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UPDATE: Nov. 9, 2015 — Bracketology, the aftermath

So, we seemed to be dead solid perfect on the Division I bracket, selecting all 18 teams that the NCAA Tournament committee deemed to be worthy of playing for the national title (of course, half of them select themselves, so they do the work).

That leaves our annual Tocquevillian task: trying to figure out a national championship bracket that is Petty (in this usage, Alexis de Tocqueville means “petit,” or small) and one that is Very Grand.

The Division II tournament committee sent, as per usual, the PSAC champions (East Stroudsburg) and the Northeast 10 champs (Stonehill) into the six-team championship. And, as a bonus, both get into the Final Four directly. But East Stroudsburg has, I think, the tougher half of the bracket as they’ll have to play the winner of Millersville and West Chester in one semifinal; Stonehill will have to take on Merrimack or Adelphi in its semifinal.

Geographically, we’re guaranteed to get a Pennsylvania vs. New England final when the tournament comes to Bloomsburg in a couple of weeks.

The same cannot be said for Division III, which has a diverse group of 24 teams in its very grand bracket. Of the top four seeds in this tournament, the defending champions from The College of New Jersey have the easiest road to Lexington, Va. In the second round this Saturday, the Lions will meet one of two teams from a non-traditional area of the country: Tennessee or Indiana. After that, it would either be Messiah, New Paltz, or Simmons — none of whom have ever won a field hockey national title.

In the other quarter in TCNJ’s half of the draw, William Smith and Middlebury are the seeded teams, though Franklin & Marshall is a definite threat to make the Final Four.

Undefeated Bowdoin College was rewarded with what could be an incredibly perilous road to the national title match. Keene State, which has fielded some remarkably good teams the last decade, might be the Polar Bears’ first-round opponents this weekend, and Wellesley is the other octofinalist with a bye in Bowdoin’s quarter of the draw.

But the Quarter of Death is the one in which Ursinus is the host. Ursinus would likely have to play against a Stevens Institute of Technology team that has performed admirably after its opener, when it received a 7-0 shutout at the hands of TCNJ. The other octofinalist with a bye is Salisbury, and it would likely have to take on Rochester on Saturday.

As has been the case the last few seasons, the dearth of at-large bids available to non-tournament winners in NCAA Division III has resulted in the omission of some pretty good field hockey teams from the tournament. Montclair State, Skidmore, Babson, and Mary Washington were amongst some very deserving teams that did not make it into this year’s field.

Time for a 32-team field, perhaps?



  Martha Hays wrote @

I agree with your comments regarding the DIII tournament. It’s time to expand that tournament to a 32 team field, or move some of the conferences that have automatic bids to “Pool B”. Another welcome change would be to have the selection committee use RPI and SOS in selecting at-large teams.

  scottrj wrote @

A tournament field of at least 28 teams if not 32 is an idea whose time is long past due. It’s an insult to the sport and those who play it that year-after-year, the NCAA knowingly excludes literally half of the best D-III teams in the country from the tournament, when the cost of funding an additional 4 (or even 8) games would be negligible. Mary Washington & Rowan have cause to feel hard done by under the current formula, and a 3rd NESCAC and/or CAC team in addition to Babson & Skidmore also would merit consideration if the field was expanded by just 4 teams.

But that said, I think some of your analysis is off the mark. The “Group of Death” moniker belongs to the Middlebury/F&M/Wm. Smith/ Catholic regional, not the one you identify; F&M should’ve been seeded, and instead has a nightmarish draw; and a Keene State that had trouble keeping up with the 4-5-6 teams in the NESCAC is hardly likely to pose a significant threat to an at-home Bowdoin,

  MHays wrote @

For those interested, here is a table showing RPI and SOS information for the teams in the DIII tournament, as well as similar data for teams in the top 20 for both of those categories: file:///Users/marthahays/Documents/NCAA%20Division%20III%20FH%20Tournament%20Analysis.jpg

  MHays wrote @

My table didn’t paste, but here are the teams that have BOTH RPI and SOS ratings in the top 20, ranked in order of RPI: Montclair State, Rowan, Mary Washington, Amherst, Tufts, Christopher Newport, Williams

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