2016 NCAA Division III Soccer Championships

The NCAA conducts Division III men's and women's soccer national championships in the form of single-elimination tournaments. Most conferences receive a single automatic berth to the men's and women's tournaments which they may award in the manner they see fit, usually to their conference champions determined by a post-season tournament. The remainder of each tournament's field is made up of at-large selections made by the Division III men's and women's soccer committees following a prescribed set of criteria. The tournament brackets are set-up in accordance with guidelines aimed at limiting travel and flights while still creating inter-regional match-ups.

All information about the tournament and the determination of participants is found in the 2016 Division III Soccer Pre-Championships Manual. Much of what follows highlights, summarizes, or quotes the manual.

Administration

The NCAA championship tournaments are administrated by the eight-member NCAA Division III Men's and Women's Soccer Committees which are each composed of the chairs of their respective regional advisory committees. These committees make the at-large selections to complete the tournament field, assisted in the evaluation of teams by the Regional Advisory Committees. These are the same national and regional committees which release the pre-tournament weekly NCAA Regional Rankings. The members of these committees can be found on pages 9-13 of the Pre-Championships Manual.

Championship Format

The format of the men's and women's championships are single-elimination tournaments. The maximum size of the tournament fields is established by the Division III Championships Committee which currently prescribes an approximate access ratio of 1:6.5 not to exceed 64 participants, as per Article 31.3.1.1 of the 2016-17 NCAA Division III Manual (pg. 222). The basis for the size of the tournament fields is the number of championship eligible teams, and the men's and women's committees have gained approval for 62- and 64-team tournaments in 2016, as per the Pre-Championships Manual (pgs. 16, 19, 20). This is an increase of one men's team over last year while the women have been at the maximum 64 since 2011. Our math for this year, as shown in the following table, yields 62- and 64-team men's and women's tournaments, matching what has been approved.

2016 Tournament Field Sizes


2015 Eligibility / Access Ratio Field Size
Men 404 eligible teams / 6.5 = 62.2 62 teams
Women 429 eligible teams / 6.5 = 66.0 64 teams

For the women, with a 64-team field, there are six rounds with no first round byes. The men's tournament also has six rounds, however, includes two first round byes. Four-team pods (or three-team pods in the case of first round byes) will play first and second round matches at a selected host during the first weekend of the tournament (Fri.-Sat. or Sat.-Sun.). Four-team sectionals will play third and fourth round matches at a selected host on the second weekend of the tournament (Fri.-Sat. or Sat.-Sun.). The tournaments will be suspended over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with both Final Fours occuring the following weekend at a pre-determined joint men's and women's site which for this season is Roanoke College's Donald J. Kerr Stadium in Salem, Virginia. A third-place game will not be played.

2016 Tournament Format and Dates

Four-team First/Second Round Pods Sat./Sun., Nov. 12-13
(or Fri./Sat., Nov. 11-12)*
Four-team Sectionals
(Third and Fourth Rounds)
Sat./Sun., Nov. 19-20
(or Fri./Sat., Nov. 18-19)*
Joint Men's and Women's Final Four
(Semifinals and Finals)

Fri./Sat., Dec. 2-3

* - in the case of a participating school having a Sunday No-Play policy

Allocation of Berths

Teams eligible for the championship tournament are divided into three pools: Pool A, Pool B, and Pool C, as per Section 2.3 of the D-III Soccer portion of the Pre-Championships Manual (pg. 19).

Classification of championship-eligible teams

  • Pool A - conference selected representative from each conference that meets the requirements for automatic qualification
  • Pool B - independent institutions and institutions that are members of conferences that do not meet the requirements for automatic qualification
  • Pool C - institutions from automatic-qualifying conferences that are not their conference champion and teams not selected from Pool B

Forty-two (42) men's conferences and forty-three (43) women's conferences (see list below) have been granted automatic qualification (AQ) for the 2016 championship tournaments. AQ is the common short-hand for automatic qualifiers or Pool A berths. The conferences themselves determine how they award their automatic berth. Often the AQ spot is awarded to the conference champion, whether determined by regular season finish or by a post-season tournament. However, some conferences determine their champion by regular season finish and hold a post-season tournament to award the AQ berth.

The other berths from Pool B and C are at-large berths. The number of at-large Pool B berths is determined by applying an access ratio up to but not to exceed that of Pool A teams. The Pool A access ratio is the total number of eligible teams in AQ conferences divided by the number of AQ conferences. When this ratio is applied to Pool B, the result is traditionally truncated (rounded down to the nearest whole number) to ensure that Pool B access ratio does not exceed that of Pool A. The number of at-large Pool C berths is simply the number of remaining tournament spots after the Pool A and B berths have been filled. 

