Sunday, November 23, 2008

FCS Bracket Announced: Comment and Predictions

Series:
FCS Playoff Watch 2008 #1
FCS Playoff Watch 2008 #2
FCS Playoff Watch 2008 #3
FCS Playoff Watch 2008 #4
FCS Afternoon: Countdown to the 2008 Playoffs
FCS Playoffs 2008: Bracket Projection
FCS Bracket Announced: Comment and Predictions
FCS Playoffs 2008: Results and Quarterfinals Predictions
FCS Playoffs 2008: Results and Semifinals Predictions
FCS Playoffs 2008: Results, Final Prediction, and FBS comment

Bracket


Click here for a printable bracket.

Wofford (9-2, At-Large)
at
#1 James Madison (10-1, CAA Auto-Bid)

Colgate (9-2, Patriot Auto-Bid)

at
Villanova (9-2, At-Large)


Texas State (8-4, Southland Auto-Bid)
at
#4 Montana (11-1, At-Large)

Weber State (9-3, Big Sky Auto-Bid)

at
Cal Poly (8-2, At-Large)


South Carolina State (10-2, MEAC Auto-Bid)
at
#2 Appalachian State (10-2, SOCON Auto-Bid)

Eastern Kentucky (8-3, OVC Auto-Bid)
at
Richmond (9-3, At-Large)


Maine (8-4, At-Large)
at
Northern Iowa (10-2, At-Large)

New Hampshire (9-2, At-Large)
at
Southern Illinois (9-2, MVFC Auto-Bid)

Prediction success:
At-Large Bids: 7/8 (8/8 last year)
Seeds: 3/4 (4/4 last year)
Home Teams: 6/8 (8/8 last year)
Pairings: 1/8 (4/8 last year)

Criticism

This was not the finest hour of the FCS Selection Committee. Did they jump the shark? No, but that said, they made a number of perplexing decisions:

The Maine At-Large Bid
[Note to Black Bears fans, I am one of you, although my primary loyalties are now directed towards Southern Illinois. I grew up in Maine, and am delighted to see them in the field, but do not think the bid was deserved.]

If Maine excelled at anything this year, it was in racking up losses against the top teams. Maine lost to FBS Iowa, and went a perfect 0-3 against FCS teams in the field, losing at Richmond, and to James Madison and New Hampshire at home. They also posted only 2 wins against teams with winning records: a narrow 21-17 win at 7-4 Monmouth of the NEC, and a one point win at Massachusetts, a team which was not itself this year. There is nothing in their resume which suggests playoff success. If the goal was to reward the tough CAA with a fifth bid, there was a better choice - William & Mary. Like Maine, they lost to an FBS team, and to three FCS teams in the field, Villanova, James Madison, and Richmond. Unlike Maine, they proved they could defeat a top team, when they took down New Hampshire.

It is not, however, William & Mary who should be upset but rather Liberty. They dominated an Elon team, which would have gone to the playoffs with a win, in the final game of the regular season. They posted 8 FCS wins, including two over teams from automatic qualifying conferences. They rose to #14 in the final poll of the year. And they got left out. The Committee has alot of explaining to do.

[Update 3:05 PM Tuesday

Liberty finished #14 in the Sports Network poll, #15 in the coaches poll, and an average of #22 in the computer rankings (Massey #24; Wolf #22; Asburn #21; Self #25; #17 Laz). This averages out to #17, which shows you how close the committee came to expressly violating its own rules.]

The UNI #3 Seed

Did UNI deserve the #4 seed? Maybe. Did they deserve the #3 seed? Absolutely not. This is best illustrated by a comparison with unseeded Villanova. In quality of losses, Villanova does slightly better. Both teams lost to FBS opponents and their conference champion, but, although I bleed Saluki maroon, I must acknowledge that James Madison is the better team this year than Southern Illinois. Villanova, however, posted two wins against teams in the field, Richmond and New Hampshire. UNI defeated no teams which are in the field, with their best win coming at home against South Dakota State. Villanova was clearly more deserving.

The Central East Coast Pairings

While I thought it made more sense to send Eastern Kentucky to Southern Illinois, I can see why they went east instead, as it gave the committee six teams in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia to produce three pairings. What the committee ending up doing, however, was producing the longest trips possible utilizing those six teams. It would have made far more sense to send Wofford to South Carolina State, Eastern Kentucky to James Madison, and Richmond to Appalachian State. In all likelihood, money trumped these common sense pairings, and it means that Eastern Kentucky must make a very long trip to Richmond for the second year running.

Predictions

But enough bellyaching already.

James Madison makes the home field advantage stick and takes down Wofford in a tough battle.

Villanova shows the FCS world why they should have received a seed, and dismantles Colgate

Montana happily disposes of Texas State, while Central Arkansas sits at home dreaming of years to come.

Cal Poly shows that it is good enough to defeat most FCS teams, including Weber State, with or without successful PATs.

Appalachian State engages in a live-fire scrimmage versus South Carolina State.

Richmond proves to be way too strong for Eastern Kentucky, the best of the OVC in a down year.

Northern Iowa ends Maine's season one week after it should have ground to a halt.

New Hampshire storms the Mac and ends the season for the overachieving Salukis. *SNIFF*


32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jacksonville State or UT-Martin much better than Maine. OVC has been disrespected by the selection committee while the Colonial gets five teams into the playoffs....big joke. No wonder the FBS schools don't want a playoff.

Chris said...

The selection committee found a way to screw over JMU again (even though they're the #1 seed)! It's outrageous that the Dukes are hosting Wofford, a strong team from the Southern conference that's better than at least 3 other teams in the playoff pool!

Anonymous said...

Liberty actually beat 3 teams from conferences that get autobids (Western Carolina, Youngstown state, Elon) and beat 2 ranked opponents ( #23 Youngstown st, and #12 Elon.) But you are right the Committee has a lot of explaining to do, but do you think they actually will explain themselves?

Evan from LU.

Profane said...

Yes indeed Evan - the point of bringing up two wins against teams from auto-qualifying conferences is that that was one of the standards set by the committee for the auto-inclusion of the Big South and NEC champions.

Will they explain themselves satisfactorily? I doubt it.

rozzdiesel13 said...

I agree with the comment about how the OVC has been disrespected by the FCS committee. Jacksonville State could have got a bid from their win against Tennessee State, but after TSU lost to Murray State on Saturday (a team ranked near the bottom in the OVC), the committee may have had second thoughts about whether top 25 ranked TSU was really as good as they had thought. UT-Martin, by the way, would NOT have gotten in because they only won 6 games vs. FCS opponents, whereas the rules state that you must have at least 7 wins from FCS schools (BCS teams would count as well, obviously). Their 2 routs against NAIA schools didn't matter, nor did their impressive play against Auburn. Winning the conference championship against Eastern Kentucky would have sealed their automatic bid, as well as given them the 7 FCS wins. Yet again, it doesn't make any sense that Maine should have received a bid after viewing their lackluster performances. Five teams from the same conference in the playoffs is ridiculous, and I believe Jacksonville State should have replaced Maine's spot in the tourny.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your answer and I think you're right, there's no way they can explain themselves satisfactorily. Liberty deserved to get in point blank. Specially with 5 teams having 3 or more losses.

Evan from LU.

Anonymous said...

It is so disappointing Liberty didn't make it in. I thought it was a shoe-in after they dominated playoff bound Elon, New Hampshire, and Richmond both won. Every playoff prediction I saw had Liberty in. Even if they were going to play the #1 seed JMU, it still would have been a huge boost for our program to make the playoffs for the first time.

Profane said...

Anonymous 8:46 and rozzdiesel 13,

Jacksonville State was arguably a better choice than Maine. Liberty, however, had stronger computer numbers than Jacksonville State and their best win (Elon) was better.

blackbearfan said...

OK all you Maine bashers, although I am somewhat surprised the Black Bears made it, they gave James Madison and New Hampshire extremely good games in close defeats PLUS they beat a then very good UMASS team on the road. Yes, I have to agree Liberty had a better record but the CAA is the strongest conference year in and year out and UMaine was very competitive in every game. The loss at Richmond was deceiving cuz it was close at halftime and the Spiders are a very good team. Go Blue!

Profane said...

blackbearfan,

As a Black Bear by birth, and a Saluki by adoption I have this to say. LETS KICK SOME PANTHER BUTT!

blackbearfan said...

AMEN Profane!

Anonymous said...

I agree- JMU got totally screwed over AGAIN by the NCAA. How is it that the #1 seed is in the same bracket as Wofford, Villanova and Montana, while the #2 seed gets the obligatory MEAC first-round-bye, a decent Richmond team, and an overrated UNI team? What the f?

Someone on the committee must have a son at App State and a daughter at Maine. Rediculous.

Grizzly Mang! said...

How the hell did UNI get #3 over Montana? The selection committee is getting as bad as the computer generator for the FBS! I hope Texas State can play in cold weather....otherwise it's going to be a miserable day for them in Zoo town!

Beef, north of the UNI-Dome said...

I agree with many of the gripes that have been listed here. Wofford appears as a much more dangerous preent for a #1 seed than S.C. State or maybe Eastern Kentucky.

Liberty looks like they were jobbed. As long as there are sixteen teams in the tournament, there should be a limit of four per conference(that's one per quarter - that's minboggling).

The Northern Iowa seed arguement, to me, seems like the committee's way of gauranteeing a second home date for the Panthers, provided they beat Maine. I don't think it's a coincidence that Southern Illinois was put in that quarterfinal(with UNI). A really fierce rivalry stands there and to add a playoff implication to it must make the NCAA's mouth water with visions of a sellout.

All in all, I think the pairings were pretty fair(other than Liberty and Maine). They probably could have swapped New Hampshire and Villanova. This would have put 'Nova and UNI together, who were likely the true 4th and 5th best teams in the field and really balanced the bracket out better.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Profane said...

Anonymous 10:23,

Personal attacks upon myself or any commenter are not tolerated at this blog.

Anonymous said...

I also agree that Jacksonville State should have been selected over Maine but the selection process is not fair. Traditional FCS conferences like the Southern, OVC, and Colonial should be guaranteed two teams minimum but no conference should get more than three with a 16 team field. Independents should join a conference or be left out. The field could be expanded but would not stop poor selections by the committee members.

Profane said...

Anonymous 11:55,

The field will be expanding in a couple years to 20 teams, including the Big South and NEC champions, and two additional at-larges.

I do not, however, think that limiting at-large bids, or guaranteeing them for certain conferences would be helpful. Last year, for example, the CAA received five bids, but few would argue that the last team in, New Hampshire, was undeserving.

kernal said...

No real dog in the fight, although my wife is an App State grad. I have been checking out this blog for some time as FCS playoffs always interest me. All I can say is imagine if the FBS schools had a playoff! The discussion here is much the same as the BCS discussion, where it may never be totally fair in everyone's eyes, it sure is nice to settle things on the field!
Great Blog! Thx

Profane said...

No dog in the fight kernal? That could seriously screw up your marriage!

But seriously, thank you for your comments, and it is excellent that, unlike in the FBS, things are MOSTLY settled on the field in the FCS.

kernal said...

I am busted, I want to see ASU win of course! Plus Armanti is a stud, gotta love watching him play.
And yes an ASU/JMU rematch would be huge!

Let the games begin.

Andrew said...

I would LOVE to see ASU and JMU face off in a neutral site...Chattanooga. WOW, would that be something!

Profane, I have also enjoyed this blog the last couple weeks.

Danefan said...

Hey just a head's up the conditional Autobid (average of 16, 8 DI wins, etc..) did not apply to Liberty and the Big South this year.

That was only available for conferences that currently qualify as AQ conferences but do not receive an AQ - which leaves only the NEC. The Big South will not meet the criteria of having enough teams together for enough years until 2010. Stony Brook will have been there for 2 years.

Mark said...

For all you Black Bears out their, UNI is going to show you why Maine does not belong. The Panthers have only allowed 94 points to opposing offenses during their 8 game win streak, and they will run the ball all over the Bears. For those of you saying the Panthers are overrated, they are the same team as last year with a new QB and a couple of OL replacements. UNI will shut down the Black Bear offense.
UNI 38 Black Bears 16
GO PANTHERS!!!

Anonymous said...

First of all, I bleed Purple and Gold as a UNI Alum and cant stand those whiners from SIU. ;) Northern Iowa is virtually unbeatable at home and we will welcome Maine to the Dome on Saturday, then send 'em packing. GO PANTHERS!

Profane said...

Heh heh.

If nothing else, I am sure you will give the Bears a classic Dome welcome!

Anonymous said...

Are there any stations or PPV that are covering any of these games besides ESPNU and ESPN360, which no one gets anyway? I do not get why we have to sit around and watch who is going to win the Big 12 conference when a computer is going to screw that up on its own! People are more interested in watching computer football then REAL football that takes place on a field not in a college president's office.

Profane said...

Anonymous 5:03,

I am not aware of any stations or PPV, but some of the schools do broadcast web feeds.

Anonymous said...

Is everyone forgetting the Salukis of Southern Illinois? They have one quality loss to a very talented Northwestern team, and if they had not coughed up that lead to North Dakota State early in the season, then they would have the UNI three seed instead, if not higher. The dawgs will run wild tomorrow!!

Profane said...

Anonymous 3:30,

LETS GO UGLY DAWGS!

Anonymous said...

SI has barely won It's last three games and the competition gets considerabley better vs. CAA NH. This one will be close. I think SI will have trouble againsed the spread and lose in a close one. The home teams will prevail in all of the other matchups. I think the JMU bracket is absurd. 4(JMU, Vil, Mont., Cal)of the top 5 teams in the country are in the same bracket. AS should be licking their chops all the way to another Championship!!!

Profane said...

Anonymous 6:02,

As I have noted, SIU overachieved this year, and my predictions have NH winning (despite my being a Saluki!).

So long as there is not a fully seeded field, there will always be sides of the brackets tougher than others. It is unavoidable. What is avoidable is making basic seeding mistakes - like UNI over Villanova.