Some final thoughts on the bracket

Well we can put bracketology to bed for another year, the 24 team was revealed on Sunday morning with a few surprises, for the record the Media Blog team accurately predicted 23 out of 24 teams. Safe to say NDSU fans and followers of the division were a bit surprised when they saw New Hampshire grab the top overall seed and not NDSU, especially when Robert Hill, the chairman of the FCS playoff committee said on the selection show that they valued UNH going unbeaten thru the breadth of the season after losing the season opener more than NDSU’s FBS win over Iowa State, then losing its third to last game of the season against UNI. That logic seems faulty to me, but the important thing for NDSU was to be the 1 or 2 seed and that’s what they got for the fourth straight year, the ability to play at home throughout the playoffs without having to leave Fargo.

Could NDSU get another crack at SDSU in the playoffs? (Photo courtesy: Carrie Snyder – Forum of Fargo-Moorhead)

If you look at NDSU’s side of the bracket; there are some familiar faces for sure, starting with SDSU and Coastal Carolina, but Sam Houston State is there, along with James Madison and Morgan State, past Bison opponents. NDSU fans may not know a lot about Villanova or Jacksonville State, but these are quality teams, the Gamecocks won two playoff games last year and their only loss this season was to Michigan State. Frankly, the hottest team east of Northern Iowa in the FCS is JMU, the Dukes have won seven straight and quarterback Vad Lee has been tearing defenses up left and right. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Dukes win two games or more this playoff year.

As for the top half; New Hampshire may have received the top seed, but they got placed with some impressive teams. Illinois State and Northern Iowa are each in the Wildcats bracket, but one of them will be knocked out by the time they’d be UNH. Also thrown in is Eastern Washington, the Eagles are guaranteed to play at least two home games and then would have to go on the road where they are a completely different team off the red turf.

The committee did break precedent this year, for the first time since 2003 taking a team with five losses into the field. Indiana State grabbed the fifth bid out of the Missouri Valley (a record for the league) and they can thank their tough non-conference schedule as a big reason why. The Sycamores played two FBS schools and won one of those games (Ball State) then beat Liberty (that win made better thanks to the Flames beating Coastal Carolina yesterday) and of course the win over UNI. Two wins over two playoff teams and a FBS win is hard to ignore on the resume. Our thoughts yesterday was with Bethune-Cookman’s eight FCS wins (including a FBS win) was the tiebreaker to put them in over Indiana State. For the Missouri Valley, this is the first step towards some national recognition, getting five teams into the playoffs is a great accomplishment and a reflection of a 23-1 non-conference record vs FCS teams. The next step is playoff success; besides NDSU, there hasn’t been any. The Valley teams have a combined 4-4 record since 2011 (just UNI and SDSU) with just one team making the quarterfinals. The problem with the bracket though is there’s a possibility of two intra-Valley matchups in the second round, meaning two will be sent home early.

The biggest complaint may come from the Southland offices in Frisco, where two of its teams will play each other in the FIRST round. SE Louisiana and Sam Houston did not play during the regular season, so that’s why they were paired against each other now. Can’t believe Southland commish Tom Burnett is happy about that, especially with his league hosting the championship game.

The first round games should provide some great action, SDSU-Montana State and Eastern Kentucky-Indiana State intrigue me. As for the Bison, they have proven over the past few years that they can handle the Jacks, Zach Zenner had his best career running day this season versus NDSU, but then Carson Wentz had a monster day rushing. Austin Sumner was playing his first game back from breaking bones in his foot, he’s looked sharp  in the three games since then. As for Montana State, the Bobcats are not coming in off their best performance, committing seven turnovers in the Brawl of the Wild game, but also played without dual threat QB Dakota Prukop and running back Shawn Johnson, both who are still questionable for this week’s game against the Jacks.

One thing is for certain; we are guaranteed some great drama on this road, can’t wait for it begin on Saturday.

Sunday’s hot links

FCS Selection Show LIVE Blog

Well we’ve given you who we think will be in the field, it’s time to see who ACTUALLY be in the field, join Jeff, Big E and me at 9:30 am as we’ll watch the show with you, show starts at 10 am on ESPN U!

Live Blog FCS Selection Show Live Blog
 

2014 Bison Media Blog Bracketology Show

Ladies and Gentlemen, I know you’ve been waiting for this all season long, here at the Bison Media Blog we present the 24 teams we believe will make the field. At the bottom of the post; you’ll see our bracket projections. Reminder we will live blog the Selecton Show starting at 9:30 am, the show airs from 10-11 on ESPNU.


Jeff’s Projected Bracket

Dom’s Projected Bracket

FCS bracketology — Friday edition

(Note: edited to reflect Sam Houston State can still win autobid). After poring over all of the possible scenarios (and there’s always one or two that blindside you on Selection Sunday), I may be more screwed up than ever with FCS playoff bracketology, but let’s go for it anyway the day before a huge day on Saturday.

