November 8, 2015

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 61 berths in the NCAA men's tournament will have been claimed via automatic qualification (AQ). That leaves 19 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 18 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 2015 Division III Soccer Pre-Championships Manual (pg. 21). 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.

Background: Observations from the Past

The third and final NCAA weekly regional rankings 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.

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

  • In the past eight years (2007-2014) no 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 38 Pool C teams in the final rankings but only 18 Pool C berths available.  In 2013 the ratio was 44/19, in 2012 it was 38/20 and in 2011, 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 two examples of this out of the nineteen men's at-large selections (Central #6 Dominican selected over #5 Hope; Great Lakes #3 Ohio Wesleyan chosen over #2 John Carroll).  In 2013, out of twenty men's selections, there was only one instance of this. In 2012 had two cases while 2011 represented a high of three instances and 2009 had none.  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 and final 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 11/4 data sheet (for results thru 11/1)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
2 2 1 Brandeis 16-2-1 (.868) .607 3-2-1 W3-0 New York Univ. (H)
1 1 2 Amherst 14-1-1 (.906) .573 4-0-0 D.N.P.
10 6 3 MIT 16-2-1 (.868) .547 2-0-1 W1-0 Springfield (H); L1-2 Babson (H)
6 4 4 Middlebury 13-2-2 (.824) .574 1-2-1 T0-0 Wesleyan (H)
3 3 5 Tufts 9-4-3 (.656) .623 4-3-1 D.N.P.
5 7 6 Mass-Boston 16-4-0 (.800) .574 2-2-0 W2-0 Plymouth St. (A); W2-1 Rhode Island College (H)
10 7 Bowdoin 10-3-4 (.706) .570 3-1-2 W2-0 Connecticut College (N); W1-0 Wesleyan (N)
7 8 8 Connecticut Col. 10-5-2 (.647) .570 1-5-0 L0-2 Bowdoin (N)
4 5 9 Eastern Conn. 14-4-1 (.763) .524 1-2-0 L0-1 Rhode Island College (H)
8 9 10 Gordon 15-4-0 (.789) .554 3-3-0 W2-1 WNEC (H); W2-0 Endicott (A)
12 11 Endicott 15-2-3 (.825) .516 3-2-1 W2-0 Wentworth (H); L0-2 Gordon (H)
11 11 12 Wentworth 14-5-0 (.737) .544 0-4-0 L0-2 Endicott (A)
9 Wesleyan 8-8-2 (.500) .632 2-6-2 T0-0 Middlebury (A); L0-1 Bowdoin (N)
12 Bridgewater State 17-3-1 (.833) .491 0-2-0 W3-2 Mass. Maritime (A); W2-0 Westfield St. (A); W3-2 Framingham St. (A)
EAST REGION 11/4 data sheet (for results thru 11/1)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
3 1 1 Oneonta State 15-3-1 (.816) .585 5-2-0 W3-0 Plattsburg St. (H); W3-0 Brockport St. (H)
6 2 2 St. Lawrence 14-3-2 (.789) .569 3-0-1 W2-1 Union (H); W3-1 Skidmore (H)
1 3 3 Plattsburgh State 14-4-3 (.738) .577 1-3-1 L0-3 Oneonta St. (A)
7 4 4 RPI 11-4-3 (.694) .564 2-1-0 D.N.P.
5 5 Brockport State 12-4-2 (.722) .571 3-3-0 W2-1 Cortland St. (H); L0-3 Oneonta St. (A)
2 6 6 Stevens 15-3-2 (.800) .546 1-2-0 W3-1 Houghton (N); W1-0 Ithaca (A)
4 7 7 Cortland State 12-5-2 (.684) .561 0-4-2 L1-2 Brockport St. (A)
5 Hobart 13-3-2 (.778) .524 1-1-1 L0-1 Skidmore (H)
MID-ATLANTIC REGION 11/4 data sheet (for results thru 11/1)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
4 2 1 Haverford 16-3-0 (.842) .585 8-2-0 W4-1 Johns Hopkins (H); W1-0 Dickinson (H)
1 1 2 Franklin & Marshall 15-3-0 (.833) .571 3-3-0 L0-1 Dickinson (N)
2 3 3 Lycoming 16-1-2 (.895) .543 2-1-0 W2-0 Widener (H); W1-0 Messiah (H)
3 4 4 Elizabethtown 17-2-1 (.875) .520 2-1-0 W4-1 Catholic (H); L2-3 Scranton (H)
6 6 5 Dickinson 12-4-3 (.711) .595 3-3-1 W1-0 Franklin and Marshall (N); L0-1 Haverford (A)
