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Quick Hits Week 5: Ringing in October

Our Quick Hits panel is back with (Little Brass) bells on to get you ready for the second month of the season. This week we’re looking at big games in the Liberty League and the MIAA, who is circling the wagons, and who might springboard into the Top 25 after this weekend. Oh, and there’s a big one in Chicagoland as well.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas.

— Greg Thomas

Photo: Union athletics

Which game not involving a brass bell is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. There are a handful of WIAC & MIAC games that belong, and this one might effectively end someone’s playoff hopes. Already.
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Ryan’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. We’re all still trying to gauge the No. 2 and 3 spots in the WIAC. Both teams already have quality wins, and this will provide clarity.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. I haven’t investigated whether there is a bell involved in this game, to be honest. Hope it qualifies.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Concordia-Moorhead at No. 14 St. Thomas. Every game is now a must-win for the Tommies. The Cobbers fared equally well, if not better than, St. Thomas against WIAC competition. Interested to see how UST responds after last week’s setback.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 21 Hobart at Union. I explain the intriguing matchup in today’s ATN Podcast.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Hope at Trine. This game has decided the MIAA champion in each of the last two seasons and may be the de facto championship game again this year.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 14 St. Thomas. The loss last week was quirky and not too concerning. But Concordia-Moorhead might be really good.
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Ryan’s take: No. 24 Trine. The Thunder seem shaky at times considering how many points they’ve given up so far this season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 24 Trine. Probably others as well, but Trine seems like a team trading on 2018 success in the 2019 Top 25.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse. The narrow non-conference wins over quality opponents aren’t looking quite as impressive since those teams have both underwhelmed this year. Facing UW-Platteville on the road will give the Eagles a chance to prove themselves worthy of this high ranking.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse (at UW-Platteville). It seems like the roles are reversed this year for these teams, with Platteville having the chance to play spoiler instead of having to protect its ranking.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 15 Wesley. Yes, Rowan is winless, but the Profs have shown well against Linfield and Hobart. Reports out of Dover that E.J. Lee has been shut down for the year create more questions for a Wesley offense that hasn’t really taken off yet.

North Central’s top ranked offense or Wheaton’s top ranked defense?

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Keith’s take: Wheaton’s defense. I watched Wheaton shut down Illinois Wesleyan, so give me the Thunder.
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Ryan’s take: North Central’s offense. I’m normally all about D in these situations, but this year’s NCC offense under Rutter is too potent to slow down.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: North Central’s top-ranked offense. This game has been pretty high-scoring over the past few meetings and don’t expect a change now.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: North Central. As much as it pains me to ever choose offense, I can’t pick against two of the nation’s top offensive players in quarterback Broc Rutter and offensive lineman Sharmore Clark.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: North Central’s offense. Defense wins championships, but offense wins games like these.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: North Central’s offense. These teams have split the last 14 Little Brass Bell games and it feels like Broc Rutter has started all of them. I’m not betting against him in his last shot at rival Wheaton.

Which game are you following that nobody else on this panel is following?

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Keith’s take: Albright at FDU-Florham. After three games against teams that are 8-1, the Lions get to face someone on their level and try to snap a 14-game losing streak.
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Ryan’s take: Willamette at Whitworth. I’m eager to see how the bye week treated the Pirates, after the Week 3 upset by Chapman.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Kenyon at Oberlin. But, you’ll have to listen to today’s podcast (No. 247) to find out why.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Carnegie Mellon at Grove City. The Tartans are on some Top 25 ballots already and can continue to climb if they knock off the Wolverines on the road. Grove City is trying to avoid a three-game losing skid on the heels of a nine-game winning streak.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Mass-Dartmouth at Framingham State. The Corsairs look to move to 5-0, but 1-2 Framingham State looks to remain undefeated in the conference and defend its MASCAC crown.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Eureka at Aurora. Look, I like points. Lots of points. These teams both score over 40 points per game and gain over 500 yards per game. If you like wide open offense, this game is for you.

Pick one of the seven six groups of Pioneers in action to get a win this week.

