Southeast Women’s Regionals: Recap and Reacts

The culmination of an exciting season in Southeast Women’s, Regionals finally took place this past weekend. There were a lot of uncontrollables that took the teams away from the ideal: a postponement that left a lot of teams scrambling to find ways to keep their rosters flush, rains for the days leading up leaving the fields soggy & muddy, a shockingly beautiful Saturday morning, followed by a chilly and drizzling Sunday that kept the fields waterlogged, and a seven team format that made pool play a two day round robin. Making the best of a weekend that is built up, prepared for, and fantasized about all year is its own sort of mental game. Seven teams had to win that one, and beat the best teams in the region (that could attend), and claim whatever glory awaited them.

For those who haven’t checked them, UltiPhotos has some fantastic shots from the weekend, done by the talented Christina Schmidt.

Recap

A great weekend was not without flaws for Georgia Dawgma. This team showed up with their full roster and a cadre of fans in tow, a nice advantage to combat the battle vs. uncontrollables. They beat Florida and Florida State by six a piece, and rolled out early enough against Central Florida in the Final that they folded. Essentially, when they played the top ranked teams, they played very well. For a team with aspirations for the big show, that is an important trait to demonstrate to yourself. Central Florida kept it close in Pool Play, and while Georgia came out 9-7, the game was a 5-5 battle where Georgia could never really separate themselves. It is tempting to say this is more a reflection of the Sirens than Dawgma, but two other games give pause to that: Emory and Georgia Tech. Saturday’s battle with Emory was one of the tournament’s most exciting games. Emory went into high gear and Dawgma had to recollect to keep from letting it get out of hand. They took control, and didn’t relinquish it, but they came close, winning 13-11. A similar pattern played out in Sunday’s sluggish conditions, going down early, taking the lead, and then not putting away a weaker Georgia Tech team; this game, however, was irrelevant to standings, so not sure how Georgia approached it. The focus should definitely be on this team being the best in the Southeast.

A Georgia parent (the father of 7SL’s Emily Lloyd) bailing water out of the #1 field endzone. It was that sort of Sunday.

In contrast, the Central Florida Sirens put on a consistent performance, beating the lower seeds solidly, but really having to fight the other top teams. Against Florida State, they actually played catch up most of the game, trading after going down early. However, with the game at 9s, they made a three point run to end it. They would then go down early to Florida, 0-3, on Sunday. Now, this game, like UGA’s against GT, didn’t matter really, and the Sirens would take half 7-5 and win 9-6. They were overpowered by Georgia in the Final, an intense game quickly getting out of their reach. Against Florida in the game to go, UCF would win 13-5, but the game was closer than that score reflects – a common theme on Sunday – with a few breaks falling the Sirens’ way. Still, you can’t take away that this team proved themselves the second best team in the region and their only losses were only to the one team probably stronger than them.

This weekend’s results were a surprise to most, but not to Florida Fuel. They were confident they could beat the top teams in the region, and opening with a double game point loss to Florida State, while disappointing, was also proof of that. They set a great tone for their weekend. The Georgia game didn’t go as they would have hoped, but they didn’t look totally overwhelmed either. They took care of business against Tech and didn’t falter when they ran into Emory coming off their Georgia game. The only real surprise was Sunday morning, where a terrible case of the dropsies rendered their top end players unable to get any traction against a capable VUDU squad. The Vanderbilt game came as a definite shock and put FUEL in danger of missing the bracket. However, things worked out in their favor, and they took advantage. Whatever issue they had in the Vandy game infected Florida State for their backdoor Semi. FSU went up 3-1, with some of the fresh legs of their studs having just arrived that morning, but from there, the Seminole Ladies just couldn’t keep it together. I’m not sure what happened at such a crucial game, but they fell apart and FUEL walked from there, winning 9-5. The game to go saw the Florida ladies bidding for everything and giving what they had, but some bad luck and tired legs might have been too much to get past with Central Florida on the opposite sideline. They are likely pleased with the weekend, however, and proved they have the young talent to be in the picture again next year.

The other side of that is Florida State Seminole Ladies Ultimate team, who have to be pretty beat up physically and emotionally. Hard hit by the postponement, they were missing two of their top five players on Saturday and some other rotation players. They barely got by FUEL in round one, couldn’t hold on against Central Florida at the end of Saturday, and were put down by Georgia despite a full FSU effort. They did get back Lauren Collins, SJ Campbell, and some other notables on Sunday, which I thought would lead them to more success. Their fumbled game against Florida must have left them feeling helpless – oddly enough, Emory had some of those exact issues against Florida State in the round prior – and frustrated. No doubt, they didn’t expect their season to end where it did. However, there are some good signs for this group’s future.