8 8 6 Johns Hopkins 11-5-3 (.658) .584 2-4-1 W5-0 Swarthmore (H), L1-4 Haverford (A)
7 7 7 Messiah 14-5-1 (.725) .590 1-5-1 W4-0 Lebanon Valley (H); L0-1 Lycoming (A)
5 5 8 Eastern 16-2-2 (.850) .527 1-0-0 W1-0 FDU-Florham (A); W2-0 King's (A)
9 9 Gettysburg 10-5-1 (.656) .546 0-4-1 D.N.P.
SOUTH ATLANTIC REGION 11/4 data sheet (for results thru 11/1)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
1 1 1 Montclair State 18-2-1 (.881) .584 6-2-1 W5-1 Rowan (H); T0-0 Rutgers-Camden (H)
3 3 2 Rowan 15-5-0 (.750) .595 4-5-0 L1-5 Montclair St. (A)
2 2 3 Stockton 14-5-1 (.725) .570 3-5-1 L0-2 Rutgers-Camden (H)
4 Rutgers-Camden 13-7-2 (.636) .625 5-3-2 W2-0 Stockton (A); T0-0 Montclair St. (A)
6 4 5 Rutgers-Newark 13-7-1 (.643) .579 3-5-1 D.N.P.
8 6 Chris. Newport 11-2-6 (.737) .541 0-0-1 D.N.P.
5 6 7 Kean 14-6-0 (.700) .536 3-3-0 D.N.P.
8 Washington & Lee 15-3-2 (.800) .524 0-2-0 W2-0 Eastern Mennonite (H); W4-2 Virginia Wesleyan (H); W5-2 Randolph (H)
4 5 Salisbury 13-3-3 (.763) .534 1-1-1 W2-0 Mary Washington (H); W2-0 St. Mary's (Md.) (H)
7 8 TCNJ 10-5-2 (.647) .573 2-5-1 D.N.P.
GREAT LAKES REGION 11/4 data sheet (for results thru 11/1)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
6 1 Carnegie Mellon 11-3-3 (.735) .579 3-2-0 L0-1 Case Western (A)
2 5 2 DePauw 11-3-4 (.722) .570 3-3-2 L0-2 Ohio Wesleyan (A)
5 1 3 Thomas More 16-2-1 (.868) .525 1-1-1 L1-2 Westminster (Pa.) (H)
7 7 4 Kenyon 17-1-0 (.944) .518 6-1-0 W1-0 Oberlin (H); W3-2 Ohio Wesleyan (H)
1 2 5 Ohio Wesleyan 15-4-2 (.762) .597 3-3-1 W2-0 DePauw (H); L2-3 Kenyon (A)
3 3 6 Denison 11-3-3 (.735) .550 1-2-2 D.N.P.
4 4 7 Rose-Hulman 13-2-5 (.775) .520 1-1-1 W2-0 Earlham (H); T0-0 Hanover (A)
8 Oberlin 11-7-1 (.605) .565 1-4-0 L0-1 Kenyon (A)
6 8 Case Western 13-4-1 (.750) .529 1-4-1 W1-0 Carnegie Mellon (H)
8 Ohio Northern 17-4-1 (.795) .492 1-1-0 W2-0 Heidelberg (H); D2-2 John Carroll (H)
CENTRAL REGION 11/4 data sheet (for results thru 11/1)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
4 1 1 Washington U. 11-4-3 (.694) .585 2-2-0 L2-3 Chicago (A)
2 2 2 Wheaton (Ill.) 12-3-3 (.750) .558 2-2-2 T0-0 North Central (Ill.) (H)
6 3 Milwaukee Engr. 14-4-1 (.763) .554 2-2-0 T3-3 Aurora (H); W3-1 Dominican (H)
3 5 4 North Park 12-4-2 (.722) .548 1-3-0 D.N.P.
1 3 5 Calvin 19-0-1 (.975) .513 1-0-1 W3-0 Hope (H); W3-0 Alma (H)
5 4 6 Chicago 11-5-2 (.667) .599 3-4-0 W3-2 Washington U. (H)
6 Concordia (Wis.) 14-2-1 (.853) .507 1-1-0 L2-3 Dominican (H)
NORTH REGION 11/4 data sheet (for results thru 11/1)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
2 2 1 Loras 14-3-1 (.806) .592 5-2-1 W3-0 Simpson (H); W1-0 Dubuque (H)
3 3 2 Macalester 13-1-5 (.816) .559 2-0-1 L1-2 St. Thomas (H)
1 1 3 UW-Whitewater 14-3-1 (.806) .595 2-2-1 D.N.P.
5 5 4 St. John's 12-4-2 (.722) .568 1-2-1 L0-1 St. Olaf (H)
6 5 Luther 11-6-3 (.625) .584 2-3-0 L0-1 Dubuque (A)
4 4 6 UW-Oshkosh 11-3-3 (.735) .565 2-3-2 D.N.P.
7 UW-Platteville 10-4-3 (.676) .556 2-3-1 D.N.P.
7 7 Dubuque 12-6-1 (.658) .580 2-6-1 W1-0 Luther (H); L0-1 Loras (A)
6 Knox 13-3-3 (.763) .485 0-0-1 W2-1 Carroll (H); L1-2 Lake Forest (H)
WEST REGION 11/4 data sheet (for results thru 11/1)
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) 18-2-0 (.900) .527 2-1-0 W5-0 Texas Lutheran (N); W1-0 Colorado College (A)
2 3 2 Colorado College 14-2-3 (.816) .539 1-2-0 W6-0 Schreiner (H); L0-1 Trinity (Texas) (H)
3 2 3 Redlands 16-3-2 (.810) .518 1-0-0 W3-1 Occidental (H); W2-1 La Verne (H)
4 4 Whitworth 15-1-1 (.912) .490 1-1-0 W3-1 Whitman (A)
5 Pacific Lutheran 14-5-0 (.737) .525 1-2-0 L1-2 Puget Sound (H)
4 Texas-Dallas 15-3-2 (.800) .515 1-1-0 W2-1 Concordia (Texas) (N); T0-0 Texas-Tyler (A)
5 Occidental 12-4-3 (.711) .526 1-3-0 L1-3 Redlands (A)

