The third public release of the RAC rankings will come out on Wednesday and this one is more important than the first two. The reason is that the ranked win criterion is based on the final ranking (done this upcoming Sunday) and this one. That means any ranked wins/losses are now set in stone starting on Wednesday. This post attempts to predict the West RAC ranking. As always, your bonus gift awaits you at the end of this post.
As a reminder, the NCAA uses 5 criteria and they do not state if they are prioritized in any way. The criteria are:
- Win/Loss percentage (DIII opponents only)
- Results versus common DIII opponents
- Results versus ranked opponents
- DIII Strength of Schedule (SOS)
Results versus ranked opponents means teams that are ranked by the region’s RAC. This is the first week that this criterion will come into play and it does change things up a bit. (Note – I calculated the ranked wins so a manual error on my part is possible.) As I’ve mentioned in the past, it appears that often the RACs use this criterion as a percentage, which is not the way it is written. It’s supposed to be an evaluation of the results. The RACs should be giving more credit to a team with better quality wins than a team with more ranked wins or a better percentage if the teams they have played are inferior.
For the SOS in this go-around I’m using the published numbers from last week because they are going to be closer than anything else I can find.
Here is my best guess at how the West RAC will rank the Top 8 in the West Region:
West Region Top 8 (10/29/18), (Last Week’s Ranking)
- CMS (1)
- Trinity (4)
- Colorado College (3)
- UMHB (2)
- UT-Dallas (5)
- Cal Lutheran (7)
- La Verne (8)
- Pacific Lutheran (NR)
Dropped Out: Chapman (6).
CMS (0.889 win percentage, 0.611 SOS & 10-3 Ranked Wins)
With the UMHB loss to Trinity, CMS is locked into the number one spot and I don’t see that changing prior to selection. CMS wins the comparison against any other team in the region.
Trinity (0.828, 0.603 & 7-5)
With their win over UMHB I believe Trinity takes the second spot this week. They beat out Colorado College by virtue of their SOS and better ranked wins while Colorado College only has record. Trinity takes down UMHB with their SOS, ranked wins and head-to-head win. I thought this might be close but it’s really not. Interested to see if the RAC agrees with me or not.
Colorado College (0.933, 0.523 & 2-2)
That UMHB loss to Trinity really knocked them back a bit as I have Colorado College staying in the third spot. I have the Tigers with the advantage in record, ranked wins and common opponent (Trinity). If you are wondering about the ranked wins do you prefer:
- 2-2 with wins over Trinity and St. Thomas with no bad losses (Trinity and WUSTL).
- 4-1 with wins over Heidelberg, Clarkson, Cal Lutheran and UT-Dallas with a “bad” loss to Whittier.
Both the Trinity and St. Thomas wins are better than any of the wins the 4-1 team has, which is why I give the edge to Colorado College. The main advantage UMHB has is with SOS and that gap has narrowed although I think it will expand slightly in this week’s data.
UMHB (0.880, 0.545 & 4-1)
I think the Cru land here but the comparisons to UT-Dallas and Cal Lutheran are pretty close. The big advantage UMHB has are head-to-head wins against both teams. With UTD, the Cru have record and head-to-head. UTD has ranked wins but I believe the SOS and common opponents are washes. With Cal Lutheran, UMHB has record, head-to-head and common opponent (UTD) that gets them by SOS and ranked wins advantages for Cal Lutheran.