According to Section 2.3 of the Division III portion of the Pre-Championships Manual (pg. 19), the tournament berth allocations for 2016 break down as follows for the men's and women's championships (starting in 2012 the manual stopped showing the calculation of the number of Pool B berths, but our calculations as shown in the following table confirm the given distribution).

2016 Allocation of Berths

Men's Tournament
Pool A No. of Automatic Qualifying Conferences 42 berths
Pool B No. of Pool B teams / Pool A access ratio
10 / (398/42) = 10 / 9.48 = 1.06
1 berth  
Pool C Field size - Pool A berths - Pool B berths
62 - 42 - 1 = 19
19 berths
Women's Tournament
Pool A No. of Automatic Qualifying Conferences 43 berths
Pool B No. of Pool B teams / Pool A access ratio
11 / (421/43) = 11 / 9.79 = 1.12
1 berths
Pool C Field size - Pool A berths - Pool B berths
64 - 43 - 1 = 20
20 berths

After all the automatic (Pool A) berths have been awarded by the conferences, the men's and women's committees will make their Pool B berth selections followed by their Pool C berth selections. Teams are selected for Pool B and C at-large berths on a national basis, using regional selection criteria (see section below). Beyond the selection criteria, note the following principles concerning at-large selections.

  • To be considered during the at-large selection process (Pool B or C), a team must play at least 70 percent of its competition against Division III in-region opponents.
  • There will be no predetermined regional allocations for Pools B and C.
  • There will be no maximum or minimum number of berths from one region.
  • Institutions participating in conferences that meet the automatic-qualification requirements and are eligible to be selected to a championship via Pool A and/or Pool C, may not elect instead to be selected via Pool B as an independent institution.

Automatic Qualifying (AQ) Conferences

As per Section 2.3 of the Division III portion of the Pre-Championships Manual (pgs. 19-20), the following conferences have been granted automatic qualification (AQ) for the 2016 championship from Pool A.

Men's AQ Conferences (42)

Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC)

American Southwest Conference (ASC)

Capital Athletic Conference (CAC)

Centennial Conference

City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC)

College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW)

Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC)

The Commonwealth Coast Conference(CCC)

Commonwealth Conference

Empire 8

Freedom Conference

Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC)

Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC)

Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC)

Landmark Conference

Liberty League

Little East Conference (LEC)

Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC)

Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA)

Midwest Conference (MWC)

Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC)

New England Collegiate Conference (NECC)

New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC)

New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC)

North Atlantic Conference (NAC)

North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC)

North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC)

Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC)

Northwest Conference (NWC)

Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC)

Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC)

President’s Athletic Conference (PAC)

Skyline Conference

St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC)

Southern Athletic Association (SAA)

Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC)

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC)

State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC)

University Athletic Association (UAA)

Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC)

USA South Athletic Conference

 

Women's AQ Conferences (43)

Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC)

American Southwest Conference (ASC)

Capital Athletic Conference (CAC)

Centennial Conference

City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC)

College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW)

Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC)

The Commonwealth Coast Conference(CCC)

Commonwealth Conference

Empire 8

Freedom Conference

Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC)

Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC)

Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC)

Landmark Conference

Liberty League

Little East Conference (LEC)

Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC)

Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA)

Midwest Conference (MWC)

Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC)

New England Collegiate Conference (NECC)

New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC)

New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC)

North Atlantic Conference (NAC)

North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC)

North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC)

Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC)

Northwest Conference (NWC)

Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC)

Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC)

President’s Athletic Conference (PAC)

Skyline Conference

St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC)

Southern Athletic Association (SAA)

Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC)

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC)

State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC)

University Athletic Association (UAA)

Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC)

USA South Athletic Conference

Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Conference

At-Large Selection Criteria

The at-large tournament selection criteria are found in Section 2.4 of the Pre-Championships Manual (pgs. 21-22). The criteria is divided between primary and secondary criteria, the latter only being considered if the former does not enable a distinction to be made between schools. The criteria underwent a significant change prior to the 2013 season when the in-region/out-of-region distinction was abandoned. Previously only games versus "in-region" opponents were consider as part of the primary criteria with secondary criteria considering out-of-region and non-Division III competition. Now, primary criteria considers all Division III opponents while results versus non-Division III opponents (NAIA, NCCAA, Division II, Division I) are considered secondary criteria.