SoS - Division III Strength of Schedule (weighted OWP-OOWP)
RvR - Record versus Ranked Opponents (at the time of the rankings)
(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. 21, 39.)

 

PART III

By Ryan Harmanis

Pool B Analysis and Predictions

There is just one Pool B berth available for the three Pool B teams in the third regional rankings: UW-Whitewater, UW-Oshkosh, and UW-Platteville. For ease of comparison, let's put the three Pool B teams in their own table.

POOL B CANDIDATES (listed alphabetically)
Rank School Division III Past Week's Results
(not accounted for in rankings)
1st 2nd 3rd   Record (Pct.)     SoS     RvR  
1 1 3 UW-Whitewater 14-3-1 (.806) .595 2-2-1 D.N.P.
4 4 6 UW-Oshkosh 11-3-3 (.735) .565 2-3-2 D.N.P.
7 UW-Platteville 10-4-3 (.676) .556 2-3-1 D.N.P.

Based just on the numbers, this seems like an easy answer. UW-Whitewater has the best winning percentage, by far the strongest SOS, and the best record versus ranked. And the committee probably already answered the question last week by having Whitewater ahead of Oshkosh and Platteville in the North regional rankings. The only thing at play here is that Platteville beat both Whitewater and Oshkosh, but I just don't think it's enough to get them over the hump, particularly when the committee tipped its hand last week.

