November 10, 2013

Men's at-large berth analysis and predictions

By Christan Shirk

PART I

The conference tournaments will wrap up Saturday and Sunday and 41 of the 61 berths in the NCAA men's tournament will have been claimed via automatic qualification (AQ). That leaves 20 at-large berths for the men's committee to award by selecting one team from Pool B and 20 from Pool C. (For a full explanation of the Pool B and Pool C classifications and the allocation of berths see the column AQ's, Pool B and Pool C? What does it all mean?) So who's in the running for the 19 Pool C and 1 Pool B at-large berths? Who will be dancing and who's season has come to a close?

Selection Criteria

Well, first let's quickly review the criteria the committee uses to evaluate teams and make the at-large selections. The selection criteria are found in Section 2.4 of the Pre-Championships Manual (pg. 20) and are divided between primary criteria which consider each team's results against other Division III opponents and secondary criteria that introduce matches against non-Division III opponents (NAIA, NCCAA, Division II, Division I), the later only being considered if the former does not enable a distinction to be made between schools. (Note: this is a change from previous years when 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.)

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
  • Division III Strength-of-schedule

Beyond the selection criteria, note the following principles concerning at-large selections.  

  • Teams are selected on a national basis, using in-region selection criteria.
  • There will be be no predetermined regional allocations for Pools B and C.
  • There will be no maximum or minimum number of berths from one region.

Background: Observations from the Past

I will use the third and final NCAA weekly regional rankings as the starting point to evaluate the Pool B and Pool C landscape. The reason for this is that these rankings are done by the same national and regional committees which will make the at-large selections and are done by applying the same criteria which is used for making the at-large selections. Therefore, by design, the NCAA regional rankings are a direct foreshadowing of the at-large selections providing a certain level of transparency to the at-large selection process. It is for this reason that these rankings are so important and insightful.

Furthermore, a comparison of the at-large selections and regional rankings over the past several years yields the following observations.  

  • In the past six years (2007-2012) no team that was unranked in the third weekly regional rankings (those released the Wednesday before the selections) was selected.
  • There are usually about twice as many Pool C candidates in the rankings as available Pool C berths. For example, last year there were 38 Pool C teams in the final rankings and 20 Pool C at-large berths. The year before there were 40 ranked Pool C teams for 19 berths.
  • Regions generally have two or three ranked teams not selected, maybe one more or one less for the weakest and strongest regions in that particular year.
  • Within a region, rarely does a lower ranked team in the third weekly rankings get selected ahead of a higher ranked team. In 2009, there were no instances of this while 2011 represented a high of three examples. Last year there were two cases: a #8 Vassar was selected over #5 New York Univ. and #7 Union in the East and #6 Emory was taken over #5 Rutgers-Camden in the South Atlantic, both easily explained by the final weeks results. Vassar had beaten Union head-to-head in their conference semifinal and NYU had gone 0-1 to fall to 7th place in the UAA which claimed four at-large berths in addition to their AQ. And it was already a bit of a surprise that Newark was ranked above Emory, but when Emory defeated a ranked team while Newark lost to a ranked team it made sense for Emory to move ahead.
  • Most of the at-large selections come from the top half of each region's rankings.
  • There has been no indication that that conference tournament results are weighted extra because they are the most recent results nor because they may be considered "big" games, and they shouldn't as the primary and secondary selection criteria makes no such allowance.

This leads to the following conclusions:  

  • A team that is not ranked in the third and final regional rankings has virtually no shot at a Pool C berth.
  • Many ranked teams will not be participating in the tournament.  It isn't good enough to simply be ranked to gain an at-large berth.
  • In fact, a team usually needs to be in the top half to two-thirds of their regional rankings to be selected for an at-large berth.
  • Do not expect big jumps or falls due to the final week's results (mostly conference tournaments), which makes sense as one week only represents about 10% of the total schedule and conference tournament results are not weighted extra. Furthermore, any team in need of an at-large berth presumably lost or tied in the final week minimizing chances they would climb the rankings.

