March 14, 2014 by Keith Raynor in News with 17 comments
When it comes to the model for current college Ultimate, there’s a game within the game. On the field, there’s the game we know and love. And each game at each tournament has a definitive winner: team A scored more than team B and gets a beautiful green “W”, while team B is saddled with a scarlet “L”.
Off the field, however, the other competition rages on. Not only does each victory and each loss feed into, but each point, across the country, combines together to create the USAU’s national rankings. These rankings determine which regions get strength bids to the College Championships. Every year, we see close races come down to a few points and surprises along the way.
This year, the women’s side of the bid picture is a tale of the Haves and the Have-Nots.
|Atlantic Coast||Great Lakes||Metro East||North Central||New Engalnd||Northwest||Ohio Valley||South Central||Southeast||Southwest|
|Virginia (14)||Michigan (16)||Ottawa (UR)||Carleton (23)||Northeastern (11)||Oregon (1)||Ohio State (3)||Texas (12)||Central Florida (2)||UC-Santa Barbara (5)|
|North Carolina (18)||-||-||Iowa State (28)||Harvard (17)||Western Washington (4)||-||Colorado (15)||Florida State (26)||Stanford (6)|
|-||-||-||Iowa (UR)||Tufts (19)||Washington (7)||-||Colorado State (21)||-||UCLA (13)|
|-||-||-||-||Dartmouth (29)||British Columbia (8)||-||Texas A&M (24)||-||UC-San Diego (20)|
|-||-||-||-||-||Victoria (10)||-||Kansas (27)||-||UC-Davis (25)|
Unfortunately for nearly half of the regions, the race is already over. The Metro East, Southeast, Great Lakes, and Ohio Valley all appear locked in to receive only their automatic bid.
The Metro East has historically struggled to field more than one competitive team, and this season is no exception. While Cornell is currently the top ranked team in the region, Ottawa (#19 UW, Unranked USAU) is currently unranked, and won’t be counted until after their Texas trip to Women’s Centex. That will put them in the same position as the other three Have-Nots: with one power team and little hope of another breaking through.
The Ohio Valley remains dominated by Ohio State (#4 UW, #3 USAU). A huge weekend at Music City could have put Pittsburgh (#33 USAU) into the mix, but did not come to fruition. The Great Lakes belong to Michigan (#20, #16 USAU); Northwestern and Illinois have failed to deliver and are likely too far back to recover.
Central Florida (#3 UW, #3 USAU) sits atop the Southeast, with Florida State’s (#26 USAU) weak Tally Classic potentially closing the door on both them and their region’s chances at repeating their two bid 2013. Fortunately for the Southeast, FSU has a strong schedule and has one last chance to make noise at Centex.
In a zero-sum game such as the bid race, the multitude of one bid locks means more bids headed towards the season’s power regions. The New England, Northwest, Southwest, and South Central regions are all assured to take home multiple bids.
Like the North Central last season, the Northwest looks primed to take an overwhelming number of bids. That could be anywhere from four to six, and the latter seems more likely than the former; six teams in the #evilempire are in Ultiworld’s top 16. In the top 20, Victoria (#14 UW, #10 USAU) is the lowest ranked NW team. Whitman (#16 UW, #22 USAU) sits just outside of a current strength bid and both teams will have opportunities to score critical wins at The Northwest Challenge.
The New England region has turned in a surprisingly impressive season so far. Northeastern (#10 UW, #11 USAU) is the region’s top ranked team, but Tufts (#8 UW, #19 USAU) is lurking. What was unexpected was the results of Harvard (#17 USAU). The Quasar ladies are in action this weekend at College Terminus, where any out of region losses will be pretty damaging. Dartmouth is not out of the picture either, still residing in the top 30.
The powers of the Southwest have solidified themselves in bid winning position: UC-Santa Barbara (#2 UW, #5 USAU) and Stanford (#7 UW, #6 USAU) are well set up. UCLA (#21 UW, #13 USAU) holds an impressive ranking, but faces an incredibly difficult Northwest Challenge field. UC-San Diego (#22 UW, #20 USAU) and UC-Davis (#25 UW, #25 USAU) are both in the mix; UCSD’s D1 status at Women’s Centex gives them all the opportunity the Southwest could want.
Colorado (#13 UW, #15 USAU) and Texas (#15 UW, #12 USAU) are the leaders in the South Central. D-III Truman State was the biggest shocker in the first edition of the rankings, but will fall out of the top 20 as connectivity increases and more games get put in the books. Colorado State (#21 USAU) and Kansas (#18 UW, #27 USAU) are relevantly positioned; both are headed to Women’s Centex, with CSU in D2 and Kansas in D1. Texas A&M’s strong Music City showing helped them gain prominence, but they recently dropped out of Centex. The onus is on CSU and Kansas. Their performance in Texas will likely determine the fate of the South Central.
As is always the case, a couple of regions still sit on the fence between multi-bid and a single bid. The Atlantic Coast and North Central regions face uncertain futures.
The path of the NC from five bids last year to potentially just an automatic bid this season is daunting for a competitive region. No team in the region is within the top 20: Carleton (#12 UW, #23 USAU) is the region’s top team, while Iowa State (#24 UW, #28 USAU) is not far behind. Two of the region’s three bid-relevant teams – Iowa remains currently unranked – will be making the trek to Centex, so there’s a chance for the NC to turn it around, but even that looks unlikely.
