November 13, 2011

Two-loss teams need not apply

Baldwin-Wallace and St. John Fisher are part of a group of two-loss teams that this year, can't even really be considered on the bubble, even though there's reason to believe they could beat some of the one-loss teams likely to be chosen for the playoffs. It's history.
B-W and SJF athletics photos

By Pat Coleman
D3sports.com

For years we have advocated in our playoff projection that an 8-2 team should get into the NCAA Tournament bracket. And the NCAA has, the past two years, gone the other direction, preferring to take a 1-loss team with a weak schedule rather than reward strong scheduling decisions coaches make.

So this year, hey, we get the message. No teams with two D-III losses get an at-large bid in our playoff projection.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t like it. Far from it. We just know better.

Here’s the typical argument for an 8-2 team, provided by one reader Sunday morning.

“Baldwin Wallace deserves a playoff birth, not some of these other weak teams.  I am sure Mount Union wants nothing to do with them being in their bracket.  Hopefully the NCAA doesn't make the same mistakes you guys make every year.”

Actually, the only mistake we’ve made, for people who read our projections every year, is to predict teams such as Baldwin-Wallace will get in. But there are seven teams with one Division III loss and six at-large spots in the NCAA playoffs. Over the past three years, the NCAA has shown no love to two-loss teams.

The last time the NCAA committee showed any acknowledgment that a team with two Division III losses could be a better playoff candidate than any one-loss team was 2007, when UW-Eau Claire got an at-large bid at 8-2. That year, the competition was Whitworth, which lost to one Division III opponent and a scholarship school as well. Whitworth beat Linfield that year and won the Northwest Conference. But since then, no dice.

And that’s wrong.

Any system that can’t recognize the merits of a two-loss team with a .567 SOS compared to a one-loss team with a .481 SOS is flawed. (That’s Case’s SOS when you factor in the Rochester loss, even lower than their .487 in-region.)

Thankfully, in football, we are not in danger of leaving out a team that is capable of winning the national championship, at least not right now. However, let’s not fool ourselves that we are getting the best six at-large teams into the field. We’re just getting the best six one-loss teams. Case can skate through the season playing nobody who is regionally ranked and be rewarded for it despite finishing 9-1, if last week’s North Region rankings are to be believed.

But if one of those six best at-large teams happens to play two other teams who are better, sorry. Apparently you need not apply.

So while we believe that there are two-loss teams who could beat the at-large teams likely to be selected, and our Top 25 poll will continue to say so, we know the deal. And although playoff contention is new and unfamiliar to some fan bases, here’s what’s not taken into account: the perceived strength of your conference, how your conference performed in the playoffs last year, or anything other than the official NCAA selection criteria.

Here’s how the two-loss candidates look, in the order they appear on our mock playoff bracket selection board:

Team W-L SOS Games vs. regionally ranked teams
Wheaton 8-2 .567 L @IWU, L @NCtrl
St. John Fisher 8-2 .566 L v.HOB, L @Sal
Baldwin-Wallace 8-2 .507 L @MTU
Randolph-Macon 8-2 .528 W v. HSC
St. Olaf 8-2 .526 L @UST
Montclair State 8-2 .517 W v. Cort, L v. Kean

In the framework of the committee, seemingly every one of these teams is behind every team with one regional loss. So if you're at St. Olaf, or Baldwin-Wallace, this is how far you are from a postseason bid. There are seven one-loss teams, then these two-loss teams.

