Friday, April 27, 2018

DI-A Semi-finals Preview & Predictions

Photo: Connie Hatfield
The DI-A semi-finals were always going to be interesting this year given the depth of the compettion but it took on an added spice this week as the brackets were changed in order to accommodate pre-arranged television sites. We'l get into that in a moment but for now it's worth previewing each semi-final. 

Lindenwood vs. Cal

This could easily have been a final but here we are. The semi-finals were always going to be tough with some teams that have claimed championships before missing out. As things stand there may be no hotter team in college rugby than Lindenwood. Beating St. Mary's on the road is no small feet and the players and coaches for the Lions deserve a lot of credit. Maybe there is a sense of surprise in Lindenwood beating St. Mary's but the team has been knocking on the door for years and frankly has been unlucky at times not to make a final. They are a class side that would be a worth champion. 

Cal of course have already proven their championship mettle over decades. They no longer have the monopoly on the top players they once had. That's a good thing for college rugby in general but maybe not so much for Cal. That said, the Golden Bears are a fantastic team that know how to win games. Plus they are playing in their backyard while Lindenwood have to travel yet again. 

Take the jump to read more.So who is going to win? It's a very, very close cal but we are going to give the edge to Cal on this one. We may easily regret that decision but for us the travel plays a large factor. 

Penn State vs. Life

On the surface this seems like a reliable win for Life, however, after Penn State's surprise win over BYU it would be hard to count out the Nittany Lions. Still, BYU was not at their best this year and while we can't diminish what Penn State did it's not the same level of shock we would have seen in years past. One of the main takeaways from the quarterfinals is that coaching matters. Every team in the quarterfinal was well coached and it showed. 

We're still going to give the edge to Life. Playing at home they are incredibly difficult to beat and they have once again a very strong team. 

Semi-final Switch

Of course the big news from the week was the changing of the bracket. If it hadn't have been changed Cal and Life would have tangled. The reason the changed was made was that the DI-A had already shelled out the money to have the semi-finals broadcast on CBS Sports Network from St. Mary's and Life. Those were good bets and would have worked out had St. Mary's won but they didn't. On the one hand you can see why the bracket change might upset people. A bracket is a bracket after al. on the other hand you can also see why they would not want to throw away money and why they would want their product on television. 

So what do we think? We think that the problem could have been avoided if the bracket were never set the way it was in the first place. We think that they should do away with a straight 16 team bracket ranked out and instead should adopt an east and a west bracket. Sure there might be some extra top teams in the west but that can be evened out but putting a few of them on the other side of the bracket. If that had happened then there would have been this situation in the first place.

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