Final #Bidwatch (Open and Women’s): Watch Over!

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.

Women’s Bidwatch: The End Is Nigh

The #bidwatch is nearly over. On Wednesday, USAU released the preliminary final rankings for the 2013 regular season. There is no competition left that will impact these rankings or the bid picture. Yet, everything isn’t settled…

Top 25

4-3-WomensRankings

The big item here is the disappearance of Florida State. They were in the #19 spot in the last rankings – just a tiny margin between them and Northeastern for the last strength bid – and now are no longer an eligible team. Considering they had 26 games on the year, it is very likely to be a roster issue, and a visit to their scorereporter page shows only one verified tournament (UPDATE: only one tournament – Florida Winter Classic – is no longer verified and FSU will appear in Friday’s rankings). Not only was Florida State in a position to possibly take a bid, but their lack of a ranking hurts Northeastern, who has a 10-6 win over them factoring in for them.

Northeastern Valkyrie falls out of the bid picture, going from #17 to #20 and getting jumped for their New England strength bid. Not only did they lose their win over FSU, but they were victimized by another good win being devalued. Michigan is in, from what we know, the same situation as the Seminole Ladies, and the Valkyries have a W vs. Michigan too. Plus, two of the teams that jumped them – North Carolina and UNC-Wilmington – have a loss to Michigan (note: UNC-W is 1-1 against Michigan, but their loss was by a far larger margin). (UPDATE: Michigan’s results have recently been validated) Most of the rest of the country is probably breathing a sigh of relief that New England, more topheavy with D-III talent than D-I, is not snagging a second bid.

There were other moves in the rankings that didn’t impact the bid situation. Washington was jumped by Iowa State. Georgia fell four spots from #10 to #14. Similarly, Virginia and Santa Barbara move above Wisconsin. Bowdoin continues to be undefeated following Garden State, but falls due to strength of competition, though they will likely end up D-III. UNC-Wilmington makes their move from #20 to #16, the second to last bid spot, while Stanford drops one spot to #17, the bid threshold. North Carolina, despite losing two points on their rating, moves up to #18. Should Florida State and/or Michigan’s results be reinstated, the bid situation could change.

#Bidwatch

I’ll list the total number of bids, list every team that is holding a bid, and italicize the autobid team, to give you a more complete picture:

  • AC (2): #11 Virginia, #16 UNC-Wilmington
  • GL (1): #25 Valparaiso
  • ME (1): #50 Ottawa
  • NE (1): #3 Tufts
  • NC (5): #2 Carleton, #6 Iowa, #7 Iowa State, #10 Minnesota, #13 Wisconsin
  • NW (4): #1 Oregon, #5 British Columbia, #8 Washington, #9 Victoria
  • OV (1): #4 Ohio State
  • SC (1): #21 Colorado
  • SE (2): #14 Georgia, #15 Central Florida
  • SW (2): #12 UC-Santa Barbara, #17 Stanford

The only bid movement is, as previously mentioned, one from the New England Region to the Atlantic Coast Region. Many analysts believe this is appropriate, as the Atlantic Coast has three strong teams in Virginia, North Carolina, and UNC-Wilmington vs. Tufts, Northeastern, and Dartmouth from New England. Since three regions have a top team outside of the top 20, the bid threshold is the #17 spot, where Stanford is. Central Florida and UNC-Wilmington are above that and North Carolina and Sonoma State are behind that. Florida State is the last team that would factor in.

If Florida State’s results are validated, that would benefit Northeastern, who has a win over them. However, their ratings on their own are probably not enough to be above Stanford. If Michigan’s results are reinstated, however, it serves to benefit not only Northeastern, but Florida State (who has a 13-7 victory over Flywheel) as well. North Carolina and UNC-Wilmington has their aforementioned losses to Michigan. In this scenario, it might revert back to Northeastern vs. Florida State for the final bid, leaving the AC back on the outside.

As I’m writing this, Florida State and Michigan’s results have partially filled in as validated. There are a few teams scattered about that are still missing results, such as Wash U and NC State, which have small effects on the ratings and rankings. However, those effects could come into play when we are talking about a few points difference. Florida State’s Florida Winter Classic results are not yet validated, which would severely hurt their chance at the last bid (multiple games against top 20 teams UCF and Georgia) and teams that have beaten them.

Without really knowing how the math will work out, we can operate with this bid picture, but stayed tuned. Nervous teams on the bubble will be waiting anxiously for USAU to reveal what the final numbers say.

Women’s Bidwatch: #Bidwatch Bloodbath

The dust has settled after Centex, where many of the nation’s top teams went toe to toe, with lots of bids on the line. There are no major tournaments on the Women’s side before the Series, so while there may be a little movement, this is essentially the final bid picture. In the last rankings, which I didn’t do a write up for, Stanford moved up from the SW and took a bid out of the hands of Iowa State. Iowa State won Centex, so you can bet they are moving up. Who else went where? Let’s look at the Top 25.

