The field is set for this weekend’s Division 3 College Open Championships in Appleton, Wisconsin, this being the third year that USAU has held the event. Be sure to check out the Skyd Expert Picks for who we think is going to win. If you’re going to Appleton, keep an eye out for me and other members of the Skyd team. If you aren’t going to be at the tournament, be sure to follow me on Twitter as I’ll be tweeting scores all weekend long. Hopefully we’ll have some game footage of some pool play games and Sunday’s bracket play along with interviews down the pipeline. Let’s get to it:
The #1 seed and tournament favorite, St. John’s leads off Pool A after winning the North Central. BAM went to D3-Nationals last year and lost to Claremont in the finals and this year, the team’s sights have been set on Appleton all season. The elements always play a factor in the North Central and the weathermen are calling for 20 mph winds on Sunday, so St. John’s and the other two teams from their region hold a distinct advantage. The second team in the pool, Rice, surprised everyone by taking down Harding for the lone bid from the South Central region. Their season wasn’t as impressive as Harding’s but they came to play in the game-to-go and now they’re representing their region. If the Rice that showed up in the regular season comes to play at Nationals, they won’t be much of a threat to the tourney favorite. The last two teams, Georgia College & State – who has played and lost to other qualifiers such as St. Olaf and GoP – and Reed – the surprise second team out of the Northwest – round off Pool A.
Kenyon College comes in as the #2 seed. After going the D1 route last year, they chose D3 in 2012 and made it to Wisconsin after a strong season . While they played down to teams at a couple tournaments, they challenged D1 Nationals qualifier Ohio at the Easterns Qualifier. The other team from Carleton College, GoP, isn’t a pushover either, playing tight games to St. John’s and St. Olaf several times this season and amassing 2-4 record against fellow championships qualifiers. Wake Forest won the lone bid from the Atlantic Coast, playing up and down at various pre-Series tournaments. WOMB finished 9th last year, so holding seed would be an improvement. Last in Pool B is the winner of the Metro East region, Rensselaer Polytech Institute TRUDGE. While they played through their regional competition and went to Stanford Open, they lost 9-13 to Bowdoin – showing that they’ll have to play a step above now that they’ve made it to the big stage.
All season long, Bowdoin was ranked above Bentley in the USAU Rankings. But come the Series, Bentley came out on top and won the New England region. If Bentley can keep up their string of impressive wins, they’ll come out of Wisconsin with similar success. But Northwest region winner Puget Sound also resides in their pool. Like Kenyon, Puget Sound played D1 Championship qualifiers close during the spring season. The Postmen come into Appleton hoping to send their seniors out as National Champions. The only team to come out of the Great Lakes, North Park, comes in with an up and down season – highlighted by a close loss to St. John’s at the Chicago Invite. The Lost Boys finished tied for 5th at last year’s D3 Nationals in Buffalo and come in looking to improve upon that even though they are seeded lower than last year. Rounding out the pool is the surprise second qualifier from the Metro East, Stevens Tech – with the highlight of their season being a close 13-12 loss to Bowdoin. In only their third year competing in the college series, could Stevens play the same role as Connecticut College at last year’s Nationals? It will be a hard fought battle especially if Bentley stays hot.
This pool has aptly lived up to the assumed title “Pool of Death”. After failing to win the New England region, Bowdoin comes in as the top seed. Up until Regionals, they didn’t lose a game. That one loss, however, cost them. The second team in pool D is the Claremont Brain Eaters, the defending D3 champions. Claremont played a season similar to some of the other top teams, including making it to the semis of the President’s Day Qualifier and a 7-10 loss to South East region D1 leader Central Florida. The 1:00 game pitting these two teams against each other on Saturday should be one of the best of the weekend. The last two teams in the pool, St. Olaf from the North Central and Lewis & Clark from the Northwest, won’t be pushovers for those two teams either. St. Olaf should have a home-field advantage in the Wisconsin elements and their 11-15 loss to Harding at Huck Finn shows that they can hang tough. During the series, Lewis & Clark started playing closer to their fellow Northwest D3 Nationals qualifiers, Puget Sound and Reed. These last two could definitely pull off an upset.
Feature photo by Burt Granovsky (UltiPhotos.com)