The Pool C Candidates

The third published NCAA regional rankings contain 39 Pool C teams which is typical number. More importantly, it is more than double the 18 available Pool C berths. So, which 18 of the 39 teams in blue will get selected by the committee? Actually, it's more than 39 as Pool B teams not awarded the single Pool B berth will land in Pool C. So make that 41 ranked teams fighting for 18 Pool C berths.

Let's start by throwing all 39 of the ranked Pool C teams together in one table along with the two lower ranked Pool B teams from above. The eighteen 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  
1 1 2 Amherst 14-1-1 (.906) .573 4-0-0 D.N.P.
5 5 Brockport State 12-4-2 (.722) .571 3-3-0 W2-1 Cortland St. (H); L0-3 Oneonta St. (A)
6 1 Carnegie Mellon 11-3-3 (.735) .579 3-2-0 L0-1 Case Western (A)
5 4 6 Chicago 11-5-2 (.667) .599 3-4-0 W3-2 Washington U. (H)
8 6 Christopher Newport 11-2-6 (.737) .541 0-0-1 D.N.P.
2 3 2 Colorado College 14-2-3 (.816) .539 1-2-0 W6-0 Schreiner (H); L0-1 Trinity (Texas) (H)
7 8 8 Connecticut College 10-5-2 (.647) .570 1-5-0 L0-2 Bowdoin (N)
4 7 7 Cortland State 12-5-2 (.684) .561 0-4-2 L1-2 Brockport St. (A)
3 3 6 Denison 11-3-3 (.735) .550 1-2-2 D.N.P.
2 5 2 DePauw 11-3-4 (.722) .570 3-3-2 L0-2 Ohio Wesleyan (A)
6 6 5 Dickinson 12-4-3 (.711) .595 3-3-1 W1-0 Franklin and Marshall (N); L0-1 Haverford (A)
4 5 9 Eastern Connecticut 14-4-1 (.763) .524 1-2-0 L0-1 Rhode Island College (H)
3 4 4 Elizabethtown 17-2-1 (.875) .520 2-1-0 W4-1 Catholic (H); L2-3 Scranton (H)
12 11 Endicott 15-2-3 (.825) .516 3-2-1 W2-0 Wentworth (H); L0-2 Gordon (H)
1 1 2 Franklin and Marshall 15-3-0 (.833) .571 3-3-0 L0-1 Dickinson (N)
9 9 Gettysburg 10-5-1 (.656) .546 0-4-1 D.N.P.
8 8 6 Johns Hopkins 11-5-3 (.658) .584 2-4-1 W5-0 Swarthmore (H), L1-4 Haverford (A)
5 6 7 Kean 14-6-0 (.700) .536 3-3-0 D.N.P.
6 5 Luther 11-6-3 (.625) .584 2-3-0 L0-1 Dubuque (A)
3 3 2 Macalester 13-1-5 (.816) .559 2-0-1 L1-2 St. Thomas (H)
7 7 7 Messiah 14-5-1 (.725) .590 1-5-1 W4-0 Lebanon Valley (H); L0-1 Lycoming (A)
6 4 4 Middlebury 13-2-2 (.824) .574 1-2-1 T0-0 Wesleyan (H)
10 6 3 MIT 16-2-1 (.868) .547 2-0-1 W1-0 Springfield (H); L1-2 Babson (H)
1 1 1 Montclair State 18-2-1 (.881) .584 6-2-1 W5-1 Rowan (H); T0-0 Rutgers-Camden (H)
3 5 4 North Park 12-4-2 (.722) .548 1-3-0 D.N.P.
8 Oberlin 11-7-1 (.605) .565 1-4-0 L0-1 Kenyon (A)
1 2 5 Ohio Wesleyan 15-4-2 (.762) .597 3-3-1 W2-0 DePauw (H); L2-3 Kenyon (A)
5 Pacific Lutheran 14-5-0 (.737) .525 1-2-0 L1-2 Puget Sound (H)
1 3 3 Plattsburgh State 14-4-3 (.738) .577 1-3-1 L0-3 Oneonta St. (A)
3 3 2 Rowan 15-5-0 (.750) .595 4-5-0 L1-5 Montclair St. (A)
7 4 4 RPI 11-4-3 (.694) .564 2-1-0 D.N.P.
6 4 5 Rutgers-Newark 13-7-1 (.643) .579 3-5-1 D.N.P.
5 5 4 St. John's 12-4-2 (.722) .568 1-2-1 L0-1 St. Olaf (H)
2 2 3 Stockton 14-5-1 (.725) .570 3-5-1 L0-2 Rutgers-Camden (H)
5 1 3 Thomas More 16-2-1 (.868) .525 1-1-1 L1-2 Westminster (Pa.) (H)
3 3 5 Tufts 9-4-3 (.656) .623 4-3-1 D.N.P.
4 4 6 UW-Oshkosh 11-3-3 (.735) .565 2-3-2 D.N.P.
7 UW-Platteville 10-4-3 (.676) .556 2-3-1 D.N.P.
4 1 1 Washington U. 11-4-3 (.694) .585 2-2-0 L2-3 Chicago (A)
11 11 12 Wentworth 14-5-0 (.737) .544 0-4-0 L0-2 Endicott (A)
2 2 2 Wheaton (Ill.) 12-3-3 (.750) .558 2-2-2 T0-0 North Central (Ill.) (H)

