West RAC’s Biggest Mistake

I’ve looked at the La Verne / UT-Dallas comparison more times than I want to admit but I decided to do it one more (last) time. The decisions are done as our the selections as our the West Region’s chances at a championship but it’s important to learn from our mistakes (if one was made). Going into the last regional ranking La Verne had gone from unranked to 8th to 7th so they were improving each week in the rankings. UT-Dallas was going the other way after initially being ranked 5th, they kept that slot only to fall to 6th in the third rankings. The question I want to answer here is whether the criteria told the RAC to swap La Verne ahead of UT-Dallas. History now tells us that La Verne wasn’t getting into the tournament (although I’ll look at that decision in the future). What I also want to know was whether UT-Dallas could have received an at-large bid if they were considered.

To start off I have to mention that if Cal Lutheran was the 19th at-large bid than La Verne was never considered. With that said, I don’t believe this is possible because they held significant advantages over a number of teams so my assumption is that La Verne had at least one (and probably more) rounds where they were considered for selection.

Let’s get to the criteria between La Verne and UT-Dallas. I’ll put blindfolds over your eyes here while you read (nifty trick) and you tell me which teams gets in:

Criterion Team A Team B Outcome
Record 0.621 0.697 Team B
SOS 0.587 0.590 Tie
Head to Head Yes No Team A
Ranked Wins 5-7 (CLU) 3-8 (Trinity, CLU) Team B
Common Opponent 2-3 5-1 Team B

I cheated and put my anticipated outcome on the chart but you were blindfolded and couldn’t see! Could you disagree with Ranked Wins? Sure. Right now I have it as a 3-1-1 win for Team B. Flip ranked wins and it’s 2-2-1 and technically the RAC has to go to the secondary criteria. Let’s talk about all of that quickly after I tell you that Team A was La Verne and Team B was UT-Dallas. I know, if this was a commercial I would have tricked you in some way and both teams would have been CMS.

Make no mistake, I’m saying at this point that the West RAC made a mistake evaluating the criteria and incorrectly ranked La Verne over UT-Dallas.

Looking at ranked win percentage shows Team A (La Verne) with the advantage but their wins were against Franklin & Marshall, Cal Lutheran, DeSales, Whittier and UT-Dallas. UT-Dallas only had three ranked wins but they were against Trinity, Cal Lutheran and DePauw. Both teams had a number of ranked losses but, again, UT-Dallas’ list is a little more impressive. This is why I gave the advantage to UT-Dallas but it’s close. For La Verne to achieve their ranking, the RAC said that La Verne came out ahead in ranked wins.

At this point, the RAC either determined that the head-to-head win pushes La Verne over UT-Dallas or looked at other factors (secondary criteria). The secondary criteria consist of non-DIII results which neither team had. It would have really come down to last 25% of matches results and DIII non-conference SOS. I’m not getting into non-conference SOS because I don’t have the numbers but I believe UT-Dallas has the advantage here because there were a number of weaker teams in the ASC than the SCIAC and their final overall SOS were nearly identical. Last 25% is fun because UT-Dallas is evaluated on one more match than La Verne. UT-Dallas finished 5-3 and La Verne finished 5-2. So, La Verne with the advantage. Of course, if you equal that out then La Verne also finished 5-3. In that ninth match, UT-Dallas won and La Verne lost. Like I said…fun.

Bottom line these two teams are close and the only way the RAC justified what they did was to say ranked wins went to La Verne and head-to-head was the tiebreaker. If I squint my eyes and throw some logic out the window, then I understand. What has been shall be, so now let’s look at the question of whether they should have done it.

Both of these teams are hard sells to the National Selection Committee. I mentioned in another post that there were only two teams that received an at-large bid that didn’t exceed one of the three averages for all of the at-large teams in record, SOS and ranked win percentage (*CDR!). These teams were Augsburg and Carthage. For the sake of this post, let’s also look at Franklin & Marshall and DePauw when compared to UT-Dallas.

I’m not going to write out all of the numbers but here are the results:

  • Augsburg goes in over UT-Dallas.
  • UTD goes in over Carthage.
  • UTD goes in over F&M.
  • UTD goes in over DePauw.

Now, I’ll show in a future post that La Verne deserved the bid over Franklin & Marshall so just being better based on the selection criteria for the West this year doesn’t mean our teams were getting in, but UT-Dallas had a better chance. A much better chance.

So what, right? Our teams that were chosen all got a shot and none made it to the Elite 8. UT-Dallas wasn’t going to make it there, either. Well, with UT-Dallas getting in then we would have had a West Regional at UMHB. My guess is you would have had a CMS / UMHB final and one of those teams is now in Pittsburgh. Make no mistake…this mistake was a big mistake.

How do we learn from this because the blame game is never fun unless it’s something New England did (again). When the RAC has a close call like they did this year, I believe they need to shutdown the body cams and turn off the microphones and determine who has a better shot at an at-large bid. With a better record than La Verne and an equal SOS and with a Trinity, CLU and DePauw win I think the choice was hazy clear. Not crystal, but clear enough to figure out that UT-Dallas needed the 6th spot. For those wondering at home and I congratulate you for this, Cal Lutheran barely stays ahead of UT-Dallas if this change had occurred. It would have come down to common opponent and CLU was 1-2 while UTD was 0-4.

Oh, one more lesson learned. Head-to-head is huge when comparing teams within region like La Verne’s win over UT-Dallas, but they mean nothing when it comes to a national selection. It’s almost to the point that if head-to-head pushes one team over another then you are making the wrong decision. Weird, I know and probably a strong indication that the selection criteria needs a tweak.

* Calm down Ricky!

 

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6 thoughts on “West RAC’s Biggest Mistake

  1. If the “Formerly Known as the West Regional” doesn’t get hijacked I think UTD and La Verne both make it. Plus we get a team in the Elite 8. Makes it hard not to get sucked into the “Conspiracy Theories”. I think our (The West) reality is that we need to spend the money to go east and market our product so that come selection time we can “check the boxes”……beat them, beat them, them too. No questions.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. UT-Dallas was by far the most egregious omission. Using the Quality win points I tracked UTD had 27 points!! That was good for 19th overall, and 7th among the teams needing a pool C bid. The next highest to not get a bid was Stevens Point with 20 (28th overall). La Verne had 15 points which put them on the edge.

    UTD played 15 matches against the Pablo top 50!! They went 5-10. Springfield was 0-3, Mary Washington 0-6, and Franklin & Marshall 0-4 against Pablo top 50.

    There has to be a national ranking system or this will never be resolved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Part of me thinks “bad losses” needs to be seriously discussed in the room. The committee’s seem to just toss those aside. I would include any loss to a regional ranked team 9 through 12 in the “bad loss” category.

      The other part of me worries about the teams that aren’t very good and the difficulty they face now in scheduling and how that kind of change would impact them.

      There are a lot of moving pieces here.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The concern with weighing bad losses heavier is that there’s frequently a good reason for them: injuries. If you lose your setter for two weeks and drop a few games (as Johns Hopkins did, for example) and then she returns should you be treated the same as a school who isn’t getting a player back, or who was misjudged in the early rankings? Occam says Be Careful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Valid point but a lot of times bad losses are indicators that the team isn’t as solid as maybe another. I know in the past of a case where the West RAC took a major injury into account in their rankings.

      Like

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