Primary Criteria (not listed in priority order)

  • Win-loss percentage against Division III opponents
  • Division III head-to-head competition
  • Results versus common Division III opponents
  • Results versus ranked Division III teams at the time of selection
  • Division III Strength-of-schedule

Secondary Criteria (not listed in priority order)

  • Non-Division III win-lost percentage
  • Results versus common non-Division III opponents
  • Non-Division III Strength-of-schedule

Building the Tournament Brackets

Only after the tournament field is completely determined (automatic qualifiers identified and at-large Pools B and C teams selected) is the tournament bracket developed. As per Section 2.5 of the Division III portion of the Pre-Championships Manual (pg. 22), the following guidelines should be followed in the pairing and grouping of teams.

Tournament Bracket-Building Guidelines

  • Teams will be grouped in clusters according to natural geographic proximity. Teams will then be paired according to geographic proximity. A team may be moved to numerically balance the bracket if geographic proximity is maintained. Teams should be paired and eligible sites should be selected according to geographic proximity (within 500 miles).
  • Teams may be seeded on a regional basis using the regional selection criteria. However, geographic proximity takes precedence over seeding.
  • Teams from the same conference do not have to play one another in the first round as long as geographic proximity is maintained.
  • A team that meets all selection criteria (and after a review of the submitted host materials) will be selected as the host institution, provided geographic proximity is maintained.

The aim of these guidelines is to keep flights to a minimum, however, there is an attempt to create inter-regional match-ups in the early rounds while following these guidelines.

Regional Rankings Foreshadow At-Large Berths

Regional rankings are done by the same national and regional committees which administrate the championship tournament and make the at-large selections. The rankings are done by applying the same criteria which is used for making the at-large selections, and are released following each of the last four weeks prior to the tournament selections being announced. Therefore, by design, the first three weekly rankings are a direct foreshadowing of the at-large selections, providing a certain level of transparency to the at-large selection process and avoiding major surprises when the at-large selections are announced.

Published Final Rankings

The fourth and final rankings, which take into account the completion of conference races and tournaments, serve as the basis for the at-large tournament selections. For the first time in six years, these crucial final rankings will be published and should go a long way to answering many questions about why certain teams were at-large selections and others not. They will be released following the tournament field announcements.

Strength-of-Schedule

The Strength of Schedule (SOS) used by the Division III soccer committees is based on Opponents' Average Winning Percentage (OWP) and Opponents' Opponents' Average Winning Percentage (OOWP) with home and away multipliers being applied for men’s soccer (since 2011) and women's soccer (starting this year). A multiplier of 0.85 is applied for home games and 1.25 for away games. Neutral site games are unfactored. An explanation with an example of these calculations is found in Appendix D (pgs. 44-45) of the Pre-Championships Manual.

Opponents' Winning Percentage (OWP):

The winning percentage of opponents' cumulative
win-loss-tie record versus Division III competition
excluding the results against the team in question.

Opponents' Opponents' Winning Percentage (OOWP):

The winning percentage of the cumulative win-loss-tie
record of all opponents' opponents.

Strength of Schedule (SOS):

Composed of OWP and OOWP weighted as follows:
2/3 OWP + 1/3 OOWP

Note: This is a change from previous seasons when OWP was the average of each opponent's winning percentage and OOWP was the average of the OWP's of all opponents. It is not clear how the 0.85 home and 1.25 away multipliers are applied now that opponents' individual winning percentages are no longer part of the calculation.

Note: There is a 40% difference between the home and away multipliers, meaning an away game is worth nearly 50% more than a home game (1.25/0.85 = 1.47). Therefore, travelling to a team with a .550 winning percentage could be worth more to a team's SOS than playing a home game against a team with a .800 winning percentage, depending on the OOWPs.

Definition of In-Region Competition

Starting with the 2013 season, the in-region/out-of-region distinction no longer matters for ranking and at-large selection criteria. However, the NCAA has not removed all encouragement to minimize travel and missed class time as teams are still required to play a minimum of 70 percent of their games against in-region Division III opponents to simply be eligible for at-large tournament selection. So the distinction could still be important for teams that like to fill their non-conference schedule with a good number of opponents from outside their region. But given how broadly in-region competition is defined on page 21 of the Pre-Championship Manual to include much more than just other teams from your defined region (e.g. New England, East, Mid-Atlantic, etc.), this requirement isn't difficult to meet.

An opponent is considered in-region if any one of the following criteria is met:

  • within the same defined region
  • within a 500-mile driving radius
  • within the same membership geographical region defined as follows:

Region 1 - Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont

Region 2 - New York, Pennsylvania

Region 3 - Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia

Region 4 - Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming

  • within the same conference (in a conference scheduled match)
    (note: though not specified in the manual, in practice all matches of multi-region conferences have been counted as in-region)
No contests today.
No contests today.
No contests today.