We’re on the downhill slope now to Selection Sunday. Six weeks down, and five weeks left, with lots of questions to be answered. We’ll try to answer part of one-fifth of those questions here with our Quick Hits crew.
Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer and Frank Rossi. Our sixth spot goes to a guest each week, and this week’s is Dave McHugh, the host of Hoopsville over at D3hoops.com. He typically pays enough attention to football to not pick Calvin, Connecticut College or either Centenary.
— Pat Coleman
What’s the Week 7 game of the week?
Keith’s take: No. 3 UW-Oshkosh at No. 9 UW-Platteville. With Wheaton’s struggles taking the luster off the Little Brass Bell clash, no game is even close.
Ryan’s take: No. 3 UW-Oshkosh at No. 9 UW-Platteville. Since 2013, the Pioneers have narrowly missed the postseason more than once. Here’s their 2017 chance.
Pat’s take: No. 3 UW-Oshkosh at No. 9 UW-Platteville. I mean, God forbid I suggest another game is worth paying attention to.
Adam’s take: No. 3 UW-Oshkosh at No. 9 UW-Platteville. Here’s the Pioneers’ real chance to silence the doubters.
Frank’s take: No. 25 Springfield at Merchant Marine. This is a test for the Pride in a must-win for Pool B/C playoff consideration.
Dave’s take: No. 3 UW-Oshkosh at No. 9 UW-Platteville. Unfortunately, it has been awhile since these two have played as intriguing a matchup in basketball.
Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?
Keith’s take: No. 19 Berry. The Vikings have had Hendrix’s number. The 5-1 Warriors will need a big game from its 194th-best defense.
Ryan’s take: No. 17 Alfred. Opponent Cortland is a two-loss team and will be fighting to stay in E8 playoff discussion.
Pat’s take: No. 19 Berry. From just outside the rankings, to top 20, to playing the other team with playoff experience.
Adam’s take: No. 17 Alfred at Cortland. But honestly it feels more like a “Pat’s special” week, aka no upsets.
Frank’s take: No. 4 North Central. After a hellacious couple of weeks, Wheaton has a chance to turn the season back around here with nothing left to lose.
Dave’s take: No. 4 North Central. I am not one to think Wheaton is down and out. I suspect the Cardinals get tripped up by the Thunder, who right the ship after a few distraction-filled weeks.
Which team is probably safe to focus more on next week?
Keith’s take: No. 18 Frostburg State. William Paterson has just three touchdowns in five games and field the nation’s least-successful offense.
Ryan’s take: No. 12 Wittenberg. Allegheny is improved, but a win should be easy, and Witt should be more worried about DePauw on the horizon.
Pat’s take: No. 7 Linfield. Lewis & Clark is improved, but if the Wildcats were prepping for George Fox this week, I don’t think it’ll be an issue.
Adam’s take: No. 18 Frostburg State (at William Paterson). Coaches gonna hate you for this one, Pat. will bounce back in time for Montclair State on Oct. 21.
Frank’s take: No. 14 Wesley (vs. Kean). Rowan should put up a better fight against Wesley next week.
Dave’s take: I can only pick one? Ok. I’ll go with Mount Union. Nothing against Capital, but I just don’t see the Raiders being challenged. Sorry Crusaders..
Which early-season surprise team will get some reality?
Keith’s take: DePauw, with a 5-0 start and lofty defensive stats game against average-at-best teams. After Witt, Wabash losses, Denison set to bust out.
Ryan’s take: UW-La Crosse. Is this the easy pick with Whitewater on the other sideline?
Pat’s take: Williams. Because, on the other side, there’s Middlebury, and Williams sweeping C-B-B is less impressive.
Adam’s take: Ursinus. Bears will drop second straight, at Susquehanna, putting JHU back in the Centennial driver’s seat just two weeks after being upset.
Frank’s take: Plymouth State. Quron Wright & Co. for Framingham State will take a huge step toward winning the MASCAC at one-loss PSU’s expense.
Dave’s take: UW-La Crosse. Undefeated and probably looking at Whitewater and thinking the scary monster isn’t that scary. I think Whitewater is still very scary.
Who will get their first win this weekend?
