Do you know the feeling where you start a project but have a feeling that someone else has already done the same project? So, you go looking for it but never find it. And then go do the project but live in fear that someone way smarter than you will then leave a comment when you are done that says why didn’t you just use the XYZ data at HateMySelf.Com? Well, that’s where I am right now.
I’ve been kicking around the idea about doing a post about Rating Percentage Index (RPI) and how it’s not used in Division III volleyball but really is but shouldn’t be and how that impacts NCAA Tournament selection. Don’t worry, that’s not what I’m doing here. This post does kind of skirt around it because I believe things like RPI and Strength of Schedule (SOS) and winning percentage in Division III relate a lot to the division a team plays in and to the region. Without a lot of cross pollination between divisions and especially regions leaves us with faulty data as a base for SOS and RPI. With that in mind I started to wonder what the overall records were of the different conferences (and regions) and, thus, a new post is born.
As I seem to do with every post like this one, here are my qualifiers…my “get out of jail free” addendums:
- The data was pulled from the NCAA statistics website. (I found a number of cases where the data was wrong slightly, but I didn’t update the data used here.)
- I included the DIII provisional teams.
- Records include non-DIII matches. That’s how the data was presented from the website, and I didn’t go through each team to update.
- Records include the NCAA Tournament matches.
- I didn’t match independent teams or ACAA teams (no automatic qualifier) to regions.
- I did match the UAA teams with the appropriate regions.
- There were a total of 6360 wins across the data I compiled with 6264 losses. The discrepancy can be attributed to matches against non-DIII opponents and errors in the NCAA provided data.
So many places to start but I guess the best is to just list the conference records and the regional records…yeah, I’m not going to do that. It’s a lot of data and you would just get tired paging through it so I pasted these tables at the bottom of this post.
There really is a lot of different ways to take this data. I think I could make a 100 different conflicting points all with the same dataset so maybe the best approach is to just go through the items I found interesting.
Not a big surprise the UAA is the deepest conference. What really helps, however, is that the bottom teams in the UAA are from the New England and New York regions which allowed them to compensate for their poor conference records. Only NYU finished the year with a sub 0.500 record.
What’s interesting about the Landmark Conference is that despite the depth shown with their conference overall record, they did not receive an at-large bid. The most likely candidate was Scranton, a team I grew impressed with during the year. Their bid was really doomed by a September 5-set loss to Muhlenberg (who was regionally ranked higher than Scranton). That head-to-head win and a stronger SOS overcame Scranton’s higher winning percentage and better ranked wins. Late losses to Swarthmore and Susquehanna also didn’t help.
The fourth deepest conference, the WIAC, also didn’t receive an at-large bid. This has been covered in depth in past posts but, yet, another indication that the NCAA really messed up.
One interesting note regarding the WIAC and the Landmark is that they only play a single conference match against each opponent. One easy way to improve the SOS, which may lead to more at-large bids, is to play two matches for each conference opponent. You have deep conferences and there is no reason not to put that to your advantage.
The only sub 0.500 conference to receive an at-large bid was the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC). The conference was basically Concordia Wisconsin and Aurora (received at-large bid) and nothing else. The only other team to have an above 0.500 winning percentage outside the conference was Concordia Chicago.
I thought it would be interesting to go back and look at Aurora’s credentials for their at-large selection. They were regional ranked 5th in the Midwest with a 0.788 winning percentage, 0.563 SOS and a 5-5 ranked win record. Scranton (mentioned above) could actually make a claim they had better criteria than Aurora. Aurora did have nice wins against IWU, Calvin and Chicago and I certainly don’t want to discredit their selection. It just shows how thin the at-large selection line can be between teams.
Looking at the regional records and it’s interesting to note that the Great Lakes, despite having the best record, only received 2 at-large selections. (Every region received 2 at-large selections with the exception of the West , Midwest  and New England .)
The team not selected from the Great Lakes was Mount Union; a team I thought was pretty much a lock to go. Revisiting their criteria shows a team that is almost identical to Aurora and Scranton. Playing out of the OAC, one of the deeper conference, and I have to point out again that playing in conference teams twice instead of once would probably increase the SOS to the point where an at-large bid was probable.
