-to-the-wire affair.

WESLEY QUADRANT
Keith’s take: Wesley 59, MIT 7
Ryan’s take: Wesley 48, MIT 3
Pat’s take: Wesley 55, MIT 7
Consensus: Unanimous. On a day of competitive games, we see this as a mismatch.

Keith’s take: Johns Hopkins 28, Hobart 21
Ryan’s take: Johns Hopkins 28, Hobart 24
Pat’s take: Johns Hopkins 31, Hobart 20
Consensus: Unanimous. In a clash of 11-0 teams, we expect the Blue Jays to eke out a road win, likely because the Statesmen have been cutting it close lately. Their past three wins are by 2, 5 and 7 points.

MOUNT UNION QUADRANT
Keith’s take: John Carroll 35, Wheaton 24
Ryan’s take: John Carroll 31, Wheaton 24
Pat’s take: John Carroll 30, Wheaton 26
Consensus: Unanimous. The predictions, made separately with no knowledge of the others, look fairly similar. Expect one of the day’s best games.

Keith’s take: Mount Union 38, Washington and Jefferson 20
Ryan’s take: Mount Union 45, Washington and Jefferson 17
Pat’s take: Mount Union 42, Washington and Jefferson 20
Consensus: Unanimous. Not expecting the Presidents to be completely blown away like most early-round Purple Raider opponents are.

We invite you to add your predictions and reasoning in the comments below, or tweet at us at @D3Keith, @NewsTipps and @d3football. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Mondays, where Pat and Keith review the picks and the most recent round of playoffs.

Division III Playoffs, Round of 32: Triple Take’s score predictions

Hobart didn't schedule any Empire 8 contenders the past two seasons, but the NCAA committee has sent them an Empire 8 team in the playoffs for the second year in a row. This year it's Tom Dempsey and the Ithaca Bombers. (Ithaca athletics photo)

Hobart didn’t schedule any Empire 8 contenders the past two seasons, but the NCAA committee has sent them an Empire 8 team in the playoffs for the second year in a row. This year it’s Tom Dempsey and the Ithaca Bombers. (Ithaca athletics photo)

The playoffs are upon us. The five-week march to Salem happens in three phases. Before we get to the elite powers facing off in the semifinals and Stagg Bowl, with national broadcast coverage, and before we get to the really competitive games of Rounds 2 and 3, there’s this Saturday.

The first round, from about noon ET to 4 p.m., is a rush of as many as 15 games going on simultaneously. Every game kicks off at noon local time, which means all but Chapman at Linfield start within an hour of one another. Many of you will be watching one game in particular. For those who won’t, or for those who will have one eye on the game they’re attending while furiously refreshing the D3football.com scoreboard, Pat Coleman, Ryan Tipps and I are at your service.

This is different from the regular-season Triple Takes. We’re offering scores only, not paragraphs of insight. It is an exercise in setting the national expectation. It has nothing to do with proving our predictive powers, gambling or bragging rights, although each of us will correctly predict all but a few of the winners. The scores and the line of consensus advise you on what to expect, so that when you’re sifting through 15 game scores on Saturday afternoon, you’ll recognize a surprising result in the making. (Like Wartburg over Illinois Wesleyan last year, after we all picked IWU, for example.)

– Keith McMillan

UW-WHITEWATER QUADRANT
Keith’s take:  UW-Whitewater 52, Macalester 7
Ryan’s take: UW-Whitewater 45, Macalester 3
Pat’s take: UW-Whitewater 45, Macalester 6
Consensus: The defending champions should dominate in the Scots’ first playoff game ever.

Keith’s take: Wabash 27, Franklin 17
Ryan’s take: Wabash 41, Franklin 21
Pat’s take: Wabash 53, Franklin 31
Consensus: How much scoring we expect varies, but the Little Giants should win this 4-5 matchup by double digits.