Pool C Analysis and Predictions

For comparison purposes, I was able to narrow the list down to 25 teams that I think have realistic shots at Pool C bids. That’s not to say that the other teams are out, but rather that if anyone outside this list of 25 makes the tournament I’ll be very, very surprised. The average profile for these teams: winning percentage 0.768, strength-of-schedule (SOS) 0.571, 2.5 wins versus ranked and a 0.500 record-versus-ranked. Here we go.

POOL C LOCKS (2)

1. Montclair State (18-2-1) - Six ranked wins—two more than anyone else—along with the second highest winning percentage (0.881) and a strong SOS (0.584, 8th overall). First in the South Atlantic all three weeks and will remain there.

2. Amherst (14-1-1) - Perfect 4-0-0 against ranked teams, top winning percentage (0.906) and an above-average SOS (0.573, 12th). Steady top-two in New England, in without question.

SAFE, NO WORRIES (4)

3. Rowan (16-5-0) - Fourth-highest SOS (0.595), respectable winning percentage (0.750, 11th), and a 4-5-0 record-versus-ranked, with the wins more than outweighing the losses. Second team off the board in the South Atlantic, as Rowan should stay above Stockton after both lost in midweek.

4. Franklin and Marshall (15-3-0) - Strong winning percentage (0.833, 6th) make up for the average SOS (0.568, 13th), but F&M has three ranked wins and was in the top two in the Mid-Atlantic all three weeks. A rough end to the season doesn’t keep the Diplomats out.

5. Macalester (13-1-5) - Good winning percentage (0.816, 8th) and a solid 2-0-1 versus ranked make up for a below-average SOS (0.559, 19th). In addition, Macalester will be the top team from the North on the board, meaning they’re very likely safe.

6. MIT (16-2-1) - Fourth-highest winning percentage (0.868) and a good 2-0-1 record-versus-ranked make up for a weak SOS (0.547, 22nd). MIT should be the second New England team off the board—and New England always gets at least two bids.

IN GOOD SHAPE (4)

7. Ohio Wesleyan (15-4-2) - Great SOS (0.597, 3rd) and a good winning percentage (0.762, 10th) make OWU the only team outside Amherst and Montclair to be top-ten in both categories. Add in an above-average three wins versus ranked, and the only question should be whether OWU is the first Great Lakes team off the board. Regardless…

8. Carnegie Mellon (11-3-3) - First in the Great Lakes last week, but on paper OWU could easily jump them. CMU has an average winning percentage (0.735, 14th) but a good SOS (0.579, 9th), and the 3-2-0 record-versus-ranked makes CMU one of only four teams to have at least three ranked wins and a winning record against ranked teams.

9. Middlebury (13-2-2) - The lone ranked win is the only problem, as Middlebury has a strong winning percentage (0.824, 7th) and SOS (0.574, 11th). Middlebury was already above Tufts and a draw against Wesleyan shouldn’t change that. New England has had at least three teams get Pool C bids in recent years, and I expect the same this year.

