Regional Rankings (10/25/17) – Updated

The regional rankings are out and can be found here!

We saw two changes in the #1 seed nationally with Gustavus Adolphus falling one spot and Northwestern-St. Paul taking the top seed (Central). In the Midwest, Illinois Wesleyan lost the top spot to Millikin.

The top 4 seeds in each Region are:

Central: Northwestern-St. Paul, Gustavus Adolphus, St. Thomas, Wash-St. Louis
Great Lakes: Wittenberg, Otterbein, Ohio Northern, Calvin
Mid Atlantic: Carnegie Mellon, Stevenson, Johns Hopkins, Chris Newport
Midwest: Millikin, Illinois Wesleyan, Chicago, Concordia (Wis)
New England: Johnson & Wales (RI), MIT, Tufts, Wesleyan
New York: Vassar, Ithaca, Clarkson, Stevens
South: Berry, Emory, Averett, Randolph-Macon
West: Colorado College, CMS, Whittier, Southwestern

The big story from last week in the west was the placement of the SCIAC teams (CMS and Whittier) over the 2nd and 3rd SCAC teams (Trinity and Southwestern) and this week we see the same thing (albeit with a swap of Trinity and Southwestern).

Rounding out the West, we have Pacific Lutheran, UMHB and La Verne. So, the same eight teams but a change with La Verne dropping to 8th from 6th. Interestingly (and not to toot my own horn) but in my post last week about Ranked Wins, the order I had listed is almost the same with the exception of UMHB and Pac Lutheran (toot toot). Now La Verne also had a disappointing week of matches but it appears the RAC is taking Ranked Wins to be the percentage, which is NOT what is stated in the championship manual. Although it would be interesting to see how the RAC is justifying Pac Lu ahead of UMHB in this case so maybe a little art is being used to distinguish between these two teams.

In my prediction post on Monday, I thought Whittier’s loss to Cal Lutheran would be enough to slide SU past them and I didn’t see them dropping La Verne past UMHB.

I will probably dwell on this a bit more and update later.

And for you that are looking at plane tickets next week…with these rankings, Claremont is still the odds on favorite to host. (Please keep in mind that the most likely upset in the three conferences to give a Pool A bid to a non-ranked team is the ASC. That could put 4 Texas teams in the mix and the host site would go to Southwestern.)

*UPDATE*

Before I get into a mini case study between Whittier and Southwestern I did want to mention something on the ordering of UMHB and La Verne. You see I’m about to dive deep into an ordering that really doesn’t matter while, if you are a La Verne fan, there was a much bigger and more important change this week. It made me think of a post idea (for tomorrow) dealing with the “What if’s” as we end the season with the focus on these “bubble teams”. Check back, please.

I really don’t have a lot of issues with the West RAC rankings with the exception of Whittier at #3. I can see them at #4 and I can see them at #5. In the end, it probably doesn’t matter because the NCAA won’t schedule teams from the same conference in the first round, but it still bugged me enough to write the following.

First off, I’m an alumni parent of a Southwestern parent. I love my Pirates (and hate Trinity although I love their coaches, players and parents). So, it’s possible the following will be a little biased but I truly hope not. I wanted to use this example (#3 Whittier vs. #4 Southwestern) because it really shows how you can select one team using the selection criteria one way and then select another team by putting some thought into it, which I believe is allowed per the selection criteria.

Whittier: W/L 17-7, SOS .597, RW 5-3 .625
Southwestern: W/L 24-3, SOS .556, RW 3-3 .500

Right off the bat, you can say while SU has a better record they have done it against inferior teams. Now I’m not sure how inferior .041 SOS truly is but we also see Whittier has played two more ranked teams and beaten them both. At this point, the RAC has to weigh the team with the better record against the the team with the better schedule.

Now, before I get to the next criterion, you’ll notice that Whittier has lost 7 matches but only 3 to ranked teams while SU has 3 losses all to ranked teams.

Common opponent sees the teams both play Trinity, Austin College, Colorado College, Pomona-Pitzer and UC Santa Cruz.

Whittier: 6-1 (CC loss)
Southwestern: 5-3 (Trinity loss with two CC losses)

Another data point and certainly in Whittier’s favor, but it really comes down to the Trinity match. Since there is no head-to-head result, the RAC could reasonably choose Whittier with the above information and move on, which is probably what they did.

Where I have an issue is the quality of the ranked teams:

Whittier:          Wins – Berry, Ithaca, Trinity, Pac Lutheran and La Verne
                            Losses – Colorado College, CMS and Scranton
Southwestern: Wins – Chris Newport, UW-Whitewater and Trinity
                             Losses – Colorado College (2) and Trinity

And an issue with something the RAC is obviously not looking at, the losses to unranked teams:

Whittier:           Augustana, Cal Lutheran (2) and Chapman
Southwestern: None

If we look at this picture we see a very good Whittier team beating good teams. I would argue that the best victory Whittier has is Trinity, followed by Berry and maybe Pac Lu. While a very good Southwestern team is also beating good teams (maybe better teams) with their best victories being Trinity, UW-Whitewater and Chris Newport.

When I factor in the other Whittier losses that Southwestern doesn’t have, I have to ask if SU played a tougher schedule (0.041), would they have those losses? And when I answer, “no”, I move Southwestern ahead of Whittier. Is that fair? Because “bad losses” or even “good losses” aren’t a criteria, do we lose sight of the entire team resume? Aren’t “bad losses” and “good losses” part of the criteria since the manual says Ranked Wins and Common Opponent “results” and not “percentage”?

It’s an interesting comparison and one the RAC had to make based on where the team’s fell in the rankings. Or the NCAA committee made if they overruled the RAC (which does happen). I certainly have the feeling that the RAC (and/or NCAA) is using the numbers without looking at the teams in depth and I have to wonder why. In the end, this ordering doesn’t matter, but if I’m the West Chair having to sell my #3 and #4 teams to the other Regional Chairs come selection time, I think it’s really obvious, in this case, that it’s easier to sell Southwestern*.

* – Even if you don’t agree with anything I just said, remember that the Whittier 3-set loss to Augustana means the following teams have a common opponent advantage over the Poets; Ithaca, Berry, Colorado College, UW-Whitewater, Luther, Dominican, Carthage, Coe, Elmhurst, IWU, North Central and Millikin. Some of those don’t matter but a number of those will.

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