3-27-WomensRankings

The big mover here is Iowa State, and rightfully so. I understand how their previous record pushed them lower, but it was clear they were way better than that number. Their (second consecutive) Centex Championship included wins over the #2, #3, and #4 team in the country and only one loss, to that same #4 team. They move up 12 spots to #8. UNC-Wilmington moves up 10 spots, scoring their second marquee win of the season by beating Ohio State in round one. Their Michigan win also looks a little better now. They’d add wins over Santa Barbara and Northeastern and good, close losses to Iowa State and Wisconsin in their 3-4 weekend. That leaves them just two spots outside of the bid picture (Bowdoin only has 6 games, would need 10 to qualify) behind Florida State. Tufts, North Carolina, and Michigan also move up.

Colorado takes an important fall out of the top 20, after going 2-5 at Centex. Their blowout losses to Wisconsin and Minnesota and solid loss to North Carolina didn’t help. Wisconsin only lost 98 points, but move down 4 spots to #12, after a 3-4 weekend in Austin. Whitman takes an 11 spot drop out of the Top 20, despite going 4-2. They could have used a marquee win, but their loss to Texas took away some of their opportunity. Florida State loses just 12 points, but moves three spots down (two if you don’t count Bowdoin), the difference between a strength bid and not.

#Bidwatch

I’ll list the total number of bids, list every team that is holding a bid, and italicize the autobid team, to give you a more complete picture:

  • AC (1): #13 Virginia
  • GL (1): #23 Michigan
  • ME (1): #48 Ottawa
  • NE (2): #4 Tufts, #17 Northeastern
  • NC (5): #2 Carleton, #6 Iowa, #8 Iowa State, #11 Minnesota, #12 Wisconsin
  • NW (4): #1 Oregon, #5 British Columbia, #7 Washington, #9 Victoria
  • OV (1): #3 Ohio State
  • SC (1): #24 Colorado
  • SE (2): #1 Georgia, #15 Central Florida
  • SW (2): #14 UC-Santa Barbara, #16 Stanford

The North Central takes back its fifth bid, the Northwest gives up its fifth bid. The Southeast gives up a bid while New England takes one. As noted earlier, the Southwest took a bid in last week’s rankings, which I didn’t write about. This gives us 3 two bid regions, 1 four bid region, and 1 five bid region. Man, the results are really close. #17 Northeastern is sitting on the final strength bid with 1824 points. Florida State is next eligible in line, with 1817 points. UNC-Wilmington has 1814. Those are all very close numbers, and scoring an extra couple of points in a game could have been all the difference for any of these three teams.

Iowa State’s big jump doesn’t help many teams, as they had only lost three games all year (to Northwestern, Ohio State, and Minnesota). Tufts’s only losses are to UNC, Iowa, and Iowa State, which did help UNC stay close in the rankings (just behind UNC-W). Basically, with no major moves, few teams really helped or hurt each other. Colorado’s fall didn’t help North Carolina, I guess.

All in all, it came down to who was winning games. Around this time, each year, conversation begins about what should merit a bid, and it often comes down to which is more important: Strength of Schedule or Wins/Losses. The USAU dictates who gets the bids, so the teams have to find the best balance they can. The USAU’s math should also seek to create a good balance between these two, but there will also be some who disagree. Teams also have to worry about getting experience so their team is best prepared for the Series. Sometimes, you have to play good teams and take lumps to do it. It is very hard to discover where the line is that you want to walk, let alone to walk on it by getting the results you want.

Take a look at five teams who show the differences in these ideas. Victoria and Northeastern have weaker schedules, but better winning percentages. UNC-Wilmington and North Carolina have stronger schedules but lower winning percentages. Florida State falls somewhere in between on these concepts. Victoria, for example, has 10 games total, including: 13-8 vs. UCSB, 11-3 vs. Stanford, and 7-6 vs. Sonoma. They have blowout wins over lesser teams and a single loss, by one point, to Western Washington. That huge margin of victory against Stanford is a significant buoy for them, but they have only a few games vs. high level competition, yet sit at #9 in USAU’s rankings. UNC is 9-12 on the year, including: 11-10 vs. Virginia, 15-13 vs. Ohio State, 13-10 vs. Northeastern, 9-6 vs. UCSB, and 12-10 vs. Michigan. They do have two losses to Pittsburgh, albeit close, and one bad loss to Michigan. Their resume has a lot of red in it, but most of it close games against strong competition. The story is the same for Northeastern and UNC-Wilmington. Florida State is 18-8, attending Florida Winter Classic, QCTU, their hometown Tally Classic, and Centex’s D-II. Their losses to lower tier teams at Centex in UCLA and Colorado College really make a big difference for them, as does a 6-10 loss to Northeastern at QCTU.

With so little left on the docket, this is mostly how the bid picture will be shaped. The Series is going to be very exciting. The Atlantic Coast has three strong teams fighting for one bid. The Southeast has three fighting for two bids. The North Central got all five bids they need, or else it would have gotten very crazy. Pittsburgh in the Ohio Valley, California and Sonoma State in the Southwest, Northwestern and Texas in the South Central, and Dartmouth in New England can all challenge current bidholders for the ticket to the Championships. Will anybody step back up to Michigan in the Great Lakes? Will it be Ottawa or NYU or someone else in the ME? It’ll be interesting to watch, no matter how you slice it.