10. Dickinson (12-4-3) - Fourth-highest SOS (0.595) and three ranked wins make up for the poor winning percentage (0.711, 21st). Dickinson is the second Mid-Atlantic team off the board, and the Red Devils’ hot close propels them past Elizabethtown and into the tournament.

PROBABLY OKAY, BUT STILL NERVOUS (4)

11. Washington U. (11-4-3) - Had a guaranteed bid in-hand when up 2-0 on Chicago, but the loss drops Wash U. back to the pack. Weak winning percentage (0.694, 22nd) but a strong SOS number (0.585, 7th) and a win over Wheaton (Ill.) keep the Bears safe.

12. Wheaton (Ill.) (12-3-3) - I initially thought the Thunder were easily safe, but the profile isn’t great. Getting the win percentage up to 0.750 (11th) was huge, as were the two ranked wins, but Wheaton has one of the weakest SOS numbers of this group (0.558, 20th).

13. Brockport State (12-4-2) - Started the week in fifth in the East, but was the only Pool C East team to pick up a win, and a ranked one at that. Weak winning percentage (0.722, 18th) but an average SOS (0.571, 13th), three ranked wins, and a head-to-head advantage over Plattsburgh State makes Brockport the first team from the East off the board.

14. Plattsburgh State (14-4-3) - Currently the highest ranked Pool C team in the East, which makes me think they have a good chance. And the SOS (0.577, 10th) and winning percentage (0.738, 13th) are on the right side of things. But there’s only the one ranked win, and if we’re just comparing Plattsburgh and Brockport for regional rankings, I think Brockport probably gets in first.

ON THE BUBBLE – PICK ’EM (4 of 7)

15. Tufts (9-4-3) - The ultimate litmus test for the committee comes in the form of the defending national champions. Tufts has by far the highest SOS (0.623)—nobody even comes close. But Tufts also has the lowest winning percentage (0.656), and it seems wrong to me to put a team into the tournament that barely won more than half its games. Nevertheless, in most years we see a team with few wins and many blemishes get in based on SOS, and this year Tufts could be that team.

16. Elizabethtown (17-2-1) - Basically the inverse of Tufts, with a fantastic winning percentage (0.875, 3rd) and an awful SOS (0.520, dead last at 25th). But every year we seem to see a team or two get in with this type of profile, so I’d expect at least one of Elizabethtown and Thomas More to get in. Two ranked wins push E-Town above Thomas More for me.

17. Colorado College (14-2-3) - I’m not sure if I’d put them on the right side of the bubble if they didn’t come from the West, but we’ve only had one year in the last four where regions were shut out completely. A strong winning percentage (0.816, 8th) is offset by a weak SOS (0.539), but the SOS isn’t absurdly low and I think a team from the West gets a nod.

18. DePauw (11-2-4) - The Tigers’ profile is nearly identical to Brockport State, but the decent SOS (0.570, 15th) and three ranked wins gets DePauw in over Thomas More despite the low winning percentage (0.722, 18th).

19. Thomas More (16-2-1) - I hope Thomas More gets in, and I feel that they’re deserving and could do some damage, but the numbers just are not good. Thomas More loses out to Elizabethtown because the awful strength-of-schedule number is about the same (0.525, 24th) and the winning percentage (0.868, 5th) and ranked wins (just the one) are worse. The other problem is the mess in the Great Lakes region—OWU has to jump DePauw, as OWU beats DePauw on every metric (including head-to-head twice), while Carnegie Mellon and DePauw were already above Thomas More. That leaves Thomas More fourth in the Great Lakes pecking order, and in the last few years the most Pool C bids the region has ever received is three.

20. Chicago (11-5-2) - The Maroons mounted a furious comeback to top Washington U. and state their case, but I don’t know if it was enough. Chicago’s profile matches Tufts in the battle of awful winning percentages (0.667, 24th), but Chicago’s SOS (0.599, 2nd), while excellent, is not as good as Tufts, nor is the 3-4-0 record-versus ranked.

