November 2, 2012

Week 9 playoff projection

As one of four 'island' teams in our projected bracket, Cal Lutheran is almost certain to be headed to play one of the others.
Photo by Joe Bergman, d3photography.com 

By Pat Coleman
D3sports.com

Repeat after me: The season does not end today. But unfortunately, doing a projected bracket before the end of the season requires us to presume just that.

It's been a while since I attempted to do a projected bracket with two games still to play, and there are some challenges in that process. First of all is that only Cortland State and UW-Oshkosh have clinched automatic bids. Second is that there is a significant clump at the top of the MIAC that will change on Saturday afternoon. At the moment, all three MIAC one-loss-or-fewer teams have strong playoff resumes and all make our bracket, but one team will lose on Saturday.

For some of the toss-up leagues, it doesn't matter who wins in terms of our projection. That's because the runner-up is not a threat to make the playoffs and the two (or three) competitors would all have similar potential seeds.

Keep in mind that the NCAA does not want to spring for more plane flights than it has to in the first round. With four teams that must fly anywhere they go, that's a minimum of two flights. That's what I've projected. Any distance of more than 500 miles requires the NCAA to pay for a flight. Everything else can be done by bus.

Here's how it looks.

First of all, I took a good look at the Wally Wabash projections on D3boards.com and I found nothing to quibble with in his projection of the at-large teams. Wesley is perhaps the easiest Pool B selection we've ever had and in Pool C, he projects Wabash, Bethel, Concordia-Moorhead, Huntingdon, Elmhurst, Rowan and Heidelberg.

I take those eight teams and the 24 automatic bids and break them into the best four groups of eight possible to create our brackets. With a potential of four teams in Minnesota, and one of those on the North Dakota border, the travel in the westernmost group is really difficult. That, and keeping the three MIAC teams from matching up in the first round made our Linfield bracket tricky.

Last year, remember, the NCAA threw us a wrinkle in the bracket, with shuffled pairings in the national quarterfinals. This bracket doesn't address that but as we get closer to Selection Sunday, I'll take a look at some of the more interesting possibilities.

Mount Union bracket

No. 8 USA South champ at No. 1 Mount Union
No. 5 Salisbury at No. 4 Rowan

No. 7 Mount Ida at No. 2 Hobart
No. 6 ODAC champ at No. 3 Widener

Mount Ida probably should be traveling to Mount Union but the distance is more than 500 miles. This way Hobart gets a team that really could be an eighth-seed even though it doesn't get a top seed in our projected bracket.

 

UW-Oshkosh bracket

No. 8 Lake Forest at No. 1 UW-Oshkosh
No. 5 Heidelberg at No. 4 Wabash

No. 7 Adrian at No. 2 Concordia-Chicago
No. 6 Franklin at No. 3 North Central (Ill.)

In all honesty, Lake Forest has better numbers than Adrian, but Lake Forest and Concordia-Chicago played earlier this season and while it was not a conference game, it's easy enough to shuffle those pairings and avoid that rematch. (The NCAA does not actively avoid non-conference rematches in the first round, however.) Adrian still has two tough games left and could end up deserving that eight seed even more, and perhaps could play its way into a trip to Mount Union instead.

Mary Hardin-Baylor bracket

No. 8 Huntingdon at No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor
No. 7 NEFC champ at No. 2 Wesley

No. 6 Wittenberg at No. 3 Johns Hopkins
No. 5 Waynesburg at No. 4 Cortland State

Again, seven and eight could be switched on the criteria, but this time it's travel distance that forces this shuffling. All three potential NEFC champions can make it to Wesley in under 500 miles.

Linfield bracket after NCAA budgeting process

No. 5 Cal Lutheran at No. 1 Linfield
No. 6 Coe at No. 4 Concordia-Moorhead

No. 8 UMAC champ at No. 2 St. Thomas
No. 7 Elmhurst at No. 3 Bethel

Back when the NCAA used to put seedings on the bracket, it used to be common to see shuffled numbers such as these. Those who are new to Division III may not have seen these before but they exist. If I had one extra flight to give, I'd go this way:

Linfield bracket the way it should be

No. 8 UMAC champ at No. 1 Linfield
No. 5 Cal Lutheran at No. 4 Concordia-Moorhead 

No. 7 Elmhurst at No. 2 St. Thomas
No. 6 Coe at No. 3 Bethel

This configuration requires three flights in the first round: UMAC champ to Linfield, Cal Lutheran to Concordia-Moorhead and Huntingdon to Mary Hardin-Baylor. And because of distance, it requires two charter flights, which the NCAA really tries to avoid.

Many teams are mobile in this bracket. Cortland and Widener could swap brackets fairly easily without causing too many travel issues, as could Widener and Johns Hopkins or Rowan. That's among teams hosting in the first round. Among the teams traveling in the first round, Elmhurst and Lake Forest could trade brackets, as could Wittenberg and Heidelberg. 

This is a start. But we have more games to play, so expect changes when we do this again next week.

Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Millsaps at Belhaven
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
TBA
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
TBA
Endicott at Framingham State
TBA
UW-Platteville at George Fox
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
12:00 PM
Sewanee at Kenyon
1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Kean at Christopher Newport
1:00 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live Stats
1:00 PM
RPI at Norwich
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
1:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
The Apprentice School at Methodist
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
Live Stats
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Live Stats
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Live Stats
2:30 PM
Lawrence at Presentation
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
6:00 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
7:00 PM
Marietta at Denison
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
7:30 PM
Hanover at Centre
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
8:00 PM
Sul Ross State at UT-Permian Basin
Dec. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Mount Union 49, at St. Thomas 35
@ Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Recap Photos