November 6, 2016

Men's at-large berth analysis and predictions

PART I

By Christan Shirk

The conference tournaments will wrap up Saturday and Sunday and 42 of the 62 berths in the NCAA men's tournament will have been claimed via automatic qualification (AQ). That leaves 20 at-large berths for the men's committee to award by selecting one team from Pool B and 18 from Pool C. (For a full explanation of the Pool B and Pool C classifications and the allocation of berths see the column AQ's, Pool B and Pool C? What does it all mean?) So who's in the running for the 19 Pool C and 1 Pool B at-large berths? Who will be dancing and who's season has come to a close?

Selection Criteria

Well, first let's quickly review the criteria the committee uses to evaluate teams and make the at-large selections. The selection criteria are found in Section 2.4 of the 2016 Division III Soccer Pre-Championships Manual (pgs. 21-22). The criteria is divided between primary and secondary criteria, the latter only being considered if the former does not enable a distinction to be made between schools. The criteria underwent a significant change prior to the 2013 season when the in-region/out-of-region distinction was abandoned. Previously only games versus "in-region" opponents were consider as part of the primary criteria with secondary criteria considering out-of-region and non-Division III competition. Now, primary criteria considers all Division III opponents while results versus non-Division III opponents (NAIA, NCCAA, Division II, Division I) are considered secondary criteria.

Primary Criteria (not listed in priority order)

  • Win-loss percentage against Division III opponents
  • Division III head-to-head competition
  • Results versus common Division III opponents
  • Results versus Division III teams ranked at the time of selection
  • Division III Strength-of-schedule

For further explanation of the criteria, including Strength of Schedule, results versus ranked teams, and a list of secondary criteria, go here or here.

Beyond the selection criteria, note the following principles concerning at-large selections.

  • Teams are selected on a national basis, using in-region selection criteria.
  • There will be be no predetermined regional allocations for Pools B and C.
  • There will be no maximum or minimum number of berths from one region.

Selection Committee

The NCAA championship tournament is administrated by the eight-member NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Committee which is composed of the chairs of their respective regional advisory committees. These committees make the at-large selections to complete the tournament field, assisted in the evaluation of teams by the Regional Advisory Committees. These are the same national and regional committees which release the pre-tournament weekly NCAA Regional Rankings. The members of these committees can be found on pages 9-13 of the Pre-Championships Manual.

At-Large Selection Timeline and Process

The process of making the at-large berth selections for the NCAA tournament starts with weekly NCAA regional rankings mentioned above. These rankings are done following the fourth last, third last, second last and last week prior to the tournament selections being made. The first three of these weekly rankings are, by design, a direct foreshadowing of the at-large selections because they are (1) done by the same committee that makes the at-large tournament selections and (2) done by applying the at-large selection history. You can learn more about the NCAA Regional Rankings here or here.

Following the release of the third weekly regional rankings the process is as follows.

  • Conference championships are completed by Sunday morning, November 6.
  • Results are submitted to the NCAA statistics website by the deadline of Sunday noon local time.
  • The NCAA compiles the data corresponding to the at-large selection criteria (win-loss-tie percentage against Division III opponents, results versus ranked Division III teams at the time of selection, Division III Strength-of-schedule) and provides it to Regional Advisory Committees.
  • The Regional Advisory Committees do their fourth regional rankings in the same manner as the previous three weeks. The results versus ranked Division III teams (RvR) criteria is based on who was ranked in the Week 3 rankings.
  • The national committee makes adjustments to the regional rankings as they see fit. In comparing teams across regions on a national basis, the national committe may consider an updated RvR based on opponents were ranked in the fourth and final rankings that were just done.
  • Pool B teams (independent institutions and institutions that are members of conferences that do not receive an automatic berth in the tournament) in the final regional rankings are identified.
  • The highest ranked Pool B candidate from each region is placed "on the board", the teams are discussed, and one team is selected for the lone Pool B berth.
  • Pool C teams (teams who were not awarded their conference's automatic berth and unselected Pool B teams) in the final regional rankings are identified.
  • The highest ranked Pool C candidate from each region is placed "on the board", the eight teams discussed, and one team is selected. The next highest ranked Pool C candidate from the selected team's region is added to the board and the process repeats until all 19 Pool C at-large berths have been awarded.

The 20 at-large selections are added to the 42 teams who were awarded their conference's automatic berth, completing the 62-team field at which point the committee begins the process of grouping the teams and developing the tournament bracket with geographical proximity playing a major role. You can read more about that here.

Background: Observations from the Past

The third NCAA weekly regional rankings, the last rankings published prior to the tournament field being announced, will be used as the starting point to evaluate the Pool B and Pool C landscape. The reason for this is that these rankings are done by the same national and regional committees which make the at-large selections and are done by applying the same criteria that is used for making the at-large selections. Therefore, by design, the NCAA regional rankings are a direct foreshadowing of the at-large selections, providing a certain level of transparency to the at-large selection process. It is for this reason that these rankings are so important and insightful. (Note: A fourth ranking is done Sunday night after all conference championships are complete and serves as the basis for the at-large selections, but those rankings will only be published after the tournament field is announced.)

