West Region Rankings (10/30/17)

Well this week’s regional rankings are a big one. The RACs have had a chance to work out any issues they may have had and the ordering will give you a good idea where teams sit prior to the conference tournaments. Of the eight teams listed in the West rankings we had 5 losses this week and you would think that would impact the rankings but when you apply the selection criteria incorrectly (like has been done in my opinion) strange results will be the outcome.

As a reminder, I’m trying to predict the West RAC rankings that will come out Wednesday. If my opinion deviates, I’ll let you know.

As a reminder:

  1. NCAA Primary Criteria (pulled from the manual):
    1. Won-lost percentage against DIII opponents.
    2. DIII head-to-head competition.
    3. Results versus common DIII opponents.
    4. Results versus ranked DIII teams…
    5. DIII strength of schedule.
  2. Strength of Schedule (SOS) numbers are from last week since the NCAA won’t publish what the RAC uses until Wednesday. The numbers will still be close but there is a risk this will mess me up.
  3. Results versus ranked DIII teams is determined by me going through each team’s schedule hoping I don’t miss anyone.

And, just to beat a dead horse, the reason I believe the West RAC is applying the criteria incorrectly is that the wording says “results” and not percentage for two of the criteria. This implies that the RAC should not simply look at the win/loss percentage of that criterion but a deeper inspection of the teams. For ranked wins, a win against Colorado College is not the same as a win against La Verne and should never be treated the same. With all of that said, here is what I think the RAC will publish on Wednesday:

My rank, (my Week 7 rank, AVCA rank, RAC rank), DIII record, key results last week
1 (1, 2, 1). Colorado College 27-0 W: Cornell.
2 (4, 7, 2). Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 23-4 W: Whittier.
3 (2, 3, 4). Southwestern 24-3 W: [None].
4 (3, 5, 5). Trinity 26-5 W: UMHB; UT-Dallas.
5 (5, NR, 3). Whittier 18-9 W: [None]; L: CMS; La Verne.
6 (8, 25, 6). Pacific Lutheran 18-4 W: [None]; L: Pacific.
7 (7, NR, 7). Mary Hardin Baylor 25-3 W: [None]; L: Trinity.
8 (6, NR, 8). La Verne 18-8 W: Whittier; L: Occidental.
Dropped Out: [None]

If you looked at the Watch List, you already know that I have removed Chapman and UTD from teams that I believe can get Pool C bids. It may seem weird that I left UTT on the list as they finished second to UTD in the ASC. It really has to do with UTD’s poor record against ranked teams where UTT is sort of rewarded for playing a weaker schedule and having some criteria advantages over La Verne. That only leaves 9 teams in the West that I think have a chance to get a Pool C bid. Now that doesn’t mean we are limited to 9 NCAA bids, as there can always be upsets in the conference tournaments. With that said, I still see the same 8 teams in the West RAC rankings this week.

Colorado College is again the easy choice at #1 and Tuesday afternoon I expect they will be your AVCA #1 team in the nation.

And now to my problem children. I’ve said all along that I see CMS, Southwestern and Trinity as a group (or tier) but the West RAC has continued to insert Whittier into the mix. If it’s me, I would go SU, Trinity and CMS. As for the West RAC it would seem obvious that CMS will remain at the 2 spot since they’ve done nothing to lose it. My only hesitation is that it has appeared that Whittier was sort of tied to CMS and they just dropped two matches this week and now 3 of 5 with their only wins against the two worst teams in the SCIAC. The criteria are just really close between these three teams but I believe the Head-to-Head (H2H) Trinity win over CMS sort of trumps the razor thin margins in the other criteria. I also believe that SU’s more recent win over Trinity and better play against Colorado College pushes SU ahead of Trinity. But, it’s close and I think the RAC puts CMS at #2 since that has been the pattern.

Here is where the RAC has been putting Whittier and the funny thing is that I can make the criteria do it again! It’s the poster child of why you have to look deeper into these teams like the criteria allows. With that said I think hope pray the RAC will move Whittier down the list. The difference between SU and Trinity right now is a slight W/L record for SU versus a slight SOS for Trinity. Trinity probably has the best ranked win in CMS but SU has the most recent H2H victory and looked better against Colorado College (common opponent). This could go either way but since they had SU ahead last week, I’ll put Southwestern here.

Does Whittier get placed here because of their H2H win over Trinity? Does the RAC punish them more? Where does the #5 team in the SCIAC get placed in the West? (OK, that was a low blow and I apologize. But, you see the issue.) The criteria are split between the two teams and Whittier does hold the H2H but Trinity is just better when you look at the entire resume. I’m putting Trinity in this spot with absolutely no confidence.

I’m putting Whittier here. Pacific Lutheran sort of leads the next tier of teams and Whittier has a H2H win against them. Strictly speaking, however, the criteria breaks towards Pac Lu so don’t be surprised if the RAC puts the Lutes here. Even with the loss to Pacific, I will leave Pac Lu in the 6th spot. The criteria has them here and as we saw last week with Whittier’s loss to Cal Lu, the RAC doesn’t seem to factor in losses to non-ranked teams. Weird. (Of course, both UMHB and La Verne lost last week, too.)

I’m not sure about the ordering of the next two as the criteria is razor thin again. It’s just so hard to rank UMHB with their weak schedule and lack of ranked teams played. My gut feeling is that UMHB stays at 7 and La Verne at 8.

So, where am I wrong this time? I sure hope we don’t see Whittier in the top 4 as they never really belonged there in the first place. They really could show up anywhere in the rankings. After all, shouldn’t the 2nd place team in the SCIAC be ranked ahead of the 5th place team? Maybe Whittier will show up lower than La Verne. The Trinity/Southwestern ordering is not important as they will most likely play each other in the SCAC semi-finals and that will decide the ordering.

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