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Keith’s take: William Paterson. A lot of tough matchups for Pioneers this week, but this is both podcast appropriate, and vs. TCNJ, a safer bet.
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Ryan’s take: Marietta, though it won’t be as close as last-year’s one-point win was.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Marietta. Literally the only one I can get on board with here.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Marietta. Whatcha gonna do, brotherrrr, when Tanner Clark runs all over you? He’s sixth in D-III at 145.7 yards per game. ONU’s defense has underwhelmed so far.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: William Paterson (vs. TCNJ). Dustin Johnson has the Pioneers clicking right now, and TCNJ continues to struggle at 0-3.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: UW-Platteville. The Pioneers from Wisconsin have been impressive through the early part of the season while La Crosse has been forced to overtime twice already.

Which unbeaten, unranked team makes the strongest statement for Top 25 votes this weekend?

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Keith’s take: The Case Western Reserve/Westminster winner. If you’re making me pick, I’ll take the Titans, I suppose.
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Ryan’s take: Cortland. They don’t need much of a nudge to crack the Top 25, and taking down a 2-1 Utica team should get them there, especially if it’s as lopsided as their other games have been.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Cortland, vs. Utica. These Pioneers are off to a pretty good start and if Cortland handles Utica, it should open some eyes.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Union. A win over ranked Hobart would almost assuredly get the Dutchmen into the Top 25. At least if other voters share my belief that winning all your games this season is more representative than program pedigree or past seasons’ performance.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Union (vs. No. 21 Hobart). Because I’m a 1998 grad, and because I’m making my first appearance at Union in three years.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Carnegie Mellon. The Tartans only need to find themselves on a few more ballots to crack the Top 25 and an impressive win over Grove City may well collect the additional support they need. Also, Platteville (see above).

We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Fridays, where Pat and Keith review the Quick Hits that were prescient, and the Quick Misses that were terribly off base.

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Around the Nation 218: The bid-clinching has begun!

Yep, three teams have clinched their automatic bids to the NCAA Division III football playoffs, with 23 more to go, plus five true at-large bids. And it’s those at-large bids which will receive a ton of attention … first off, because they’re the most difficult decisions the committee will make, and secondly, because those teams are going to be candidates to get a first-round home game, and perhaps win a game or two.

Who played their way into consideration? Who played their way out? Which teams are being set up for multiple home games in the tournament, should they win out? Plus, how did Pat and Keith deal with this weekend’s losses on their Top 25 ballots? Who had amazing games that were just a bit under the radar? Which conference has games that just aren’t competitive at all? And everyone’s favorite backup quarterback wasn’t a backup this week.

Plus game balls, the week’s interesting stats and more in the latest D3football.com Around the Nation podcast. 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.
Full episode:

You can subscribe to the Around the Nation Podcast in iTunes. 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

Link: NCAA Division III playoff criteria, from our FAQ
Link: Playoff primer podcast (No. 216, with committee chair Jim Catanzaro)

Photo: St. John’s, UW-Whitewater and Berry athletics photos

Theme music: DJmentos.

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Quick Hits: For the birds

Eagles, Cardinals — perhaps not more fierce than Bears or … more Bears, I suppose. But those are the focus this week in Week 8 of the 2018 Division III football season.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer and Frank Rossi. Our sixth spot each week goes to a guest prognosticator, and this week’s is Logan Hansen. You may remember him as the Wartburg alumnus who does a computer ranking of D-III teams, and he is on twitter at @LogHanRatings.

— Pat Coleman

Which game is the Week 8 game of the week?

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Keith’s take: UW-La Crosse at No. 12 UW-Oshkosh. This should be closer than the rankings suggest, and could upset the playoff apple cart.
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Ryan’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan at Washington U. The Bears’ win last week over Wheaton put them on everyone’s radars, and this is another tough test.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan at Washington U. I priced out flights to St. Louis for this one. Not in the budget.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: UW-La Crosse at No. 12 UW-Oshkosh. Plenty to choose from this week, but this is essentially a WIAC and playoff elimination game.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Hobart at No. 19 RPI. This could have Pool C implications if Hobart wins. RPI’s strength of schedule is excellent and will improve — a 1-loss RPI could win an at-large bid.
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Logan’s take: No. 17 IWU at Wash U. I’m not sure which result would throw the bigger wrench into the  tiebreakers, but Wash. U has shown they belong, and IWU has shown last season wasn’t a fluke.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 15 North Central. Carthage pushed UW-O, IWU and Millikin to the brink, so NCC best bring its A game.
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Ryan’s take: No. 12 UW-Oshkosh. Though Oshkosh is coming off a real quality win, UW-La Crosse has shown more than a few flashes of greatness this fall.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan. I look forward to learning if it really is as tough for teams to win in St. Louis as it is for Chicagoland teams in Bloomington.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 19 RPI. Hobart and the Engineers have both played their share of nailbiters this season. The Statesmen win another close one.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan. WashU at home, following a win vs. Wheaton … I’ll play the momentum as the Titans have looked mediocre in wins lately.
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Logan’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan. The model has Wash. U favored by a field goal, 28-25.