Furthermore, a comparison of the at-large selections and third weekly regional rankings over the past several years yields the following observations.  

  • In the past nine years (2007-2015) no men's team that was unranked in the third weekly regional rankings (those released the Wednesday before the selections) was selected.
  • There will probably be twice as many Pool C candidates in the rankings as available berths. For example, last year there were 39 Pool C men's teams in the third rankings but only 18 Pool C berths available.  In the four years before that, the ratio was 38/18, 44/19, 38/20 and 40/19.
  • Regions generally have two or three ranked teams not selected, maybe one more or one less for the weakest and strongest regions in that particular year.
  • Within a region, rarely does a lower ranked team in the third weekly rankings get selected ahead of a higher ranked team. Last year there were four examples of this out of eighteen men's selections, which was an unusually high number. In 2014 there were only two examples of this (both involving teams ranked one after the other) and most years there has been just one instance of this. The few times a team has been selected instead of another that had been ranked higher, the results after the third published rankings served as a very reasonable explanation.
  • Most of the at-large selections come from the top half of each region's rankings.
  • There has been no indication that that conference tournament results are weighted extra because they are the most recent results nor because they may be considered "big" games, and they shouldn't as the primary and secondary selection criteria makes no such allowance.

This leads to the following conclusions:  

  • A team that is not ranked in the third regional rankings has virtually no shot at a Pool C berth.
  • Many ranked teams will not be participating in the tournament.  It isn't good enough to simply be ranked to gain an at-large berth.
  • In fact, a team usually needs to be in the top half to two-thirds of their regional rankings to be selected for an at-large berth.
  • Do not expect big jumps or falls due to the final week's results (mostly conference tournaments), which makes sense as one week only represents about 10% of the total schedule and conference tournament results are not weighted extra. Furthermore, any team in need of an at-large berth presumably lost or tied in the final week minimizing chances they would climb the rankings.

PART II

By Christan Shirk

Using the Regional Rankings as a Guide

Well, that was quite the introduction. Let's now take a look at the teams that were ranked this year to see where things stand. We'll list the teams as ranked in the third published rankings followed by previously ranked teams. The teams are color-coded according to their Pool: Pool A (AQ), Pool B, and Pool C. The Division III record, winning percentage, and record versus ranked teams have been updated to account for the results this past week that were not accounted for in the third weekly rankings. The Strength-of-Schedule (SoS) value is an approximate updated value that should be within a few percentage points.

