Friday night, the USAU folks stayed up late to get the math and paperwork done to set up their final rankings for the college season. Teams hoping to find their way to the College Championships in Madison anxiously waited with bated breath to find out what the road ahead would look like. For the Women’s side, there were four teams that had legitimate shots at claiming the division’s final strength bid, representing three regions. Teams from the Atlantic Coast, New England, and Southeast regions had to hope the math went their way. On the Open side, four teams from four different regions had a shot at landing the final strength bid, depending on which games ended up validated and sanctioned. The North Central, Southwest, New England, and South Central regions each had a representative who might possibly help get a team from that region to the show.
In the end, the Women’s bid would go to the New England region, courtesy of Northeastern, while the Open bid would belong to the Southwest, by way of Stanford. These results were not without controversy, as Ultiworld tweeted “Story of the night: only 20 pts separate @stanfordblood, @DozenUltimate, @DMouthPainTrain, & @UNIUltimate. Invalid teams likely decided it.” Stanford Bloodthirsty’s final results did not include a 5-11 loss to British Columbia, likely due to UBC’s roster issues, and Northern Iowa’s results discounted a trio of large-margin wins. Texas A&M Dozen – who finished a single point behind Stanford – also missed out on a large-margin win. Stanford’s discounted loss was very likely one that would have cost the Southwest Region a bid. While the Women’s side isn’t quite as close, Northeastern finished a mere three points ahead of UNC-Wilmington, who had a 15-1 win over NC State discounted.
For Women’s, the final bid picture is as follows, with teams sitting with autobid slots italicized:
- AC (1): #12 Virginia
- GL (1): #28 Valparaiso
- ME (1): #50 Ottawa
- NE (2): #4 Tufts, #17 Northeastern
- NC (5): #2 Carleton, #6 Iowa, #8 Iowa State, #11 Minnesota, #13 Wisconsin
- NW (4): #1 Oregon, #5 British Columbia, #7 Washington, #9 Victoria
- OV (1): #3 Ohio State
- SC (1): #23 Colorado
- SE (2): #10 Georgia, #16 Central Florida
- SW (2): #14 UC-Santa Barbara, #15 Stanford
Truth be told, you’re likely looking at most of your College Championships field. The Atlantic Coast has three very strong teams, the Southwest and Southeast each have at least three strong teams vying for a pair of bids, and the South Central is certainly not settled. While I think the Atlantic Coast is the stronger region between it and New England, I see how the conclusion was reached by the math. North Carolina’s trip to Stanford was loss-filled and UNC-Wilmington’s struggles, particularly at Easterns – man, that 5-16 loss to Michigan burns – didn’t outweigh the wins they notched against very good teams. A few more wins here and there, and this is a three bid region.
On the Open side, here’s the final bid allocations:
- AC (2): #2 North Carolina, #16 UNC-Wilmington
- GL (1): #33 Michigan
- ME (1): #46 Cornell
- NC (3): #1 Wisconsin, #3 Minnesota, #7 Carleton
- NE (2): #11 Harvard, #15 Tufts
- NW (2): #4 Oregon, #17 Whitman
- OV (2): #5 Pittsburgh, #12 Ohio
- SC (2): #6 Texas, #10 Colorado
- SE (3): #8 Central Florida, #9 Florida State, #13 Florida
- SW (2): #14 Arizona, #18 Stanford
Eyes will most certainly be on the South Central and New England regions, as each has two bids, but a third team looking to break in (Texas A&M and Dartmouth, respectively), along with some dark horse candidates. The Southeast may be the third most interesting Regional, with Georgia and Georgia Tech each looking to turn it on at the right time to take a bid. Others will be looking to the North Central to see if Northern Iowa can pull off the upset on one of the big three and find their way to Nationals.
Of course, the results have, as they always do, engendered conversations on how the ranking algorithm and bid allocation system can be altered or improved. Some are calling for minor tweaks to properly value blowouts of weaker teams, others are hoping to see a subjective human element added, and still others (myself included) wish there was a Regional Strength component. I fully encourage folks to make an effort to understand the system – something I’m trying to do – and to participate in these conversations.
This year’s #bidwatch was a wild ride on both sides that came down to the final moments. Teams separated by miniscule point differentials may spend the weekend wondering if winning by just a few more points or losing by just a few less was the difference. Come Monday, however, their focus should be solely directed to winning games that no algorithm can take from them: the ones in the Series.