Keith’s take: Kenyon. The 0-5 Lords were thwarted by a late Ohio Wesleyan score last week, and host 1-4 Hiram this week.
Ryan’s take: Hamilton. Against winless Bowdoin in a conference with lots of disparity.
Pat’s take: FInlandia. Utterly devoid of games which count, the Lions have a home-and-home remaining with Trinity Bible and that’s it for 2017.
Adam’s take: Hamilton. The 0-4 NESCAC team faces 0-4 Bowdoin. I’m rolling with the Continentals.
Frank’s take: Kenyon. With Hiram at one win, this is probably Kenyon’s best chance for a 2017 win.
Dave’s take: Hamilton. I have no choice. It is my maternal family’s “school” and my grandfather was a trustee. That trumps any Maine connections I have — sorry, Bowdoin.
Pick a game where the winner has the less fierce mascot.
Keith’s take: Guilford. Quakers’ record is deceiving because of two FCS losses. More-fierce Generals of W&L are six points from being unbeaten, though.
Ryan’s take: St. Scholastica Saints. The UMAC contender faces the Knights of Martin Luther.
Pat’s take: Carnegie Mellon (vs. Geneva). Tartans over Golden Wave. Water-logged swatches of material for the win.
Adam’s take: Redlands. The Bulldogs defeat the Chapman Panthers. Everyone gets treats for the short trip home
Frank’s take: Trinity (Conn.). The Bantams over the Tufts Jumbos. Chickens may be no match for elephants in nature, but this will be a plucking win for the Bantams.
Dave’s take: Otterbein (vs. Heidelberg). Nothing puts the fear in people than Cardinals playing Princes. This feels like a Medieval times or Dark Ages matchup where royalty and the church clashed.
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 Quick Hits that were prescient, and the Quick Misses that were terribly off base.
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.
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Conference races are coming down to the wire, and some of those key matchups come this week. That includes the game for bragging rights between our founding Around the Nation columnist (Keith McMillan, former defensive back at Randolph-Macon) and our current columnist (Adam Turer, former defensive back at Washington & Lee). Our guest prognosticator this week is Doug Rothschild, a Wheaton football alum who played for coach Swider and is currently the color analyst for Wheaton’s broadcasts.
— Pat Coleman
Which Week 9 game is the must-watch game?
Keith’s take: There are two. Rowan at Frostburg and Salisbury at CNU. If the Profs and Captains win, Wesley could be atop the heap of five NJAC 6-2 teams.
Ryan’s take: Middlebury at Trinity (Conn.). Because sometimes, you don’t have to be Top 25 teams to bring an awesome performance to the field.
Pat’s take: Ithaca at St. John Fisher. I hear faint echoes of cries about bounced interceptions but just looking for an exciting game.
Adam’s take: Case Western Reserve at Washington U., in a rare late-season non-conference game with playoff implications for both teams.
Frank’s take: Brockport at No. 15 Alfred. This has national appeal as E8 is one of few East conferences with Pool C still in play. A Brockport win could undermine that.
Doug’s take: Rowan at Frostburg. I am a sucker for good defense and these teams are 1-2 in the NJAC in scoring defense. Frostburg is 11th in D-III in defense behind Niles Scott and Will Sewell, who spend a lot of time in other team’s backfields.
Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?
Keith’s take: No. 15 Alfred. The Saxons’ opponent, 5-2 Brockport, is two scores from being unbeaten and has played five one-score games.
Ryan’s take: No. 24 St. John Fisher. Week in and week out, the Empire keeps striking back at one another.
Pat’s take: No. 25 Case Western Reserve. In all honesty, this wouldn’t be much of an upset, either.
Adam’s take: No. 19 Salisbury at Christopher Newport, because the NJAC is as balanced as ever this year.
Frank’s take: No. 15 Alfred. It’s the time of year when leaves change, pumpkins are carved, and the E8 cannibalizes itself out of strong Pool C contention.
Doug’s take: No. 25 Case Western Reserve. Easy come, easy go. They just appeared in the poll last week and a road trip to 6-1 WashU will be their stiffest test of the season.