PART II

Using the Regional Rankings as a Guide

Well, that was quite the introduction. Let's now take a look at the third week of the NCAA regional rankings to see where things stand. I have listed the rankings and color-coded the teams according to their Pool:  Pool A (AQ), Pool B, and Pool C. A couple of notes to properly understand the data in the table: the Strength-of-Schedule (SOS) value is from last week's rankings and I will not be trying to update it for this past week's results. However, I have updated the other information (overall record, Division III record, record versus ranked teams). I list a team's ranking in each of the three weekly releases with the order based on the third ranking. I have included any teams ranked in any of the three weekly rankings as these are the teams to be included in the "record versus ranked teams".

Classification of teams: AQ (Pool A)   Pool B   Pool C
NEW ENGLAND REGION 11/6 data sheet (for results thru 11/3)
Rank School
(with overall record)
Division III Past Week's Results
(only in-region games listed)
1st 2nd 3rd  Record    SOS   vs.Rnk'd
1 1 1 Amherst (15-0-2) 15-0-2 .566 8-0-0 W2-1(2ot) Bowdoin (H), W1-0 Williams (H)
3 3 2 Brandeis (14-4-1) 14-4-1 .588 3-3-1 W2-0 New York Univ. (H)
4 4 3 Gordon (18-2-0) 18-2-0 .517 2-2-0 L1-2(ot) Roger Williams (H)
5 7 4 WNEC (15-4-3) 15-4-3 .571 6-3-1 W2-1(2ot) Nichols (A), W2-0 Roger Williams (H)
2 2 5 Williams (11-5-0) 11-5-0 .592 6-3-0 W2-1 Wesleyan (N), L0-1 Amherst (A)
6 5 6 Roger Williams (15-5-2) 15-5-2 .565 4-3-1 W2-1(ot) Gordon (A), L0-2 WNEC (A)
7 6 7 MIT (13-4-2) 13-4-2 .561 2-3-0 T1-1(2ot) Coast Guard (H), L0-1 Wheaton (Mass.) (H)
9 9 8 Wheaton (Mass.) (16-5-0) 16-5-0 .560 2-4-0 W5-1 Babson (N), W1-0 MIT (A)
11 9 Wesleyan (9-6-1) 9-6-1 .610 3-5-0 L1-2 Williams (N)
11 10 10 Nichols (12-2-5) 12-2-5 .509 1-2-1 L1-2(2ot) Western New England (A)
11 Tufts (8-5-2) 8-5-2 .587 3-4-1 D.N.P.
10 8 Bowdoin (8-4-4) 8-4-4 .538 1-4-2 L1-2(2ot) Amherst (A)
8 Middlebury (9-5-1) 9-5-1 .568 0-5-1 D.N.P.
EAST REGION 11/6 data sheet (for results thru 11/3)
Rank School
(with overall record)
Division III Past Week's Results
(only in-region games listed)
1st 2nd 3rd  Record    SOS   vs.Rnk'd
1 1 1 Stevens (16-1-1) 16-0-1 .513 3-0-1 W5-0 Nazareth (H), W2-0 Utica (H)
2 2 2 St. Lawrence (14-2-2) 14-2-2 .558 7-2-1 W1-0 Vassar (H), W3-1 Skidmore (H)
3 3 3 Rochester (13-2-2) 13-2-2 .566 3-2-1 W1-0 Case Western (A)
4 4 4 Oneonta State (11-4-4) 11-4-4 .552 2-4-3 L0-1 Plattsburgh St. (H)
6 5 5 Brockport State (11-2-5) 10-2-5 .520 1-0-2 L0-1 Cortland St. (A)
8 6 6 RPI (11-5-2) 11-4-2 .512 3-3-1 L0-2 Skidmore (H)
