A week full of possibilities

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Albright and Lebanon Valley are part of a jumbled MAC Commonwealth playoff picture.
Albright athletics photo

 

Just one week remains in the regular season, yet some conference tournament pictures are still pretty fuzzy. A whole slew of games played between Tuesday and Saturday will have a big effect on the playoff fields, even though a few leagues at least know which teams will be playing next week.

Centennial Conference men | Standings

It took a while, but the Centennial finally separated into a top five and a bottom five, and the team the coaches picked to win, Swarthmore, has all but clinched. The Garnet needs either one win or one Johns Hopkins loss. Swarthmore should wrap things up Wednesday against last-placem (and archrival) Haverford.

Beyond that, the possibilities get more vast. JHU and Dickinson are tied at 11-5. The Red Devils have swept the Blue Jays, so if they finished tied, Dickinson gets to wear white when the teams meet in the semifinals. Things, however, are not that simple. F&M and Ursinus are one game behind JHU and DC with two games left. F&M and Dickinson play Wednesday, and a win would give F&M a sweep. The Diplomats, however, have been sweep victims against Ursinus and JHU. JHU also swept Ursinus.

Johns Hopkins has the easiest remaining schedule, with home games against Washington and Haverford, so the Blue Jays figure to be safe from the first-round game. Dickinson also plays WC, so a win over F&M Wednesday likely gets the Devils into the semis. That leaves F&M and Ursinus to spend this week game-planning for one another and, concurrently, trying to get that 4/5 game at home.

Centennial Conference women| Standings

Haverford clinched the top seed with Saturday’s win over Bryn Mawr. Dickinson and Muhlenberg are tied for second at 13-5 with Gettysburg one game back, trying to get out of the first-round game. Losses last week to Muhlenberg and Dickinson did not help the Bullets. Muhlenberg has the easiest remaining schedule, with games at Bryn Mawr and McDaniel, which has lost four out of six.

Ursinus is fifth, but its lead over JHU is precarious. The Bears have one game left, but it’s at Gettysburg next Saturday, and the Bullets might have a lot to play for. The Blue Jays host Washington and finish at Bryn Mawr. They should win those games. Ursinus swept JHU, but assuming JHU wins those two games, a loss to Gettysburg would send the Bears into hibernation.

CAC men Standings

Christopher Newport and Salisbury will host semifinals next Wednesday; that much is certain. The two have been head and shoulders above the rest of the league all season. CNU, at 15-1 in the CAC, holds a one-game lead over the Gulls entering this week. The teams have split their season series, and the Gulls’ other conference loss came against York. CNU plays York Saturday, so a loss to the Spartans coupled with two Salisbury wins would leave the teams even in all tiebreakers. A coin flip would decide the top seed in that case.

That coin flip could be crucial. If the case described above comes to fruition, York, firmly ensconced as the third seed, would need a home win against a second-tier team to earn a semifinal date with the coin-flip loser.

St. Mary’s, Marymount and Wesley enter the week tied for fourth place, which earns a home game in the first round, to be played Monday. If they all stay tied, St. Mary’s would drop to the bottom of the group because of the descending-standings tiebreaker. All three teams got swept by CNU and Salisbury, but only St. Mary’s got swept by the next team, York.

A game behind those three, however, are Mary Washington and Penn State-Harrisburg. UMW is in a great position to crash the party, with games this week against Marymount and Wesley. Both are on the road, but if the Eagles win those, they will have swept both teams and be no worse than tied with them. The Lions also play Wesley and Marymount, with both games at home. They can sweep Wesley and earn a split with Marymount. The possibilities in this conference are endless. The Captains, Gulls and Spartans, at least, can relax – for now.

CAC womenStandings

All six playoff teams have been determined, as have the top three and bottom three in the bracket. UWM and CNU are tied at 14-2 in first place, but Marymount is one game back. UMW can clinch first place by winning its final two games because it would have swept Marymount, while CNU split with the Saints. In that case, CNU controls its fate for a bye, but a loss Saturday against York could cost it a tiebreaker with Marymount.

York, one game ahead of Salisbury and Frostburg State, has games left with Frostburg and CNU. Winning both would get the Spartans a home game. The Spartans could overcome a loss to the Bobcats by beating CNU – but they’d prefer not to see their chances of playing a tournament game at home riding on that, as the Captains are likely to need the win.

