Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Final Bracket Plus Explanation

My field:
American Southwest - UT-Tyler
Capital Athletic - Mary Washington
Centennial - Johns Hopkins
CUNY - Hunter
Colonial States - Marywood
Commonwealth - Elizabethtown
Empire 8 - Stevens
Freedom - Wilkes
Heartland - Earlham
Iowa - Luther
Landmark - Drew
Little East - UMass Dartmouth
MIAA - Kalamazoo
Midwest - Grinnell
Minnesota - Gustavus
NESCAC - Amherst
NCAC - Kenyon
Northern Athletics - Concordia Wisconsin
Northwest - Whitman
Ohio - Ohio Northern
ODAC - Washington & Lee
President's Athletic - Grove City
Skyline - Farmingdale State
SCAC - Trinity (TX)
St. Louis - Westminster
Commonwealth Coast - Roger Williams
UAA - Emory
USA South - NC Wesleyan

Pool B
1. Cruz
2. MIT
3. Skidmore
4. Vassar
5. UW Whitewater
6. UW Eau Claire

Pool C
1. Wash U
2. Williams
3. Middlebury
4. Pomona-Pitzer
5. Chicago
6. Bowdoin

1. Emory, Mary Washington, Washington & Lee*, Elizabethtown, Marywood, Grove City
2. CMS, Cruz*, Pomona-Pitzer, UT-Tyler
3. Amherst*, MIT, Skidmore, Hunter, UMass Dartmouth
4. Wash U*, Whitman, UW Whitewater, Grinnell, Westminster
5. Kenyon*, Johns Hopkins, Kalamazoo, Ohio Northern, Earlham
6. Williams*, Bowdoin, Vassar, Roger Williams, Farmingdale State
7. Middlebury, NC Wesleyan, TCNJ*, Stevens, Drew, Wilkes
8. Chicago, Trinity (TX), Gustavus*, Luther, UW Eau Claire, Concordia Wisconsin

The first thing I did is figure out the #1 seeds. I don't know who else could crack the top 8 and I don't see it happening. The top 3 order is obvious. Wash U has two wins over Cruz plus a win against Chicago, Trinity TX and NC Wesleyan. Kenyon has beaten Chicago and PP. Williams and Midd's best wins are each other. That's why I gave Wash U and Kenyon the edge in overall seeding. Williams and Midd could go either way, but it could end up being important who gets that #6 overall if one of them has to travel to face NCW. I'll get to that scenario later. Chicago is the obvious #8 seed overall and I've been told they aren't putting in a bid to host.

The next thing to consider is the 500 mile rule. This means that if a team is more than 500 miles away from their host site, they have to be flown at the NCAAs expense. The NCAA is cheap and doesn't want this, so they try to limit the amount of flights. 3 teams must be flown and those are Trinity (TX), Tyler and Whitman. This is why the 3 top 10 California teams are grouped together. It is cheaper to fly team in versus all of those teams out. The team coming into California will either be Tyler or Whitman. Whitman has gone to Cali the past 3 years, but this year I see Tyler going there because I don't know if I'd say they are ranked high enough to act as a 2 seed in a region. I send the weaker team to California and I think that's Tyler. The California hosting is also weird. CMS is the higher ranked team and I think they will be the top seed in the region, however I like Cruz to host because they beat CMS head to head. I'm really not sure what's going to happen, but hosting is very important. And with Pomona-Pitzer as a dangerous 3 seed, getting that top seed is important also to avoid the Hens in the opening round. I'm very interested to see what the committee will do with this, but my guess is CMS gets the 1 seed and Cruz hosts.

Every year Emory's men and women switch on and off putting in bids to host. This year its the men's turn. However, I see a problem with this. Only 2 teams are within driving distance of Emory. That's Washington & Lee and NC Wesleyan. The thing that puzzles me is 2 years ago Mary Washington was sent to the Emory regional and I'm not sure how they got there. This could happen again, but Google Maps is showing me UMW is 580 miles from Emory. Either way, I see Emory having to travel to W&L with UMW also going there. You then can send some PA teams down to VA to fill the region. I don't think NCW will get sent to Emory since the Bishops are ranked so high and it can be avoided. That would be unfortunate for NCW. Even if they did, someone would have to fly there and it won't be Trinity. That leaves Tyler or Whitman, whoever doesn't go to California. If that happens, there's no legitimate #2 seed in Wash U's region and I think Trinity is ranked high enough to avoid St. Louis. That's why I structured things with Emory traveling.

I think region 3 is pretty clear cut. I see Skidmore taking on MIT for the right to play Amherst. Bowdoin will draw either Midd or Williams since they are ranked higher than MIT. Not much to this.

Kalamazoo was the 2 seed for Wash U last year, but they aren't even top 30 this year and can't be a 2. Chicago is a 1 so they will avoid STL. There are no other candidates in the area to be a 2 seed, so this is where a flying team comes into play. I mentioned how I sent Tyler to Cali because they were weaker than Whitman, so I have Whitman coming to Wash U. This may be wishful thinking, but I definitely see either Whitman or Tyler as the 2 seed in this region. The Bears would luck out if they drew Tyler as a 2, because I think the Pats aren't that strong this year. Whitman on the other hand could give Wash U a run for their money, so if I'm the Bears I'm hoping for Tyler.

Midd beat Williams, but Williams beat Midd more recently. The next best win for both of them is Bowdoin and they have very similar resumes. Due to the fact that Williams beat Midd more recently, I gave them the 6 overall seed. This really could go either way though. Whoever draws #6 will almost definitely host and have Bowdoin come to town. Bowdoin played a 5-4 match with both teams this season so this could be an interesting Sweet 16 encounter. Whoever comes out of this region would be in line to play Amherst in the Elite 8.

The other NESCAC team will definitely draw #7 overall. Since there are no other northeast teams and if NCW doesn't end up getting sent to Emory, I see the NESCAC team traveling south and NCW traveling north for those 2 to meet in New Jersey which is a central location. Two teams in NJ, Drew and TCNJ, have both hosted regionals within the past 5 years. A Midd-NCW match could be an intriguing rematch of last year's NCAA quarterfinal. I believe whoever gets that #6 overall seed has a massive edge getting to play at home against Bowdoin versus traveling to play NCW.

Chicago is the clear #8 overall seed and Trinity is the top #2 regional seed (besides Cali), and given the fact that Trinity is flexible since they have to be flown, I see these two in the same region. Chicago is not putting in a bid to host, so I could see them potentially going to Whitewater or Gustavus. Gustavus is far from a lot of teams, but they have hosted in the past and have great facilities, to I gave them the edge here. Chicago can drive there and Trinity would fly in.

Sorry If I was not clear during this explanation. Brackets to be released late afternoon tomorrow and I'll have analysis this week.