November 13, 2011

What a crazy bracket!

The reaction on the McMurry campus after the War Hawks' position in the bracket was revealed.
McMurry athletics photo

The 2011 Division III football playoff field of 32 has been announced, and for those fans who haven't been able to get past the thought of an "East" bracket having non-East teams in it in recent years, well, get ready to have your socks knocked off.

Download the 2011 Division III football playoff bracket (.pdf)

In short, no Endicott in this field and no Case, with St. John Fisher and Illinois College replacing them. So on a day in which we finally officially gave up on getting a two-loss at-large team into the field over a one-loss team, the NCAA finally did the right thing. And there is essentially no regional identity to the brackets at all.

The NCAA also sprung for an extra flight, sending Cal Lutheran back to Linfield and giving Redlands a trip to Mary Hardin-Baylor.

The top eight seeds, teams placed at either end of the four brackets: UW-Whitewater and Salisbury (top left), St. Thomas and Delaware Valley (bottom left), Mary Hardin-Baylor and Wesley (top right), and Wabash and Mount Union (bottom right). NCAA committee chair Joy Solomen confirmed that UW-Whitewater, Mount Union, Mary Hardin-Baylor and Delaware Valley are the No. 1 seeds on In the HuddLLe program on Sunday night. A link to the audio will be available later.

This is a bracket similar to the ones the NCAA Division III mens basketball committee has been putting out the past couple of years. Mount Union is in a bracket with three other north teams, two west teams and two south teams. Hobart is essentially a seven seed, sent to Wesley for the first round and would fly if it won that game.

Somehow Illinois Wesleyan hopped over Case Western Reserve after last week's regional rankings and got an at-large bid over the 9-1 Spartans. The NEFC did not get an at-large bid, but the Midwest Conference and the SCIAC each got their first at-large bid in the history of the five-round playoffs. Similarly, St. John Fisher was taken ahead of Endicott, even though Endicott was ahead in the most recent regional rankings.

Although two opportunities have come up where it would be reasonable to do so, Division III has yet to give an at-large bid to a Pool B team, something which happens frequently in other sports, such as baseball.

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