Classification of teams: AQ (Pool A)   Pool B   Pool C
NEW ENGLAND REGION 11/2 data sheet (for results thru 10/30)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
1 1 1 Amherst 16-1-1 (.917) .575 4-1-1 W2-1 Bowdoin (H); W3-0 Hamilton (H)
2 3 2 Mass-Boston 17-1-2 (.900) .540 2-0-1 W7-2 Eastern Conn. (H); W2-1 Rhode Island Col. (H)
7 7 3 Babson 11-5-3 (.658) .599 4-3-2 L1-2(2ot) Wheaton (Mass.) (H)
8 4 Brandeis 10-5-3 (.639) .600 5-4-1 L0-1 New York University (A)
8 2 5 Tufts 9-5-2 (.625) .605 4-3-0  
4 5 6 Middlebury 10-4-3 (.676) .577 2-2-1 L1-2(ot) Hamilton (N)
5 6 7 Rhode Island Col. 15-4-1 (.775) .579 1-4-0 W1-0(ot) Western Conn. (H); L1-2 Mass-Boston (A)
3 4 8 Clark 14-5-0 (.737) .558 1-3-0 L2-3(ot) Springfield (N)
6 9 9 Williams 9-4-3 (.656) .604 2-3-2  
12 10 Bowdoin 9-4-4 (.647) .589 2-3-2 L1-2 Amherst (A)
11 Endicott 12-5-3 (.675) .554 1-2-1 T2-2(2ot) Western New England (H)
12 Wheaton (Mass.) 12-7-2 (.619) .595 4-1-0 W3-1 Coast Guard (H); W2-1(2ot) Babson (A); L1-3 Springfield (A)
10 10 Connecticut Col. 10-5-1 (.656) .543 1-3-1  
11 11 Coast Guard 9-6-3 (.583) .556 1-2-1 L1-3 Wheaton (Mass.) (A)
9 12 WPI 9-4-4 (.647) .551 1-2-2  
Springfield 18-1-1 (.925) .511 3-1-1 W3-2(ot) Clark (N); W3-1 Wheaton (Mass.) (N)
EAST REGION 11/2 data sheet (for results thru 10/30)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
3 1 1 Cortland State 17-2-0 (.895) .569 4-2-0 W1-0 Buffalo St. (H); W1-0 Oneonta St. (H)
2 2 2 Oneonta State 14-6-1 (.690) .623 3-5-0 W4-0 Fredonia St. (H); L1-0 Cortland St. (A)
1 3 3 Rochester 9-4-3 (.656) .617 4-3-1 W1-0 Emory (H)
4 4 4 St. Lawrence 11-4-0 (.733) .547 2-1-0  
7 8 5 Hobart 9-5-4 (.611) .571 2-3-0 T1-1(2ot) Skidmore (H)
8 6 6 Fredonia State 11-7-2 (.600) .567 1-3-0 L4-0 Oneonta St. (A)
5 7 7 Vassar 14-3-2 (.789) .552 1-3-1 W3-1 RPI (H); W3-2 Skidmore (H)
5 8 New Paltz State 8-4-7 (.605) .569 2-1-1  
6 Buffalo State 11-7-1 (.605) .563 1-6-0 L1-0 Cortland St. (A)
MID-ATLANTIC REGION 11/2 data sheet (for results thru 10/30)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
1 1 1 Messiah 17-0-3 (.925) .571 2-0-3 W4-0 Arcadia (H); W4-1 Lebanon Valley (H)
2 2 2 Franklin & Marshall 12-3-4 (.737) .576 4-2-1 T0-0(2ot) Johns Hopkins (N); L1-2 Haverford (A)
3 3 3 Elizabethtown 13-3-2 (.778) .554 2-3-1 W3-1 Susquehanna (H); L0-1 Scranton (H)
4 4 4 Haverford 13-3-3 (.763) .571 3-2-1 W2-1(ot) Washington Col. (H); W2-1 Frank. & Marsh. (H)
6 5 5 Scranton 14-3-1 (.806) .561 4-2-1 W2-1 Drew (H); W1-0 Elizabethtown (A)
5 6 6 Drew 10-5-3 (.639) .548 1-2-1 L1-2 Scranton (A)
9 7 7 Johns Hopkins 12-3-3 (.750) .521 1-2-1 T0-0(2ot) Franklin and Marshall (N)
7 8 8 Gettysburg 9-4-3 (.656) .557 0-4-1  
9 9 Misericordia 12-5-3 (.675) .533 0-1-1 W3-0 DeSales (H); T1-1(2ot) Eastern (H)
8 Lebanon Valley 13-4-0 (.765) .511 1-2-0 W2-0 Alvernia (H); L1-4 Messiah (A)
SOUTH ATLANTIC REGION 11/2 data sheet (for results thru 10/30)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
1 1 1 Rowan 16-2-1 (.868) .617 5-2-0 W1-0 TCNJ (H); L0-3 Montclair State (H)
2 2 2 Rutgers-Newark 18-3-0 (.857) .603 4-2-0 L0-2 Montclair State (H)
3 3 3 Lynchburg 16-1-4 (.857) .582 2-1-1 W2-1 Randolph (H); W1-0(ot) Randolph-Macon (H); W2-1 Wash. & Lee (A)
