D-III Bracketology, Version 2.0

As Selection Sunday approaches, it’s time for version 2.0 of Division III Bracketology. We’ll do one again on Sunday prior to the NCAA announcement, and then a “what the heck happened) postmortem.

Again this week, the NCAA has produced rankings based on the process it will use to select the Division III field. Using those rankings, let’s look at each eligible team’s chances of making the tournament.

To recap: eleven teams will get their tickets punched: 7 Pool A teams, 1 Pool B Team, and 3 Pool C teams. Pool A consists of the seven teams that will win playoff championships in leagues with an automatic qualifier: ECAC East, ECAC Northeast, NCHA, NESCAC, MCHA, MIAC, and SUNYAC. One Pool B slot is reserved for an independent team or team from a conference that does not have an AQ: ECAC West and MASCAC. Pool C bids will be handed out to the highest remaining teams according to the NCAA rankings.

The rub here is that there are East and West rankings, but not a combined one. So when the rubber hits the road, the committee will be combining the separate rankings on Selection Sunday.

Here’s my guess as to where the teams still in the running stand:

A lock : Oswego, Norwich, St. Norbert . These teams all won again last weekend and can also grab their conference’s autobids if they win out this weekend.

Bet On It: Plattsburgh, Middlebury. These teams fare well in most head-to-head matchups with other contenders. The only way they don’t get in is massive upsets in the conference chanpionships.

Good Chance: Elmira, Gustavus Adolphus: Elmira is in the lead for the Pool B slot right now, but that could change – Manhattanville could jump over Elmira based on the results of the ECAC West championship. Even though it lost the MIAC title game, I still can’t see Gustavus falling behind St. Scholastica in the rankings. But it all comes down to how the committee weighs the criteria, and if UW-River Falls wins the NCHA. That would knock out the Gusties, unless there’s a 6-5 split.

On the Bubble: St. Scholastica , Bowdoin, Manhattanville: Gustavus’ loss really hurts St. Scholastica. Bowdoin needs to either win the NESCAC or have Middlebury win it. Manhattanville has to beat Elmira in the ECAC West title game.

Probably Not: Amherst, Williams, Hamline: Just too many teams ahead of them.

Must Win Their AQ: Trinity, UW-River Falls, Babson, New England, Skidmore, Lawrence, Lake Forest, Curry, Johnson & Wales.

Playing Out the String: These teams are from conferences that don’t have an AQ, so even if they win their league championship, it won’t raise them high enough in the criteria to get an at-large bid. At this point, there’s just the two teams contending for the MASCAC title: Salem State and Fitchburg State.

Thank you Seniors: These teams have concluded their seasons: Utica, Lebabon Valley (forever?), Bethel, Concordia (MN), St. John’s, St. Mary’s, Finlandia, Concordia (WI), UW-Stout, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Superior, Conn College, Wesleyan, Geneseo, Potsdam, Cortland, Buffalo State, Castleton, S. Maine, Mass-Boston U of New England, Neumann (so a new champion this season), Hobart, Wentworth (big upset loss to Johnson & Wales), Suffolk, Becker, Nichols, W. New England, Salve Regina, Westfield State, Worcester State, Framingham State, Gustavus Adolphus, Augsburg, Bethel, St. Olaf, MSOE, Northland, UW-Stevens Point, Morrisville, Fredonia, Brockport.

OK, so let’s take a shot at a possible bracket, assuming the higher seeded team wins its respective league:

ECAC East: Norwich

ECAC Northeast: Curry

MCHA: Adrian

MIAC: St. Thomas (already a winner)

NCHA: St. Norbert

NESCAC: Bowdoin

SUNYAC: Oswego

Going into the ECAC West semifinals, Elmira gets pool B. Who gets the three Pool C bids? Right now I think it’s Plattsburgh, Middlebury, and Gustavus Adolphus, which would mean a 7-4 East-West split. Upsets in the East will make it 8-3. River Falls winning the NCHA will doom Gustavus Adolphus.

Assuming 7-4: would give us:

E1: Norwich

E2: Oswego

E3: Middlebury

E4: Plattsburgh

E5: Bowdoin

E6: Elmira

E7: Curry

W1: St. Norbert

W2: Gustavus Adolphus

W3: Adrian

W4: St. Thomas

First Round:

Curry at Oswego

Elmira at Middlebury

Bowdoin at Plattsburgh


Bowdoin/Plattsburgh at Norwich

Elmira/Middlebury at Oswego

St. Thomas at St. Norbert

Adrian at Gustavus Adolphus

Assuming 8-3 with an upset in the East:

E1: Norwich

E2: Oswego

E3: Middlebury

E4: Plattsburgh

E5: Bowdoin

E6: Elmira

E7: Curry (or Trinity/Amherst/Williams/Hamilton)

E8: Babson/New England/Skidmore/Johnson & Wales

W1: St. Norbert

W2: Adrian

W3: St. Thomas

First Round:

St. Thomas at Adrian

E8 at Bowdoin

E7 at Elmira


St. Thomas/Adrian at St. Norbert

Bowdoin/E8 at Oswego

Elmira/E7 at Norwich

Plattsburgh at Middlebury

And for fun, let’s say River Falls wins the NCHA and Gustavus gets a Pool C. That would give us a potential 6-5 split:

E1: Norwich

E2: Oswego

E3: Middlebury

E4: Plattsburgh

E5: Elmira

E6: Curry

W1: St. Norbert

W2: Gustavus Adolphus

W3: Adrian

W4: UW-River Falls

W5: St. Thomas

First Round:

St. Thomas at UW-River Falls

Curry at Middlebury

Elmira at Plattsburgh


St. Thomas/River Falls at St. Norbert

Adrian at Gustavus Adolphus

Middlebury/Curry at Oswego

Plattsburgh/Elmira at Norwich

Tune back in Sunday afternoon for the final pre-selection version of Bracketology.


  1. Paula,

    Enjoy reading your column. Interesting split at LSSU this weekend. Do you know what the Lakers Saturday game record is so far this year? Do you use this kind of information in making your picks?

    • JG, the entire blog is based on three actual things I said to my friend while writing my picks, all three of which I knew would bite me by Monday morning — even as I wrote them.  

    • Once again, Monday’s three-things blog is about three things that come to mind following the weekend.  Every conference columnist picks three things.  This is just one of the articles about the CCHA that will be posted this week.

      There’s a column on Wednesday.  Every week this season, the column has focused on a different team — or on two teams at once.  It’s always timely.  This week, I’m writing about CCHA-specific series from last weekend.  I think that probably gives you an indication of what’s ahead for the column.

      Every Friday I post a picks blog, and every team that is playing is discussed. 

      That’s the format across the site this year.  Every team in the league has been spotlighted in the column, but the Monday blog hits three things.  Sometimes I don’t like to overlap too much (or at all) what’s discussed Monday with what I have planned for the column, since it’s out a couple of days later.

      The coverage is more than just the first thing you read Monday morning.

  2. How does a goalie that allows 7 goals on the weekend get Goaltender of the week. What a joke! Greenham was perfect on the weekend. I’ll give you that maybe MSU’s goalie had more saves but he allow 7 goals! Come on!

  3. may I suggest two people doing this column, both offering their opinions just like the WCHA? Or would encroach on your spotlight? I hear from some at Mott CC that its your way or the highway paula

  4. well that is foolish, Smith might be good but scoring a goal per game while playing in an inferior league doesn’t help.  defense is non existent as is scoring and im positive that if he had a full schedule against the WCHA or possibly Hockey East  he wouldnt produce as he does.  Stop looking at goals and start watching tape.  there are more stats to figure in when winning the hobey.    Frattin deserved it last year as he dominated weaker teams and stood out on the ice as a premier hockey player. All said in done  I hope Smith does win it, but so far I don’t see him deserving it.

  5. Frattin deserved it last year? LOL. Miele’s stat line was ridiculous and looking at the CCHA this year it is even more impressive since no one is even coming close to that mark. 

    As for the article, saying have 1G/game is so much better than 1A/game seems a bit out there. Yes, scoring goals leads to wins but you can’t get assists without someone else on the team scoring goals so either way you are contributing to the scoring. 

    Good luck to Austin Smith going forward he is a great player. 

  6. @Aaron G.- “Defense is non-existent”??
    Three of the top six teams in the country are in the ECAC- Union, Quinnipiac, and Cornell!
    I guess that now you’ll say that they don’t face the best offenses so those numbers don’t mean anything.

  7. To say that Smith is doing it against “inferior” competition is just crap.  Look at the latest “Scoring Defense” leaders.  Smith has played against 5 of the top 8 defenses.  (Ferris State, Quinnipiac, Cornell, Miami and Merrimack).  Oh yea he will be facing the top defense in the country this week, so that will be 6 of 8.  The rest of the country is right, weak competition. 

    And remember that Quinnipiac shut him out on the road but he had two GOALS against them at home. 

    Lastly, I think the biggest hurdle he has is that he plays for a school which has 2000 students and does not have the entire STATE of New York behind him.  The other players have larger fan bases because everyone in the state is cheering for them, not just a small private school in upstate ny.

    • I agree with you on the size of school and not getting nation wide recognition!  It’s terrible hard to know exactly how good these players are when there is not much besides online media that covers the sport!  (It’s getting better though!)

      Curiosity is killing me so I have to ask.  You obviously follow the ECAC so I would assume you live somewhere in the north eastern part of the country.  So my question to you is do you hear much press about the players in the Atlantic or the WCHA.   I  would assume (and you know what they say) that you probably hear quite a bit about Hockey East  and ECAC!  