21. Stockton (14-5-1) - Stockton’s numbers are right there with DePauw—low winning percentage (0.725, 16th) and decent SOS (0.570, 15th)—but Stockton lost five times to ranked teams while DePauw only lost three times. I also think the NJAC just misses out on three Pool C bids, especially if it comes down to someone like Colorado College as the only West team or Elizabethtown/Thomas More with great winning percentages and weaker SOS numbers.

WRONG SIDE OF THE BUBBLE – ALTHOUGH I’VE BEEN WRONG BEFORE (4)

22. Messiah (14-5-1) - Messiah’s numbers aren’t that bad—very strong SOS (0.590, 6th) with a below-average winning percentage (0.725). I think Messiah jumps Johns Hopkins off slightly better winning percentage and SOS numbers, to go with a ranked win. But Messiah has two problems: (1) only the one ranked win; and (2) Messiah can’t be ahead of Elizabethtown, meaning the Mid-Atlantic would need four Pool C bids this year. I find that unlikely.

23. UW-Oshkosh (11-3-3) - The profile is average, but the North is very down this year and even though I think Oshkosh probably jumps Luther and St. John’s, the weaker winning percentage (0.735, 14th) and middling SOS (0.565, 17th) mean the two ranked wins aren’t good enough.

24. North Park (12-4-2) - Failed to make the conference tournament, and below-average on winning percentage (0.722, 18th), SOS (0.548, 21st), and ranked wins (one).

25. RPI (11-4-3) - Finished seventh in their own conference. A respectable 2-1-0 record versus ranked, but RPI has very low winning percentage (0.694, 22nd) and SOS (0.564, 18th) numbers. And, ultimately, I refuse to believe the committee will let a team into the NCAA tournament that can’t make their own conference’s tournament.

 

PART IV

By Ryan Harmanis

Some Final Observations and Comments

● Comparison to Years’ Past – To give everyone a reference point, here’s the average profile for Pool C teams from the past four years*:

  Year    Teams  Record  Win%   SoS  vs. Ranked
   W       L       T       W       L       T   
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 19 13.2 3.1 2.0 .774 .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 relatively smooth weekend for teams sitting on the bubble. There weren’t any cases in which the outcome of a conference tournament clearly cost the rest of Pool C a berth into the NCAAs. Having said that, several upsets may have an impact on Pool C. Carthage won the CCIW while Wheaton (Ill.) is likely to get in, and St. Olaf won the MIAC, leaving previously-undefeated Macalester to probably take someone else’s at-large bid. Same goes for the Landmark, which was a one-bid league until Scranton upset Elizabethtown yesterday. And another big one happened today, with MIT likely to take a bid despite falling to Babson in the NEWMAC final.

● Bubble Busters, Part II – Upsets have also left certain teams firmly on the bubble. Thomas More, in particular, may be in big trouble despite a stellar season after falling in the last minute in a conference semifinal. Stockton could be in the same boat after losing to Rutgers-Camden twice in a week.

● Uncertainty – But because there were few clear upsets, this year is very similar to last year, with fewer teams certain to get berths and more with a realistic shot at being selected. Pool C teams should thank Brandeis, Loras, Lycoming, Mass-Boston, Milwaukee Engineering, St. Lawrence, and Stevens for leaving extra spots available.

● Strength-of-Schedule – Much of the debate and discussion centered on this metric. In the last two seasons, only three teams with SOS below 0.545 received at-large bids. In the last four seasons, no team with SOS below 0.500 received a bid, though two teams did enter the final week under .500. 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 four years—Amherst and Salisbury last season—got into the tournament without any ranked wins. For this metric, ranked losses seem to hurt less. We’ve seen 17 teams get in with losing records-versus ranked in the last four years, including 11 teams in the past two years. So it appears to be better for a team to be 2-4-1 than 1-1-2.