5 5 4 Washington & Lee 15-4-1 (.775) .569 3-3-0 W2-0 Bridgewater (Va.) (H); W3-0 Roanoke (N); L1-2 Lynchburg (H)
4 4 5 Chris. Newport 17-2-1 (.875) .571 0-2-0 W2-1(2ot) Frostburg St. (H); W1-0 Mary Wash. (H)
8 8 6 Montclair State 16-5-1 (.750) .632 2-4-0 W2-0 Rutgers-Newark (A); W3-0 Rowan (A)
6 6 7 Emory 10-5-1 (.656) .603 1-3-1 L0-1 Rochester (A)
7 8 Kean 14-5-1 (.725) .564 2-3-0  
7 St. Mary's (Md.) 12-4-2 (.722) .536 0-0-1  
GREAT LAKES REGION 11/2 data sheet (for results thru 10/30)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
4 1 1 DePauw 11-5-1 (.676) .569 4-2-0 L1-4 Kenyon (A)
7 7 2 Carnegie Mellon 12-3-2 (.765) .559 1-2-2 W2-0 Case Western Reserve (H)
6 6 3 Kenyon 17-2-0 (.895) .540 4-1-0 W4-1 DePauw (H); W2-1(2ot) Oberlin (H)
3 2 4 Ohio Wesleyan 10-4-3 (.676) .560 3-3-1  
1 4 5 Ohio Northern 16-1-4 (.857) .524 1-0-1 W4-0 Capital (H); T2-2(2ot) John Carroll (A)
2 3 6 Oberlin 15-4-1 (.775) .559 1-4-0 W2-1 Wabash (H); L1-2(2ot) Kenyon (A)
5 5 7 Hanover 15-4-0 (.789) .556 2-3-0 W2-1(2ot) Transylvania (A); W1-0 Rose-Hulman (A)
8 Rose-Hulman 14-6-0 (.700) .538 1-3-0 W3-1 Mount St. Joseph (N); L0-1 Hanover (H)
8 John Carroll 12-5-3 (.675) .559 0-3-2 W7-1 Marietta (H); T2-2(2ot) Ohio Northern (H)
8 Wabash 11-6-2 (.632) .538 2-5-1 L1-2 Oberlin (A)
CENTRAL REGION 11/2 data sheet (for results thru 10/30)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
1 1 1 Chicago 16-0-2 (.944) .644 8-0-1 T0-0(2ot) Washington U. (A)
2 2 2 Carthage 17-3-0 (.850) .589 3-2-0 W3-0 Ill. Wesleyan (H); W2-1 Wheaton (Ill.) (H)
3 3 3 Washington U. 10-4-2 (.688) .591 1-4-2 T0-0(2ot) Chicago (H)
6 4 Benedictine 14-3-2 (.789) .523 1-1-1 W2-0 Aurora (H); W3-0 Wisc. Lutheran (H)
5 5 Dominican 12-2-4 (.778) .524 0-2-1 T2-2(2ot) Wisc. Lutheran (H)
6 5 6 Calvin 18-2-0 (.900) .509 1-1-0 W7-1 Albion (H); W4-2 Alma (H)
4 4 North Park 10-7-1 (.583) .565 1-4-1 L1-3 Wheaton (Ill.) (H)
NORTH REGION 11/2 data sheet (for results thru 10/30)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
2 1 1 St. Thomas 16-1-3 (.875) .555 2-0-1 W1-0(ot) Augsburg (H); W1-0 Macalester (H)
2 2 UW-Whitewater 13-4-3 (.725) .580 2-3-1  
5 3 Loras 13-5-0 (.722) .586 0-4-0 W5-2 Simpson (H); L3-4 Luther (H)
4 4 Macalester 13-4-3 (.725) .576 0-2-1 W2-0 St. John's (H); L0-1 St. Thomas (A)
6 6 5 St. Norbert 16-3-1 (.825) .543 2-0-0 W3-2 Knox (N); W2-1(ot) Grinnell (N)
1 3 6 Dubuque 13-5-0 (.722) .543 1-0-0 L0-4 Luther (H)
3 4 Luther 14-5-2 (.714) .606 3-4-1 W4-0 Dubuque (A); W4-3 Loras (A)
5 Wartburg 12-7-1 (.625) .575 1-3-0  
WEST REGION 11/2 data sheet (for results thru 10/30)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
1 1 1 Trinity (Texas) 20-1-0 (.952) .543 6-0-0 W5-1 Austin (N); W2-1(2ot) Colorado Col. (N)
2 2 Chapman 14-5-2 (.714) .550 1-0-0 W2-0 La Verne (A); L0-2 Redlands (A)
3 4 3 Texas-Dallas 13-4-2 (.737) .556 1-2-1 T0-0(2ot) Concordia (Tx.) (H); W2-0 Hardin-Simmons (H)
2 3 4 Colorado College 15-3-1 (.816) .534 0-3-1 W1-0 Texas Lutheran (N); L1-2(2ot) Trinity (Tx.) (N)
5 Hardin-Simmons 9-4-3 (.656) .572 0-3-1 T1-1(2ot) Texas-Tyler (N); L0-2 Texas-Dallas (A)
5 5 Whitworth 12-3-3 (.750) .537 0-2-0 T1-1(2ot) Whitman (H)
4 Redlands 16-5-0 (.762) .547 2-2-0 W2-0 Claremont-M-S (H); W2-0 Chapman (H)

