West Region’s 8th Team – Uh Oh

I wanted to give everyone a little insight into the problems the West RAC chair will face on selection day now that La Verne and UTT both stumbled in their tournaments. Assuming Colorado College and CMS win their tournaments tomorrow then we have three teams with automatic bids (includes Pacific Lutheran). Let’s say we just try to get 8 teams in from the West so I’ve got 5 spots to fill. We know one of the spots will go to the ASC champion and I really believe that will come down to UTD or UMHB. I’ll look at both options below but we have 4 spots now.

I think Southwestern and Trinity are in regardless of results today/tomorrow. That leaves 2 spots and here are the teams I’ll consider with some of the criteria listed in the last regional rankings.

School W/L Pct. SOS Ranked Wins Pct.
Cal Lutheran 15-10 .600 .583 2-8 .200
Chapman 16-9 .640 .561 4-5 .444
La Verne 18-8 .692 .586 4-5 .444
UMHB 25-3 .893 .515 2-2 .500
UT-Dallas 21-9 .700 .533 1-7 .125
UT-Tyler 22-6 .786 .507 2-2 .500
Whittier 18-9 .667 .599 5-5 .500

These numbers will, of course, change after tournament weekend. Remember that the ranked wins also changes each week so the RAC always deals with the teams ranked last week. This causes these numbers to change each week. Regardless, this gives you a picture of what the West RAC chair has if we leave out head-to-head and common opponent.

The teams below are bubble teams from the Mid-Atlantic, New England and New York regions. Why these regions? They are the three largest regions whose teams gain an unfair advantage from their RACs ability to rank more teams then everyone else. (After all, the more ranked teams in your region, the more you play them. Combine the fact that most of these ranked teams aren’t that good and you can see the huge advantage given to these regions.)

School W/L Pct. SOS Ranked Wins Pct.
Muhlenberg 24-5 .828 .596 5-5 .500
Swarthmore 20-6 .769 .580 4-5 .444
Wesleyan 18-5 .800 .575 4-3 .571
Vassar 22-6 .786 .544 7-2 .778

What jumps out at you from these teams? Nice records with good to really good SOS and decent Ranked Win percentages. I believe the RACs have been using these raw numbers to make decisions between teams and if the chairs allow the same thing to happen then you can easily see how these out-of-region bubble teams compare very favorably to our West Region teams.

Let’s take Whittier as an example. I believe the Poets will be ranked ahead of these other West Region teams, which means they will be considered first on selection day. None of the other teams will even sniff selection until Whittier gets a bid. When I compare Whittier against these out-of-region bubble teams they come up short in W/L and come out ahead (or even) in SOS. Ranked Wins also comes out behind or even. So, the point here is that a school that needs to get selected early so we can move on to the next team in our list is going to struggle against teams that will be selected last or not at all! Where am I going with all of this? We are in trouble folks. We may be looking at just 7 West teams in the tournament assuming UMHB wins the ASC.

Let’s say UTD wins the ASC and now UMHB is up for selection as an at-large. You can see that they will do well in the W/L but lose out to every team in SOS. Their Ranked Wins are nothing special and at best this comes out even. This means there is no guarantee UMHB gets a bid if they don’t win the ASC.

What would I do if I was the West RAC? I have to start looking at who the West teams have beaten out-of-region. This is where we can get a head-to-head or a common opponent advantage that may tip the scales for our teams. If the choice isn’t clear based on the criteria with my 7th and 8th ranked spot then I let this information lead me. The problem is that I’m not seeing a lot of good out-of-region wins that will help against the bubble teams. Birmingham-Southern (South) is one bubble team that has losses to UMHB, UTT and UTD. UW-Eau Claire is another team but they just lost a semi-final in their conference and may not be ranked high enough now. They have losses to UTD and La Verne.

I don’t like ending on a downer but I’m getting worried folks. Assuming UMHB wins the ASC and I have to rank an 8th team then I’d probably take La Verne and hope their good SOS and average Ranked Wins is enough. In the end, the West may only get 8 teams in if either UTD or UTT or Cal Lutheran win their tournaments.

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