7 7 7 Skidmore (12-6-2) 12-6-2 .546 3-5-1 W2-0 RPI (A), L1-3 St. Lawrence (A)
5 8 Union (12-3-2) 10-3-2 .526 1-2-2 D.N.P.
9 8 9 Vassar (8-5-5) 8-5-5 .525 0-3-4 L0-1 St. Lawrence (A)
9 Plattsburgh State (15-5-1) 15-5-1 .526 2-4-1 W1-0 Oneonta St. (A), W2-1 Cortland St, (A)
MID-ATLANTIC REGION 11/6 data sheet (for results thru 11/3)
Rank School
(with overall record)
Division III Past Week's Results
(only in-region games listed)
1st 2nd 3rd  Record    SOS   vs.Rnk'd
1 1 1 Messiah (18-1-1) 18-1-1 .587 5-1-0 T0-0(2ot) Lycoming (H)
8 2 2 Franklin & Marshall (14-3-2) 14-3-2 .563 5-1-0 W2-1 Swarthmore (N), W2-1(2ot) Dickinson (N)
2 3 3 Dickinson (14-5-1) 14-5-1 .591 5-4-0 W2-1 JHU (H), W2-0 Haverford (A), L1-2(2ot) F&M (N)
7 5 4 Catholic (12-5-2) 11-5-2 .582 2-3-0 L1-2(2ot) Merchant Marine (A), L1-3 Juniata (H)
3 8 5 Misericordia (13-5-1) 13-5-1 .566 1-3-0 T0-0(2ot) King's (H)
5 4 6 Eastern (14-4-1) 12-4-1 .577 0-3-0 L0-1 FDU-Florham (H)
6 7 7 Scranton (10-3-4) 10-3-4 .547 2-2-0 D.N.P.
8 Haverford (11-5-2) 11-5-2 .541 3-3-0 L0-2 Dickinson (H)
6 Susquehanna (13-4-1) 13-4-1 .544 2-1-0 W3-0 Merchant Marine (H), W1-0 Juniata (H)
4 Swarthmore (9-5-4) 9-5-4 .557 1-4-1 L1-2 Franklin & Marshall (N)
SOUTH ATLANTIC REGION 11/6 data sheet (for results thru 11/3)
Rank School
(with overall record)
Division III Past Week's Results
(only in-region games listed)
1st 2nd 3rd  Record    SOS   vs.Rnk'd
1 1 1 Rutgers-Camden (19-0-2) 19-0-2 .582 6-0-2 W4-1 TCNJ (H), W2-0 Rutgers-Newark (H)
3 3 2 Montclair State (15-3-2) 15-3-2 .582 3-3-1 L1-4 Rutgers-Newark (H)
7 5 3 Salisbury (17-3-0) 16-3-0 .521 2-2-0 W1-0 Frostburg St. (H), L0-1 York (Pa.) (H)
2 2 4 York (Pa.) (17-2-1) 16-2-1 .569 3-2-0 T2-2(2ot) Chris. Newport (H), W1-0 Salisbury (A)
6 5 TCNJ (12-6-2) 12-6-2 .573 2-3-2 L1-4 Rutgers-Camden (A)
5 7 6 Rutgers-Newark (17-5-1) 17-5-1 .571 3-5-0 W4-1 Montclair St. (A), L0-2 Rutgers-Camden (A)
4 4 7 Emory (11-5-2) 11-5-2 .590 2-1-2 T1-1(2ot) Carnegie Mellon (H)
6 Richard Stockton (12-6-2) 12-6-2 .571 1-4-1 D.N.P.
GREAT LAKES REGION 11/6 data sheet (for results thru 11/3)
Rank School
(with overall record)
Division III Past Week's Results
(only in-region games listed)
1st 2nd 3rd  Record    SOS   vs.Rnk'd
1 1 1 Ohio Wesleyan (19-0-3) 19-0-3 .590 6-0-3 T2-2(2ot) DePauw (H), W3-1 Kenyon (H)
2 2 2 Carnegie Mellon (11-2-3) 11-2-3 .586 2-2-2 T1-1(2ot) Emory (A)
4 6 3 Oberlin (13-3-4) 12-3-4 .550 2-3-2 L0-1 Kenyon (A)
5 5 4 Kenyon (14-4-3) 14-4-3 .545 3-2-3 W1-0 Oberlin (H), L1-3 Ohio Wesleyan (A)
3 3 5 DePauw (14-2-3) 14-2-3 .551 0-2-3 T2-2(2ot) Ohio Wesleyan (A)
4 6 Ohio Northern (18-3-0) 18-3-0 .517 3-1-0 W2-1(2ot) Capital (H), W3-0 John Carroll (H)