SoS - Division III Strength of Schedule (weighted OWP-OOWP)
RvR - Record versus Ranked Opponents (opponents ranked in the third weekly rankings released November 2.)
(for further explanation of how Strength of Schedule is calulated and Record versus Ranked Opponents is determined, read this or the Pre-Championships Manual, pgs. 22, 44-45.)

 

PART III

By Ryan Harmanis

Pool B Analysis and Predictions

There is one Pool B berth available, and only one Pool B team in the regional rankings. Congrats, UW-Whitewater – you’re a lock for the Pool B berth. Even if another Pool B team were to jump into the final North Region rankings, they wouldn’t top Whitewater’s record, two ranked wins, or strong SOS.

The Pool C Candidates

The third published NCAA regional rankings contain 41 Pool C teams which is a typical number. More improtantly, it is more than double the 19 available Pool C berths. So, which 19 of the 41 teams in blue will the NCAA committee select? Let's throw all 41 Pool C candidates in the table below. The 19 at-large selections will come from this list.

POOL C CANDIDATES (listed alphabetically)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
7 7 3 Babson 11-5-3 (.658) .599 4-3-2 L1-2(2ot) Wheaton (Mass.) (H)
12 10 Bowdoin 9-4-4 (.647) .589 2-3-2 L1-2 Amherst (A)
8 4 Brandeis 10-5-3 (.639) .600 5-4-1 L0-1 New York University (A)
7 7 2 Carnegie Mellon 12-3-2 (.765) .559 1-2-2 W2-0 Case Western Reserve (H)
2 2 Chapman 14-5-2 (.714) .550 1-0-0 W2-0 La Verne (A); L0-2 Redlands (A)
3 4 8 Clark 14-5-0 (.737) .558 1-3-0 L2-3(ot) Springfield (N)
2 3 4 Colorado College 15-3-1 (.816) .534 0-3-1 W1-0 Texas Lutheran (N); L1-2(2ot) Trinity (Tx.) (N)
4 1 1 DePauw 11-5-1 (.676) .569 4-2-0 L1-4 Kenyon (A)
5 5 Dominican 12-2-4 (.778) .524 0-2-1 T2-2(2ot) Wisc. Lutheran (H)
5 6 6 Drew 10-5-3 (.639) .548 1-2-1 L1-2 Scranton (A)
1 3 6 Dubuque 13-5-0 (.722) .543 1-0-0 L0-4 Luther (H)
3 3 3 Elizabethtown 13-3-2 (.778) .554 2-3-1 W3-1 Susquehanna (H); L0-1 Scranton (H)
6 6 7 Emory 10-5-1 (.656) .603 1-3-1 L0-1 Rochester (A)
11 Endicott 12-5-3 (.675) .554 1-2-1 T2-2(2ot) Western New England (H)
2 2 2 Franklin & Marshall 12-3-4 (.737) .576 4-2-1 T0-0(2ot) Johns Hopkins (N); L1-2 Haverford (A)
8 6 6 Fredonia State 11-7-2 (.600) .567 1-3-0 L4-0 Oneonta St. (A)
7 8 8 Gettysburg 9-4-3 (.656) .557 0-4-1  
5 Hardin-Simmons 9-4-3 (.656) .572 0-3-1 T1-1(2ot) Texas-Tyler (N); L0-2 Texas-Dallas (A)
7 8 5 Hobart 9-5-4 (.611) .571 2-3-0 T1-1(2ot) Skidmore (H)
9 7 7 Johns Hopkins 12-3-3 (.750) .521 1-2-1 T0-0(2ot) Franklin and Marshall (N)
7 8 Kean 14-5-1 (.725) .564 2-3-0  
5 3 Loras 13-5-0 (.722) .586 0-4-0 W5-2 Simpson (H); L3-4 Luther (H)
4 4 Macalester 13-4-3 (.725) .576 0-2-1 W2-0 St. John's (H); L0-1 St. Thomas (A)
4 5 6 Middlebury 10-4-3 (.676) .577 2-2-1 L1-2(ot) Hamilton (N)
9 9 Misericordia 12-5-3 (.675) .533 0-1-1 W3-0 DeSales (H); T1-1(2ot) Eastern (H)
5 8 New Paltz State 8-4-7 (.605) .569 2-1-1  
2 3 6 Oberlin 15-4-1 (.775) .559 1-4-0 W2-1 Wabash (H); L1-2(2ot) Kenyon (A)
1 4 5 Ohio Northern 16-1-4 (.857) .524 1-0-1 W4-0 Capital (H); T2-2(2ot) John Carroll (A)
3 2 4 Ohio Wesleyan 10-4-3 (.676) .560 3-3-1  
2 2 2 Oneonta State 14-6-1 (.690) .623 3-5-0 W4-0 Fredonia St. (H); L1-0 Cortland St. (A)
5 6 7 Rhode Island Col. 15-4-1 (.775) .579 1-4-0 W1-0(ot) Western Conn. (H); L1-2 Mass-Boston (A)
1 3 3 Rochester 9-4-3 (.656) .617 4-3-1 W1-0 Emory (H)
8 Rose-Hulman 14-6-0 (.700) .538 1-3-0 W3-1 Mount St. Joseph (N); L0-1 Hanover (H)
1 1 1 Rowan 16-2-1 (.868) .617 5-2-0 W1-0 TCNJ (H); L0-3 Montclair State (H)
2 2 2 Rutgers-Newark 18-3-0 (.857) .603 4-2-0 L0-2 Montclair State (H)
4 4 4 St. Lawrence 11-4-0 (.733) .547 2-1-0  
8 2 5 Tufts 9-5-2 (.625) .605 4-3-0  
5 5 4 Washington & Lee 15-4-1 (.775) .569 3-3-0 W2-0 Bridgewater (Va.) (H); W3-0 Roanoke (N); L1-2 Lynchburg (H)
3 3 3 Washington U. 10-4-2 (.688) .591 1-4-2 T0-0(2ot) Chicago (H)
12 Wheaton (Mass.) 12-7-2 (.619) .595 4-1-0 W3-1 Coast Guard (H); W2-1(2ot) Babson (A); L1-3 Springfield (A)
6 9 9 Williams 9-4-3 (.656) .604 2-3-2  

Pool C Analysis and Predictions

For comparison purposes, I narrowed the list down to 27 teams that I think have realistic shots at the 19 Pool C bids. I’m not saying the other teams are out, just that I’ll be surprised if anyone outside this list makes the tournament. The average profile for these teams: winning percentage of 0.721, strength-of-schedule (SOS) of 0.580, 2.44 ranked wins and a 0.447 winning percentage against ranked teams.

One key thing that could lead to surprises: the record-versus-ranked (RvR) numbers might change for a few teams. The current stat reflects last week’s rankings, and the regional committees will use that to rank teams within each region. But when the national committee starts comparing teams across the country for at-large bids, they look at the record-versus-ranked based on the fourth and final rankings that we will only get to see after the tournament field is announced. That could have implications in the Great Lakes region (if John Carroll jumps Rose-Hulman), in the North (where Luther will be ranked), and perhaps elsewhere. I’ll highlight possibilities on a case-by-case basis.

Here we go.

POOL C LOCKS (2)

1. Rowan (16-2-1) - The Profs have the most ranked wins (five), the best winning percentage, and the second-highest SOS. First name off the board.

2. Rutgers-Newark (18-3-0) - The second-best winning percentage, a stellar 4-2-0 record-versus ranked, and an elite SOS (0.603) gives the NJAC the first two Pool C bids.