Of the three NCAC teams ranked 20-23, which one makes the biggest statement to Top 25 voters?
Keith’s take: Denison winning at DePauw would be more impressive than anything Wabash or Wittenberg could accomplish on Saturday. It’s not a lock to happen though.
Ryan’s take: Wabash, with a win over upward-trending OWU. Still, I have exactly zero NCAC teams on my ballot, so they’re all needing to prove themselves to me.
Pat’s take: Denison. The question, however, is whether it’s a positive statement made by the Big Red.
Adam’s take: Denison winning at DePauw would be the biggest statement. Wittenberg is expected to win, and I expect Wabash to struggle against a hot Ohio Wesleyan squad.
Frank’s take: Wabash (vs. Ohio Wesleyan). After a scare vs. Wooster, Wabash needs a statement win. They’ll start this game like a cannonball to win big.
Doug’s take: Wabash. A convincing win @OWU tells Denison they are ready for next week’s showdown, shows their Monon rival how to do what they haven’t done in 4 seasons and keeps Pool C hopes alive.
Who wins the Around the Nation Classic between Keith McMillan’s and Adam Turer’s alma mater?
Keith’s take: I’m obligated to pick the Yellow Jackets, but there’s solid logic. The past three games have been decided by 6, 4 and 3, and none of those R-MC teams had a D as good as this one.
Ryan’s take: The nod goes to Washington & Lee. With the slate Randolph-Macon has coming up, it’s easy to get caught looking ahead.
Pat’s take: Washington & Lee. Something in me just wants to recognize the team that scheduled Johns Hopkins, and that’s no longer Randolph-Macon.
Adam’s take: The mighty Generals take the hill.
Frank’s take: Newspaper ink companies. A lot of letters & symbols for one game. (I’ll pick RMC, but Turer can gloat during our Stagg pregame show if I’m wrong.).
Doug’s take: Randolph-Macon. While I may not be siding as much with Keith as my fellow Wheaton alum Pedro Arruza, Keith is the benefactor this week as his RM brothers have the No, 1 defense in the ODAC and defense wins championships.
Which team bounces back after a tough loss?
Keith’s take: Hardin-Simmons. The foe is 1-6 Belhaven, which has given up 52 or more points in six straight games.
Ryan’s take: Texas Lutheran, after losing its first-ever SCAC game. The Bulldogs beat Trinity (Texas) once already this year; don’t be surprised to see them with new fire to do it again.
Pat’s take: UW-Platteville. After the Pioneers have run the gantlet here over the past few weeks, a trip to UW-Stout should be a little easier to take. As long as they don’t take it too easy.
Adam’s take: Franklin can stay in the HCAC mix and keep its playoff streak alive by winning at Mount St. Joseph.
Frank’s take: Franklin. An extremely inconsistent ship needs to be righted immediately vs. Mount St. Joseph if the Griz have any hopes of playoffs.
Doug’s take: Franklin lost its first conference game in 3 years last week. Mount St. Joseph might be on a roll but Mike Leonard’s teams have lost two conference games in a season just once since 2005. Grizzlies roll.
Pick an under-the-radar 1-loss team which will pick up its second loss Saturday.
Keith’s take: Wash U. is surprisingly 6-1, and 7-0 Case Western Reserve needs this win to bolster its credentials because 9-1 against its schedule might not get it in the playoffs..
Ryan’s take: Washington University, as it goes against undefeated former UAA foe Case.
Pat’s take: Bluffton. Rose-Hulman has to have its eyes on the HCAC automatic bid and shouldn’t be subject to a letdown after beating Franklin.
Adam’s take: Tufts is an under-the-radar 4-1, but has to travel to an angry Amherst team that just got blanked by Wesleyan. The nicknameless home team wins.
Frank’s take: Olivet. What’s lost from the AMAZING “Play of the Week” throw: the Comets struggled vs. a middling Benedictine team. Alma wins Saturday.
Doug’s take: Pomona-Pitzer. The SCIAC is likely decided this week as two 1-loss teams play when 5-1 Redlands visits 5-1 Pomona-Pitzer. I give the edge to Redlands despite being on the road so Pomona-Pitzer picks up loss No 2.
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.