Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pac-12 | Washington/Washington State volleyball match packed with meaning

Figuring out postseason possibilities throughout Division 1
  • next: Washington State @ #5 Washington | November 29 | 8PM |Pac-12 Networks
  • NCAA Tournament Selection | December 1 | 6:30PM | ESPNU
[11.30.13 | 1PM | CORRECTION: The Nebraska Regional will be hosted in Lincoln, not Omaha]


One team will be a serious tournament contender. The other will likely be ending its season. But the final match of the Pac-12 2013 season—Washington State at Washington—will have plenty on the line.

How many UW and WSU fans will head to Hec Ed after the Apple Cup?
-photo by Shutter Geeks Photography

NCAA TOURNAMENT SEEDING AND THE RPI
This Sunday, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will choose 64 teams, then seed the top 16. Those 16 will each host the tournament’s first two rounds. Rounds 3 & 4—the Regionals—will be hosted by USC, Nebraska [in Omaha Lincoln], Illinois and Kentucky; four seeded teams will be assigned to each Regional bracket. Rounds 5 & 6—the Final Four—will be hosted by Washington at Seattle’s Key Arena.

There are 31 Division 1 conferences, and the champions of each get automatic bids. The remaining 33 at-large teams—and the 16 seeds—will be determined by a variety of factors, none more important than the RPI. The RPI, or “Ratings Percentage Index,” is a formula that gives a team’s win/loss percentage 25% weight, a team’s opponents’ win/loss percentage 50% weight, and a team’s opponents’ opponents’ win/loss percentage 25% weight. Each Division 1 team is ranked 1 through 332. Importantly, an opponent’s RPI is NOT a factor, only its winning percentage. [see also: NCAA RPI explanation]

WASHINGTON’S SEEDING
On Monday of this week, Washington’s RPI was #3, trailing only #1 Texas and #2 Penn State. The Huskies have just two losses, and one of the top winning percentages in the nation (after #20 Colorado State lost Wednesday night to #105 San Diego State, #5 Missouri is the only undefeated team in the nation.) If UW loses to WSU, its RPI will take a hit. It could drop slightly in any event, because this week’s opponents—#136 Oregon State (9-21) and #65 Washington State (18-14) have relatively weak records, and each played fairly low-ranked nonconference opponents. Washington, by the way, benefits each time one of its nonconference opponents picks up a win, and got an extra boost with #17 Illinois’ resurgence (and its tough schedule), plus better-than-expected seasons from #215 Seattle U (13-20) and #250 Coppin State (15-16).

THE TOP FOUR SEEDS
#1 Texas and #2 Penn State have all but wrapped up two of the Regional #1 seeds, though Penn State still plays #8 Nebraska Saturday night in Lincoln. If Washington defeats WSU, it should earn a third #1; if it loses, and #7 Stanford beats #30 Cal, then the Cardinal will likely grab that #1. The fourth top seed should go to undefeated Missouri, but Florida—who Mizzou defeated twice—has the higher RPI, 4 to 5. How is that possible? Florida’s only other loss is to Penn State; almost every preseason, Florida, Penn State, Texas and Stanford play each other and eventually benefit from that opponent’s win/loss percentage bump.

SEEDS 5-8
The top eight teams should be some combination of Texas, Penn State, Washington, Missouri, Stanford, Florida, USC and Nebraska.

SEEDS 9-16
The “second eight” seeded teams are sure to include #9 Kentucky, #13 Minnesota and #12 Kansas. #10 Marquette will join them if it wins the Big East tournament. #11 Hawai’i may fall in this group, but despite its RPI of 11, it won’t be conference champ for the first time in what seems like forever (#59 UC Santa Barbara has the inside track.) The NCAA is also historically reluctant to have teams fly to Honolulu. Wisconsin’s RPI is 14, but it has 8 Big Ten losses and few attention-getting wins. San Diego has the 15th RPI, and Creighton is 16th, but both would have to resolve scheduling conflicts with their basketball teams if either were to host. #17 Illinois might be an appealing seed to the NCAA, since the Regionals will also be in Champaign the following week. #18 Duke might also make a case as the (likely) ACC champion.

BEST OF THE REST
One advantage of being one of the four top seeds is the chance to avoid difficult early-round matchups. Washington almost always hosts, but its lower seed in previous seasons has helped the NCAA justify sending a powerhouse like Hawai’i to Seattle (Washington won each time, but it took five sets in 2012.)

Because there are no seeds beyond the top 16, the Committee can send other top teams almost wherever it wants. Since at least three—Washington, Stanford and USC—west coast schools will host, with another two—Hawai’i and San Diego—possible, dangerous non-seeded teams could come from almost anywhere. Two will likely come from the San Diego/Creighton/Illinois/Duke quartet (whichever two don’t host). Other big names could include #19 Florida State, #29 Colorado State, #21 North Carolina, #29 Purdue and #31 BYU. The committee will not, by the way, send conference schools against each other in the first two rounds, so #24 Arizona, #25 Oregon, #26 Utah and #30 Cal will not be in Seattle.