8 7 7 John Carroll (15-4-1) 14-4-1 .516 1-2-0 W2-1 Moutn Union (H), L0-3 Ohio Northern (A)
7 8 8 Denison (11-4-3) 11-4-3 .536 2-2-1 D.N.P.
6 Heidelberg (10-8-0) 10-8-0 .565 2-4-0 L2-3 Mount Union (A)
CENTRAL REGION 11/6 data sheet (for results thru 11/3)
Rank School
(with overall record)
Division III Past Week's Results
(only in-region games listed)
1st 2nd 3rd  Record    SOS   vs.Rnk'd
1 1 1 Wheaton (Ill.) (16-3-2) 15-3-2 .572 5-3-1 T1-1(2ot) North Park (H), W2-1(ot) Carthage (H)
4 2 2 North Park (11-5-3) 11-5-3 .590 1-3-2 T1-1(2ot) Wheaton (Ill.) (A)
3 3 Carthage (13-7-1) 12-7-1 .566 4-3-0 W2-0 Elmhurst (A), L1-2(ot) Wheaton (Ill.) (A)
3 5 4 Elmhurst (11-4-3) 11-4-3 .529 0-3-2 L0-2 Carthage (H)
5 4 5 Chicago (9-6-2) 9-6-2 .576 3-3-1 L3-4(ot) Washington U. (H)
6 6 Calvin (13-5-1) 13-5-1 .546 1-4-1 W3-0 Kalamazoo (H), T1-1(2ot) Hope (H)
2 Hope (15-4-2) 13-4-2 .535 3-2-0 W2-0 Olivet (H), T1-1(2ot) Calvin (A)
6 Washington U. (10-4-3) 10-4-3 .593 1-3-2 W4-3(ot) Chicago (A)
NORTH REGION 11/6 data sheet (for results thru 11/3)
Rank School
(with overall record)
Division III Past Week's Results
(only in-region games listed)
1st 2nd 3rd  Record    SOS   vs.Rnk'd
1 1 1 Loras (17-1-2) 17-1-2 .608 6-1-1 W1-0 Simpson (H), W1-0(ot) Wartburg (H)
2 2 2 UW-Oshkosh (15-1-4) 15-1-4 .568 2-0-2 W2-1(2ot) UW-Platteville (H), L1-2 UW-Superior (H)
3 3 3 Wartburg (15-4-2) 15-4-2 .590 4-4-1 W1-0(2ot) Luther (H), L0-1(ot) Loras (A)
4 4 4 Gust. Adolphus (13-3-1) 12-3-1 .578 2-1-1 L1-2 St. John's (H)
5 5 5 Carleton (15-2-3) 15-2-3 .586 3-2-1 W1-0 St. Olaf (A), W2-1 St. Johns (H)
7 6 Luther (14-6-0) 13-6-0 .601 4-3-0 L0-1(2ot) Wartburg (A)
7 7 St. Olaf (14-4-1) 14-4-1 .542 1-3-0 L0-1 Carleton (H)
6 6 UW-Whitewater (14-6-1) 14-6-1 .563 1-4-1 L1-2 UW-Superior (H)
WEST REGION 11/6 data sheet (for results thru 11/3)
Rank School
(with overall record)
Division III Past Week's Results
(only in-region games listed)
1st 2nd 3rd  Record    SOS   vs.Rnk'd
3 2 1 Trinity (Texas) (18-2-1) 17-2-1 .513 4-2-1 W3-0 Texas Lutheran (N), W1-0 Southwestern (A)
1 1 2 Puget Sound (14-5-0) 14-5-0 .552 3-5-0 L2-3(ot) Pacific Lutheran (A)
6 3 3 Texas-Dallas (12-1-6) 11-1-6 .509 1-0-2 W2-0 Univ. of the Ozarks (N), T1-1(2ot) Texas-Tyler (N)
2 4 4 Whitworth (12-3-3) 12-2-3 .509 2-1-1 W2-0 Whitman (H)
5 5 Southwestern (14-7-1) 14-7-1 .537 3-6-0 W2-1(ot) Colorado (H), L0-1 Trinity (Tx.) (H)
6 6 Hardin-Simmons (11-3-5) 10-3-5 .543 1-2-2 W3-2(ot) Louisiana (H), W2-1(ot) Texas-Tyler (N)
4 Redlands (12-4-0) 12-4-0 .504 ---0 D.N.P.
5 Pacific Lutheran (13-4-3) 12-4-3 .509 2-2-2 W3-2(ot) Puget Sound (H)

