Top 25 poll analysis

Wartburg played its way up in the Top 25.Photo by Caleb Williams,

Wartburg played its way up in the Top 25.
Photo by Caleb Williams,

I’ve often told people that you can’t just analyze a team’s placement or movement in the Top 25 in a vacuum. The reality is, all 25 teams’ placement (and those in the others receiving votes) are all relative.

Case in point this week: Wittenberg moves down three spots in the first regular-season Top 25 after losing by six to Butler, a Division I FCS team (albeit, a non-scholarship opponent). When I’m voting, I try to keep a few things in mind: Did we expect this result, or should we have expected them to win? That may mean I don’t drop Wittenberg or a team in a similar situation (Thomas More) on my ballot.

Nonetheless, Wittenberg dropped three spots. And in all honesty, that’s because Wabash and Wartburg really deserved to move up. Wabash beat a ranked team, while Wartburg basically dismantled a pretty decent team.

It may also be helpful to look at the poll points. They can tell you two things — first of all, where are the tiers of teams, and secondly, how far a team truly moved each week.

Going back to Wittenberg as our example: The Tigers received 244 points in the preseason poll and 225 in the Week 1 poll. That difference of 19 points means that the 25 voters moved Wittenberg an average of about one spot on their ballot. But Wartburg went from 175 points to 267 (plus-92) and Wabash went from 191 to 294 (plus-103). Johns Hopkins, the other team that passed Wittenberg, gained 74 points as they helped erase one of the preseason concerns about their offense.

Wesley and Linfield swap spots. I think it’s pretty easy to see that Wesley beating a ranked team is more impressive than Linfield not playing. And this was only a shift of 12 points: Wesley trailed Linfield by five in the preseason and leads by seven now. There is a cluster of teams ranked 4-7 that are within 18 points of each other, then a big dropoff to No. 8 UW-Platteville and another one to No. 9 St. John Fisher.

Around the Nation podcast: Almost quite as expected

Linfield’s defense sparked the comeback.
Linfield athletics photo

Subscribe to the Around the Nation Podcast in iTunes.

Crazy comeback on the west coast, a Midwest game with more subplots than a [insert your cliche here] and in all, a good second round of action. Pat and Keith were on-site at Wesley, calling their game with Ithaca, but all eight games get a good run of time on this week’s podcast. Will Bethel continue to perform well with its backup quarterback? Does Wesley have a shot at Mount Union? How about these usual suspects in the round of eight?

For a week in which all three Triple Take pickers got all eight winners right, there were still some surprises, after all.

Plus, there are a couple of short rants here, only one about officiating, Continue reading

Triple Take: Score predictions for Round 2

Two-thirds of our Triple Take crew will be calling the Wesley-Ithaca game on Saturday.
Wesley athletics photo

Half the field is now gone after an exciting Round 1 of the playoffs. Teams that had Cinderella seasons – Gallaudet and John Carroll among them – and other squads will now have to watch the remaining four weeks of Division III football away from the sidelines.

All four of the top seeds survived the first round, and three of the four seeds that were likely the No. 2 seeds also advanced.

This week, Pat, Keith and Ryan again give you the game-by-game score predictions.These postseason Triple Take predictions are not intended to be lines on the games, but rather a broad test of expectations vs. outcome.

For more info on the 32-team race to Salem, including the brackets, info on each team and feature stories, check our playoffs home page.

We invite you to leave your own score predictions in the comments below, or reach out to us on Twitter.

Ryan’s take:
Mount Union 41, Wittenberg 34
Keith’s take: Mount Union 30, Wittenberg 20
Pat’s take: Mount Union 42, Wittenberg 24
Consensus: Mount Union, perhaps a close game.

Ryan’s take: Wesley 35, Ithaca 17
Keith’s take: Wesley 24, Ithaca 16
Pat’s take: Wesley 35, Ithaca 10
Consensus: Wesley, perhaps comfortably.

Ryan’s take:
Bethel 34, Wartburg 14
Keith’s take: Bethel 24, Wartburg 17
Pat’s take: Bethel 45, Wartburg 17
Consensus: Bethel, comfortably.

Ryan’s take: North Central 28, UW-Platteville 24
Keith’s take: North Central 35, UW-Platteville 33
Pat’s take: North Central 35, UW-Platteville 30
Consensus: North Central in a tight game. Although none of us picked Platteville to win, since everyone thinks it will be a one-score game or less, nobody is ruling Platteville out.

Ryan’s take:
UW-Whitewater 31, Franklin 21
Keith’s take: UW-Whitewater 28, Franklin 14
Pat’s take: UW-Whitewater 31, Franklin 17
Consensus: UW-Whitewater.

Ryan’s take: Linfield 49, Hampden-Sydney 20
Keith’s take: Linfield 51, Hampden-Sydney 21
Pat’s take: Linfield 49, Hampden-Sydney 14
Consensus: Linfield, comfortably.

Ryan’s take:
Mary Hardin-Baylor 45, Rowan 13
Keith’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor 28, Rowan 0
Pat’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor 51, Rowan 9
Consensus: UMHB, comfortably.

Ryan’s take: St. John Fisher 27, Hobart 24
Keith’s take: St. John Fisher 21, Hobart 16
Pat’s take: St. John Fisher 31, Hobart 28
Consensus: St. John Fisher in a tight game. Similar to the North Central/Platteville game, this low margin suggests nobody is ruling Hobart out.

Feel free to add your score predictions for all of the games below!