Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stacking the deck

The official brackets for the Division III playoffs were released on Sunday afternoon.


d3football.com's #5 ranked Linfield will be matched against #8 Cal Lutheran in the First Round for the third consecutive year. This will be the 5th time that they are playing each other in the past 3 seasons.

CalLu fans must be frustrated at not being tabbed for a home game in the opening round especially since SCIAC (Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) runner-up, #14 Redlands, was also included in the tournament and sent on the road to face the top seed in the bracket, #4 Mary Hardin-Baylor in Texas.

This was one of many perplexing things that seem to occur with yearly regularity in the NCAA Selection Committee's decisions. There seems to be a heavy bias against the West-coast teams in terms of seeding and travel:

  • Four of the eight teams in the bracket with Linfield finished in the d3football.com Top Ten
  • Seven of the eight finished in the Top 20
  • #3 St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN) is a #1 seed in a bracket that has NO other teams ranked higher than #11 Delaware Valley
  • #1 Wisconsin-Whitewater, also a #1 seed has only #10 Salisbury in its bracket and 3 other teams in the Top 20.
  • The final top seed, #2 Mount Union has two Top Ten teams in its bracket but also includes teams ranked #22, #25, #38, #39 and one unranked automatic qualifier.
Another oddity comes in the second round where the winner of the Linfield-CalLu game, barring an upset by #31 Hobart, would likely face #7 Wesley in Delaware! d3football.com feels that Wesley may have been the best team to not make the DivIII finals in the past 2-3 seasons.

Finally, besides the tough draw in the bracket looking forward should Linfield be fortunate enough to keep winning the travel schedule would likely criss-cross the nation and add to the difficulty. If form holds according to rankings the Wildcats would play at home the first week; Wesley in Dover, DE; Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX; Mount Union in Alliance, OH then finally to Salem, VA for the Stagg Bowl.

That's a lot of frequent flyer miles!


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