UT-Dallas (0.724, 0.557 & 3-6)
It’s a toss-up between UT-Dallas and Cal Lutheran for the 5th spot. I’m picking UT-Dallas because of their head-to-head win over Cal Lutheran. The criteria say UT-Dallas has that head-to-head advantage as well as a record advantage. Cal Lutheran has SOS and ranked wins. Now, common opponents really falls in Cal Lutheran’s favor as UTD lost to both CMS (twice) and La Verne where Cal Lu has split with each team. So, technically, Cal Lu should get the 5th spot. I favor head-to-head but the more I write here, the more I think the RAC will put Cal Lu ahead of UT-Dallas. Here’s where things get weird. I think there is a natural break after Cal Lutheran in the 6th spot. But, if I put Cal Lu 5th and slot UT-Dallas into the 6th spot than I can make a case for La Verne and Pacific Lutheran to be ranked ahead of UT-Dallas. (I can even make a case for Southwestern since they have a head-to-head over UTD.) This is important because we are talking about getting 7 teams from the West (NWC winner plus the first 6 ranked) versus maybe only getting 6 teams in if we block UT-Dallas.
Cal Lutheran (0.630, 0.630 & 5-8)
Cal Lutheran wins the comparison with La Verne, Chapman and Pacific Lutheran and in each case it’s because of the SOS and ranked wins. So, I think the Regals are sitting pretty in either 5th or 6th.
La Verne (0.643, 0.574 & 4-6)
I think La Verne moves up a spot to 7th or even 6th if the RAC drops UT-Dallas down. The UT-Dallas comparison comes down to common opponents and whether you can give a team an advantage here. I think this is probably a wash which means do you favor an SOS and head-to-head advantage? I would and that means La Verne is ranked ahead of UT-Dallas. If the SOS is within the standard deviation then UT-Dallas will be ranked ahead. I would rank La Verne ahead of both Chapman and PLU based on ranked wins and SOS. That’s a long way to say that I think 7th is the lowest La Verne can be ranked this week. This is an important ranking to be in because this would be the team that could get the 8th spot in the west. La Verne’s problem is that they face CMS in the SCIAC Tournament and a loss could move them out of this spot.
Pacific Lutheran (0.857, 0.564 & 0-1)
PLU has the advantage over Chapman (record and SOS) but are tied by Southwestern. Chapman has the advantage over Southwestern with Whitworth and Whittier out of the picture. If you want your mind blown, PLU probably has the advantage over UT-Dallas as they have a better record and SOS. If you consider the SOS within the standard deviation (which I think it is) then you can make a case that UT-Dallas ranked wins are better than PLU’s record. In the end, I have to default to Pacific Lutheran but the 8th spot in the West will be hard pressed to get an at-large bid so if I’m the West RAC I give it to the team that has the best shot. I still think that would be PLU despite no ranked wins because they do have three national wins (Oshkosh, Millikin and Minnesota-Morris) that open the door to common opponent advantages against good teams in other regions. Teams like Concordia (Wis), St. Benedict and Augsburg. If the RAC Chair can couple their record with their average SOS and a common opponent advantage then maybe there is a chance. With that said, don’t be surprised if the 8th spot goes to Chapman or Southwestern.
Chapman with those three losses this past week has gone from me picking them in my mock selection a week ago to being out of the running in my mind. Their record is no longer special, their SOS is poor and their ranked wins are merely average, at best. To make my point here, Whitworth now has a better record and better SOS and they have no chance at a bid. Southwestern really only has SOS and has no chance at an at-large and Whittier has faltered at the end of the season to a point that no bid is possible for them. So, I think the 8 teams I have ranked are the only possible options but I’m sort of cheating, too, as I am considering selection, which is not a criterion.
For those tracking this at home, with this ordering, CMS would host the West Regional. With that said, if La Verne doesn’t get a bid then Trinity will be the host.
My readers know that there is one absolute truth in DIII volleyball and that is a team must be in the Top 10 in hitting percentage in order to win the National Championship. It has been true for the last 8 years I’ve researched and there isn’t another statistic that comes close to this streak.
So, without anymore fanfare, here are your national champion candidates:
- JWU (RI) – 0.299
- Colorado College – 0.273
- Baldwin Wallace – 0.271
- Calvin – 0.270
- MIT – 0.266
- UMHB – 0.261
- Amherst – 0.257
- Trinity – 0.257
- William Paterson – 0.255
- Chicago & Bowdoin – 0.251
CMS is at 66th, in case you are wondering.