      Just curious!  I have met some people recently online that have shown me that there are tons of great match-ups and stories that are out there about teams and players that I had never heard about!  I think its amazing that in this day in age you would have no idea that these great college hockey little tid bits are out there and know one has a clue!  

  8. You’re all kidding right?  Look at Smith’s contribution to his TEAM.  The percentage of goals scored and points.  He and Wagner are playing at a different level right now and yes Smith does deserve the Hobey if anyone does.  One more point, 6 goals while a man down, how great is that?

  9. If you’ve seen Austin in person on the ice you should know there’s a lot more to his play than just goals and assists. Take a look at how he anticipates the play, has extremely good vision for where his teammates are and how scoring chances can develop from opponent’s broken up passes. His quickness and smarts on the ice are why he’s leading the nation in SHG. That SHG stat says as much about why he deserves the Hobey as his goals/assists totals. He may be the most opportunistic player at the D-1 level. And this would hold up were he playing for Duluth or St. Lawrence.

  10. Interesting weekend to say the least. BC had an opportunity to get some breathing room on UNH and BU with what was supposed to be an easy weekend coming into this, as UNH had a tough match at Merrimack on Friday and BU was playing two with a decent Providence squad. Injuries suck to deal with, but BC usually has the deepest team in the league.

    • Maine sweeping BC at the Conte Forum is the upset of Hockey East’s year, unless Maine (or some other low seed) runs the table of the Hockey East playoffs and gets the autobid after starting the tournament as a team not under consideration in the Pair Wise.

      Maine having a powerful weekend at the league leader’s barn is a testament to how deep the league is. Surprised but happy to see it.

      BU was trying to keep pace with Lowell’s fall behind, surge ahead late strategy against Providence. For both the River Hawks and the Terriers, this is a pattern they need to break.

  11. I’m still having trouble wrapping my poor little head around the last discussion. I mean the reason for the Maine sweep of BC had to be clearly because the Black Bears had a dominant weekend OR the BC injuries! The fact that people below tried to reconcile that somehow that both could be the case instead of the mutually exclusive options makes my feeble unimaginative brain explode. I shall talk to my spiritual advisor Mr. Glenn Beck about this discussion. Whomever is more distantly related to Stalin on a blackboard is the correct opinion.

    I am a bit concerned however. No, BC playing poorly in December/January is pretty much par for the course. Here’s a BC season the past decade:

    Out of the gates with hype and confidence for the first 12 games

    Holiday Break where BC looks beatable

    Post-Holiday break where BC gets swept by a bottom-feeding Hockey East school causing panic in fans and glee in adversaries.

    Go into the Beanpot dreading the 2nd week afternoon game against Harvard or Northeastern

    Come out of the Beanpot with momentum

    Wreck all things in Hockey East tournament while everyone says “was there ever any doubt? Of COURSE Parker Milner was the goalie”**

    However, this year there seem to be a few more “season ending” injuries than I can recall as we hit this part of the calendar. Also “one-eyed Jerry” does leave me a little concerned (get well soon). I’m optimistic that the Eagles get their second wind as the season closes… but I also think there are a few too many conspiring issues against them this season for a repeat.

    That said, the door is open but BU and UNH are also tripping over themselves to get through it, and Lowell is recovering from a near fatal November “Plaxico Burress pt. 2” performance. Looks like it could be a battle of attrition, not just for home ice but for the league as well.

    Should be entertaining.

    ** Not applicable to all seasons the past decade.

  12. I think the real story here shouldn’t be UML’s back-to-back comebacks but instead Northeastern’s back-to-back meltdowns. Northeastern’s defense has been absolutely atrocious of late (6 GAA over the last 4 games) although their offense has been fairly solid (4.25 GFA over the same span). What should’ve been a 4 point weekend for the Huskies turned into a 1 point weekend where they could’ve come out in seventh place in HEA but now sit at ninth and look very vulnerable heading into the Beanpot. NOTE: I’m a Northeastern undergrad!! I’m getting really fed up with this team as is much of the student body here.

  13. Maine was missing #2 Defense in Ben Hutton (Frosh who has most talent of any D on either team) and Brice O’Connor who has played on 2nd D pairing for last two seasons. They had two Freshman step into those spots. Riley, Norman, and Riley all played D in both games. They are freshman and have played games @ forward this year. So there zero excuses for the sweep except that Maine came in and played very well. If you really examine the Maine season they are not one of the worse teams in the nation (especially away from Alfond). They have been underwhelming @ best but have given many very good teams fits including the first game vs BC @ Alfond. UM has strong goaltending and very good Freshmen. They are not good yet by any analysis. BC is the standard bearer of College Hockey Programs and I truly expect them to be in position when winning time comes. I just do not want to read Maine is atrocious and BC did not take them seriously. BC knew it was a big series and should have taken game #2 if they were that much better @ this point. Love The HEA and cheer for all schools during the annual trip to The Frozen Four.


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