The following have already secured automatic berths: Fordham (Patriot League), Chattanooga (Southern), Sacred Heart (Northeast), Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley) and San Diego (Pioneer). That’s five of 24.

The following are in, whether be it automatic bid or at-large berth: NDSU (10-1), Eastern Washington (9-2), Illinois State (9-1), New Hampshire (9-1), Eastern Kentucky (9-2), Coastal Carolina (11-0), Villanova (9-2), Southeastern Louisiana (9-3) and James Madison (8-3). All of them could lose Saturday and still get in. That’s 14 of 24.

I believe North Carolina A&T will beat North Carolina Central and get the MEAC auto bid, NDSU will beat Youngstown for the Valley auto, Eastern will beat Portland State tonight for the Big Sky bid and Sam Houston will defeat Central Arkansas for the Southland ticket. That takes care of the 11 auto bids.

There are two games where the winner will get in as an at-large and the loser will go home: Montana State (8-3) at Montana and Richmond (7-4) at William & Mary (7-4). That’s 17 of 24. Northern Iowa easily beats Missouri State, 18 of 24.

Now it gets dicey. The following six teams will win Saturday and get in: Indiana State (7-4) over Western Illinois, Bryant (8-2) over Wagener, Bethune-Cookman (8-3) over Florida A&M, South Dakota State (7-4) over South Dakota, Sam Houston State (7-4) over Central Arkansas and Liberty (7-4) in the upset over Coastal Carolina. That’s 24 of 24.

I believe non-Division I counter victories for Idaho State (twice), Stephen F. Austin and Northern Arizona will cost those teams, although there are teams in the field that also have non-counters. With that, have to go with the better quality of wins I guess. If Youngstown beats NDSU, that puts the Penguins in the field and probably knocks out somebody like Bryant. Bucknell is interesting at 8-2 but I don’t think the Patriot will get two teams in.

So here is my field of 24 in no particular order as of early Friday afternoon:

Autobids

  • Fordham (Patriot)
  • North Dakota State (Missouri Valley)
  • Chattanooga (Southern)
  • Sacred Heart (Northeast)
  • Eastern Washington (Big Sky)
  • Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley)
  • San Diego (Pioneer)
  • New Hampshire (CAA)
  • Liberty (Big South)
  • North Carolina A&T (MEAC)
  • Sam Houston State (Southland)

At-large bids

  • Coastal Carolina
  • Illinois State
  • South Dakota State
  • Southeastern Louisiana
  • Indiana State
  • Northern Iowa
  • Bethune-Cookman
  • Bryant
  • Montana State
  • William & Mary
  • James Madison
  • Villanova
  • Eastern Kentucky

 

FCS Pick ‘Em – Week 13

Well here we are, the final week of the regular season and there’s a new leader on top. A big rally over the last couple of weeks by the pre-eminent FCS bracketologist and sets up what should be a fantastic final few weeks. There are some huge games on Saturday with playoff implications, some are simply put win and in. Our NDSU gameday coverage begins  on Kolpack and Izzo at 9 am on 970 WDAY, Media Blog Pregame show airs live on WDAY’Z Xtra at 11:30 am. On to the picks!

                                                                           DOM  (124-41)        JEFF (122-43)

  • (5) Eastern Washington at Portland St   EWU                  EWU
  • (8) Fordham at Army                                 Army                   Fordham
  • (6) Villanova at Delaware                         Nova                  Nova
  • Yale at (14) Harvard                                  Harvard             Yale
  • Liberty at (1) Coastal Carolina                CCU                    Liberty
  • Southern Illinois at (7) Illinois State       Ill State              Ill State
  • (18) Indiana St at Western Illinois           ISU                      Western
  • UND at Northern Colorado                     UNC                    UND
  • South Dakota at (15) SDSU                    SDSU                  SDSU
  • (2) New Hampshire at Maine                   UNH                    UNH
  • Lehigh at Lafayette                                  Lafay                   Lehigh
  • Central Arkansas at Sam Houston        SHSU                   SHSU
  • (12) Montana St at (13) Montana            Griz                     MSU
  • Missouri State at (11) UNI                       UNI                      UNI
  • (21) Richmond at (19) W+M                     W&M                    W&M
JIM DELANEY “VARSITY GAME OF THE WEEK”
  • USC at UCLA                                        UCLA                       UCLA

Friday’s hot links

  • In today’s Forum, Jeff Kolpack writes about how the FCS playoff field is shaping up. Actually, it’s a big mess as teams fight it out in the final games.
  • From WDAY, the Bison volleyball team prepares for Oral Roberts.
  • On Saturday, look for the Bison pregame and postgame shows right here as well as the live game blog. The Bison host Youngstown State at 2:30. Live blog begins around 1:30.