 

PART III

Pool B Analysis and Predictions

There is just one Pool B berth and only one Pool B team in the third regional rankings: UW-Oshkosh (15-1-4), ranked 2nd in the North Region. That is enough to conclude who will get the Pool B berth, but let's walk through this anyway. UW-Whitewater (14-6-1) had been ranked 6th in the same region in the first two rankings, but not in the third rankings. They are the only other Pool B team to have been ranked in any of the three weekly rankings. Regardless of the results of the past week, Whitewater never had a chance to overtake Oshkosh in tonight's final "secret" rankings—the gap was too large. However, for the record, Whitewater lost to UW-Superior in the WIAC semifnals while Oshkosh was defeating UW-Platteville before falling to Superior in the conference final, Oshkosh's first loss of the season. So, there was no narrowing of the gap, making this an easy call: UW-Oshkosh will get the lone Pool B berth without the committee even having to have a discussion. 

The Pool C Candidates

In an increase from the past few years, 44 teams in the third regional rankings have fallen into Pool C. That is more than double the 19 available berths. So, which 19 of the 44 teams in blue will get selected by the committee? Who will be left out?.  

Let's start by throwing all the ranked Pool C teams together in one table.  The nineteen at-large selections will come from this list.

POOL C CANDIDATES (listed alphabetically)
Rank School
(with overall record)
In-Region Past Week's Results
(only in-region games listed)
1st 2nd 3rd  Record    SOS   vs.Rnk'd
3 3 2 Brandeis (14-4-1) 14-4-1 .588 3-3-1 W2-0 New York Univ. (H)
6 5 5 Brockport State (11-2-5) 10-2-5 .520 1-0-2 L0-1 Cortland St. (A)
6 6 Calvin (13-5-1) 13-5-1 .546 1-4-1 W3-0 Kalamazoo (H), T1-1(2ot) Hope (H)
2 2 2 Carnegie Mellon (11-2-3) 11-2-3 .586 2-2-2 T1-1(2ot) Emory (A)
3 3 Carthage (13-7-1) 12-7-1 .566 4-3-0 W2-0 Elmhurst (A), L1-2(ot) Wheaton (Ill.) (A)
7 5 4 Catholic (12-5-2) 11-5-2 .582 2-3-0 L1-2(2ot) Merchant Marine (A), L1-3 Juniata (H)
5 4 5 Chicago (9-6-2) 9-6-2 .576 3-3-1 L3-4(ot) Washington U. (H)
7 8 8 Denison (11-4-3) 11-4-3 .536 2-2-1 D.N.P.
3 3 5 DePauw (14-2-3) 14-2-3 .551 0-2-3 T2-2(2ot) Ohio Wesleyan (A)
2 3 3 Dickinson (14-5-1) 14-5-1 .591 5-4-0 W2-1 JHU (H), W2-0 Haverford (A), L1-2(2ot) F&M (N)