Whose unbeaten run comes to an end this week?

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Keith’s take: Marietta. The Grey Pioneers allow 31.8 points per game, which is way too loose to beat John Carroll.
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Ryan’s take: Marietta. I expect this one to be a popular pick, as the Pioneers are facing John Carroll this week.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Kalamazoo. Kzoo’s 6-0 isn’t far from Alma’s 1-5, just a different schedule. Similar results vs. Adrian and Albion.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Marietta. The Pioneers travel to No. 10 John Carroll, and leave with their first loss of 2018. Also, RPI.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Western Connecticut. The Bridgewater State Bears have been stalking the frontrunners of the MASCAC — a win would give them a chance for the playoffs.
Guest
Logan’s take: Central. There’s a reason they haven’t cracked the Top 25 yet, because they haven’t beaten a proven team (except maybe DePauw). Wartburg by a TD according to the model.

Which game are you following that nobody else on this panel is following?

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Keith’s take: FDU-Florham at Misericordia. The former could hit five wins for the first time since 2000; the latter had won five ever before this year & now five straight.
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Ryan’s take: Hanover at Manchester. I’ve enjoyed watching the Panthers’ resurgence this season. It’s reminiscent to how I remember them from the late ’90s.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Luther at Nebraska Wesleyan. It’s part of my 25-game tour of D3 from west to east from the podcast.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Central at Wartburg. The Dutch could also fall from the ranks of the unbeaten, and the ARC race could turn into a logjam at the top.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor at Belhaven. UMHB wins, but will the Cru finally resolve their QB contest?  Two (let alone, three)-QB systems aren’t optimal, and could be a problem in playoffs.
Guest
Logan’s take: Emory & Henry at Shenandoah. If I’m picking a random game to watch, it would be this — the model has the spread at -3 Shenandoah, with an O/U of 93.5. Gonna get pointsy.

Which team is probably safe to focus more on next week?

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Keith’s take: Muhlenberg. By the fourth quarter vs. McDaniel, the Mules will allow themselves to ponder Week 9 vs. Johns Hopkins.
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Ryan’s take: No. 16 Trine. Opponent Finlandia has a long way before it’ll be competitive at Trine’s level.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: St. Thomas. Carleton has improved this season but won’t be a match for the Tommies.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Endicott. No coach would approve of this question, but Paul McGonagle’s team faces winless Becker a week before taking on its top CCC competition, Western New England.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Trinity (Conn.). In a topsy-turvy NESCAC race, Bowdoin is winless.  Next up would be Middlebury, the team that shocked Williams last weekend.
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Logan’s take: Muhlenberg and Johns Hopkins. Both teams are greater than 97% favorites this week, and most computer models (not mine) think they’re both Top 10 teams.

Who has the edge this week: Cardinals or Eagles?

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Keith’s take: Eagles. It’s five against seven, and the Eagles have Brockport and UW-La Crosse on their side.
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Ryan’s take: Eagles. In terms of both quantity and quality (see my upset pick above).
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Eagles. But only because of the Golden Eagles of Brockport. Without them, the Cardinals would take it.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Eagles. Thanks to the Golden variety, ranked No. 3 and hosting Buffalo State.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Neither. Cardinals: North Central, St. John Fisher; Eagles: Brockport, Husson.
Guest
Logan’s take: Eagles. Brockport and Husson basically guaranteed to win. 2.1 expected wins for Cardinals, 2.8 for Eagles.

We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Fridays, where Pat and Keith review the Quick Hits that were prescient, and the Quick Misses that were terribly off base.