Bracketology 2023 – Part II


Fair warning, I’m not an expert when it comes to the ranking process, and I’ve never been involved in one personally. But I’ve done enough homework to feel confident in my ability to project certain decisions based on the available data released by the NCAA. This article is a general well-informed guess as to how things might play out given the trends of this season and the general performances of D3VB teams up to this point. There is a lot of ball left to be played, and another round of rankings to be released, so the final picture isn’t set yet. Simply put, my thoughts don’t matter in the grand scheme of things so take them for what you will.

2nd Regional Rankings

The rankings released yesterday are the first ones to include a numerical order of teams within each Region. This is because the committee now has access to officially ranked teams (based on last week’s ranking) and can accurately assess every programs performance against regionally ranked opponents. We’ve had A BUNCH of consequential matches the last few days, and I’ll discuss how they impact things moving forward later.

For reference, the primary NCAA ranking criteria are as follows…

  • D3 Win/Loss %
  • Strength of Schedule
  • Win/Loss versus Regionally Ranked teams
  • Record versus Common Opponents
  • Head-to-Head Result
Region IDIII Win/LossSOSWin/Loss vs Regionally Ranked
St. Joseph’s (LI)18-8.5613-7
Eastern Nazarene12-9.5370-7

Region IIDIII Win/Loss %SOSWin/Loss vs Regionally Ranked
Southern Virginia15-2.6073-1
SUNY New Paltz20-8.6276-5
St. John Fisher20-5.6305-4

Region IIIDIII Win/Loss %SOSWin/Loss vs Regionally Ranked
North Central19-3.6116-2
Mount Union18-5.5531-2
UC Santa Cruz18-9.6054-6
Cal Lutheran15-8.5842-5

There was some movement between week 1 and week 2 due to the addition of the win/loss record versus ranked team category alongside the results of some significant regional matches prior to 4/5. These rankings were made using match outcomes through 4/5/2023 … meaning my projected tournament field below can only use data up to that point as well. Assuming the favorites (#1 seeds) of each conference take care of business, the projected pool A bids are as follows.

Pool A

CCIW: North Central
NACC: Aurora
MCVL: Mount Union (tie breaker)
UVC: Vassar
CVC: Juniata
MAC: Stevens
GNAC: Wentworth
AMCC: PSU – Behrend
SKYLINE: St. Joseph’s College – Long Island
CUNYAC: Hunter

Given the above Pool A selections…. I believe the results/match data currently available would lead to the below selections for Pool B/C bids…. If the season were to have ended yesterday.

Pool B: Springfield, UCSC

Pool C: Messiah
Pool C: Southern Virginia
Pool C: New Paltz
Pool C: Carthage

Bubble: St. John Fisher

HOWEVER, the season did not end yesterday …and there are a lot of scenarios which can play out till then which will influence different teams’ chances for at-large bids. Just last week NYU was in contention for a bid, but now are potentially in UVC or bust territory following losses to New Paltz and MIT.

Region II is currently dominating the at-large discussion for a variety of reasons, but most importantly because strength of schedule matters. Region II has the largest collection of quality programs out of all 3 regions, and the above ranked teams have challenged themselves the most throughout the year. Many unranked teams in region II would be ranked if they were in either of the other NCAA regions, that’s how deep Region II is.

Of all the teams in the landscape, I’m fairly confident Vassar, Stevens and Messiah are locked into at-large bids regardless of any end of season meltdowns. Springfield remains the top contender for the first Pool B bid, and the second is going to UC-Santa Cruz because of their wins over Nichols, Lancaster Bible, and California Lutheran.

Carthage falls a little bit in the at-large horse race following their second loss to North Central and find themselves close to the bubble this week due to the competitive depth disparity between region II and region III. In the above scenario where every #1 conference seed wins their automatic bid, they are fine.

HOWEVER, #1 seeds don’t always win their conference tournaments. They might be favored, but upsets happen. For reference, the UVC Championship has been won by the #1 overall seed 45% of the time. As things stand now, upset results in either the CVC or UVC have the potential to DRASTICALLY alter the at-large picture at the expense of New Paltz and Carthage.

New Paltz was able to play their way into the at-large discussion after victories over three regionally ranked teams within a week (NYU, St. John Fisher, St. Joeseph – LI). But they are just as vulnerable to conference outcomes as Carthage and might be in a more precarious situation given the difficulty of the UVC tournament.

Carthage has a resume that can give them some confidence if they lose in their conference final, as long as nothing unexpected happens in any of the other conferences (Vassar, Stevens losing). But if Loras were to win the CCIW (or defeat the Firebirds in the semis), Carthage is in serious trouble.

Bradley says it every year, if you want to play in the NCAA tournament you should win your conference tournament. It’s that simple. Lots of games left to be played, and we won’t know what the true at-large picture looks like until conference tournaments have finished. Happy April.

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