5 4 6 Eastern (14-4-1) 12-4-1 .577 0-3-0 L0-1 FDU-Florham (H)
3 5 4 Elmhurst (11-4-3) 11-4-3 .529 0-3-2 L0-2 Carthage (H)
4 4 7 Emory (11-5-2) 11-5-2 .590 2-1-2 T1-1(2ot) Carnegie Mellon (H)
4 4 3 Gordon (18-2-0) 18-2-0 .517 2-2-0 L1-2(ot) Roger Williams (H)
4 4 4 Gustavus Adolphus (13-3-1) 12-3-1 .578 2-1-1 L1-2 St. John's (H)
8 Haverford (11-5-2) 11-5-2 .541 3-3-0 L0-2 Dickinson (H)
8 7 7 John Carroll (15-4-1) 14-4-1 .516 1-2-0 W2-1 Moutn Union (H), L0-3 Ohio Northern (A)
5 5 4 Kenyon (14-4-3) 14-4-3 .545 3-2-3 W1-0 Oberlin (H), L1-3 Ohio Wesleyan (A)
7 6 Luther (14-6-0) 13-6-0 .601 4-3-0 L0-1(2ot) Wartburg (A)
1 1 1 Messiah (18-1-1) 18-1-1 .587 5-1-0 T0-0(2ot) Lycoming (H)
3 8 5 Misericordia (13-5-1) 13-5-1 .566 1-3-0 T0-0(2ot) King's (H)
7 6 7 MIT (13-4-2) 13-4-2 .561 2-3-0 T1-1(2ot) Coast Guard (H), L0-1 Wheaton (Mass.) (H)
3 3 2 Montclair State (15-3-2) 15-3-2 .582 3-3-1 L1-4 Rutgers-Newark (H)
11 10 10 Nichols (12-2-5) 12-2-5 .509 1-2-1 L1-2(2ot) Western New England (A)
4 2 2 North Park (11-5-3) 11-5-3 .590 1-3-2 T1-1(2ot) Wheaton (Ill.) (A)
4 6 3 Oberlin (13-3-4) 12-3-4 .550 2-3-2 L0-1 Kenyon (A)
4 4 4 Oneonta State (11-4-4) 11-4-4 .552 2-4-3 L0-1 Plattsburgh St. (H)
6 5 6 Roger Williams (15-5-2) 15-5-2 .565 4-3-1 W2-1(ot) Gordon (A), L0-2 WNEC (A)
8 6 6 RPI (11-5-2) 11-4-2 .512 3-3-1 L0-2 Skidmore (H)
5 7 6 Rutgers-Newark (17-5-1) 17-5-1 .571 3-5-0 W4-1 Montclair St. (A), L0-2 Rutgers-Camden (A)
7 5 3 Salisbury (17-3-0) 16-3-0 .521 2-2-0 W1-0 Frostburg St. (H), L0-1 York (Pa.) (H)
6 7 7 Scranton (10-3-4) 10-3-4 .547 2-2-0 D.N.P.
7 7 7 Skidmore (12-6-2) 12-6-2 .546 3-5-1 W2-0 RPI (A), L1-3 St. Lawrence (A)
5 5 Southwestern (14-7-1) 14-7-1 .537 3-6-0 W2-1(ot) Colorado (H), L0-1 Trinity (Tx.) (H)
7 7 St. Olaf (14-4-1) 14-4-1 .542 1-3-0 L0-1 Carleton (H)
6 5 TCNJ (12-6-2) 12-6-2 .573 2-3-2 L1-4 Rutgers-Camden (A)
6 3 3 Texas-Dallas (12-1-6) 11-1-6 .509 1-0-2 W2-0 Univ. of the Ozarks (N), T1-1(2ot) Texas-Tyler (N)
11 Tufts (8-5-2) 8-5-2 .587 3-4-1 D.N.P.
5 8 Union (12-3-2) 10-3-2 .526 1-2-2 D.N.P.
9 8 9 Vassar (8-5-5) 8-5-5 .525 0-3-4 L0-1 St. Lawrence (A)
3 3 3 Wartburg (15-4-2) 15-4-2 .590 4-4-1 W1-0(2ot) Luther (H), L0-1(ot) Loras (A)
11 9 Wesleyan (9-6-1) 9-6-1 .610 3-5-0 L1-2 Williams (N)
2 4 4 Whitworth (12-3-3) 12-2-3 .509 2-1-1 W2-0 Whitman (H)
2 2 5 Williams (11-5-0) 11-5-0 .592 6-3-0 W2-1 Wesleyan (N), L0-1 Amherst (A)

