Around the Nation

Playoff picks, surprises, disappointments

Linfield. How far do our experts think the Wildcats will go this season?
Linfield athletics photo

We have our field of 32, led by three West Region teams and the purple-clad machine known as Mount Union.

You’ve had time to digest the brackets and pore over the placement of your favorite teams. Hopefully you’ve also registered for the Bracket Challenge and gotten a hearty helping of insight on this past Monday’s ATN Podcast.

There’s so much more to embrace this week, though, with’s capsules of every playoff team, the Around the Region columns that delve into many of the stars going into the postseason and Friday’s Triple Take column, where we will predict the scores of each of the 16 games. There’s also the column you’re reading now, which features the Stagg Bowl staff’s annual playoff surprises and disappointments.

It’s one of my favorite things to write about each season -- it’s challenging and forces me to look deeply at the makeup of each team, to understand their weaknesses and successes and to understand the matchups in front of me. Each quadrant goes under the microscope.

There are five of us who go bracket-by bracket to select surprising and disappointing teams: Publisher and Executive Editor Pat Coleman, Managing Editor and National Columnist Emeritus Keith McMillan, Around the Mid-Atlantic Columnist and Senior Editor Adam Turer, In The HuddLLe Broadcaster and Stagg Bowl Sideline Guy Frank Rossi, and me, the Senior Editor and current Around the Nation Columnist.

From this year’s field, six teams in the Top 25 poll were left at home, the most notable being No. 14 UW-Platteville, which, if selected, would have been the third WIAC team in the field. We have to go back to 2007 to find the only time three teams from one conference were chosen. They were St. John Fisher, Hartwick and Ithaca from the Empire 8 -- and all were placed in the same bracket quadrant. Only one, Fisher, advanced past the first round.

Of the 32 teams in the playoffs, 13 aren’t in the Top 25, most notably a 6-4 Norwich, which made the field by way of the ECFC’s automatic qualifier. Still, a 6-4 record isn’t the worst record that’s made the postseason -- there was 5-5 automatic qualifier St. Lawrence back in 2010 that, coincidentally, is in the field again for the first time since that season. The Saints are a healthy 8-2 this time around.

Because most teams have only one or two...

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Ryan Tipps

Ryan is's Senior Editor and began as National Columnist in fall 2014. He was the Around the Mid-Atlantic Columnist from 2007 to 2011, has worked on the preseason Kickoff publication since 2006 and has covered the Stagg Bowl in Salem for more than a decade. Ryan, a Wabash graduate, worked in newspapers as a writer and editor for 15 years before his current full-time job as editor of a magazine in Virginia.

2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.


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