SAFE, NO WORRIES (5)

3. Babson (11-5-3) -

4. Brandeis (10-5-3) -

5. Tufts (9-5-2) -

It’s a sign of the weak bubble that I have three teams with sub-0.700 winning percentages as safe Pool C. Why? Babson and Tufts have four ranked wins; Brandeis has five. And all three have SOS marks around 0.600, a number that always compensates for a poor winning percentage. Babson and Brandeis lost this week and Tufts was idle, but nobody else in the New England region won games to take advantage.

6. Franklin and Marshall (12-3-4) - The SOS (0.576) is average, 16th of the 27 teams, but it’s competitive, as is a 0.737 winning percentage. The key for F&M is a 4-2-1 mark against ranked teams, which gets them over the edge.

7. Rochester (9-4-3) - The Yellow Jackets are in the same boat as the New England trio above. They have a poor winning percentage, but match Rowan for the second-highest SOS (0.617) and have four ranked wins.

IN GOOD SHAPE (4)

8. Oneonta State (14-6-1) - A similar profile to the teams above. Oneonta has the highest SOS at a ridiculous 0.623, and despite a 3-5-0 record-versus-ranked, the combination of SOS and three ranked wins makes up for an average winning percentage.

9. Washington and Lee (15-4-1) - The Generals lost a heartbreaker to Lynchburg in the ODAC final, but their season isn’t over. W&L has the most well-rounded profile left, as they combine a good winning percentage (0.775, sixth overall) with a solid SOS and three ranked wins.

10. Wheaton (Mass.) (12-7-2) - I’m going out on a limb here, but I have Wheaton in easily. The Lyons were all the way down in 12th in New England last week, but two things make me think they’ll jump. First, they picked up a fourth ranked win, which is double the ranked wins of any New England team left. Second, they got a huge SOS bump, all the way to 0.595. That SOS/ranked-wins combination, especially a 4-1-0 mark (0.800) against ranked teams, propels Wheaton.

11. DePauw (11-5-2) - The Tigers compare well with W&L, with the same SOS (0.569) and four ranked wins. In particular, the 4-2 record-versus-ranked helps compensate for an average winning percentage. DePauw could lose a ranked win if Rose-Hulman falls out of the rankings, but I think they make it in regardless.

PROBABLY OKAY, BUT STILL NERVOUS (4)

12. Elizabethtown (13-3-2) - The third-best winning percentage of the remaining teams and two ranked wins make up for a weaker SOS. Elizabethtown has a similar profile to last year, but the rest of the bubble has dropped off, and the Blue Jays’ balance is enough this time around.

13. Ohio Wesleyan (10-4-3) - The winning percentage and SOS are average at best, but OWU has a trump card: they’re the only team left with three ranked wins. Six other teams have two, and the rest have one or zero. Yes, I know they missed the NCAC tournament, but it’s a down year overall. The committee rewards teams for good wins, and OWU has more than anyone else.

14. Williams (9-4-3) - The Ephs are in a dogfight with fellow NESCAC members Middlebury and Bowdoin. Both of those teams lost this week, and Williams will end with the same number of ranked wins (two). The key for Williams, in my opinion, is the highest SOS left on the board at 0.604. That gives them the edge and an at-large.

15. Middlebury (10-4-3) - The committee had them above Bowdoin last week and both teams lost. With the head-to-head edge, I think Middlebury gets in first. The winning percentage isn’t great, but the SOS is pretty good and two ranked wins will be key. Considering Williams and Middlebury split the season series and have similar stats, I think both get in.

ON THE BUBBLE – PICK ’EM (4 of 7)

16. Washington U. (10-4-2) - While Wash U. only has one ranked win for regional rankings, they’ll have two for at-large selections once Luther comes back into the North region rankings. Two ranked wins and a very high SOS might be enough.

17. Chapman (14-5-2) - Another team where the updated regional rankings could have an impact. If Redlands—who beat Chapman in the SCIAC final—reenters the West rankings, Chapman would have two ranked wins, combined with a decent winning percentage. I’m not sure that’ll matter with a low-end 0.550 SOS, but Chapman and Carnegie Mellon have similar profiles, and the committee might go for one team from the West before taking a third from the Great Lakes.

18. Carnegie Mellon (12-3-2) - CMU is in a tight spot here. The SOS is weak and the winning percentage isn’t high enough to cover for a lone ranked win. However, there’s a decent chance that John Carroll bumps Rose-Hulman from the final Great Lakes rankings, which would give the Tartans two ranked wins.

19. Loras (13-5-0) - Interesting question: does a great SOS matter if you don’t beat any of those good teams? Loras currently has zero ranked wins, but I think they’ll finish with one, assuming Luther jumps back into the North rankings. Still, the Duhakws have a below-average winning percentage and a dismal 1-5-0 record against ranked teams. A 0.589 SOS, while very strong, might not make up the difference.

20. Ohio Northern (17-1-4) - This one will be controversial either way, as ONU is certainly good enough to make (and go deep in) the tournament. The Polar Bears have a gaudy win percentage, but the lowest SOS of the 27 realistic Pool C teams—it’s not even close—and just one ranked win. If John Carroll re-enters the Great Lakes, ONU will be 1-0-3 against ranked, which might help. The committee sometimes lets in one team with this profile, and ONU will be hoping they get in despite a weak schedule. ONU and Loras are the inverse of one another, so we might figure out what the committee values most.