I think most people didn’t know what to expect from Emory Luna, and they made a strong impression without making any real impact. They didn’t have any trouble with shorthanded Georgia Tech or Vandy squads, making them perhaps look like they belonged in the top five rather than the bottom three. They gave Georgia easily the toughest test of the weekend, battling every step of the way, but ultimately fell short, 11-13. The letdown carried over to the FUEL game, where they never really got their footing under them. They were pretty helpless against Central Florida’s zone and transition offense combo on Sunday, but then fortune smiled on them. Florida’s loss to Vandy meant if Emory beat Florida State, they would break seed and be in contention. That obviously didn’t work out, but they played better against FSU than that score indicates. An oddly successful weekend for them considering they went 2-5 (forfeiting their 5th/6th game against Tech to go study for finals).

I’m afraid we won’t really know what Georgia Tech or Vanderbilt were capable of. Tech had eight players Saturday, with some very notable absences, including Leah Tsinajinnie (graduation). Vanderbilt had only nine. Both made their mark on Sunday, but ultimately, weren’t able to show their full arsenal.

Reactions

Georgia and Central Florida both have the makeup and resume of teams that should be middle of the pack at the College Championships. I’d be very surprised if they finished near the bottom but equally surprised if they made a run deep into the tournament. I still have concerns about Georgia’s health, as they seemed to be nursing injuries throughout the weekend. Amble Johnson will have them very prepared for the competition, but he’s not a magic healer. Central Florida has shown the capability to beat top teams but some consistency issues have plagued them. I do have questions about how they match up defensively when forced out of their very strong zone defense; their transition offense coming out of that zone is incredibly effective. I’ll probably do a more detailed analysis in the coming weeks.

Looking even further into the future, it is really hard to say what the Southeast will look like next year. I’m no Southeast historian, but there is a massive amount of talent leaving – possibly the strongest class ever. Georgia’s group of seniors could probably win the region by themselves, as much a comment on their ability as their numbers. Central Florida will still have Katie Fox and Amy Price, but that’s a far cry from the trove of talent they have now. The Fane/Dahl era of Fuel will end, and that’s a tough adjustment to make for a young team. Florida will still have a strong stable of downfield playes, but can Alana Hardeman shoulder the throwing load?

A lot (or all?) of these Dawgs have played their last Southeast Regionals…but their last games for Georgia will be in Madison.

For those outside of Regionals, I’m sketchy on details, but I believe all of the Gulf Coast’s major players are losing their stud handlers that power their offenses (Tulane’s Stephanie Hurwitz, Vanderbilt’s Emily Dayton, Alabama’s Abby Sedlacek, Auburn’s Katie Cuson) and South Florida also has a large senior class, featuring Teal Dabney and Tessa Walter. Georgia College’s and Tennessee’s small rosters are seeing their top players move on as well.

Super early, mostly baseless, prediction is that Florida State is the team to beat next year. Kristin Lloyd will probably be the best player in the region come spring, and they’ll have Kari Tomarelli, Skylar Taggart, Kearstin Rew, and Alleigh Grover in big roles. Tomarelli, in particular, is one of the region’s rising stars. Georgia Tech has added so much young talent and, after Tsinajinnie, their handlers are all returning. They’ll come into the year with a trio of handlers ready to go and Donnya Ajdari downfield, and could threaten to win SAPP. Emory’s status is also up in the air, and with so much uncertainty for them and Georgia, it should be noted that the SAPP should be really interesting.

Florida Women’s Conference Championship Preview

What the Florida Conference lacks in quantity, they make up for in quality. The conference features two of the Southeast’s brightest national contenders, but it isn’t all top heavy. Behind Central Florida and Florida State are two more of the region’s best teams in Florida and South Florida. With five bids to regionals, the pressure isn’t really on, yet these teams want to not only build momentum for the next level in the Series, but also want to be in the best position for success in Tupelo.

The Setup

Seeding

  1. Central Florida
  2. Florida State
  3. Florida
  4. Florida-B
  5. South Florida
  6. Florida State-B

The Format

A round robin for bracket placement will result in all six teams having a shot on Sunday. The top two seeds will get byes into the Semis.

The Teams

The Favorite – Florida State Seminole Ladies Ultimate Team

The question of who the top team in the Conference is probably won’t be answered until Regionals, but for the favorite in Gainesville, Florida State’s 2-0 record vs. Central Florida wins the day. After putting together one of the strongest years their program has ever seen, they fell just short of earning a third bid to the College Championships for the SE, but as Coach Matt Childs explains, “Ultimately, if you’d told me in January that the Southeast would have 2 bids to Nationals, I’d be ecstatic.” With the bid situation almost guaranteeing them a Regionals berth, the focus is all on that tournament. Champies, for the Seminole Ladies, is about preparing themselves to top out UCF, Florida, and company, developing and honing strategies to counteract their top opponents. Childs also wants to make the easiest road to a Nationals bid as possible, adding, “I would like to finish at least 2nd at conferences so we can avoid playing Georgia in the Semis.”

