Backtrack: NCAA Reconfigures D-III Bids
Back in mid-November, I reported that the NCAA was expanding its Division III men's tournament to 28 teams, with the at-large allocation (Pool C) expanding to eight bids and the independent group (Pool B) contracting to a pair of slots.
After the data was re-assessed in Indianapolis, the initial numbers have been modified.
"We had a technology issue that misidentified institutions when we originally calculated the allocations," wrote Jeff Jarnecke, the director of championships for the NCAA, in an email. "The pools have changed. The change results in one position being moved from pool C to pool B."
While the bracket will still consist of 28 teams – a two-team jump from 2011 – the previously announced bid dispersion has been tweaked. Pool C will only have one additional spot, bumping the number to seven, while Pool B will retain the three bids it has had in previous years. Pool A, which is reserved for automatic qualifiers, will remain at the previously announced level of 18 teams.
How does this modification impact the Division III scene?
There are a couple of fringe teams in power conferences like the Centennial, Empire 8, Liberty, NESCAC and ODAC whose collar just got tighter, although the coaches and players on those teams will be the first to tell you they are all about a conference championship.
In December, at least.
Conversely, there are smiles and high-fives all around in the Buckeye State, as the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) would appear to be the beneficiary of this alteration.
Considering the schedules of Denison and Ohio Wesleyan, it's tough envisioning those two teams not out-kicking the rest of the field from an SOS and RPI perspective. History would say that a third NCAC squad is destined for the final Pool B spot, but schedule softness amongst that conference's other candidates could open the door for the likes of Whittier and Greensboro to potentially step in.
Things have changed in just a month with the NCAA, but the fundamental Division III altruism remains the same: you've got to win games.