December 1, 2013

In quarterfinals, it's the usual suspects

For one team, this is the 22nd consecutive trip to the national quarterfinals. For another team, wearing similar colors, it’s the first in a row but the eighth appearance in nine years.

In fact, if the Elite Eight looks like a lineup of the usual suspects, there’s a reason why: They are.

D3sports.com deputy managing editor Gordon Mann did a little digging and detailed exactly how usual this group of eight is. Over the past eight years, this is the rule, not the exception: 53 of the 64 spots in the round of eight can be summed up by a simple set of predetermined categories.

The lineup

Mount Union

aka Purple Raiders

aka "The Original Purple Power"

Last known residence: Alliance, Ohio

Known associates: John Carroll, Heidelberg

Why they're the rule: With 22 consecutive trips, the Purple Raiders have incredible staying power. This year they've done it with a different Kehres as head coach and an almost entirely different starting lineup.
The exception: None. Mount Union has reached the national quarterfinals every year since 1991, when they split the OAC title three ways and Baldwin-Wallace was chosen to the 16-team playoff field.


By Dan Poel, d3photography.com

UW-Whitewater

aka Warhawks

aka "No. 1-A"

Last known residence: Whitewater, Wis.

Known associates: UW-Platteville, UW-Oshkosh

Why they're the rule: The Warhawks played in seven straight Stagg Bowls and won four of them. 'Nuff said.
The exception: Last year was a disaster, by Purple Power standards, at 7-3. This year the Warhawks have been firing on all cylinders on defense and have had enough offense to get them this far.

By Larry Radloff, d3photography.com

UMHB

aka Cru

aka Best Program
without a Title

Last known residence: Belton, Texas

Known associates: Wesley, Louisiana College.

Why they're the rule: They've been to the quarters seven times in eight years. Previously they won at Mount Union, reached Stagg, and last year nearly beat Mount Union again.
The exception: 2009, when UMHB lost at another Usual Suspect, Linfield, in the second round.

By Andrew Zavoina, d3photography.com

Wesley

aka Wolverines

aka Still Striving for Salem

Last known residence: Dover, Del.

Known associates: Salisbury, UMHB, whoever will play them.

Why they're the rule: The Wolverines have appeared in the quarters seven times in eight seasons. They have played in several semifinals in that span as well but have always lost to UW-Whitewater or Mount Union in that round.
The exception: In 2008, Wesley lost in the second round to another Suspect: UMHB.

Wesley athletics photo

Bethel

aka Royals

aka Last MIAC Team Standing

Last known residence: Arden Hills, Minn.

Known associates: St. Thomas, St. John's, Wartburg

Why they're the rule: Seven of the past eight years there has been an MIAC team in the Elite Eight, and in 2010, there were two. Bethel, St. Thomas and St. John's have all played that role.
The exception: In 2008, St. John's was bounced in the first round, but it was by a Suspect: Whitewater.

By Caleb Williams, d3photography.com

Linfield

aka Wildcats

aka We're Still Here

Last known residence: McMinnville, Ore.

Known associates: Pacific Lutheran, Cal Lutheran

Why they're the rule: The Wildcats have actually only been to the quarterfinals three times in this span, but it is three times in the past five years and often their exit has been at the hands of another Usual Suspect.
The exceptions: Most notably, the three years from 2006-08 in which Linfield didn't even qualify for the playoffs.

By Rusty Rae for D3sports.com

North Central

aka Cardinals

aka The Wild Card

Last known residence: Naperville, Ill.

Known associates: Wheaton, Illinois Wesleyan

Why they're the rule: There's usually a random North or West team who's fairly competitive left out there, depending on how the bracket is constructed. Twice that's been North Central, once Wheaton, once Capital, once UW-Oshkosh. Oshkosh advanced to the semifinals and Capital gave Mount Union an epic battle in 2006.
The exceptions: Several for North Central, obviously, including a year they missed the playoffs and others with losses to non-Suspects.

By Eric Kelley, d3photography.com

St. John Fisher

aka Cardinals

aka East Underdog

Last known residence: Pittsford, N.Y.

Known associates: Ithaca, Salisbury

Why they're the rule: There is always one East Region team in the round of eight, sometimes two depending on the makeup of the bracket. Often that team gets crushed in this round as well. This year, St. John Fisher is the only East team remaining.
The exceptions: East teams that have not gotten crushed in the quarters the past eight years number just one: St. John Fisher 2006. They beat fellow East team Rowan 31-0 then lost in a competitive semifinal at Mount Union.

By Eric Kelley, d3photography.com

Anyone with information to spill ... rather, share on any of these eight suspects who are still at large is invited to share them below in the comments.

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