Women’s Bid Watch: First Looks

The much anticipated first USAU college rankings (Open, Women) came out yesterday afternoon, giving us our first taste of not only the national picture, but perhaps more importantly, which regions had earned bids so far and what teams were in position to move those bids around. Let’s take a look at the Top 20 (chosen because that’s the number of bids), the bid picture, and what to expect moving forward.

Top 20

  1. UBC (NW)
  2. Oregon (NW)
  3. Washington (NW)
  4. UCSB (SW)
  5. Carleton (NC)
  6. Victoria (NW)
  7. Colorado (SC)
  8. Iowa (NC)
  9. Whitman (NW)
  10. Stanford (SW)
  11. Sonoma State (SW)
  12. Colorado College (SC)
  13. California (SW)
  14. Western Washington (NW)
  15. Tufts (NE)
  16. Virginia (AC)
  17. UCSD (SW)
  18. MIT (NE)
  19. Ohio State (OV)
  20. Minnesota (NC)

Regions not represented here are the SE (#21 Georgia), GL (#30 Valparaiso), and ME (#60 Ottawa). The Ohio Valley and Atlantic Coast regions had one team each in the Top 20 and they were both in the bottom 5. The Northwest and Southwest dominate these rankings, with the North Central falling just behind that. However, if you look a little closer, almost every team has only one tournament’s worth of sanctioned games – the majority of them either from Pres Day or the SB Invite for the west coast or Queen City for the east coast – and a few have some other scattered wins.

Bid Watch

Here’s a breakdown of, if the season were to end today, how the bids would shake out, with strength bids in parentheses and the teams earning those strength bids.

  • AC (0)
  • GL (0)
  • ME (0)
  • NE (0)
  • NC (1): #8 Iowa
  • NW (5): #2 Oregon, #3 Washington, #6 Victoria, #9 Whitman, #14 W. Washington
  • OV (0)
  • SC (1): #12 Colorado College
  • SE (0)
  • SW (3): #10 Stanford, #11 Sonoma State, #13 California

It isn’t hard to see how those Top 20 rankings translate into the Northwest and Southwest hogging all of the bids! This isn’t unusual. Last year – the first year of this bid system – there were five regions with no strength bids when the first rankings dropped. In 2011, if I correctly applied the current bid system to their rankings, it would have been another five 0 bid regions in the initial rankings. For reference, 2012’s final rankings had six regions with no strength bids (New England, Metro East, Great Lakes, South Central, South East, and Ohio Valley) and 2011 would have had four regions (ME, NE, OV, SE) with no strength bids. From what I see, it looks as if typically the bids spread to the regions already holding a bid, so you end up with a few 2/3 bid regions and one region with 4/5.

Looking at a few results, there are couple of things that could have made these rankings look different. Three teams (well, four, but one could have been either way) jump out at me as teams that could have changed the early bid picture: Texas, Iowa State, and either Central Florida or Florida State. Texas Melee’s location means they actually have seen a bunch of the Southwest teams ranked ahead of them at Pres Day. Of their five losses this season, three are at the hands Southwest teams, most notably a 7-12 loss to bid-holding California. If they beat USC, California, and keep it close with Oregon or UCSB, it wouldn’t surprise me if hold a bid, but alas. Iowa State Woman Scorned is a weird one to call out, because they are 12-2 with losses only to top 20 North Central teams. The issue, as far as rankings go, is that they are completely content to spread playing time and win games 15-13 and 13-11, even against lower ranked teams. Of their 12 wins, only three have come by six or more points (Maryland, Emory, Colorado St.) This lack of dominant wins hurts their numbers, keeping them from pushing high enough to take another bid for the North Central. Finally, the Southeast is a mess, as Georgia, Florida State, and Central Florida have beaten up on each other. If Central Florida only loses to Georgia at FWC and puts up those good scores at QCTU, they position the SE for another bid. The same is true of FSU, except they were a step away at QCTU. Georgia gets a pass for being the top ranked SE team.

The question at this point is what we should expect moving forward. Competition between the coasts kicks off this weekend with the Stanford Invite, where Carleton, and more importantly, North Carolina and Wisconsin – two teams not yet factoring into the bid picture – will compete with Northwest and Southwest teams. How these teams fare against the Southwest strength earners (California, Sonoma, and Stanford) will be important and I would be surprised if North Carolina didn’t yank a bid for the AC. The more important tournament is Women’s Centex in a couple of weekends, where the strength earners of the Northwest and Southwest will be attending and will see the top teams from pretty much every other region. The bid picture could change dramatically in Texas, where a Florida State, Pittsburgh, or Wash U could take extra bids off the hands of the evil empire of the NW and SW.

Keep tabs with the #BidWatch hashtag on twitter.