I, and maybe others, sit back and look at the d3 landscape and see the same top 7 or so and it seems like unless they play one another then the games played should be blowouts/easy wins. That's not the case some times.

I was curious about this so I took a bit of a deeper look. For the last six seasons I defined the top six teams as these: UWW, UMHB, UMU, Linfield, Wesley and NCC. I refer to these teams as "elite" through the rest of this post. You could probably sub someone else in for NCC or even Linfield. A MIAC team makes sense, but it's somewhat hard to do. The MIAC champion is elite every year, but over this time that has rotated a bit. St. Thomas is probably closest with big seasons in 2010-2012, but not really before that.

Anyway, the six teams I chose had 43 losses over roughly 468 games (I didn't count the games, just assumed 13 per year per team. Since some teams played 15 games and others played as few as 10 in a season, it probably averages out close to correct +/- 10 games). Of those 43 losses, 23 came to one of the other five teams. So when these teams lose, a rare occurrence, they lose to each other more than half the time. 20 losses came to others outside those 6, but that includes Linfield losing to NC runner up St. Thomas in 2012.

Team by team it looks like this: UWW had 3 losses in 2012 to non elite teams. Other than that they have had one non-elite loss in six years. UMHB has taken a single loss to D3 competition in each of the 6 seasons, only once to a non-elite team. UMU never lost over the period to someone who wasn't UWW. Linfield had 5 non-elite losses (including St. Thomas) and 3 elite losses. Wesley is the real tough one. They have 10 losses to D3 over this period, 7 to the elite teams. NCC is the least by this measure, 10 losses but only 3 to elite teams.

So these six teams lose at varying rates to non-elite teams, with UMU, UMHB, and Wesley losing the least to non-elite teams, a total of 4 times in six seasons, and Linfield and NCC losing the most, a total of 12 times over six seasons. UWW falls in the middle, thanks mainly to a crappy 2012 season.

What does this mean? It not only seems like the top 6 lose primarily to each other, they actually DO lose primarily to each other.

I will say if you go back slightly farther the numbers change a bit. Primarily because Linfield and NCC are less dominant in 2005-2008. In those years UWW never lost to a non-elite, UMHB lost 5 times to elite teams and twice to non-elite, UMU lost once to an elite and once to a non-elite (their only conference lost in a long time), Linfield lost 5 times, 4 times to non-elite teams, Wesley lost 5 times, 3 times to non-elite, and NCC lost seven times, only once to an elite. Over this period you would probably sub Linfield and NCC for other teams, since they lost 10 of 12 to non-elite teams.

The fact remains, however, that elite teams are elite for a reason and non-elite teams don't stand much of a chance of beating them. There is always a 1, but the number on the other side is pretty big. In the information for the period above you have a 1 in 23 chance of beating these teams as a group. Individually you have a 1 in 10 chance of beating NCC (7 out of 73 games) and a 0% chance of beating UMU (0 out of 90 games). What do you know? There isn't a 1 for UMU in this sample!

Data and stats, not always the answer but a pretty good indicator...