As the season draws to a close, the Southeast remains one of the most exciting regions in the country. There will be two bids to the College Championships up for grabs in Tupelo, and that number was very nearly three. With The Big Three (Georgia, Central Florida, and Florida State) looking a cut above the rest, it gets difficult to predict how the rest of the standings will shake out at Regionals.
While the mantra for many Southeast teams this season has been “Southeast love” (and the lovely #southeastlove hashtag that started the regional love twitter trend), for the next month, alliances are off the table. With the bid picture finalized, teams will be scratching and clawing at each other to win their Conference. Florida, Southern Appalachian (SAPP), and Gulf Coast each hope they can do as much damage at the Southeast Regional Championship as possible. Teams are likely to root for their respective Conference representatives to do well at Regionals. Only after that, once the Southeast’s national squads are picked, will the Southeast Love be back in full effect.
Historically, the Florida Conference has been the bid hog, snagging the most bids in both of the years since the redrawing of the Regional boundaries. In 2011, Florida had seven bids, meaning every team at their Conference Champies qualified for Regionals. However, two didn’t accept, and an extra bid went to Gulf Coast and I think the other went to SAPP, but nobody claimed it, so nine teams went to Regionals. Of those, five were from FLA, two from GC and SAPP. In 2012, it was 5-4-1, with the one being the GC. The same numbers will apply this year, with five bids for Florida, four for Southern Appalachian, and just one for the Gulf Coast.
To understand how we arrived at this number, I’ll explain. First, each region gets one bid to start. That’s 3/10 available to Regionals assigned. From there, the highest ranked team from each Conference earns a strength bid. If there are not enough teams for this to assign all of the bids, it will go to the largest Conference and so on. GCSU, who is going D-III (and is one of the top ranked D-III teams!), does not count in these allocations. As it is, seven of the bids went to the next ranked teams, so every team that got in 10 sanctioned games earned their Conference a bid. I’m personally happy to have my Conference (SAPP) have four bids, but I feel for the Gulf Coast. They have plenty of teams who would be very interesting to have at Regionals, but unfortunately, not a single one of their teams locked up 10 sanctioned games. If Terminus had happened, we could be looking at very different bid allocations. Accordingly, those teams have my sympathies.
The Big Three
Georgia Dawgma (14-5)
Rankings: #10 USAU, #15 Skyd, #19 Ultiworld
Key IR Wins: UF x3, FSU x2, UCF
Key IR Losses: FSU
Key OR Wins: Ohio State (13-9), Michigan (12-8)
Key OR Losses: Ohio State (6-14), Tufts (5-11), Northwestern (7-10)
It is unfortunate that Terminus’s weather cancellation took Georgia’s opportunity to rack up some more wins and make sure the rest of the region – who hasn’t really seen much of them – wasn’t getting any ideas. They didn’t get the opportunity to smash up teams or develop their chemistry and depth. Meanwhile, both Florida State and Central Florida were able to get in their reps at Centex and the gap is closer for it. I think everyone still sees them as the team to beat, but a two bid region is a lot more comfortable for them. Their season, on the whole, has shown they have a group that can compete with elite teams. The only teams to open up on them are teams that could be considered Championship contenders: Tufts and Ohio State. What concerns you are losses to Florida State and Northeastern, though both were close and fairly early this season, and a history of talent not equating to Natties berths. They should expect little resistance on their way to the SAPP Championship.
Central Florida Sirens (16-11)
Rankings: #16 USAU, #16 Skyd, #16 Ultiworld
Key IR Wins: Florida
Key IR Losses: FSU x2, UGA, UF
Key OR Wins: Wisconsin (9-6), Northwestern (9-3), UNC-Wilmington (12-11), Pittsburgh (15-0), Michigan (12-7), Stanford (15-10), Cal (12-4)
Key OR Losses: Ohio State (4-15), Carleton (5-13), Minnesota (7-15), North Carolina (6-9)
Central Florida’s weekend in Austin gave them mixed results, but not too unlike their coming out party at QCTU, they showed the capacity to keep up with the best or fall flat. When this team is clicking, they can control a game against Stanford, dominate Cal and Pittsburgh, and nearly beat Tufts. When they aren’t, they struggle to keep up with Minnesota or even score points against Carleton or Ohio State. While I have the utmost respect for Coach Tilley to reign in the team, at some point, you start to think that they are who they are. There isn’t a team in the country that they can’t beat, but they could also be in for a disappointing ending for the second straight year.
