March 25, 2015 by Charlie Eisenhood in Livewire with 38 comments
You may not like it, you may think it’s unfair, but the reality is that what Cincinnati has decided to do is perfectly rational. For most college teams, the primary goal of the season is to make it to Nationals. So an obvious secondary goal is getting a strength bid to vastly increase the odds of making that happen.
Cincinnati did that. They did enough. It may have come via a couple of lopsided wins over a solid Tulane team, and at the expense of some other teams that beat them (UC Santa Barbara, e.g.). But now that they are sitting at #14 with a week left in the season, staring at a tournament in Huck Finn that mostly contains downside for them, other than getting some reps in before the Series, what do you expect them to do?
This is the obvious first order response to the USA Ultimate algorithm. So if you’re upset about this, consider that, once again, we are having a conversation about the bid allocation system and the algorithm. These are systemic issues.
Consider this: Tulane, who is playing at Huck Finn this weekend, now has an incentive to badly lose games, in order to tank their own results and drag down Cincinnati (which would likely move Auburn, a team in their region, back into bid earning territory at #18). That incentive shouldn’t exist!
There’s plenty of fixes! Require teams to play games in March. Include a probabilistic component to the bid system that rewards regions with a lot of good teams. Include a human ranking component.
We’ve now seen it enough times where one good early result (Brown ’14, e.g.) floats a team along all year and into a bid. It’s not good for competition to give teams reasons NOT to play tournaments at the end of the year.