April 29, 2009

Coyne: Predicting the NCAA MD3 Tourney

by Jac Coyne | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Coyne Archive

LMO small college beat writer Jac Coyne has undertaken the thankless (and useless) task of predicting the men's and women's Division II and Division III tournaments, along with the MCLA. Below is his MD3 offering.

Even if Tufts doesn't win the NESCAC automatic qualifier, the Jumbos are in good shape for a Pool C bid. Tufts' NESCAC rival, Wesleyan, is not on as solid a foundation.
© Kevin P. Tucker

[3 Updates]

Picking the MD3 field this early is especially dangerous.

Unlike most leagues in WD3, there are a host of conference tournament top seeds that are susceptible to an upset. We've already seen it in the CAC with Salisbury beating Stevenson, and it would not surprise me if the regular season champs in the Centennial, Commonwealth Coast, Empire 8, Little East, MAC, NAC, NESCAC, ODAC and SUNYAC didn't earn the automatic qualifier.

As such, a large part of my challenge is picking conference tournament results at this point. And I have. So before I get to the actual brackets, let's hammer out the teams who will make the tournament as of right now.

UPDATE-2: Figures. There were only a couple of teams that could totally blow up one side of my bracket if they lost, and Ithaca might have been the biggest candidate. On cue, the Bombers suffered a 13-12 overtime setback to Nazareth in Empire 8 semifinals on Friday afternoon.

Now, I not only have to figure how to reseed an entire half of the bracket, but I have to a.) determine how Ithaca fits in it, b.) conjure the winner of the Nazareth/St. John Fisher game (Fisher upset Stevens in the other E8 semifinal), c.) where they will fit, and, d.) finally pinpoint which of the former Pool C contenders is going to get the bump.

To answer the last question, I think Stevenson, Haverford and Tufts are locked into Pool C berths. Geneseo, if they do lose in the SUNYAC finals, will feel some warmth, but ultimately it will be the second team from the NESCAC to get aced out. In this case, it would be Wesleyan - but not by much. A win for Wes against Middlebury would turn up the heat on the Knights significantly.

So who do I go with in the Naz-Fisher title bout? It appears to be a toss-up, but I'll tab the Cardinals for now since they won the regular season game at home by a goal. Either way, I think whichever team wins the E8 will be slotted in the same bracket.

At the bottom is my revamped "North" bracket. It's kind of frightening that I haven't even made it to Saturday without having a major redo. Tomorrow could be a long day...

UPDATE-3: Middlebury into Pool C as a lock after losing in the NESCAC semis to Wesleyan. They don't knock out anyone for right now, just switch with Tufts, which I pencil in as the presumptive AQ now. But that's just for lack of time. I'll crunch the numbers tonight and see what we have, but Ithaca can't be feeling great right now.

Pool A (14) - Automatic Qualifiers (predicted winners italicized, confirmed are bolded)
Cabrini (CSAC)
Castleton (NAC)
Cortland (SUNYAC)
Eastern Conn. (Little East)
Gettysburg (Centennial)
St. John Fisher (Empire 8)
Widener (MAC)
Tufts (NESCAC)
Montclair State (Skyline)
Roanoke (ODAC)
St. Lawrence (Liberty)
Salisbury (CAC)
Springfield (Pilgrim)

Pool B (3) - For independents and non-AQ conference teams
Denison (11-1) - An absolute lock. If they beat Stevenson on Saturday, which I think they have a decent shot at doing, they'll get a nice seed, too.

Ohio Wesleyan (8-4) - The Battling Bishops leaped a huge hurdle on Wednesday by beating Wooster, likely knocking the Scots out of the mix and helping Whittier. All that is left is a very winnable game against Wittenberg to lock things up.

Whittier (7-5) - Well, that didn't take long. I picked Goucher on the assumption they'd win the Landmark tourney, and the Gophers didn't get out of the semifinals, losing to Scranton, 10-9, on Wednesday afternoon. The Poets assume the position, and don't have too many obstacles left.

Pool C (5) - For remaining teams in AQ conference
Geneseo (12-1) - Yes, I have Cortland knocking off Genny in the SUNYAC tournament. It's not that much of a stunner and really doesn't impact things too much. Both teams are getting in, it will just force a tweaking of the brackets below if the Blue Knights do manage to defend their top seed.

Haverford (13-2) - Like I said above, there are plenty of top seeds who are going to feel the heat, and I think Gettysburg tops the Black Squirrels in the Centennial tourney. I have to swallow my pride to do it since I was the one who poured dirt on the Bullets' grave about six weeks ago, but I'm a believer now. As for Haverford, they're an easy entry.

Ithaca (14-2) - It's kind of funny how your perception is changed by the national rankings, which mean nothing. The Bombers have a great record and they do have a win over Cortland, but what else? Their 12-2 in-region record is solid, but, overall, the E8 is down a little bit this year, costing them a couple high-percentage wins. I've got the Bombers here now, but don't be too hasty to bank them.

Stevenson (14-1) - One of the more interesting games of the weekend will be Stevenson at Denison. It won't keep either team out of the tourney, but it will help determine seeding as well as give us an idea of what kind of frame of mind the Mustangs are in after stewing over their only loss for two weeks.

Middlebury (13-2) - You can pretty much bank on Middlebury getting an at-large after they lost in overtime to Wesleyan.

MD3 Bracket
First Round - May 6
Springfield at St. John Fisher
Montclair St. at Geneseo
Castleton at Tufts
Eastern Conn. at Ithaca
Whittier at Cabrini
Widener at Ohio Wesleyan

Second Round - May 9
Spring/SJF winner at Middlebury
Montclair/Genny winner at WNEC
St. Lawrence at Cortland
Castleton/Tufts vs. EConn/Ithaca winner
Goucher/Cabrini winner vs. Gettysburg
Salisbury at Denison
Haverford at Stevenson
Lycoming/OWU winner vs. Roanoke

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