What the chair said

Matt Wenger
Wesley, the No. 1 overall seed, really?

Last year, our friends at In The HuddLLe, the internet talk show covering the Liberty League (hence the odd spelling) and the East Region, got Division III selection committee chair Joy Solomen on the phone and grilled her with some tough questions about how teams were selected.

This year, the bracket is a little less controversial, but there were still many questions to be asked and answered. For more about the bracket and selection process, this is a good listen. Frank Rossi and James Baker ask the questions for In the HuddLLe.

• Why were there seeds this year, when last year we were told there were never any seeds?
• How did the ACFC and NJAC teams get split into two separate brackets?
• Why did the regional rankings not reflect the final seedings?
• How were the last at-large selections made?

Click the play button below to listen.

You can also get this and any of our future Around the Nation podcasts automatically by subscribing to this RSS feed: http://www.d3blogs.com/d3football/?feed=podcast

Our final playoff projection

Do we think Coe gets in?

The job of selecting teams was about the same as it was earlier in the week. It didn’t really get easier with Hardin-Simmons losing. And having a UAA winner didn’t help us read the tea leaves in Pool B.

Here’s the deal: Doing a full projection involves emulating the NCAA process from the beginning, all the way through. We have to create our own regional rankings, because it’s not just important to selecting teams, it’s important for seeding them. So Gordon Mann and I, who have been projecting brackets as a team for years in both football and basketball, started with four regional rankings.

Cortland State
Montclair State
Delaware Valley
St. John Fisher
Maine Maritime
Mount Union
North Central (Ill.)
Wheaton (Ill.)
Ohio Northern
Illinois Wesleyan
Mary Hardin-Baylor
Thomas More
Washington & Lee
Louisiana College
St. Thomas
Cal Lutheran
Pacific Lutheran

I decided instead of spending a lot of text explaining who plays whom since the seedings and travel and conference rematches don’t always line up, I would just create a darn bracket. So here, download the projected bracket and see what we’re talking about.

We end up ranking the three NJAC teams straight by strength of schedule, since so much else here is a wash. And we will talk more about this later.

Some things did change this week. Pool B doesn’t — still Wesley, Salisbury, SUNY-Maritime. Chicago was the one left out — we looked at Salisbury’s overall Division III SOS to help guide us and it ended up being .558, ahead of Chicago’s. And Chicago making our regional rankings has more impact down the line.

Pool C: Remember how this works is that the NCAA takes the top remaining team from each region and compares all four together. They pick the best, then replace them on the board with the next team from that region.

Wheaton is first and easiest. Hampden-Sydney next. Rowan takes a little discussion because of its .500 SOS but it has a win against a regionally ranked team — a team No. 1 in its regional rankings, in fact. Ohio Northern had a better SOS (.512) but no win against a regionally ranked team. However, we put ONU in next. It gets dicey here but we add Bethel, which is like Ohio Northern (only loss is to the No. 1 team in its region) with a lower SOS. But the Royals have a much better showing against St. Thomas than ONU did against Mount Union. That’s five of our six Pool C teams.

Here’s the board now, four teams, with record, SOS and results against regionally ranked teams (no common opponents or head-to-head here):

136 Montclair State 9-1 .493 1-1 beat East-2 lost to East-1
15 Wabash 8-1 (8-2 overall) .574 2-1 beat S4 beat N9 lost N5
74 Louisiana College 7-2 (7-3 overall) .516 1-1 lost S2 beat S9
135 Coe 7-1 (9-1 overall) .493 1-1 lost W3 beat W10

We need just one team. Montclair State and Coe look fairly identical here but Montclair’s 1-1 is better than Coe’s 1-1. This doesn’t get us all the way there, but we can eliminate Coe because at least one team is better than Coe here.

Of the two-loss teams (and Louisiana College isn’t even really a two-loss team), we can eliminate Louisiana College. So it’s Montclair State vs. Wabash.

Montclair has the edge in record. Wabash has a huge edge in SOS — I mean, .574 to .493 is significant. And even if you go away from the numbers for a bit and look at who Montclair scheduled out of conference (Westfield State), the schedule doesn’t grade well. Wabash has two wins against regionally ranked opponents — and even if you don’t think Chicago makes the regional rankings, well, Wabash still has a gigantic 47-0 drubbing of DePauw today.

There is no magic formula that tells us what is worth more, or how many points in SOS it takes to overcome a difference in winning percentage. And perhaps this is not what the NCAA will do. But it’s what the NCAA should do.