Sep. 30: All times Eastern
4th - 06:00
24 Randolph-Macon
13 Shenandoah
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at Washington and Lee 49, Emory and Henry 23
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Oct. 1: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Massachusetts Maritime at Fitchburg State
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12:00 PM
Becker at Gallaudet
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12:00 PM
Merchant Marine at Hobart
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12:00 PM
RPI at Rochester
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12:00 PM
Endicott at MIT
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12:00 PM
Juniata at Johns Hopkins
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1:00 PM
Montclair State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
Hamilton at Wesleyan
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1:00 PM
Bates at Tufts
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1:00 PM
Wabash at Hiram
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1:00 PM
Middlebury at Colby
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1:00 PM
Amherst at Bowdoin
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1:00 PM
Frostburg State at Kean
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1:00 PM
Kenyon at DePauw
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1:00 PM
Ferrum at Greensboro
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1:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Methodist
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1:00 PM
FDU-Florham at Wilkes
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1:00 PM
Anna Maria at Castleton
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1:00 PM
Moravian at Ursinus
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1:00 PM
Stevenson at Misericordia
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1:00 PM
Springfield at St. Lawrence
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1:00 PM
Thomas More at Westminster (Pa.)
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1:00 PM
Alma at Kalamazoo
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1:00 PM
Franklin and Marshall at Dickinson
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1:00 PM
Wesley at Southern Virginia
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1:00 PM
Adrian at Albion
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1:00 PM
Husson at SUNY-Maritime
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1:00 PM
Apprentice at Alfred State
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1:00 PM
TCNJ at Salisbury
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1:00 PM
Buffalo State at St. John Fisher
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1:00 PM
Salve Regina at Curry
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1:00 PM
McDaniel at Gettysburg
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1:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Lebanon Valley
1:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Denison
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1:00 PM
Utica at Ithaca
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1:00 PM
Alfred at Morrisville State
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1:00 PM
Western New England at Nichols
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1:00 PM
King's at Albright
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1:00 PM
Catholic at Guilford
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1:00 PM
Muhlenberg at Susquehanna
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1:00 PM
Concordia-Chicago at Trine
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1:00 PM
Huntingdon at N.C. Wesleyan
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1:00 PM
Minnesota-Morris at MacMurray
1:00 PM
Birmingham-Southern at Chicago
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1:00 PM
Westminster (Mo.) at Crown
1:30 PM
Oberlin at Allegheny
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1:30 PM
Mount Ida at Norwich
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1:30 PM
Trinity (Conn.) at Williams
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1:30 PM
Baldwin Wallace at Marietta
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1:30 PM
Muskingum at Heidelberg
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1:30 PM
Union at WPI
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1:30 PM
Maine Maritime at Coast Guard
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1:30 PM
John Carroll at Wilmington
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1:30 PM
Mount Union at Ohio Northern
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1:30 PM
Franklin at Manchester
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1:30 PM
Mount St. Joseph at Hanover
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1:30 PM
Widener at Lycoming
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1:30 PM
Defiance at Earlham
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2:00 PM
Capital at Otterbein
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2:00 PM
Plymouth State at Westfield State
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2:00 PM
Wittenberg at Wooster
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2:00 PM
Anderson at Rose-Hulman
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2:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Bridgewater
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2:00 PM
Waynesburg at Grove City
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2:00 PM
Cortland at Hartwick
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2:00 PM
Centre at Hendrix
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2:00 PM
Eureka at Greenville
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2:00 PM
Northwestern (Minn.) at Iowa Wesleyan
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2:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Lakeland
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2:00 PM
Rockford at Benedictine
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2:00 PM
Aurora at Wisconsin Lutheran
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2:00 PM
Nebraska Wesleyan at Luther
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2:00 PM
Rhodes at Sewanee
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2:00 PM
Lake Forest at St. Norbert
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2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Gustavus Adolphus
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2:00 PM
Hamline at Carleton
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2:00 PM
St. John's at Bethel
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2:00 PM
UW-Whitewater at UW-Platteville
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2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Loras
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2:00 PM
Sul Ross State at Hardin-Simmons
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2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at UW-Eau Claire
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2:00 PM
Beloit at Lawrence
2:00 PM
Cornell at Monmouth
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2:00 PM
Wartburg at Coe
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2:00 PM
Dubuque at Central
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2:00 PM
Wheaton (Ill.) at Illinois Wesleyan
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2:00 PM
McMurry at Mary Hardin-Baylor
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2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Augustana
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2:00 PM
Macalester at Ripon
2:00 PM
Grinnell at Illinois College
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2:00 PM
Howard Payne at Louisiana College
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2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at UW-La Crosse
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2:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Belhaven
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2:10 PM
Augsburg at St. Thomas
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3:00 PM
Washington and Jefferson at Thiel
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3:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Morthland
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3:00 PM
St. Scholastica at Martin Luther
3:00 PM
Carthage at Carroll
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3:00 PM
UW-Stout at UW-Oshkosh
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4:00 PM
Willamette at Puget Sound
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4:00 PM
Whittier at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
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4:00 PM
Pacific at Pacific Lutheran
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4:30 PM
Lewis and Clark at Linfield
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5:00 PM
Framingham State at Mass-Dartmouth
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5:00 PM
Averett at LaGrange
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5:00 PM
Whitworth at George Fox
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6:00 PM
Olivet at Hope
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6:00 PM
Bethany at Carnegie Mellon
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6:00 PM
St. Vincent at Case Western Reserve
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6:00 PM
Christopher Newport at Rowan
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6:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Western Connecticut
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7:00 PM
Berry at Washington U.
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7:00 PM
North Park at Millikin
10:00 PM
Pomona-Pitzer at Chapman
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10:00 PM
La Verne at Cal Lutheran
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10:00 PM
Occidental at Redlands
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Oct. 1: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Merchant Marine at Hobart
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12:00 PM
Juniata at Johns Hopkins
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1:00 PM
TCNJ at Salisbury
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1:00 PM
Thomas More at Westminster (Pa.)
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1:00 PM
Wabash at Hiram
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1:00 PM
Buffalo State at St. John Fisher
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1:00 PM
Stevenson at Misericordia
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1:00 PM
Springfield at St. Lawrence
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1:00 PM
Huntingdon at N.C. Wesleyan
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1:30 PM
Mount Union at Ohio Northern
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1:30 PM
Franklin at Manchester
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2:00 PM
Wittenberg at Wooster
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2:00 PM
Wheaton (Ill.) at Illinois Wesleyan
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2:00 PM
UW-Whitewater at UW-Platteville
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2:00 PM
St. John's at Bethel
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2:00 PM
McMurry at Mary Hardin-Baylor
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2:00 PM
Sul Ross State at Hardin-Simmons
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2:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Belhaven
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2:00 PM
Dubuque at Central
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2:10 PM
Augsburg at St. Thomas
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3:00 PM
UW-Stout at UW-Oshkosh
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4:30 PM
Lewis and Clark at Linfield
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6:00 PM
Christopher Newport at Rowan
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