21. Rhode Island College (15-4-1) - RIC is decent in every area, but not strong enough in any one metric to feel safe. Still they have balanced profile, although the lone ranked win is worrisome. The question, at some point, becomes whether the committee will continue to take borderline teams from New England when teams with similar profiles are on the board from other regions.

22. St. Lawrence (11-4-0) - The winning percentage is okay, and two ranked wins (and a winning record versus ranked opponents) is nice. But SLU has a weak SOS and I’m not convinced the East gets a third bid in a down year.

WRONG SIDE OF THE BUBBLE – ALTHOUGH I’VE BEEN WRONG BEFORE (5)

23. Emory (10-5-1) - In the same boat as Loras, except with a worse winning percentage. The SOS is great, but Emory lacks the balance the committee wants. A single ranked win might not be enough with the second-lowest winning percentage on the board. I also sincerely doubt the committee gives the UAA five bids.

24. Oberlin (15-4-1) - The winning percentage is very good, but the SOS is well below average and the Yeoman only won once in five tries against ranked opponents. Oberlin’s other problem is the Great Lakes region, as they’ll be behind DePauw, OWU, Carnegie Mellon, and Ohio Northern. I don’t see the Great Lakes getting five at-large bids.

25. Kean (14-5-1) - Kean matches up better with other regions than Emory, but Kean was ranked below Emory last week and I’m not sure that changes this week.

26. Bowdoin (9-4-4) - A 0.589 SOS and two ranked wins would make Bowdoin competitive, but the winning percentage is abysmal. Moreover, Bowdoin would be the eighth New England team to get in, and I don’t think there’s any way that happens.

27. Colorado College (16-3-1) - A brutal result. Colorado lost only three times, and every single one was to Trinity (Texas). That includes yesterday’s 2-1 overtime loss in the SCAC championship, where Colorado had a 1-0 lead with less than two minutes to go. Unfortunately, the Tigers have the second-weakest SOS remaining and zero ranked wins, and I just don’t think the committee goes for it.

 

PART IV

By Ryan Harmanis

Some Final Observations and Comments

● Comparison to Years’ Past – Below is the average profile for Pool C teams from the past five years. I think the big difference this year will be a lower winning percentage but a higher strength-of-schedule.

  Year    Teams  Record  Win%   SoS  vs. Ranked
   W       L       T       W       L       T   
2015 18 13.2 3.2 2.2 .769 .576 2.8 2.2 0.8
2014 18 13.2 3.2 2.4 .764 .578 2.6 1.9 1.1
2013 19 14.1 3.8 1.6 .762 .570 3.0 2.8 0.8
2012 20 12.2 2.8 2.5 .766 .579 2.8 1.8 1.6
2011 19 13.2 2.6 1.6 .803 .559 3.1 1.7 0.6
Avg 18.8 13.2 3.1 2.1 .773 .572 2.9 2.1 1.0

* Note that until 2013, the primary at-large criteria was record versus in-region opponents rather than record versus Division III opponents, which explains why the numbers are slightly different in 2012 and 2011.

● Bubble Busters, Part I – It was a smooth weekend for favorites, which is why we have this logjam of comparable teams. Once Kenyon jumps to No. 1 in the Great Lakes, the top team in seven out of the eight regions won an automatic bid. Every Pool C team tomorrow should thank Trinity and Amherst, who both came from behind late in conference tournament games. They should thank St. Thomas, Cortland State, and Kenyon, who ground out one-goal wins against tough opponents. And they should thank Messiah and Carthage for handling underdogs. The only conference that may have cost Pool C a berth was the NJAC, but there’s a good chance tournament champion Montclair State would have gotten in regardless.

● Bubble Busters, Part II – On the other hand, upsets have put a few teams in major jeopardy. Ohio Northern and Loras, in particular, were favored to win their conference championship games and may now be in big trouble.

● Strength-of-Schedule – In the last three seasons, only four teams with SOS below 0.545 received at-large bids. When you compare teams at the national level, without the benefit of head-to-head or common opponents, it’s clear SOS takes on added importance.

● Record-Versus-Ranked, Part I – The same can be said of the record-versus-ranked metric. Only two teams in the last five years got into the tournament without any ranked wins. Last year, no team got in with zero ranked wins, and only two teams got in with one ranked win. For this measure, ranked losses seem to hurt less. We’ve seen 21 teams get in with losing records-versus ranked in the last five years, including 15 teams in the past three years. So it appears to be better for a team to be 2-4-1 than 1-1-2.

● Record-Versus Ranked, Part II – My picks heavily weight ranked wins. The committee uses five primary criteria: winning percentage, strength-of-schedule, ranked wins, head-to-head, and games versus common opponents. The latter two are often useless between regions, and the committee has regularly valued ranked wins and SOS over winning percentage. We'll see if that holds true this year.

