In this fourth edition of Bracketology, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll look at percentages and possibilities. In what has become a chicken and egg scenario, one needs not only to speculate on the teams that will make the NCAA Division III tournament, but on the balance of teams in the East and West regions. Because Division III looks at travel expenses, especially in the early rounds, flying teams is kept to a minimum. For the past few seasons the finals have been in the East, so the West has gotten at the most three teams in the tournament, and played down to one semifinalist, which was flown east. This season, the finals are in the West, meaning that at least two teams will be flown to Superior. With five teams certain to get in from the East and two from the West, how the three at-large bids are awarded is the big question.
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s my opinion on the various scenarios:
6-4 East-West split: This means the West gets two at-large bids and the East gets one.
5-5 East-West Split: All three at-large bids go west.
7-3 East-West Split: Two at-large bids in the east, one in the west
8-2 East West Split: All three at-large bids go east.
Making the same assumptions we have in the past, the AQs go to:
ECAC East Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Norwich
ECAC Northeast Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Mass-Dartmouth
NESCAC Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Bowdoin
SUNYAC Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Plattsburgh
MIAC Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Bethel
NCHA Ã¢â‚¬â€œ St. Norbert
The conference playoffs that bear watching are the ECAC East, ECAC Northeast and NCHA. The other three will only have the winner advance so matter what.
The results of the ECAC West finals will also have an affect on at-large bids. Pool B will go to Manhattanville no matter what happens, but Neumann can improve its chances with a win.
In a 6-4 split, baring no upsets, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m picking Oswego, UW-River Falls and UW-Superior for the Pool C slots. Just a hunch on Superior over Stout.
In a 5-5 split. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going with UW-River Falls, UW-Stout, and UW-Superior.
If itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 7-3, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll bet on Oswego, Neumann and UW-River Falls.
The 8-2 split could only happen with upsets in the ECAC Northeast and ECAC East. Even then, highly improbable.
Assuming the most likely scenario, a 6-4 split, we have the following pairings:
Plattsburgh at Oswego
Bowdoin at Norwich
Plattsburgh/Oswego at Mass-Dartmouth
Bowdoin/Norwich at Manhattanville
Bethel at St. Norbert
UW-Superior at UW-River Falls
Winners go to Superior.
Stay tuned on Sunday for the final version of Bracketology, followed by the actual announcement.