Commonwealth men Standings

Lycoming has clinched first place and now can play the spoiler against Lebanon Valley. The Dutchmen and Albright are tied for second at 9-6. Unlike the Centennial, which sends all semifinalists to the top seed’s gym, the MAC conferences hold their semifinals Wednesday at separate venues hosted by the top two seeds, after a play-in game between the fourth and fifth seeds.

While LVC must contend with Lycoming, Albright gets Messiah, which is 7-7 but could be playing for a playoff spot. An LVC win gives it the tiebreaker over Albright, which then must hold off Alvernia and Widener, each tied for fourth at 8-6. Those two play Saturday in the regular-season finale in Reading. Widener won the first meeting in Chester. Messiah, at 7-7, could make things interesting by beating Hood and Albright, but it cannot win a tiebreaker with Alvernia, which swept the Falcons.

Hood, at 6-8, remains alive. The Blazers, if they can get by Messiah, can win a tiebreaker with Alvernia. The two teams split, but Hood has a win over Lycoming. Alvernia does not.

Commonwealth women Standings

Albright, undefeated in the conference, and Messiah, with just one loss, to Albright, are the top two. Albright has just one game left, but it is against Messiah in Reading. The Lions would clinch first place with a win, but, assuming Messiah beats last-place Hood Tuesday at home, the Falcons can tie Albright and earn a split with the Lions by winning Saturday. Since the teams have no other conference losses, the tiebreaker would be point differential against one another. That’s bad news for Albright, whose win over the Falcons was by just three points.

Stevenson should wrap up the third seed with a win Tuesday at home against Alvernia. That leaves Lycoming and LVC to fight for the home game in next Monday’s first-round game against one another. They meet Valentine’s Day in Annville. A Lycoming win in that game or Saturday against Stevenson clinches the home playoff game.

Landmark men Standings

The four teams have been decided, but the order could vary greatly. Susquehanna, at 10-2, controls its own destiny, but must visit Scranton Wednesday. A Royals win would give them a sweep of the River Hawks, and likely the top seed, assuming they beat Goucher Saturday – but Goucher beat Scranton earlier this year. It’s not likely to happen again.

Moravian is tied with Scranton, a game behind Susquehanna. The Greyhounds remaining games are against Drew and Catholic, and the Cardinals lurk one game back with a chance to sweep Moravian, though the game is in Bethlehem.

A three-way tie at 11-3 is a real possibility. In that instance, Scranton would be first, Moravian second and Susquehanna third. A four-way tie at 10-4 is less likely, as it means losses for the tournament teams in the final week against Goucher, Elizabethtown and Drew. Still, just for fun, that would put Scranton first, Susquehanna second, Catholic third and Moravian fourth.

Landmark women Standings

A three-way tie is possible among the women, too. Scranton is two games behind Catholic, with Moravian between. The Royals’ two remaining games are against teams with losing conference records, and Catholic could certainly lose to Moravian and Elizabethtown. That would give Moravian first place. If it loses to Drew to forge that three-way tie, those three teams each have two losses in games among that threesome, so the next tiebreaker would be records against the next team in the standings, the fourth-place Blue Jays, whom the Greyhounds have already swept.

Of course, if Moravian also beats Drew, the Greyhounds win the league outright, but the Cardinals, who won 11 straight before their loss to Scranton, are not likely to roll over in their last two games. A win at home Wednesday over the Blue Jays would guarantee CUA at least a home semifinal, and the Cardinals can win the league with two wins.

Just one Scranton win, over Susquehanna or Goucher, will lock E’town out of third place, but the Blue Jays are in the four-team field. Susquehanna is two game behind the Blue Jays and may tie them for fourth place by beating them Saturday, but the tiebreakers would go all the way to common non-conference opponents, and E’town is a perfect 10-0 outside the Landmark. Susuqhenna has lost to Lycoming and McDaniel. The Blue Jays beat both.



Phil Soto-Ortiz

Phil Soto-Ortiz has been a play-by-play sportscaster for basketball, football and lacrosse at Franklin & Marshall College since 2010, and has also called games at Division II St. Anselm College in New Hampshire and at high schools around Connecticut. He writes the annual Centennial College football preview for D3football.com's Kickoff publication and has covered sports for the Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot-News and several dailies and weeklies in Fairfield County, Connecticut. He graduated from Syracuse University, where he called the play-by-play of the women?s basketball team's games, including their last win over the UConn Huskies.
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