● Record-Versus Ranked, Part II – Based on our current information, a team’s record-versus-ranked going into the final, unpublished rankings remains their record versus teams ranked in the third weekly regional rankings. And we know for a fact that’s how record-versus-ranked is compiled for the published rankings. But we still have an unexplained anomaly from last year when John Carroll appeared to have two ranked wins going into Selection Monday. In the committee’s proposal to modify the record-versus-ranked criteria, they used the John Carroll case (without naming the team) in its rationale, explaining that “Team A” actually finished with zero ranked wins. JCU missed out on a Pool C bid. We have been investigating, but have yet to figure out what occurred. Could the same happen to someone else this year? If so, will it spur the committee to change the process?

● Regional Strength – Regional strength plays a role in the at-large process, as there are only 18 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) and the Central (6). The numbers bear that out, as the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions regularly get the highest number Pool C bids. For reference here’s the regional breakdown for Pool C bids from the last four years:

Year Teams New England East Mid-Atlantic South Atlantic Great Lakes Central North West
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 19 4.5 2.5 2.8 2.8 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.3

● Conference Strength – This is a counterpart to regional strength, but this year it’s a definite test for the NESCAC and the NJAC. The NESCAC and the NJAC each have one lock and two teams firmly on the bubble. If it comes down to it, would the committee really put in a fourth NESCAC or NJAC school over teams like Elizabethtown or Thomas More, or over a second or third NCAC or SUNYAC team? It’s possible, but I would be disappointed to see it, particularly because I think the NESCAC is weaker than usual.


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



RYAN HARMANIS

Ryan Harmanis

 

Ryan Harmanis played for Ohio Wesleyan from 2007 to 2010 where he was a three-year captain. Following graduation, Ryan continued to follow the D-III landscape before joining D3soccer.com in 2013. He combines an analytical background with a passion for writing and the game of soccer. [see full bio]

Questions or comments?

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Nov 6: Men's at-large berth analysis and predictions
Oct 19: Two for the Price of One Today: Regional Rankings & Rule Changes
Oct 13: A Very Dark Day
Oct 6: Change and the end of the red card/penalty combo
Sep 12: Ruminations returns for another season
Dec 1: Interview: Michael Coven, Brandeis men's coach
Dec 1: Interview: Ryan Souders, Calvin men's coach
Nov 30: Interview: Jon Lowery, St. Thomas men's coach
Nov 30: Interview: Josh Shapiro, Tufts men's coach
Nov 11: Missed at-large predictions and NCAA games to watch
Nov 7: Men's at-large berth analysis and predictions
Oct 28: Substitution Rules and Playing Time
Oct 21: On the home stretch: mental toughness and NCAA rankings
Sep 30: Tactics Board: Pressing, Vol. 3
Sep 23: Likes, Dislikes and Pressing Breakdowns
Sep 16: Tactics: Pressing, Vol. 1—The Rewards
Sep 9: Week 1 take-aways, week 2 anticipation
Sep 2: Welcome back to Ryan's Ruminations
Jan 19: My Final Four Thoughts for the 2015 Season
Dec 2: Interview: Iain Byrne, Oneonta St. men's coach
Dec 2: Interview: Ryan Souders, Calvin men's coach
Dec 1: Interview: Justin Serpone, Amherst men's coach
Nov 30: Interview: Dan Rothert, Loras men's coach
Nov 13: At-Large Snubs & Surprises; Must-See Matches & Upset Alerts
Nov 8: Men's at-large berth analysis and predictions
Nov 6: Playoffs, rankings, and at-large berths
Oct 30: Note to Seniors and Best Conference, Part III
Oct 23: Strength of Schedule matters a lot in NCAA Rankings
Oct 16: Best Conference, Part II: Numbers and Beyond
Oct 2: Countdown from Thirteen
Sep 25: Best conference? Tackling the great debate.
Sep 18: Favorites and Early Season Polls
Sep 11: Welcome to Ryan's Ruminations
Feb 23: Trinity's Matt Cardone on trial with Orlando City
Dec 4: Interview: Dr. Michael Giuliano, Wheaton (Ill.) head coach
Dec 4: Interview: Dr. Jay Martin, Ohio wesleyan head coach
Dec 4: Interview: Josh Shapiro, Tufts head coach
Dec 3: Interview: Iain Byrne, Oneonta St. head coach
Nov 18: The Anatomy of an upset: Rose-Hulman downs #1 Ohio Wesleyan