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. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
Video
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Belhaven at Millsaps
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
Live Stats
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
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
Video Audio
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Live Stats
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Endicott at Framingham State
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
12:00 PM
Sewanee at Kenyon
12:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Kean at Christopher Newport
1:00 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live Stats
1:00 PM
RPI at Norwich
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
Video Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
Video Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
Video Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
Audio
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
Audio
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
Video Audio
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
Audio
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
Video Live Stats
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
Live Stats
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
Audio
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Video Live Stats Audio
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
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
Video
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
Video Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
Video Audio Audio
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Video Live Stats
2:30 PM
Lawrence at Presentation
4:00 PM
McPherson at Nebraska Wesleyan
Live Stats
4:00 PM
UW-Platteville at George Fox
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Video Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
Video Live Stats
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Video Live Stats
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Denison at Marietta
Video Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
Live Stats
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
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Live Stats
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
Video Live Stats
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Video Live Stats 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
8:30 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
Video
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
Live Stats
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
Video Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
Video Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
Video
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Video Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
4:00 PM
UW-Platteville at George Fox
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Video Live Stats
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Live Stats
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats