And so there is one regular season game left. This game will be meaningful in many ways. For one thing, Ferrum getting a win, guarantees themselves of a conference Co- Championship. (Co-Championship is better than no championship) Secondly, a Ferrum win squarely puts CNU into a must win situation.
While Ferrum handled Maryville last year, this is a much improved Maryville team. They are playing to assure themselves of a winning season, and a win, coupled with a CNU loss would make them part of a three way tie for first place, and considered one of three co-champions.(In that scenario, CNU would get the bid). Maryville is averaging 27 points per game, and for the most part has been successful in holding their opponents in check. They have lost to CNU, and LaGrange in conference. On defense, they have 5 of the top 15 leading tacklers in the conference....6 out of the top 20. Ferrum has 1 in Jatavious Adams at 14th.
This is no cakewalk...They will come in fired up, and with a lot to prove. To them, they cannot get into the playoffs, but they can be a spoiler. Ferrum has a strong team, and needs to remain focused on Maryville. This is the most important game of the year, and without a win, the season ends. Maryville puts their pads away after this game, win or lose, but Ferrum could play on....but only with a win, and some help from Methodist. There must be total focus for the Panthers.
The question has come up as to whether Ferrum may be in contention for an at large bid? There are three pools for the tournament, and at large bids (pools B and C) are awarded by a selection committee
Pool A is made up of teams that win their conference. (Automatic Qualifier teams AQ)
Pool B is made up of teams that are either independent, or their conference does not have an AQ. (This does not apply to Ferrum)
Pool C is made up of other teams that may have just one ot two losses, but did not win their AQ..
There are 32 teams in the tournament, 24 Automatic Qualifier bids, 1 Pool B bid, and 7 at large Pool C bids.
So can Ferrum, if they do not win the conference outright, get a Pool C bid?
Here is the written process from d3football.com
How are the at-large bids determined?
These are the selection (and seeding) criteria:
The following primary criteria (not in priority order) will be reviewed:
• Win-loss percentage against regional opponents.
• Strength-of-schedule (only contests versus regional competition).
- Opponents’ Average Winning Percentage (OWP).
- Opponents’ Opponents’ Average Winning Percentage (OOWP).
• In-region head-to-head competition.
• In-region results versus common regional opponents.
• In-region results versus regionally ranked teams.
If the evaluation of the primary criteria does not result in a decision by the committee, the following secondary criteria (for ranking and selections) will be evaluated:
• Out-of region head-to-head competition.
• Overall Division III won-loss percentage.
• Results versus common non-Division III opponents.
• Results versus all Division III ranked teams.
• Overall win-loss percentage.
• Results versus all common opponents.
• Overall Division III strength of schedule
• Should a committee find that evaluation of a team’s win-loss percentage during the last 25 percent of the season is applicable (i.e., end of season performance), it may adopt such criteria with approval from the championships committee.
New for 2011: When all criteria are equal among teams with undefeated records in the primary criteria, the NCAA Division III Football Committee can use a team’s performance in the previous championship season as criterion.
Additionally, input is provided by regional advisory committees for consideration by the Division III football committee. In order to be considered for selection for Pools B or C, an institution must play at least 50 percent of its competition against Division III in-region opponents. Coaches’ polls and/or any other outside polls or rankings are not used as a selection criterion by the football committee for selection purposes.
While I would say it is possible, I would think it highly unlikely that Ferrum can get in unless it wins the conference outright...There will be many one loss teams ahead of Ferrum, and the Panthers strength of schedule is not strong enough when compared on a national scale.
So I would say that winning the conference is the most likely path to the playoffs, and that starts with beating Maryville.
So we are down to the final week, and that means my final week of predictions...here they are:
This may be the most difficult week to pick...
Maryville 21 @ Ferrum 34
Averett @ NCW
LaGrange @ Greensboro
Methodist @ CNU
Ferrum Panthers are playoff bound...I hope