While FSU’s game has grown more versatile and their roster deeper, it still feels like their offense is operating at its best when Megan Reeves (#17) is shooting up the line and putting up a huge huck. Sarah Clark (#7) has emerged as a big time target for Reeves and her fellow handlers. However, it may be Lauren Collins (#22) that ends up impacting their game the most. No longer is she just a tall and rangy receiver. In part due to her time with mixed club team Sabre Corp, LC has developed fantastic disc skills, in addition to a shutdown defender able to match up with the region’s downfield elite. Add in giant throws from SJ Campbell (#3) and the young, versatile talent of Kristin Lloyd (#10) and you’ve got a product that is capable of winning more than just the Conference.

The Challengers

No contender in the region is closer to being a favorite than University of Central Florida Sirens. Almost all of us know the story of the 2012 Sirens, who dominated the region, an unquestioned favorite to take the lone bid to the College Championships, who fell short when it counted. Their road to redemption begins here, where they will look to defend their Conference crown. UCF’s regular season has been stronger than Florida State’s, but the two have seen each other twice, and both times, FSU won. Florida State is 5-5 against common opponents while UCF is 4-5 and both of the head to head FSU wins were at the early season Florida Winter Classic. I wouldn’t blame anyone who’d put their money on the Sirens. I imagine they’ll be taking a similar approach to FSU’s, meaning, should they see each other, they won’t be full throttle; the coaches from both squads are looking to gain the strategic advantage without showing their opponents their hands. However, both of these are passionate teams, with Captain Mariel Hammond adding, “Our approach will be to take these games like every game is the final game to go to Nationals. We need to bring that fire and intensity every game.” Once the pull goes up, both squads may have trouble holding back.

Central Florida maintains some aspects of last year’s dominant squad – namely, the effectiveness of their zone play. They are an aggressive defensive group that will battle in the air and hustle to spots to close windows before the offense can hit them. That attitude carries over to their fast break and handler-cutting heavy offensive looks. Sunny Harris (#23) is the lively centerpiece behind the disc and in the back of their zone, while Mariel Hammond’s (#12) forceful cutting, with the help of Amy Price (#3) propels their downfield offense. Katie Young (#9) and Samantha Fox (#26) have become huge parts of the Siren disc movement and their contributions are critical to the team’s offensive success. However, their leadership is quick to praise their depth. “Our team has been bit by the injury bug at several key positions,” explained Coach Joe Tilley. He was seconded by Young, adding “[Injuries] forced us to trust those 2nd year players and rookies with field time, and I think it has paid off tremendously.”

It may be a down year for Florida FUEL in many people’s eyes, but smart teams know not to look past them. They’ve seen Georgia three times, Central Florida twice, and Florida State once, and most of those games were close. They’ve been going up against tough competition all season at QCTU, Music City, and Centex. The Regional title, if it were a belt, would still be wrapped around their waist. Jenna Dahl and Jackie Fane are still two of the region’s most dangerous handlers and Morgan Hartmann is plenty capable of getting downfield to catch their hucks and breaks. Their primary zone looks put their best players in position to move around, confusing offenses and forcing turns.

South Florida Scalleywenches is the last team really in the running. Tall Teal Dabney might be the first thing you notice, with her big pulls and over the top throws attracting attention, but Tessa Walter is the player to watch. As their primary handler, the team needs her breaks and reset cutting to help their offense when the deep game isn’t working. She has a number of viable targets, and with Dabney, MK Stephan, and Morgan Brazel, they tend to win a high percentage of battles in the air. Coach Jordan Knoten has them running a zone that puts the 6’0″ Dabney and her lengthy wing span right in front of throwers and their athletes downfield to eat up whatever floats past. This squad has been nipping at Florida’s heels this season and this tournament might be the perfect time for USF to strike.

The Longshots

Florida-B Diesel and Florida State-B finish out the grouping here. Diesel’s put together a solid year, with no B team they played keeping it close, and nearly beating Alabama. Meanwhile, FSU-B’s squad has two wins on the year and both were blowouts. Both of these teams have seen plenty of games and one of them will get to extend their season.

Predictions

Florida State over Central Florida in the Final. South Florida upsets Florida for third place. Florida-B takes the last bid over FSU-B.

  1. Florida State
  2. UCF
  3. USF
  4. Florida
  5. Florida-B
  6. FSU-B

Southeast Women’s Snapshot: Southeast Hate

College2011_Southeast

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 Field

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.

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.