The Atlantic Coast region looked like a two bid region to begin the season. North Carolina’s (#17 UW, #18 USAU) assorted stumbles this spring have sent them lower than expected, and they are in the danger zone. Even Virginia’s (#5 UW, #14 USAU) spot is not guaranteed. Centex will be key for the AC.
The picture is far less clear in the men’s division than in the women’s.
|Atlantic Coast||Great Lakes||Metro East||North Central||New England||Northwest||Ohio Valley||South Central||Southeast||Southwest|
|North Carolina (1)||Northwestern (18)||Cornell (UR)||Luther (7)||Massachussetts (3)||Oregon (10)||Pittsburgh (16)||Colorado (2)||Florida (5)||UC-San Diego (12)|
|UNC-Wilmington (15)||Michigan (20)||-||Minnesota (9)||Harvard (8)||Puget Sound (13)||Penn State (29)||Texas (4)||Florida State (6)||Arizona State (17)|
|Maryland (21)||Illinois (25)||-||Wisconsin (19)||Brown (11)||British Columbia (14)||-||Texas A&M (23)||Central Florida (22)||California (28)|
|-||Eastern Michigan (27)||-||Iowa State (26)||Dartmouth (24)||-||-||Missouri (30)||-||-|
Only two regions have locked themselves into one bid – the Metro East and Ohio Valley – while some regions have already assured themselves at least two bids.
The South Central, Southeast, and New England regions all comfortably hold positions for multiple bids; the North Central and Northwest are also well fortified to protect multi-bid status.
Things are tight for the Great Lakes, Atlantic Coast, and Southwest regions. How their members fare at Centex and Easterns will play a major part in deciding what opportunities regionals will present.
At the head of the class are the South Central and Southeast regions. Both stand a very solid chance of coming home with a trio of bids. Texas (#8 UW, #2 USAU) and Colorado (#2 UW, #4 USAU) have a firm grip on bids. The potential third bid falls on the shoulders of Texas A&M (#14 UW, #23 USAU). You won’t be surprised to hear Centex is critical for the squad’s’ hopes.
The Southeast features Florida (#3 UW, #5 USAU) and Florida State (#4 UW, #6 USAU), but the question mark is Central Florida (#12 UW, #22 USAU) and how they’ll hold up at Easterns. Other teams, like Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Tulane, have fallen well off being a factor.
Not far behind are the New England, Northwest, and North Central. At first glance, New England’s top pair of Massachusetts (#3 USAU) and Harvard (#9 UW, #8 USAU) casts the shadow of a region that should be in the mix for three bids. However, UMass’s spot seems fragile – College Terminus losses would not do well by them – and Dartmouth (#24 USAU) is on the outside looking in. Surprisingly, Tufts has played themselves out of contention, while Brown (#11 USAU) has made a mark. Easterns presents an open door for the NE’s potential bidwinner.
The situation the Northwest faces are somewhat similar. Oregon (#10 UW, #10 USAU) is cleanly in pole position. British Columbia (#12 UW, #14 USAU) sits second, with Puget Sound (D-3 #1 UW, #13 USAU) after that. Puget Sound could conceivably pursue the D1 path, though they have not done so historically. A pair of bids seems the most likely scenario.
The North Central has a strange situation of its own. Luther (#13 UW, #7 USAU) and Minnesota (#6 UW, #9 USAU) are fine at the top, but traditional powers Wisconsin (#7 UW, #19 USAU) and Carleton (#19 UW, #44 USAU) have more uncertain situations. Wisconsin is just outside of the danger zone and is likely to hold onto their spot, but Carleton is well outside of bid range and will need a big showing at Easterns. Luther (#13 UW, #7 USAU) vaulted into the top 10 thanks to an undefeated performance at Huck Finn, but they haven’t landed any quality wins over anyone in the Ultiworld Top 25. They’ll likely need to do more to hang on to a spot as connectivity increases.
The remaining trio of the Atlantic Coast, Great Lakes, and Southwest will need a lot of good play and a healthy bit of a luck to claim remaining bids.
Top ranked North Carolina (#1 UW, #1 USAU) can sleep easy, but (ignoring Virginia Tech-B), UNC-Wilmington (#25 UW, #15 USAU) is in for now, but will need a good showing at home at Easterns. Maryland (#21 USAU) remains near the fringes and capable of making a move in the name of the AC. Maryland is counting on UMass’s continued success to make a 13-14 loss continue to look good, especially without any competitive tournaments on the horizon.
Surprising Northwestern (#15 UW, #18 USAU) is riding high from their Warm Up performance, while Michigan (#20 USAU) is in a threatening position to get a second bid. Illinois (#25 USAU) and Eastern Michigan (#27 USAU) may be just too far to make a difference for the Great Lakes region.
Finally, the Southwest is lining up to be as dramatic as ever. UC-San Diego (#12 UW, #12 USAU) remains the cream of the region’s crop, but Arizona State (#17 UW, #17 USAU) and California (#24 UW, #28 USAU) are critically located on the rankings list. We haven’t seen much from ASU Prime in some time, and it’ll be interesting to see if they can maintain their standing.