Florida State Seminole Ladies (17-8)
Rankings: #20 USAU, UR Skyd, #18 Ultiworld
Key IR Wins: UF x2, UCF x2, UGA, Tulane (13-1)
Key IR Losses: UGA x2
Key OR Wins: Michigan (13-7), Western Washington (12-3)
Key OR Losses: Ohio State (8-9), Northeastern (6-10), Virginia (6-9)
The other team to make a showing in Austin, expectations and opportunity were lower for the Seminole Ladies, who were placed in a still very competitive Division II. They totaled up five wins against lower ranked competition (although UC-SD and Western Washington are both nice Ws to add) and a pair of close losses to solidly ranked teams (UCLA and Colorado College). Their loss against UCLA kept them from getting games against the D-I elite, and while it was a solid weekend, it could have helped push them off the fence and into the third bid if they had notched another win. Still, they will push on into Florida Conference Champies looking to set themselves up for success at Regionals, and they’ll likely get some important tests in games against a South Florida team looking to make a name for itself, a Florida team that they always seem to play close, and of course against the Sirens. Their best showings against elite competition have been close losses, suggesting a team that has yet to get over the hump, though they have three wins against the other members of the Big Three. Those may be from the early season, but they inspire some confidence.
The threshold to be ranked increased to 10 sanctioned games, making a lot of teams NR.
- 4. Florida (39)
- 5. Tulane (NR)
- 6. South Florida (83)
- 7. Georgia Tech (73)
- 8. GCSU +1 (56) *going D-III this season
- 9. Auburn -1 (NR)
- 10. Emory (93)
- 11. Tennessee (116)
- 12. Alabama (NR)
- 13. Vanderbilt (NR)
- 14. Georgia State (NR)
- 15. Vanderbilt NEW (NR)
- 16. LSU (NR)
I brought Florida down to the field. Previously, they were in their own separate category – a tier of their own, where they had separated themselves, while not quite being with the Big Three – and I hold to that idea, but for organization’s sake, they are being slotted here.
Tulane, after some drama, managed to get into Terminus, which was then promptly rained out, keeping them from their 10 game threshold. I heard they were here, playing some scrimmages to get some reps, at least. Their solid 13-7 win over GCSU, an OR drubbing of South Carolina, and win over ‘Bama make them a favorite in the Gulf Coast.
South Florida took an adventure all the way to Austin. They’d go undefeated in Division-III Saturday play, beating pretty decent competition. It would result in them getting a crack at Division-II, where they were roughed up by Wash U. It is a bit of an ugly loss, as I’m not sure Wash U is much better than Tulane is. They’d add another loss, by a point to eventual D-III champ Rice, but probably a big growth weekend for Scalley.
Georgia Tech solidly remains in their 7 spot, winning their three games at Freaknik, including 13-8 over a good Clemson squad. They have added depth to their roster and have put together a strong season: a 15-3 record, with all three losses coming against solid teams, and only one of them by more than a point. It has been somewhat quiet, but they have positioned themselves as one of the region’s top teams.
GCSU vs. Auburn is tough. Auburn has their head to head, but GCSU has a stronger resume. This is just one of many things Terminus’s games could have helped suss out. It would have been great to find out more about Auburn. They also pulled out of the Kentucky Classic, but I don’t think that tourney would have told us too much, anyway. GCSU got in their Southerns games and had a good showing, losing only once in a close game to eventual tourney-winners, Carleton Eclipse. In their other games, nobody scored more than three on ’em. That’s enough to move them up.
After that, everything else remains the same. Emory went 1-2 at Southerns, losing two close games and winning another by a lot, and then having to forfeit their additional games. Georgia State is the only other team to have played, going 1-2 at Freaknik, beating SCAD but struggling against GT Wreck and Clemson. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alabama, Vanderbilt, and LSU play well at Gulf Coast Conference Championships and push for the lone bid.
This week, we will take a look at each Conference’s Championship tournament, talk about favorites, contenders, storylines, and the players to watch. It has been a heck of a season. The Series is here.