The story goes, one day on a long ride to a playoff game at Thiel (which tells you how long ago this happened), Pat and Keith decided to pass the time by guessing not just the winner of each first-round playoff game, but the score. And there was born the expectations game: Do we expect a close game? A high-scoring game? A blowout? Does everyone agree on who will win? Those are the factors worth looking at.
Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas each take their guesses at scores for each first-round game. We also looped in the Hansen Ratings, updated with playoff experience as a factor, for anther objective take. The algorithm takes into account both home-field advantage and playoff experience, so a game such as Hardin-Simmons and Linfield, between teams with identical team ratings, ends up with Linfield given a 65 percent chance to win.
Hansen odds to advance: Wesley, 91%
Consensus: Wesley makes it final: No upsets expected in this bracket.
Here’s more data from Hansen Ratings. Select any two playoff teams to see how they would compare in a real or hypothetical matchup
We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below, or tweet at @d3football. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Mondays, where Pat and Keith review the picks and the highlights from the first round.
So, we’ve become accustomed to a bracket with two flights in the first round, instead of one. Last year they told us it was no longer a one-time thing, and this year they followed through on that. But why is it that we can only keep two highly ranked teams apart for a round? Why do No. 5 and No. 8 play in order to potentially play No. 1 in the next round? You can find out more in this week’s D3football.com Around the Nation podcast.
Pat and Keith hand out game balls, find the hidden highlights, the interesting stats and then a whole bunch of bracket-specific items in the D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast. You do not want to leave this podcast early, before you hear the bonus picks.
The D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast is a regular conversation between Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan and guests covering the wide range of Division III football.
Hit play, or subscribe to get this podcast on your mobile device.
Whether playing for a playoff spot, playing out the string, playing for a bell (Monon or Victory), or playing in a rivalry with no trophy at all, there should be lots of intrigue here in Week 11.
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 guest is Brendan McKinnon. A former wide receiver at the Coast Guard Academy, Brendan also ran a college football site on Fox Sports’ Yardbarker blog network for five seasons.
— Pat Coleman
What’s this week’s Game of the Week?
Keith’s take: No. 19 Concordia-Moorhead at No. 6 St. John’s. Other games could set more playoff dominoes in motion, but this matches better teams and is essentially a play-in.
Ryan’s take: No. 19 Concordia-Moorhead at No. 6 St. John’s. Two regionally ranked teams vying to stay in the Pool C hunt. What’s not to love?
Pat’s take: Wabash at DePauw. This year, it’s Wabash’s opportunity to play spoiler, as DePauw is somehow in the top half of the North Region rankings.
Adam’s take: Concordia-Moorhead at St. John’s. The playoffs start a week early for these two ranked MIAC teams. Winner is in, loser is out.
Frank’s take: MIT at No. 20 Springfield. This game carries Pool B & C implications, as a Springfield loss would open up a Pool C slot.
Brendan’s take: The Secretaries’ Cup (Coast Guard-Merchant Marine) on ESPN3. It’s finally back at the end of the season where it belongs.
Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?
Keith’s take: No. 14 Case Western Reserve. Last week’s dominance should have made us all believers, but the visit to 7-2 Carnegie Mellon is by far their toughest road test to date.
Ryan’s take: No. 14 Case Western Reserve. For all the talk of their playoff chances, a loss to Carnegie Mellon would take stress off the selection committee.
Pat’s take: No. 24 UW-La Crosse. Plenty of teams in the bottom few spots of the West Region rankings have taken extra losses so far. They could add to the list.
Adam’s take: No. 12 Wittenberg. Wooster has an explosive offense and will want to push the pace in a shootout. The Tigers have already clinched the NCAC title.
Frank’s take: No. 14 Case Western Reserve (at Carnegie Mellon). The Week 10 bye for the Tartans might be exactly what the team needs to bounce back and upset Case.
Guest’s take: No. 14 Case Western Reserve. Trap games and rivalries are a bad combination.
Pick a winner in a head-to-head game for an automatic bid.
Keith’s take: No. 7 Delaware Valley (vs. Widener). The Pride have a chance, and it would disrupt Pool C, but the Aggies’ defense is playing too well to blow the shot at 10-0.
Ryan’s take: Delaware Valley, over Widener. The Aggies have impressed all season and won’t slow now.
Pat’s take: Monmouth. There’s really only one way the Midwest Conference championship game will go.
Adam’s take: Monmouth. The Scots win the only true conference championship game and secure the MWC bid.
Frank’s take: No. 7 Delaware Valley (vs. Widener). As much as I favor upsets, I can’t see this game being a real challenge for the Aggies, with their balance on both sides of the ball.
Guest’s take: Johns Hopkins has the Centennial Conference locked up against McDaniel.
Who salvages a subpar season with a win in its finale?
Keith’s take: No. 23 UW-Whitewater. The Warhawks should beat UW-Eau Claire easily to finish 6-1 in the No. 1 conference, with losses to 10-0 and two 9-1 teams.
Ryan’s take: Washington U. Tough, tough schedule led to a bad record. If they’re not too beat up, Bridgewater should net them a win.
Pat’s take: Wabash. Because Bell.
Adam’s take: Coe. Last year’s 10-0 season is a distant memory. A win over Buena Vista would at least avoid finishing in the cellar alone.
Frank’s take: Stevenson (vs. Lycoming). The Mustangs started ranked in the Top 25, only to risk falling to .500 with a loss Saturday — a loss I believe they avoid.
Guest’s take: UW-Platteville. The Pioneers will end their skid and finish with a winning conference record.
Alma mater excluded, pick a winner in a rivalry game.
Keith’s take: Union or Wabash. Two of D-III’s best rivalries are back now that both sides are good at the same time again. We’ll see some weirdness Saturday.
Ryan’s take: Cortland. The Jug game this year pits two pretty evenly matched teams.
Pat’s take: Coast Guard. Glad this game is being showcased on ESPN3. It should be an entertaining one.
Adam’s take: Randolph-Macon. The Yellow Jackets’ strengths (rushing and rush defense) exploit Hampden-Sydney’s biggest weaknesses.
Frank’s take: Wabash (at DePauw). I mean, this game is listed to start at 1:07 p.m. If it started at 1:06, I’d favor DePauw, of course.
Guest’s take: Ithaca has more to play for; they’ll break their long losing streak to Cortland and win the Cortaca Jug.
Who heads into the playoffs without momentum?
Keith’s take: Lakeland. The Muskies won’t lose to Rockford, and even if the Muskies, a first-round game at somewhere like UW-Oshkosh awaits.
Ryan’s take: Chapman. Because being robbed of a final game to polish your skills on the field is a tough pill to swallow.
Pat’s take: Lakeland. Heading for a game against a top seed somewhere, without Michael Whitley at full mobility? Ballgame.
Adam’s take: No. 10 Brockport. The Golden Eagles will be without starting QB Joe Germinerio, so expect a low-scoring game against St. Lawrence in Week 11.
Frank’s take: Ithaca (vs. Cortland). This allows me to pick Union in the Dutchman’s Shoes game vs. RPI, giving the Bombers the LL AQ. Yet, Ithaca’s 2-2 vs. E8 teams this year.
Guest’s take: Western New England. They haven’t faced a playoff caliber opponent in two months.
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.