/playoffs/2016/playoff-bracket-announced

Playoff bracket announced, with pleasant surprises

Dan Arnold and the prolific UW-Platteville air attack get new life.
UW-Platteville athletics photo 
What's the better surprise in this bracket?
Hardin-Simmons getting a first-round home game
Three WIAC teams getting in
Mount Union having to go on the road
Monmouth not facing a MIAC or WIAC team
The East Region getting a No. 1 seed

Play of the day?

Wykeyhe Walker laid out to make a one-handed grab in the end zone, catching a touchdown pass for the new No. 1 team in the country, Mary Hardin-Baylor, and setting the UMHB career receptions record in the process.

It's hard to know who is more surprised by this bracket -- Mary Hardin-Baylor and Hardin-Simmons fans who won't see each other in the first round, WIAC fans who were unsure they would get three teams in the bracket, Hobart fans who have Mount Union coming to their place or Mount Union haters -- let's be honest and call them what they are -- who didn't think Mount Union would or should get into the bracket in the first place.

Surprise! All those things happened!

We said all along there was no way Mount Union would be left out of this bracket, and the only real drama was in the final at-large selection, a true toss-up pick. And it comes down to the same eternal question: Is it better to lose to a really good team or beat a pretty good team? This year, the answer was that it was better to play UW-Whitewater and UW-Oshkosh competitively and lose. Last year, UW-Platteville was left out and this year the Pioneers are in the field.

It took a little extra money from the NCAA for this bracket to become reality -- the committee, the NCAA, someone splurged for three flights in the first round instead of two, so both Hardin-Simmons and Mary Hardin-Baylor get the home game they deserve. (One of them likely coming at the expense of Linfield, which had a claim at a first-round home game as well.)

"The NCAA, as much as people like throwing knives their way, they really try to do best by the student-athletes," NCAA football committee chair Jack McKiernan told In the HuddLLe on Sunday night. "The championships committee, working all the way through its structure, really tries to do what's best. They see logic sometimes. This year, the way everything fell, it seemed like the right thing to do to not have those two teams playing in the first round."

Mount Union has to take a trip through the East Region if it wants to advance, being placed as what would seem like a No. 5 seed at No. 3 seeded Hobart in the first round. (Bridgewater State would be the 8 in that bracket, with Husson the 7 and Western New England the 6.) Meanwhile, someone will welcome Mount Union to their home stadium for a playoff game for the first time in two decades.

Alfred gets what would seem to be a top seed as an East Region team gets a No. 1 position for the first time in years as well. And they have the 6, 7 and 8 seed in their part of the bracket, so they'll get to ease themselves into the playoffs before the competition gets harder. Johns Hopkins is actually in the position in the bracket traditionally given to a top seed, but they don't have the matchups a top seed would have, so it seems Alfred is the No. 1 in the bottom left. UW-Whitewater, St. Thomas and Mary Hardin-Baylor are the other clear No. 1 seeds.

But while the East got that No. 1 seed, it did not get an at-large team. Was St. John Fisher the East Region team on the board, as our sources suggested on Saturday? Or was it Frostburg State? Frostburg had a very average playoff resume, with a strength of schedule above .500, but its only loss on the season was a blowout. 

Keep an eye out for the bracket challenge from our partners at d3photography.com, as well as In the HuddLLe's conversation with NCAA committee chair Jack McKiernan and the Around the Nation podcast coming out tonight for more coverage.

