November 17, 2013

Playoff bracket released!

More news about: St. John Fisher | Washington U.
Washington University reacts to making the tournament.

We wondered whether it would be a "winning percentage year" or a "strength of schedule year" for this particular Division III football committee. Some years the 9-1 team is favored, some years the 8-2 team with the great strength of schedule.

This year, well, it was ... strength of schedule, as St. John Fisher got in. And so did Washington University, as a Pool B. In fact, D3football.com projections nailed all 32 bids, so the only quibbles are where teams might have ended up in the bracket.

Top seeds appear to be, in order: Mount Union, UW-Whitewater, Mary Hardin-Baylor and Bethel. That's based on their placement in the bracket -- it has been a few years since the NCAA has been willing to admit to the seedings they put on teams.

Who is left out? The same teams we told you about last night: Millsaps and Texas Lutheran were one-loss teams in Pool B who were not selected, while Wabash was the leading one-loss team in Pool C that was not chosen to continue. 

Why not Wabash? Surely for the reasons we discussed last night in our projected bracket. Wabash did not have any wins against regionally ranked teams, and only played one overall. On the other hand, even though St. John Fisher had one more loss, they were 2-1 against regionally ranked opponents in our projection and had a much tougher strength of schedule.

What most surprises you about this year's bracket?
That strength of schedule was valued by the committee
Johns Hopkins plays Wesley
Franklin and Hampden-Sydney get home games
Mount Union and UWW on opposite sides of bracket

Worst first-round draw: Johns Hopkins. What did the Blue Jays do, as a No. 2 seed, to deserve Wesley coming to town? Framingham State should be going to Johns Hopkins and Wesley should be going to two-loss Ithaca.

Least surprising first-round draws: All the island teams. There was no way we were going to see anything other than PLU at Linfield and Redlands at UMHB, sorry.

Most surprising home game: Not sure why Hampden-Sydney and Franklin get home games. Considering where they were in the last non-secret regional rankings, it doesn't make sense. We managed to get semi-remote teams such as Washington U. and Maryville drivable opponents without giving home games to teams that were ranked ninth in last week's regional rankings. We gave those home games to Wartburg, who was eighth in a stacked West last week, and Lebanon Valley, which wouldn't be lower than sixth, thanks to all the losses in the East this week.

Most unusual second-round matchup: The Hampden-Sydney/Maryville winner is almost assuredly heading all the way across the country in the second round. Apparently the NWC survivor's reward for playing its second-round game the first weekend is to get to play its first-round game the second weekend.

These teams got separated: Mount Union and John Carroll cannot meet again before the Stagg Bowl. UW-Whitewater and UW-Platteville cannot meet again before the Stagg Bowl. St. John Fisher and Ithaca cannot meet before the Stagg Bowl. Illinois Wesleyan and North Central could meet in the quarterfinals. Linfield and Pacific Lutheran cannot meet again before ... Saturday.

Scroll down for comments. We'll answer the reasonable questions.

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Dec. 19: All times Eastern
Final
UW-Whitewater 43, at Mount Union 34
@ Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Photos
Dec. 19: All times Eastern
Final
UW-Whitewater 43, at Mount Union 34
@ Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Photos