Did Johns Hopkins football get the worst first-round playoff draw?

No. 8 Blue Jays-No. 14 Wesley game is just one of two this weekend involving ranked opponents

November 21, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

After the NCAA unveiled the Division III football tournament, D3football.com posted an analysis of the bracket. Topping the website’s commentary was the selection committee’s decision to pit No. 8 Johns Hopkins against No. 14 Wesley in Saturday’s first-round contests.

D3football.com wrote that the Blue Jays (10-0) got the worst first-round draw of the bracket, meeting a Wolverines program that is 8-2 this fall but has advanced to five straight tournament quarterfinals and seven in the last eight years.

Saturday’s tilt at Homewood Field in Baltimore is not the only game pitting two ranked opponents against each other. No. 3 Linfield of Oregon (9-0) will play host to No. 12 Pacific Lutheran of Washington State (8-1) in the first round, but the decision behind that contest makes some semblance of financial sense as both programs are located in the Pacific Northwest.

So why does Johns Hopkins get a tougher first-round opponent than the other 14 teams that play host this weekend? Coach Jim Margraff is not sure.

“There are teams that finished below us that maybe have a better draw,” he said Wednesday. “But who knows? If you play a second-round game in the first round, what’s the big difference? If you’re in it to win the whole thing, you’re going to have to beat someone good along the way. I don’t worry about is as much as some other people. But there are a couple schools where you go, ‘That’s a good draw.’”

The Blue Jays and Wesley have met just once, with the Wolverines emerging with a 12-0 victory in the NCAA tournament quarterfinal round in 2009. Wesley’s resume includes two losses to postseason participants Mary Hardin-Baylor and Rowan and a win against Football Championship Subdivision’s Charlotte.

Johns Hopkins’ path in the playoffs figures to be more arduous than one might expect, but Margraff said there is no point in complaining or making excuses.

“It’s a very tough match in the first round,” Margraff said. “There’s a lot of good teams in the playoffs. … You play who you play. Any more than that is a waste of effort.”

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