 

Pool C Analysis and Predictions

POOL C LOCKS I - WITHOUT DISCUSSION (1)

1. Messiah (18-1-1)

POOL C LOCKS II - RUBBER-STAMPING DISCUSSION (5)

2. Montclair State (15-3-2) - Very high SOS, 3-3-1 vs. ranked teams, andwere 2nd in the South Atlantic rankings.

3. Carnegie Mellon (11-2-3) - Very high SOS, 2-2-2 vs. ranked teams, were 2nd in the Great Lakes rankings

4. Brandeis (14-4-1) - Very high SOS, 3-3-1 vs. ranked teams, were 2nd in the New England rankings

5. Dickinson (14-5-1) - Very igh SOS, 5-4-0 vs. ranked teams, were 3rd in the Mid-Atlantic rankings

6. Wartburg (15-4-2) - Very high SOS, 4-4-1 vs. ranked teams, were 3rd in the North rankings

SAFE, NO WORRIES (3)

7. Salisbury (17-3-0) - They are hampered by a low SOS and average 2-2-0 record vs. ranked teams, but they do have a high win pct., a win and narrow loss against York, and were ranked 3rd in South Atlantic rankings.

8. Williams (11-5-0) - Six wins (6-3-0) vs ranked teams is most in Pool C which combined with very high SOS offsets their average win pct.; they could move up to 4th in the New England rankings

9. Gustavus Adolphus (13-3-1) - They claim a high SOS, high win pct. and winning 2-1-1 record vs. ranked teams. They will drop to 5th in the North rankings, but it's a strong year for the region.

IN GOOD SHAPE (6)

Normally teams with these numbers would be on the bubble, but this year are in better shape

10. North Park (11-5-3) - Eight blemishes is high, and a 1-3-2 record vs. ranked teams is far from impressive, but a very high SOS in a soft Central region had them 2nd in Central rankings.

11. Gordon (18-2-0) - Low SOS offsets second highest win pct. in Pool C, and despite an average 2-2-0 record vs. ranked teams they were 3rd in the New England rankings.  They have probably dropped to 5th, although anything from 4th to 6th would be reasonable.

12. Roger Williams (15-5-2) - Good numbershigh SOS, 4-3-1 record vs. ranked, and good win pct.and may have moved ahead of Gordon in New England after head-to-head win.

13. Rutgers-Newark (17-5-1) - High SOS and good win pct. with some big wins among their 3-5-0 records vs. ranked teams; should move ahead of TCNJ into 5th in the South Atlantic rankings.

14. Luther (14-6-0) - Second highest SOS in Pool C and 4-3-0 record vs. ranked teams offsets 6 losses; being 5th or 6th in the North shouldn't be a problem as the region seems relatively strong this year.

15. Kenyon (14-4-3) - Good SOS and winning 3-2-3 record vs. ranked teams compensates for seven blemishes; head-to-head win should push them ahead of Oberlin in the Great Lakes rankings.

ON THE "BUBBLE", BUT THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE "BUBBLE" (2)

16. Carthage (13-7-1) - Seven losses is a lot but there's no reason to think they fell from the No. 3 ranking in the Central region; they do sport a good SOS and a nice 4-3-0 record vs. ranked teams.

17. Oberlin (15-4-2) - Good win pct. and decent SOS and have a pair of wins vs. ranked teams (2-3-2), but their conference semifinal loss to Kenyon landed them on the "bubble" after being 3rd in the Great Lakes rankings.

PICK 'EM (2 of 8) (listed in alphabetical order)

Catholic (12-5-2) - High SOS and a couple wins vs. ranked teams.  Despite ending their season with a pair of loses, they very well may hold onto the 4th spot in the Mid-Atlantic which isn't particularly strong this year.

DePauw (14-2-3) - High win pct. and good SOS, but no wins against ranked teams in five tries (0-2-3). Can't remember a team being selected without a single win vs. a ranked team.

Emory (11-5-2) - Vey high SOS and 2-1-2 record vs. ranked teams, but they carry an average win pct. and seven blemishes. They probably move up to 6th in South Atlantic rankings. The UAA usually gets more than three teams into the tournament, and Emory was tied for second in the conference.

MIT (13-4-2) - Good win pct. and SOS, and a pair of wins (2-3-0) vs. ranked teams, but will probably drop to 8th in New England. Seems to be a down year for the region and not sure if the committee goes this deep.

Oneonta State (11-4-4) - Eight blemishes is a lot, but their SOS is good and their 2-4-3 record vs. ranked teams is more good than bad for a "bubble" team. They will probably stay 4th in the East rankings unless Skidmore caught them.

St. Olaf (14-4-1) - Decent SOS and good win pct., but posted a poor 1-3-0 record vs. ranked teams and were only ranked 7th in a seeming strong North Region with no reason for them to move up. Will the committee go that deep in the region?

Texas Dallas (12-1-6) - Very low SOS for an at-large berth candidate isn't overcome by high win pct. (only one loss) and just a single win vs. ranked teams. Not sure why they were ahead of Whitworth in the West rankings, but since they were I have to think the two are pretty even in the eyes of the committee.

Whitworth (12-3-3) - Very low SOS for an at-large berth candidate which isn't completely overcome by high win pct. and two wins vs. ranked teams.

Some Final Observations and Comments

● First, these are my predictions of who the committee will select, not who I think they should select or who I would select.

● This year there was really only one case in which an upset in the conference tournaments cost the rest of Pool C a berth to the tournament. That, of course, is the Commonwealth Conference with Lycoming being the unexpected champion and Messiah dashing someone's at-large chances. So, in practical terms, Pool C nearly got it's full allotment of berths instead of having four to six taken off the board, practically speaking. I believe that's unprecedented under the current system of AQ's.

