Bracketology 2021: At-Large Bids (We Think?)

I have had several hundred people hit me up today after the UVC final concluded asking if I knew anything about the at-large bids and their selection process.  I do not speak for the committee nor do I speak to anyone I know on the committee regarding their meetings on this exact subject (their job is hard enough).

But I have been in the landscape a long enough time to be able to make some educated guesses based off the results we’ve had all season and the criteria the NCAA selection committee uses.  The NCAA DIII manual has all the criteria publicly available for those interested in their decision making, and you can find it here at this link.  

For those who don’t know, Pool A is composed of the conference champions from each conference that meets the requirements for automatic qualification. These selections are listed below.

UVC: Vassar
CVC: Southern Virginia
NECC: Endicott
Skyline: New Jersey City University
MCVL: Fontbonne
NACC: Dominican
AMCC: Hiram
MAC: Messiah

Alongside these eight teams, another four teams will be selected to join the tournament. Two will be Pool B selections and two will be Pool C selections.

Pool B is composed of independent institutions and institutions that are members of conferences that don’t meet the requirements for automatic qualification.

Pool C is composed of the remaining institutions from both Pool A and Pool B.

The Springfield Question

Based off the criteria of this season, the loss to Wentworth, and the fact they only played 6 games, I think the Committee will end up not selecting Springfield in any capacity. While a lot of Springfield hate in the landscape is rooted in jealous/envy of their success over the years, I think the drama surrounding this decision became a lot less heated by the Pride losing to Wentworth. The Pride could fall to 4th or 5th in the East off that loss alone, and at that point there are six other teams with fuller resumes that on paper would be more deserving.

This process is difficult enough, and for my scenarios below I chose teams based on the Pride not getting into the tournament. If the Pride do get in, I won’t be surprised if they win it all because they can (especially with the tournament field we have right now) but it’s not my decision to let them in or not. I’m just a guy with a website making a prediction, and the scenario I’m laying out originally doesn’t involve them in the tournament. If, by a miracle, the Pride are selected for the tournament, the last Pool C selection I have listed is eliminated from my own calculations.

Pool B Selections (My predictions)

1) Carthage: I think this is the most sure-fire lock of all the teams on the list available. They are undefeated and have the best resume of all teams who have played this year, they will be in the tournament.

2) Lancaster Bible: Lancaster Bible sat atop the East Regional Rankings coming into this last weekend of play. With their matches versus Springfield canceled their record remains the same and no results from this past week of play can drop them lower than 2nd in the East Regional Rankings from what I’m looking at.

Pool C Selections (My Predictions)

This is where things get a little tricky. Honestly, I think there are only really three teams right now the committee will ultimately decide between and one of them is going to get screwed. The criteria this year are what they are, and I don’t know what political decisions get thrown into the mix under the line of text that allows the regional committees to give their recommendations/advise to the selection committee. Below you’ll find the three teams I think are in the horse race for the last two spots (not listed in any particular order).

  1. Benedictine: This team was 3rd in the Regional Rankings last week, and lost in their Finals match against Dominican, who they already have a win over this season. I think if any team is locked for a pool A bid, the Eagles can sleep the easiest tonight.

  2. New Paltz/Juniata: Outside looking in, both teams have compelling cases to get the last at-large. I do not know who the committee will pick between them, and I couldn’t fashion a guess. But my money is on one of these two to get the last automatic bid.

    *** if Springfield is selected, New Paltz and Juniata are out of luck ***

At this point in the season all three of these teams from where I’m sitting have made the best case to be chosen in a normal year. But this is not a normal year, and Covid policies hamstrung the ability of many teams to make an at-large case. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was dead wrong on all three, that’s the type of year it’s been.

The most sure-fire way to get into the tournament was to win a conference this year, and sadly one of these three teams will not go because they could not deliver when it counted the most. Now they wait, as we all do.