Top 25 News and Notes–Week 13

I think it is safe to say that the top 25 voters would have made different decisions on Pool C bids than the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Committees did. According to the pollsters, one women’s and five men’s teams that did not receive tournament invitations are among the top 25 in the nation. This includes men’s #9 UW-Oshkosh, the highest-ranked men’s team ever to be denied a chance to play for the national title. The five “snubbed” men’s teams matches the record total from the 2002 tournament, a tournament played before the expansion from 48 teams to the current 59-team field.

The women’s bracket, by contrast, looks pretty satisfactory from a top 25 persepective. The only ranked team to be left out is #18 Hardin-Simmons, which is a far cry from the 2005 bracket, which omitted seven of the season-ending top 25 from it’s 50-team field.

The final regular-season top 25 poll has proven to be a good but by no means perfect predictor of the national tournament. On the men’s side, there have always been either one or two Final Four teams that were in the year-end top 4. The teams ranked #1, #3, and #4 have reached the Final Four roughly half of the time, but oddly enough the team that finished the season ranked #2 has not made the Final Four in the seven-year history of the poll. The team that carries this dubious burden into the weekend is Wooster. There has yet to be a men’s Final Four team that was unranked at the end of the regular season. The men’s tournament has been won by a top 10 team in every year of the poll except 2001 (won by #14 Catholic,) with the average ranking of the champion being #6 (good news for fans of Amherst.)

The year-end women’s top 25 is also a good predictor, with a bit more variability than the men’s. There was a year (2004) where the Final Four had three top 4 teams, and another (2002) where the entire top 4 was eliminated prior to the final weekend. That was the only year that the year-end #1 team failed to make the Final Four, so women’s #1 Bowdoin looks to be in good shape to reach Springfield. On the other hand Scranton has reason to worry, as the team ranked third in the final pre-tournament poll has never reached the semifinals. On three occasions, including last year’s Hardin-Simmons team, an unranked team has reached the Final Four. There was even one semifinalist that failed to receive a single vote in the year-end poll (Ohio Wesleyan in 2001). The top-ranked team has not won the title since Washington U. ’s last title, in 2001. In the five years since, the Walnut and Bronze has been shipped home by teams ranked anywhere from #6 (Hope last year and Millikin the previous year) to #21 (Trinity (TX) in 2003,) with the average rank of the winner over that period being approximately #12, a good augur for McMurry.

Good luck to all of the participating teams, and may the best teams win!

Women: The Falcons of Concordia University of Wisconsin ended their regular season on a 19-game winning streak, which included the regular season and tournament championships in the Northern Athletics Conference, and enter the women’s poll voting for the first time ever. Concordia travels to Luther this weekend to battle the 25th-ranked Norse.
Men: #23 Centre College enters the men’s Top 25 poll for the first time ever. The Colonels shared the SCAC title this season with DePauw, then won the SCAC tournament in Memphis to advance to the NCAA tournament. Centre takes its 23-4 record to Wooster, OH this weekend, where they will face Capital University.
Congratulations to the Falcons and the Colonels!

Women: #3 Scranton, undaunted by their bad-luck ranking, are a top 25 team for the 90th consecutive week. Puget Sound received votes for the 20th straight week, while Baldwin-Wallace dropped off the voting rolls for the first time in 32 weeks.
Men: The College of Wooster, holders of the unpropitious #2 ranking, are in the top 25 for the 75th consecutive week. This impressive streak is second only to the record 77-week string held by #6 Amherst. #4 Virginia Wesleyan is a vote-getter for the 25th straight time. #16 UW-La Crosse and #13 Elmhurst, both denied bids to the NCAA tournament, can take small consolation in the extensions of their voting streaks to 20 and 10 weeks, respectively. Puget Sound dropped out of the top 25 for the first time in 51 weeks.