Eight of the nine “worst” conferences hail from the three largest regions – Mid-Atlantic, New York and New England. Six of the twenty-one conferences sitting at 0.500 or below all come from the New York region. From just a pure numbers standpoint it shouldn’t be shocking that the biggest regions dominate these unfortunate statistics, but it does kind of show the hurdle these regions have to overcome to put up good SOS numbers.
And finally some good ‘ol bashing from yours truly. It’s obvious that the NCAA likes to reward the bigger regions with more bids. Part of this is just the simple fact that they have more conferences and therefore more automatic qualifiers. I do have to shake my head when we figure out these regional records and see that the New England and New York regions are in the bottom half of the rankings but still put an extra 6 teams into the tournament (if we also count independent New Rochelle). That’s 6 of the 21 Pool B and Pool C bids going to two regions. Now depth doesn’t equate to which regions had the best teams, but I would feel more comfortable erring on the side of depth than not. Give me Mount Union, Scranton, UMHB (or La Verne) or a WIAC school over Vassar and Babson any day of the week. They accumulated their criteria in tougher regions, typically coming away with better quality wins, and are more prepared to make a run in the tournament.
|University Athletic Association||UAA||Various||173||93||0.650|
|New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference||NEWMAC||New England||191||126||0.603|
|Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||WIAC||Midwest||148||100||0.597|
|North Coast Athletic Conference||NCAC||Great Lakes||150||102||0.595|
|Ohio Athletic Conference||OAC||Great Lakes||177||123||0.590|
|Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference||SCAC||West||157||114||0.579|
|Capital Athletic Conference||CAC||Mid-Atlantic||167||122||0.578|
|Commonwealth Coast Conference||CCC||New England||152||113||0.574|
|New England Small College Athletic Conference||NESCAC||New England||156||117||0.571|
|Little East Conference||Little East||New England||131||101||0.565|
|Freedom Conference||MAC Freedom||Mid-Atlantic||129||104||0.554|
|Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference||HCAC||Great Lakes||154||125||0.552|
|Liberty League||Liberty||New York||137||112||0.550|
|New Jersey Athletic Conference||NJAC||New York||152||125||0.549|
|College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin||CCIW||Midwest||146||121||0.547|
|Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||MIAC||Central||184||153||0.546|
|Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||IIAC||Central||146||122||0.545|
|Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||SCIAC||West||130||119||0.522|
|Presidents’ Athletic Conference||PAC||Great Lakes||158||147||0.518|
|Southern Athletic Association||SAA||South||120||112||0.517|
|Commonwealth Conference||MAC Commonwealth||Mid-Atlantic||140||134||0.511|
|State University of New York Athletic Conference||SUNYAC||New York||155||155||0.500|
|Old Dominion Athletic Conference||ODAC||South||165||165||0.500|
|Great Northeast Athletic Conference||Great Northeast||New England||193||198||0.494|
|American Southwest Conference||ASC||West||179||187||0.489|
|Empire 8 Athletic Conference||Empire 8||New York||139||146||0.488|
|Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association||MIAA||Great Lakes||121||129||0.484|
|Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference||NACC||Midwest||173||193||0.473|
|USA South Athletic Conference||USA South||South||257||294||0.466|
|Upper Midwest Athletic Conference||UMAC||Central||129||154||0.456|
|Colonial States Athletic Conference||CSAC||Mid-Atlantic||151||181||0.455|
|Skyline Conference||Skyline||New York||125||158||0.442|
|St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference||SLIAC||Central||131||171||0.434|
|City University of New York Athletic Conference||CUNYAC||New York||96||156||0.381|
|North Eastern Athletic Conference||NEAC||New York||143||233||0.380|
|North Atlantic Conference||North Atlantic||New England||77||126||0.379|
|Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference||MASCAC||New England||88||146||0.376|
|Division III Independents||Independents||N/A||60||100||0.375|
|New England Collegiate Conference||NECC||New England||67||115||0.368|
|Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference||AMCC||Mid-Atlantic||98||173||0.362|
|American Collegiate Athletic Association||ACAA||N/A||68||126||0.351|