March 4, 2014 by Jesse Moskowitz in Analysis, Rankings with 22 comments
Division III competition is as deep as ever. DIII Warmup highlighted some of the best teams in the nation. DIII Midwestern Invite showcased established programs and also served as a springboard for new competitors to enter the elite scene. DIII Easterns in late March will feature the best teams from a handful of regions and will allow Middlebury to defend their title against eager opponents. Natural State Invite will also host Nationals level teams in a DIII-specific setting.
The latest power rankings feature five teams from the Ohio Valley, four from New England, and at least one from all ten national regions. In their first full season as a team, Cedarville burst into the national scene by rolling through Midwestern generally unchallenged. A team reliant on upperclassmen, Cedarville uses a fast-paced, cutter-heavy horizontal stack to move the disc up-field. They move the disc quickly and exploit timely deep-looks to athletic receivers. None of North Park, Fredonia, or Kenyon were able to distance themselves from the rest of the competition and appear sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth respectively in the rankings.
When the snow and ice thaw around the country and teams trickle back in from their spring break vacations, there’s no question that DIII Ultimate will heat up. Contenders will emerge, strength bids will solidify, and we’ll gear up for what will likely be the most competitive series that the young conference has ever seen.
1. Puget Sound: The Postmen still sit atop the DIII rankings with a DIII Warmup title under their belt. They’ll likely get a regional preview at PLU BBQ before the series begins.
2. Wake Forest: Though not listed on Score Reporter, WOMB won Chucktown Throwdown in late February with a big win over Charleston. They’ll be the favorite in the Atlantic Coast region until proven otherwise.
3. St. Olaf: The Berzerkers made some noise at DIII Warmup and will continue their quest for strength bids moving forward. John Knapp and Ben Liska are as good a pair as any DIII team has to offer.
4. Carleton GOP: Like St. Olaf, the story for GOP will securing a second (or third) bid for the tough region. Carleton typically sees their best results late in the spring, so an impressive showing at Warmup bodes well for the rest of their season.
5. Middlebury: The reigning champs have yet to see any spring action, but until they’re challenged by Bentley, Brandeis and the rest of New England, they’re a top-five team.
6. John Brown: Ironfist will be tested at Huck Finn. They’ll face top DI talent as well as some DIII competition. Andrew Goode’s balanced group can make a splash by breaking seed or even slipping into quarters.
7. Claremont: Claremont is now 11-3 this season with quality losses to GOP and San Diego State. Occidental will be coming for them but the Braineaters’ big-game experience may be too much for Detox. They believe a National Championship is well within their reach.
8. Stevens Tech: Stevens Tech might only be this low for a short time. Top-end talent and a stable system have them atop the Metro East and in the picture for a DIII title.
9. Amherst: When the weather allows, Amherst will get back to work and try to turn heads again this spring. Will their path be tougher with a bigger target on their backs?
10. Lewis and Clark: With a veteran squad, does Bacchus have a higher ceiling than their showing at Warmup? Being well-coached and having strong talent at the top of their roster talent doesn’t hurt.
11. Lehigh: Since Battle for the Beltway was rescheduled and Lehigh will be at High Tide this week, their sanctioned season won’t formally start for some time. This team needs to keep working hard and focusing on their endurance and depth with a suddenly deep region gunning for them.
12. Bentley: Led by Alex Foo and Max Rick there’s no reason Bentley’s physical roster can’t be competing for a championship in May.
13. Cedarville: In their first sanctioned tournament ever, Cedarville put DIII Nation on notice. Seeded 7th out of ten teams, Cedarville won the shortened tournament, taking down Kenyon (#18), North Park (#16), and Parkside by a combined score of 38-23. They dominated the Lost Boys in the championship game 13-5, never getting broken and rarely even turning the disc over. Their mindset and play is not that of a new team; they are one of the hottest teams to watch going forward.
14. Brandeis: TRON toes the line between good and great. New England is always tough and they’ll need to continue to play at a high level to earn those important strength bids.
15. St John’s: The team formerly known as BAM disappointed at DIII Warmup without Pat Kunkel. They’ll likely improve going forward but a weak Warmup certainly didn’t help the North Central earn bid allocations. Still, you just get the feeling that a healthy and experienced St. John’s would have outperformed the pack at Midwestern.
16. North Park: Despite a deep roster, two long games leading up to the finals of Midwestern Invite were too much for the Lost Boys. Cedarville came off of two 13-2 wins and a bye to beat up North Park in the finals. Well-coached with an active sideline, they still have the edge over Indiana Wesleyan, Knox, Rose-Hulman, and Valpo in the Great Lakes.
17. SUNY Fredonia: Fredonia did what they had to at the Midwestern Invite. Due to a series of tiebreakers, they didn’t get a shot at Cedarville. Still, they started their spring off well and will look to continue to rise against teams around the country. Becoming less reliant on Greg Wakeman will be the deciding factor for the Turtles.
18. Kenyon: SERF isn’t playing poorly but for a team with high expectations and fantastic 2013 results, they’ve left much to be desired. They can’t seem to earn the quality wins they were coming up with last spring and it’s becoming more and more critical in a region that needs multiple bids.
19. Xavier: Losses to Indiana Wesleyan and Ohio Wesleyan hurt a little bit less with the way the two have played. BLOB will surely be in the mix with the rest of the hard-to-predict OV.
20. Wesleyan: Word is floating around that Wesleyan may take the DI route for the series. They’ll be able to compete for another bid to Nationals if they stay in the DIII conference.
21. Ohio Wesleyan: Ohio Wesleyan needs to show consistency but wins over Xavier and UNC-Asheville bode well for the rest of the spring.
22. Knox: Harper Garvey and Knox can play as well anyone in their region. They must continue to improve as a team to take down a tested North Park squad.
23. UNC-Asheville: UNC-A wasn’t too challenged at Emory Invite and had to deal with the windy conditions at Cat Fight but still appear to be a very competent opponent for Wake Forest. We’ll see how they fare against great competition at DIII Easterns
24. Indiana Wesleyan: IWU appears to be Travis Carpenter’s team. The Indianapolis AlleyCat controlled games for them this weekend with and without the disc. They are now 3-2 against ranked competition.
25. Georgia College: GCSU took down UNC-Asheville and South Carolina at Emory. They have the South East locked upuntil further notice.