Women: #16 Wilmington makes their 100th appearance among the vote-getting teams this week. Congratulations to the Quakers on this achievement! Twelfth-ranked McMurry received votes for the 50th time. Other teams reaching milestones in the vote-getting category include St. Lawrence (70 weeks), #17 Brandeis (60 weeks), #10 Mary Washington (40 weeks), and Kean (20 weeks.) Fourth-ranked Messiah’s appearance in the top 25 this week is their 100th of all-time. Congratulations to the Falcons! #3 Scranton is a top 25 team for the 120th time, while #13 Emmanuel and #20 Medaille are in the poll for the 40th and 10th times, respectively. #7 Calvin is among the top 10 for the 10th time.
Men: #13 Elmhurst and #15 Occidental each appear in the voting results for the 50th time this week. #22 Salem St. is a vote-getter for the 60th time; Capital received votes for the 40th week; and Averett was named on ballots for the 10th time. Fifth-ranked St. Thomas is a member of the top 10 for the 20th week. #25 John Carroll is ranked for the 40th time, while #16 UW-La Crosse and #24 NYU are each a top 25 team for the 10th time.

High-Water Marks:
Women: The hits just keep on coming in Brownwood—#2 Howard Payne has once again set a new record for highest-ever ranking, a record they have broken or matched in every poll this season. Other women’s teams that reached new all-time highs just in time for the NCAAs include #14 Lake Forest, #20 Medaille, and #21 Maine-Farmington.
Men: Men’s teams carrying their highest-ever rankings into the NCAA tournament include #3 Mississippi College, #14 Aurora, #21 Rhode Island College, and debutante #23 Centre. UW-La Crosse tied their highest-ever ranking at #16.

Movers and Shakers:
Women: For the second straight week, the principal movement in the women’s poll was downward. The largest gains were recorded by #16 Wilmington (+66 points and 4 rankings) and #5 Hope (+59/+2), both relatively modest gains. The downward march was led by #24 Illinois Wesleyan, who lost twice last week and shed 144 points and six spots in the final poll. #7 Calvin’s loss to archrival Hope cost them 98 points and 5 placements, while the premature end of #18 Hardin-Simmons’ season was reflected in their 96-point, five-spot drop in the poll.
Men: #17 Wittenberg fell in the NCAC semifinals, costing them 131 poll points, 7 ranking placements, and a chance for a second straight trip to Salem. #19 Guilford also lost 131 points after losing in the ODAC quarterfinals, but it cost them just 2 spots in the poll; and #18 WPI slipped 5 spots and 119 points after losing in the NEWMAC title game. #8 Washington U. clinched the UAA title, moving up 123 points and 4 placements, while CCIW conference and tournament champion #7 Augustana gained 114 points and 2 spots.

Waiting for the rules to change

With apologies to John Mayer:

Now if we had the power
To send our best teams off to play
They wouldn’t be around next weekend
Put the WIAC in today

So we keep waiting
Waiting on the rules to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the rules to change

It’s hard to make a difference
When they keep changing our distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the rules to change

Something running through my head this evening, hoping the new strength of schedule formula promised for next year does a better job.

Quality of Wins Index is going to go down in D-III basketball history with terms such as “64-team play-in” and “seven Pool C teams.” Remember, we used to have opponents’ record and opponents’ opponents’ record as part of the sanctioned selection conversation, but we got this system foisted on us a few years back. It used to be called Strength of Schedule Index, but that formula made no sense as a strength of schedule formula.

So they fixed it.

They changed the name instead of changing the formula.

“Quality of Wins” Index, you are dead to me. Good riddance!

And on the ninth day, upsets continued

Well, the day seemed to be starting off alright for Pool C hopefuls. Amherst jumped out to a 15-0 lead on Williams at home and appeared to be ready to run past their archrivals.

Uhm, no, not so much. Williams reacquired the hot shooting touch it had on Saturday at LeFrak and took its first lead with 6:39 left, holding off the Lord Jeffs with a Joe Geoghegan putback with 16 seconds left. Dan Wheeler couldn’t convert and after a missed Williams free throw, Andrew Olson couldn’t hold onto the ball in traffic.

Much like Trinity had two possessions with a chance to beat Williams the day before, in fact.

That sound you hear was Guilford’s bubble popping.