Aug. 30: All times Eastern
6:00 PM
Alma at Baldwin Wallace
Live stats
7:00 PM
Frostburg State at Stevenson
Live stats
7:00 PM
University of New England at Coast Guard
Live stats
7:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Johns Hopkins
7:00 PM
Hamline at Buena Vista
Video Live stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Trinity (Texas) at McMurry
7:30 PM
Manchester at Trine
7:37 PM
Rowan at Widener
8:00 PM
Millsaps at Belhaven
8:00 PM
UW-Platteville at East Texas Baptist
Live stats
Aug. 31: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Utica at St. Lawrence
7:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
Live stats
7:00 PM
WPI at Anna Maria
Live stats
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
Video Live stats
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
7:00 PM
Millikin at Hope
Preview Live stats
7:00 PM
TCNJ at FDU-Florham
7:00 PM
Becker at MIT
Video Live stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
Live stats
7:00 PM
Dean at Curry
Video Live stats
8:00 PM
St. Olaf at Crown
Sep. 1: All times Eastern
TBA
Brevard at Davidson
TBA
Southern Virginia at Christopher Newport
TBA
Augustana at Coe
12:00 PM
Endicott at Framingham State
Live stats
12:00 PM
Morrisville State at Norwich
12:00 PM
Buffalo State at Bridgewater State
Live stats
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
12:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
Live stats
12:00 PM
Sewanee at Kenyon
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Thomas More at N.C. Wesleyan
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Merchant Marine at Misericordia
1:00 PM
Husson at Union
Live stats
1:00 PM
Apprentice at Greensboro
1:00 PM
RPI at Allegheny
1:00 PM
Wabash at Hiram
1:00 PM
Cortland at Fitchburg State
Live stats
1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Westminster (Pa.) at Wittenberg
Video Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Dickinson
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
1:00 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
Live stats
1:00 PM
Huntingdon at Guilford
Live stats
1:00 PM
Gallaudet at Alvernia
1:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Alfred State
Live stats
1:00 PM
Shenandoah at Methodist
Live stats
1:00 PM
Thiel at Alfred
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
1:00 PM
Washington and Jefferson at St. John Fisher
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
1:00 PM
Hartwick at Wilkes
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Ithaca
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
Video Live stats
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live stats
1:00 PM
UW-Oshkosh at Carthage
1:00 PM
Grinnell at Lawrence
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
1:30 PM
Wooster at Bluffton
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Albion at Defiance
Live stats
2:00 PM
Wilmington at Earlham
Live stats
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Stevens Point
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
2:00 PM
Wisconsin Lutheran at Lake Forest
Live stats
2:00 PM
Ripon at Augsburg
2:00 PM
Aurora at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Nebraska Wesleyan at Concordia-Moorhead
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Martin Luther
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Monmouth at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
Minnesota-Morris at UW-River Falls
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Live stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stout at St. John's
2:00 PM
UW-Eau Claire at Loras
Audio
2:00 PM
Bethel at Simpson
Video Live stats
2:00 PM
Beloit at Concordia-Chicago
2:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Austin
2:10 PM
Trinity Int'l at St. Thomas
3:00 PM
Puget Sound at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
Live stats
4:00 PM
La Verne at Whitworth
6:00 PM
Adrian at Ohio Northern
Live stats Audio
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
Live stats
6:00 PM
Capital at Mount St. Joseph
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
Live stats
6:00 PM
Benedictine at Franklin
Video Live stats
6:00 PM
Central at Northwestern (Minn.)
6:00 PM
Willamette at Simon Fraser
7:00 PM
Geneva at Marietta
7:00 PM
Rochester at Case Western Reserve
Video Live stats
7:00 PM
Hanover at Centre
Video Live stats
7:00 PM
Rose-Hulman at Mount Union
Live stats
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Otterbein
7:00 PM
Olivet at Heidelberg
7:00 PM
UW-Whitewater at Dubuque
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rhodes
7:00 PM
Chicago at Washington U.
Video Live stats
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
8:00 PM
Lyon at Hendrix
8:00 PM
Greenville at Wartburg
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
8:00 PM
Denison at Southwestern
8:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
10:00 PM
Pacific at Chapman
Live stats
10:00 PM
George Fox at Redlands
10:00 PM
Sul Ross State at Arizona Christian
10:00 PM
Lewis-Clark Valley at Pomona-Pitzer
Dec. 9: All times Eastern
Final
Mount Union 43, at UW-Oshkosh 40
Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, Brockport 0
Box Score Recap Photos
Dec. 15: All times Eastern
Final
Mount Union 12, at Mary Hardin-Baylor 0
@ Salem, Va.
Video Box Score Recap Photos