Keith’s take: St. John’s 31, St. Scholastica 10
Ryan’s take: St. John’s 38, St. Scholastica 7
Pat’s take: St. John’s 38, St. Scholastica 17
Consensus: The Johnnies see Kurt Ramler again, and send the Saints to another unceremonious first-round exit.

Keith’s take: Wartburg 35, St. Thomas 21
Ryan’s take: Wartburg 34, St. Thomas 20
Pat’s take: Wartburg 54, St. Thomas 35
Consensus: For all the talk about it being a tough draw, we’ve got the Knights by two or three touchdowns.

MARY HARDIN-BAYLOR QUADRANT
Keith’s take: Widener 31, Muhlenberg 21
Ryan’s take: Widener 49, Muhlenberg 21
Pat’s take: Widener 42, Muhlenberg 35
Consensus: We’re varied on how close the Mules keep it, but the Pride roars on.

Keith’s take: Delaware Valley 42, Christopher Newport 35
Ryan’s take: Delaware Valley 41, Christopher Newport 37
Pat’s take: Delaware Valley 56, Christopher Newport 31
Consensus: The Aggies have one of the most generous defenses in the field, so they’ll have to win a shootout.

Keith’s take: Linfield 28, Chapman 21
Ryan’s take: Linfield 28, Chapman 13
Pat’s take: Linfield 27, Chapman 24
Consensus: Basically a repeat of the Week 1 matchup, with a bit more scoring.

Keith’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor 52, Texas Lutheran 24
Ryan’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor 56, Texas Lutheran 17
Pat’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor 48, Texas Lutheran 13
Consensus: Not quite 72-16, but not quite close.

WESLEY QUADRANT
Keith’s take: Wesley 56, Hampden-Sydney 21
Ryan’s take: Wesley 45, Hampden-Sydney 10
Pat’s take: Wesley 42, Hampden-Sydney 20
Consensus: The Wolverines pick up where they left off the last time they played a D-III opponent.

Keith’s take: MIT 24, Husson 21
Ryan’s take: MIT 34, Husson 31
Pat’s take: Husson 20, MIT 15
Consensus: This could go either way, and we all expect a grind.

Keith’s take: Johns Hopkins 34, Rowan 17
Ryan’s take: Johns Hopkins 27, Rowan 17
Pat’s take: Johns Hopkins 24, Rowan 10
Consensus: The Profs just don’t have enough offensive variety to keep up with the Blue Jays.

Keith’s take: Hobart 24, Ithaca 22
Ryan’s take: Ithaca 24, Hobart 20
Pat’s take: Ithaca 24, Hobart 21
Consensus: We effectively picked the same score, in a toss-up. (We each make our choices without looking at the others) Hobart is a No. 2 seed, but would it be an upset if it lost to the Empire 8 champs?

MOUNT UNION QUADRANT
Keith’s take: Wheaton 31, Benedictine 6
Ryan’s take: Wheaton 42, Benedictine 7
Pat’s take: Wheaton 54, Benedictine 0
Consensus: At least the Eagles, who rallied from 1-4 to win the NACC, have a short ride home.

Keith’s take: John Carroll 35, Centre 13
Ryan’s take: John Carroll 45, Centre 14
Pat’s take: John Carroll 45, Centre 21
Consensus: Going toe-to-toe with Mount Union in Week 11 portends success more than going 10-0 in the SAA.

Keith’s take: Washington and Jefferson 28, Wittenberg 24
Ryan’s take: Wittenberg 38, Washington and Jefferson 21
Pat’s take: Washington and Jefferson 34, Wittenberg 31
Consensus: This is one of the few places Pat and I see potential for a narrow upset; Ryan disagrees.

Keith’s take: Mount Union 49, Adrian 13
Ryan’s take: Mount Union 66, Adrian 7
Pat’s take: Mount Union 54, Adrian 3
Consensus: The Bulldogs run into a bulwark.

We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below, or tweet at us at @D3Keith, @NewsTipps and @d3football. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Mondays, where Pat and Keith review the picks and the highlights from Round 1.