Immediately after this game ends on D3Cast, I flip over to the Coast Guard/WPI game, where Mark Simon has been keeping me apprised. (All the while, as I’ve been trying to finish women’s projections, watch/listen to two games, a D-III insider has decided to berate the selection and seeding process. Like I don’t already know how awful it is?)

Coast Guard won only two games in NEWMAC play all season. The Bears were the bottom seed in the seven-team conference. And they held off WPI at WPI to win 71-66 and claim an automatic bid.

Pop goes the Stevens, at least in our projections.

It’s shaping up to be a crazy day.

9 Days: Scooore-boooard


Usually that’s the chant you hear when a player is getting a little too happy with him or herself despite a less than happy score in the game. But today we’d like to point you to one of our newest features, the scoreboard panel off the front page directly under the Google search tool (right side of the screen).

It’s a smaller version of the full men’s scoreboard and women’s scoreboard, both of which allow you to follow the plethora of conference tournament action this weekend. It includes all games with any sort of live updating, whether live audio, video, stats or in-game updates posted by SIDs.

There are several teams and conferences providing video broadcasts that are marked “V.” Since the video broadcasts require a lot of bandwidth, we’ve also provided links to audio broadcasts where we know (or suspect) they will be provided. Besides, you never know when one stream won’t work. Redundancy is your friend with new technology. Redundancy is your friend with new technology.

We’ll have crews at the NESCAC Men’s Semifinals (Pat Coleman), NEWMAC Men’s and Women’s Semifinals (Mark Simon), CAC Men’s Finals (Dave McHugh and myself) and NEAC Men’s finals (maybe Dave McHugh and myself). Plus one of the newest members of our team, Matthew Florjancic, will be calling the OAC Men’s Finals on

If you’re at any of those games, please swing by and say hello. And if you’re not, please follow the front page and the “scooore-boooard” for all the news tomorrow as it happens.

Who’s in for 2007?

We’ll update this list as we can throughout the weekend as the 76 automatic bids get handed out to the two NCAA Tournaments.

Who’s in?
Lake Erie – AMCC
Mississippi College – ASC
Catholic – CAC
Johns Hopkins – CC
Wentworth Tech – CCC
Augustana – CCIW
York (N.Y.) – CUNYAC
St. John Fisher – E8
Rivier – GNAC
Transylvania – HCAC
Loras – IIAC
Rhode Island College – LEC
St. Lawrence – LL
Widener – MAC-C
King’s – MAC-F
Salem State – MASCAC
Calvin – MIAA
Carroll – MWC
St. Thomas – MIAC
Elms – NAC
Wooster – NCAC
Villa Julie – NEAC
Williams – NESCAC
Coast Guard – NEWMAC
Ramapo – NJAC
Whitworth – NWC
Capital – OAC
Hampden-Sydney – ODAC
Alvernia – PnAC
Centre – SCAC
Occidental – SCIAC
Manhattanville – SKY
Fontbonne – SLIAC
Plattsburgh State – SUNYAC
Washington U. – UAA
Averett – USAC
UW-Stevens Point – WIAC

Medaille – AMCC
Howard Payne – ASC
Notre Dame (Md.) – AWCC
Mary Washington – CAC
Ursinus – CC
Wheaton (Ill.) – CCIW
Salve Regina – CCC
Lehman – CUNYAC
Ithaca – E8
Emmanuel – GNAC
Piedmont – GSAC
Manchester – HCAC
Luther – IIAC
Hamilton – LL
Southern Maine – LEC
Messiah – MAC -C
Scranton – MAC-F
Fitchburg State – MASCAC
Hope – MIAA
St. Benedict – MIAC
Lake Forest – MWC
Maine-Farmington – NAC
Denison – NCAC
Keuka – NEAC
Bowdoin – NESCAC
Mount Holyoke – NEWMAC
Kean – NJAC
George Fox – NWC
Wilmington – OAC
Randolph-Macon – ODAC
Gwynedd-Mercy – PnAC
Oglethorpe – SCAC
La Verne – SCIAC
Mount St. Mary – SKY
Maryville (Mo.) – SLIAC
Cortland State- SUNYAC
Washington U. – UAA
Christopher Newport – USAC
UW-Stout – WIAC