Morning Jac: Checking in on Pool B
There's no topic more debated in NCAA Division III than the Pool B situation. It enrages some, frustrates others, and is universally considered an ineffective use of tournament slots. At least outside of the NCAC, anyway. It's of no use fighting the battle about the legitimacy of the spots, so let's take a peek at the frontrunners for the four bids this year to the 26-team field.
First, for those of you unfamiliar with the Pool process, here's a quick primer. Pool A consists of automatic qualifiers from the 16 AQ conferences. Pool C is comprised of teams from AQ conferences who did not get the auto bid, but are eligible for six at-large spots. Pool B is reserved independents and programs from conferences that don't have the seven institutions necessary to trigger an AQ from the NCAA.
There are 41 teams eligible for the four Pool B spots this year, so let's look at the contenders.
- Denison: The Big Red should finish 11-2 and are about as locked into the Pool B as you can get. However, they have the potential to drop a random NCAC game, which might throw a tournament lifeline to one of the other conference teams. Pencil Denison in for a home seed against one of the other westerly schools in the first round of the tournament.
- Ohio Wesleyan: We'll estimate the Battling Bishops will finish at 10-3, although they could drop one more game. They'd be fine at 9-4 with Lynchburg and Salisbury helping their RPI cause. OWU is still finding itself right now under new coach Mike Plantholt, but the Bishops could jell late.
- Wittenberg: The Tigers have a stunningly poor non-conference schedule – the strongest team by far is a 3-4 Washington & Lee team – so they'll finish 12-2, but they should be concerned. They could fall down the same bunny hole Colorado College did last year when a gaudy record and no substance kept CC out of the tourney. We'll tentatively pencil them in because the field is so weak.
So who gets the last spot. Let's start with who's out. We can set aside the 15 North Pool B teams. With a couple of wins Morrsville State might merit an evaluation, but that's a stretch. Let's concentrate on the 26 in the South region. I've got Greensboro, Christopher Newport, Carthage, Adrian, Whittier and Wooster as possibilities for the final bid at this point. The front-runner out of that group? I think Greensboro is going to struggle to stay above .500, so it could be Whittier.
I was hoping to come up with something decisive, but alas, it's still too early. Whittier and Greensboro play next Saturday, so that's a game to keep an eye on. Carthage could conceivably go undefeated in Division III, Wooster could rebound from a tough start, and Adrian's win over Catholic is looking better and better.
We'll have to see how this plays out a little further.
Best & Worst
Worst part about today: I had an oil leak under my car and I was hoping it would be an easy fix, but it appears to be something more serious. Damn!