What's The Scenario?

DIII playoff spots far from settled

Nov. 7, 2007

By Pat Coleman

Special to CSTV.com


Pat runs D3hoops.com and D3football.com and offers regular analysis on CSTV.com. E-mail here!


There's one week left of the Division III regular season, and 12 teams have clinched bids to the NCAA playoffs field of 32. With 10 automatic bids left to be awarded, let's take a look at each of the remaining conferences and who still has a shot.


The Liberty League has the craziest scenario of all, as four teams are tied for first at 5-1 apiece. Hobart, Rochester, RPI and Union each are 1-1 against the other three teams with one game remaining this weekend. None of the four teams controls its own destiny. Here's how it breaks down.


RPI (7-1 overall) is at Union (5-3) in the annual Dutchman Shoes rivalry game. RPI's loss is to Rochester, so RPI will be rooting for Hobart (7-2) to beat Rochester (6-3) - an RPI win combined with a Rochester loss gives RPI the title. If Union beats RPI, it has to hope for Rochester to beat Hobart in order to win the tiebreaker.




For Hobart to win, the Statesmen must beat Rochester and hope Union beats RPI. Rochester needs to win and have RPI beat Hobart to give the Yellowjackets the Liberty League title.


They're not all that confusing. Every other conference has at least one team that controls its own destiny.


College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin: Because Carthage beat Wheaton (Ill.) last weekend and North Central defeated Illinois Wesleyan, the chase got a little more complicated. It was the first loss for both Wheaton and Illinois Wesleyan, who face each other this week in what could have been a winner-take-all scenario. Carthage's win gives North Central new life, however. Wheaton, Illinois Wesleyan and North Central are each 5-1 in the league.


Wheaton is the only one that controls its own destiny and is in with a victory at Illinois Wesleyan. For North Central to win the CCIW automatic bid, it must win at Carthage (7-2, 4-2) and Illinois Wesleyan must beat Wheaton. For IWU to win the title, it has to beat Wheaton and hope North Central loses at Carthage.


Empire 8: St. John Fisher, Alfred and Hartwick are all 4-1 in the league entering Saturday's games, with Hartwick having beaten St. John Fisher and lost to Alfred. St. John Fisher (8-1 overall) hosts Alfred (7-2 after back-to-back losses) this weekend. If St. John Fisher wins and Hartwick wins at Utica (3-6, 1-4), Hartwick wins the automatic bid. If St. John Fisher wins and Hartwick loses, Fisher wins the title. If Alfred wins, they're in because they beat Hartwick head-to-head.


Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: In a bit of fortuitous scheduling, Central (9-0, 7-0) and Wartburg (8-1, 7-0) play each other the final weekend in a de facto IIAC title game. Central beat Wartburg in overtime 13-7 last season en route to a perfect conference season and is looking for its third win in a row against the Knights, while Wartburg beat the Dutch four consecutive times from 2001-04.


Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association: This one requires some deep tiebreaker digging. If Olivet, Hope and Alma, each 5-1, remain tied after this week's games, the teams will be tied against each other, having each gone 1-1 against the other two. Overall record is the next tiebreaker, though all would be 6-4.


Next is the winning percentage of the teams played in non-conference action. Hope's opponents are 20-7, Olivet's 18-9 and Alma 16-11. All of the three teams' opponents each play this weekend, with Hope's opponents facing the toughest slate: Wisconsin-River Falls is at Wisconsin-Oshkosh (6-3); Central is at Wartburg (8-1) and Wheaton is at Illinois Wesleyan (6-3). Olivet's opponents are IWU (vs. Wheaton 8-1), Wittenberg (vs. 0-9 Hiram) and Elmhurst (vs. 1-8 North Park).


If one of the three MIAA teams loses on Saturday, it goes like this: An Alma loss gives Olivet the title, a Hope loss gives Alma the title and an Olivet loss gives Hope the title.


Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: St. John's (9-0, 7-0) plays at Bethel (8-1, 7-0) and makes the schedule makers look like geniuses. After St. John's won the first 20 games in the series between the schools, Bethel has won three of the past eight, including a rare St. John's loss at home last season. St. John's can get into the playoffs with an at-large bid, but Bethel's chances are slim at best.


New England Football Conference: This conference settles things in a black-and-white fashion. There are 16 teams in two divisions and the champions of each division meet in a conference title game the final weekend of the season. For the second consecutive year, Curry (10-0) will play Coast Guard (8-1) for the automatic bid. Last year, Curry won, 34-28, but Coast Guard standout quarterback Christian George did not play because of injury. Curry won its fourth consecutive title, but has gone 0-4 in the NCAA playoff games.


Old Dominion Athletic Conference: Bridgewater, which dominated the league in the early part of the decade, was eliminated last week and defending champion Washington & Lee is out as well. In fact, the conference race comes down this weekend to a team picked fifth in the preseason coaches' poll and the team picked seventh of seven. Hampden-Sydney (7-2, 4-1) plays at Randolph-Macon (8-1, 5-0), adding an extra dimension to a game between archrivals that is the oldest small-college rivalry in the South. Randolph-Macon hasn't won the game since 2000, before Marty Favret took over as H-SC's head coach.


Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: Cal Lutheran is 5-0 in the league, with Occidental and Redlands each 4-1. Redlands and Cal Lutheran play each other and Cal Lutheran is in with a win. Cal Lutheran also gets in if they win and Occidental wins at Whittier (3-5, 2-3) to force a three-way tie, using the so-called "Rose Bowl Rule" where the team that has been out of the playoffs the longest gets the nod. Redlands can only win the title if it beats Cal Lutheran and Occidental loses to Whittier. Occidental cannot win the SCIAC title.


Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference: Trinity (Texas), of multi-lateral fame, controls its own destiny. The Tigers (8-1, 5-1) play at Austin College (4-5, 2-4). If Trinity loses, Millsaps (7-2, 6-1) would win the automatic bid. Trinity holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against Millsaps by virtue of its win on Oct. 27, the one that required 15 laterals to complete.


The Division III football playoff pairings are announced Sunday, Nov. 11. Mount Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater, who met in the Stagg Bowl each of the past two seasons, have already clinched automatic bids, as have College of New Jersey, Concordia (Wis.), Franklin, Mary Hardin-Baylor, Muhlenberg, North Carolina Wesleyan, St. Norbert, Wabash, Washington and Jefferson and Widener.