Even though the West Region isn’t the largest DIII region there are still a lot of teams to follow and one of my main concerns starting this blog was how much focus I could give if I treated the teams equally. Back in July and August, I played around with different formats to see the level of effort required, and I finally gave up and decided to primarily focus on the teams that could win their conference or have a chance at a Pool C bid come selection time. One of the pitfalls of this decision is that there are a lot of good teams that don’t appear on my Watch List and, at least with me, means that I’m less likely to stream their games. With all of that said, I wanted to look at these teams a little more in depth. I called these teams the “Gotcha!” Teams because frankly if you don’t take them seriously or if you allow them to get on a roll they are going to beat you.
In the ASC they have two teams (Belhaven and McMurry) that would fall in this category but they are not full DIII members, yet. So, I’ve left them out…leaving open the future door of a “Gotcha! Teams that are reclassifying” post. Yeah, probably not. Without those two I wanted to focus on ETBU, Concordia and Hardin-Simmons. In the NW Conference I have Whitworth (the preseason pick to win the conference) and Puget Sound. I left off Linfield as they had been on the Watch List until recently. In the SCAC I have TLU and in the SCIAC I have Cal Lutheran and Pomona-Pitzer. Cal Lu was on the Watch List at the start of the year but was removed a couple of weeks back.
The records of these teams as of this post range from 8-6 down to 6-12 but each of them are dangerous and all still have a chance at Pool A bids (Conference Champions). The chart below shows the teams with their current records, current Strength of Schedule (SOS) and West Region “signature” wins. The number in parentheses are the number of sets in the match.
|School||Record||SOS||Signature Wins (West Region)|
|Whitworth||8-6||0.509||Puget Sound (3); Pomona (3)|
|Texas Lutheran||10-8||0.579||Austin College (3); UTT (3); ETBU (4);
|Cal Lutheran||8-8||0.561||Whittier (5); Whitworth (4)|
|Puget Sound||6-7||0.608||ETBU (5); Linfield (5)|
|Hardin-Simmons||8-11||0.529||UMHB (3); ETBU (4); Concordia (3); TLU (3)|
|East Texas Baptist||7-12||0.518||UTD (5)|
|Pomona-Pitzer||6-12||0.644||Chapman (4); Cal Lu (5); ETBU (4); TLU (4)|
You can see that some of these teams have beaten teams in my Watch List – TLU (twice), Cal Lu, Hardin-Simmons, ETBU and Pomona-Pitzer. The other three have beaten some of the teams just listed so this is a close group as far as play on the court goes.
Another thing that jumps out at me is that all of these teams have SOS above 0.500 with two teams (Pomona-Pitzer and Puget Sound) with an SOS over 0.600. Compare these SOS percentages with the Watch List teams and you’ll find four teams from the Watch List with an SOS under 0.500! You could make the argument that the difference in these four teams and the Gotcha! Teams is just the schedule they played. Now in the end, we all want our teams to have a strong SOS with a strong record. Combine these two elements and you are talking about a team that is vying for their conference championship. Failing that and the team is in a good position for a Pool C bid.
As of this date, with these Gotcha! Teams, you have teams that are lacking the record but have shown they can surprise teams. With conference play still more than half way to go, these are the teams that could make a run. These are the teams that can trip up a favorite in the conference tournament. These teams are your dark horses. These are the teams coaches can’t overlook. These are your West Region Gotcha! Teams.