● Regional Strength – Regional strength matters, as there are only 19 bids to spread out over eight regions. It’s become almost a given that a team will not receive a Pool C bid if they are not in the final published weekly rankings, so that means that regions like New England (12 ranked teams) and the Mid-Atlantic (9) have an advantage over regions like the West (5), the Central (6), and the North. The numbers bear that out, as the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions regularly get the highest number Pool C bids. (See the table below for bids-per-region). This year there’s a realistic chance that the Central, North, and/or West have zero bids. New England, on the other hand, should get at least four and might get as many as eight.

Year Teams New England East Mid-Atlantic South Atlantic Great Lakes Central North West
2015 18 3 2 2 2 4 3 2 0
2014 18 5 3 2 3 1 2 1 1
2013 19 5 1 4 3 3 0 3 0
2012 20 5 3 3 3 1 2 2 1
2011 19 3 3 2 2 2 3 1 3
Avg 18.8 4.2 2.4 2.6 2.6 2.2 2.0 1.8 1.0

● Conference Strength – This year the bubble will be tested by the UAA and the NESCAC. Each conference has one lock and three teams on the bubble. Will the committee really put in a fourth or fifth NESCAC/UAA school into the tournament over teams like Elizabethtown or Ohio Northern? It’s happened before, but I would be disappointed, as I think both conferences are top-heavy, with only one great team and a bunch of decent ones.


Comments or feedback for the authors?  Email Christan Shirk and Ryan Harmanis.



CHRISTAN SHIRK

Christan Shirk

 

Christan Shirk is a Messiah College graduate (1993, Civil Engineering) and has been a keen and passionate observer of D-III soccer for over a decade and a half. Never more than a rec-league player himself, Chris brings an analytical approach and nationwide perspective to D3soccer.com. He loves D-III soccer history, statistical number-crunching, and off-the-radar action, all of which he gladly shares with his readers when he's able to find time to write. [see full bio]

Questions or comments?

»  E-mail Christan Shirk
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Nov 8: 2018 Tournament Field Factoids
Nov 4: Men's at-large berth analysis and predictions
Oct 27: AQ's, Pool B and Pool C? What does it all mean?
Oct 13: Coming Wednesday: the rankings that matter
Sep 6: Letting go . . . of unfinished business
Sep 3: What's new in 2018
Nov 10: 2017 Tournament Field Factoids
Nov 5: Men's at-large berth analysis and predictions
Nov 3: AQ's, Pool B and Pool C? What does it all mean?
Oct 15: Coming Wednesday: the rankings that matter
Nov 12: 2016 Tournament Field Factoids
Nov 6: Men's at-large berth analysis and predictions
Oct 30: AQ's, Pool B and Pool C? What does it all mean?
Oct 15: Coming Wednesday: the rankings that matter
Sep 10: Week 1 Flybys
Sep 1: What's new in 2016? - Part 2: Rules Changes
Aug 25: What's new in 2016? - Part 1
Nov 11: 2015 Tournament Field Factoids
Nov 8: Men's at-large berth analysis and predictions
Nov 5: AQ's, Pool B and Pool C? What does it all mean?
Oct 15: The rankings that matter are coming next week
Oct 9: 2015 Midseason Flyovers
Oct 4: D3soccer.com Year Nine: State of the Website
Sep 28: Kelsey Graham is named a finalist for NCAA Woman of the Year
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Jul 23: Division III soccer players get conference nod for NCAA Woman of the Year
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Jun 19: Thirty-one Division III soccer players nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year
Apr 30: Alumni game scheduled for Saturday in effort to save Titan soccer
Apr 22: Curtains on UW-Oshkosh men’s soccer?
Nov 20: Getting to know the 2014 men's Sweet 16
Nov 9: Men's at-large berth analysis and predictions
Nov 8: AQ's, Pool B and Pool C? What does it all mean?
Oct 15: The rankings that count are coming next week
Aug 27: What's new in 2014? - Part 2: Rules Changes
Aug 22: What's new in 2014? - Part 1
Nov 22: Getting to know the 2013 men's Sweet 16
Nov 10: Men's at-large berth analysis and predictions
Nov 7: AQ's, Pool B and Pool C? What does it all mean?
Nov 6: The most important rankings of the year
Oct 23: New criteria debuts in today's NCAA Regional Rankings
Sep 28: Two streaks end while another one continues
Sep 15: Week 3 Flybys, weekend edition
Sep 15: Week 3 Flybys, weekend edition
Aug 29: What's new in 2013?
Nov 14: Welcome to the Sweet 16, Part 2: the Men
Nov 13: Welcome to the Sweet 16, Part 1: the Women
Nov 4: At-large berth analysis and predictions
Nov 3: AQ's, Pool B and Pool C? What does it all mean?
Oct 1: Dear Men's Top 25 Voters
Sep 22: Week 4 Flybys, weekend edition
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Sep 17: Week 3 Flybys
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Sep 3: New rules, new conference, name changes
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Nov 14: Hellooooo Neumann!
Nov 13: A Super Saturday to like and dislike
Nov 6: At-large berth analysis and predictions
Nov 4: So what's this talk about AQ's, Pool B and Pool C?
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Oct 19: NCAA Regional Rankings (aka 'The Rankings that Matter')
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Oct 14: Midseason stars and surprises
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