Washington State may be well beyond the bubble at #65, especially after its loss Wednesday to Oregon. In some ways, then, their rivalry match against Washington is a way to end the season with a bang. WSU is 19-14, with recent upset wins against USC and Cal. The Cougars would like to reach the 20-win benchmark. They also know that, in recent years, UW teams have let down at home late in the year, losing to Arizona State last season, and to Oregon a few years back. 

And, don't forget, plenty of WSU fans will have spent much of the day next door at Husky Stadium for football's Apple Cup ... and may just want to join the crowd at Hec Ed.

NOT SO BEST OF THE REST
Who might seeded teams like to see in their gym? Underperforming teams with high RPIs include #22 Iowa State, #23 Oklahoma, #27 Michigan State and #28 Michigan. A big chunk of SEC teams with unimpressive records have somehow managed decent RPIs, including #32 Texas A&M, #33 Alabama, #34 LSU, #37 Arkansas and #40 Georgia.

LOW RPI AUTOMATIC QUALIFIERS
When figuring out which 64 teams will be selected, you can’t simply look at RPIs 1 through 64. That’s because the champions of several conferences have weaker RPIs, but are nonetheless guaranteed a slot. This season, that will be the case with 16 teams, from #68 College of Charleston all the way through #278 Alabama State. [See chart, below] The champion of the Big Sky Conference—to be determined Saturday—won’t have an RPI higher than 84.

So, when doing the math, teams with an RPI worse than 48 that are not conference champs are on the bubble. That group includes #49 Ohio State (which in no way deserves a bid after losing at least 14 conference matches,) #51 Miami (coached by Keno Gandara, formerly a UW assistant), and #54 Colorado (one of only two teams to defeat Washington so far this season). If any team does push through, it could be at the expense of #48 Arizona State.

A real head-scratcher is #42 UCLA. The Bruins have had a dreadful season, and could finish at 15-15—barely meeting the .500 threshold required for an at-large bid. Both Arizona State and Colorado will finish ahead of UCLA in the conference standings, but either one could be out and the Bruins in.

THE LIST
Here, then, are the RPI rankings as of November 25. A new list will be compiled Sunday, and there will undoubtedly be some movement, although likely not more than 3-4 places.

Teams in green have clinched an automatic bid. Teams in orange have clinched at least a share of their conference title. Teams in red are still mathematically in the running to tie or win their conference title. Teams in yellow are still playing in their conference tournament (only the highest-RPI teams still playing in tournaments are included.

RPI
School
Conference
1
Texas
Big 12
2
Penn St
Big Ten
3
Washington
Pac-12
4
Florida
SEC
5
Missouri
SEC
6
Southern Cal
Pac-12
7
Stanford
Pac-12
8
Nebraska
Big Ten
9
Kentucky
SEC
10
Marquette
Big East
11
Hawai’i
Big West
12
Kansas
Big 12
13
Minnesota
Big Ten
14
Wisconsin
Big Ten
15
San Diego
West Coast
16
Creighton
Big East
17
Illinois
Big Ten
18
Duke
ACC
19
Florida St
ACC
20
Colorado St
Mountain West
21
North Carolina
ACC
22
Iowa St
Big 12
23
Oklahoma
Big 12
24
Arizona
Pac-12
25
Oregon
Pac-12
26
Utah
Pac-12
27
Michigan St
Big Ten
28
Michigan
Big Ten
29
Purdue
Big Ten
30
California
Pac-12
31
BYU
West Coast
32
Texas A&M
SEC
33
Alabama
SEC
34
LSU
SEC
35
Ohio
Mid-American
36
Louisville
American Athletic
37
Arkansas
SEC
38
CS Northridge
Big West
39
Tulsa
Conference USA
40
Georgia
SEC
41
Butler
Big East
42
UCLA
Pac-12
43
Yale
Ivy
44
American
Patriot
45
Central Arkansas
Southland
46
Wichita St
Missouri Valley
47
UTSA
Conference USA
48
Arizona St
Pac-12
49
Ohio St
Big Ten
50
Colgate
Patriot
51
Miami
ACC
52
North Carolina St
ACC
53
Xavier
Big East
54
Colorado
Pac-12
55
UNI
Missouri Valley
56
Tulane
Conference USA
57
Northwestern
Big Ten
58
Kansas St
Big 12
59
UCSB
Big West
60
Western Kentucky
Sun Belt
61
St Mary’s
West Coast
62
Virginia Tech
ACC
63
Auburn
SEC
64
VCU
Atlantic 10
65
Washington St
Pac-12
66
Ball St
Mid-American
67
Virginia
ACC
68
Col of Charleston
Colonial
70
Lipscomb
Atlantic Sun
73
Georgia Southern
Southern
79
Milwaukee
Horizon
84
Portland St
Big Sky
87
LIU Brooklyn
Northeast
91
Morehead St
Ohio Valley
94
New Mexico St
WAC
96
Jacksonville
Atlantic Sun
98
Duquesne
Atlantic 10
104
Texas St
Sun Belt
109
IUPUI
Summit
156
Fairfield
Metro Atlantic
159
Radford
Big South
190
Hampton
Mid-Eastern
205
New Hampshire
America East
278
Alabama St
Southwestern




Photos courtesy Shutter Geeks Photography


2 comments:

  1. Nebraska is hosting in Lincoln.

    ReplyDelete

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