● This created a different dynamic in Pool C, whereby there were less teams certain to get a berth and more teams with a realistic shot at being selected. In other words, the selections can go deeper into the Pool, so to speak, than most years. But that makes it harder to predict, because as you get deeper, there's less and less to separate teams and fewer and fewer clear cut choices. Teams that in most years would be on the "bubble" seem to be higher up the chart and teams that normally wouldn't have a shot have one. It made predicting second half or last third of the at-large selections more difficult than in other years.

● Overall there seemed to be fewer teams that separated themselves from the pack this year and more parity across the board. The New England rankings were strange as only Amherst was a clear cut choice. After that there could be many arguments for different teams, and the quality of options wasn't as high as normal. No offense to Brandeis, but most years there stats would not land them at No. 2 in the New England region. The Mid-Atlantic which often can have a very strong top group of teams even if overall isn't always the deepest region, was similar to New England. After Messiah there was a significant drop off followed by parity instead of a more gradual change in quality. The Central had 5-loss North Park and 6-loss Carthage at No. 3 in their rankings. And I could go on, but overall just a very atypical year. And that means that the difference between the teams high in the rankings and low in the rankings isn't as much as it usually is and more possible that results this past week would have changed things around. And that makes prediction the at-large selection trickier.

● It is very strange to see that the CCC had as many teams in the New England rankings as did the NESCAC, and odd to think that the NESCAC will probably only have two teams in the tournament. But if the rankings are as trustworthy an indicator of where the at-large berths will go, it's only two spots possible the nations strongest conference.

● The UAA usually get at least four teams into the tournament, but may have to settle for three. Depends if the committee selects Emory who was last (7th) in the South Atlantic rankings, which usually isn't good enough for a berth. They picked up a tie against highly ranked Carnegie Mellon which doesn't hurt, but a win probably would have gotten them that berth. It would have made them co-champions of one of the toughest conferences in the nation, losing out on the AQ on the head-to-head tie-breaker with Rochester. Even though clearly not part of the committee's criteria, it would have been strange for a co-champions of UAA not to get picked.

● Pool B was a simple call, but if their had been an additional Pool B berth, Oglethorpe may have had a case. After their run to the SAA title, their final record stands at 11-3-3. With their mediocre SOS and no games against ranked teams, who knows if they would have beaten UW-Whitewater for an additional Pool B berth. As for a Pool C berth, not being ranked makes that impossible by recent year's example. This year some regions may have been more vulnerable to a team jumping into the rankings during the last week, but the South Atlantic region is pretty deep with team that have high SOS and multiple wins versus ranked teams. So no real chance for the Petrels.

● Overall I am much less confident in my predictions this year for the reasons stated above. Normally a 7-loss team would have little chance of being on the "bubble" as a best case, and yet based on the regional rankings I have Carthage being on the safe side of the "bubble". Maybe I am wrong and Central region will only get one at-large berth. That's not unprecedented as several years back the Great Lakes region got largely passed over a couple seasons. Two teams from the CCC being in the mix for at-large berths?!? Crazy, and yet that's what the regional rankings and historical precedent are suggesting to me. While the regional rankings have served their foreshadowing purpose very well the past few years and making predictions has seemed relatively easy, this season's unique dynamics and outcomes may illustrate the limits of predictability as regards the at-large selections.

● So, I will not be overly surprised if I missed the boat on some this year—a team or two getting selected that I didn't even have on my "bubble" or, conversely, a team I though was in not getting the invite.  We shall see soon enough.

 


Comments or feedback for the author?  Email Christan Shirk.



Jim Matson, Christan Shirk, Ryan Harmanis, and other staff writers and contributors help cover the games and results across the nation.

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Nov 7: AQ's, Pool B and Pool C? What does it all mean?
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Sep 15: Week 3 Flybys, weekend edition
Aug 29: What's new in 2013?
Nov 14: Welcome to the Sweet 16, Part 2: the Men
Nov 13: Welcome to the Sweet 16, Part 1: the Women
Nov 4: At-large berth analysis and predictions
Nov 3: AQ's, Pool B and Pool C? What does it all mean?
Oct 1: Dear Men's Top 25 Voters
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