The Abegg projections

For some time now, Wash U graduate Patrick Abegg has been collecting data on Division III basketball, running his own computer rating and the like. In recent years his projections of the NCAA’s regional rankings have been impressively accurate. So, rather than duplicate his efforts, we’ve decided to recognize him as the Joe Lunardi of Division III.

From his rankings, we’re projecting out who the at-large men’s basketball candidates are, which conference leaders are currently upset proof (if they take one loss) and who’s on the bubble.

As a refresher, 60 teams make the NCAA Tournament in Division III men’s basketball, with 39 automatic bids, three Pool B bids for teams not in those conferences and 18 at-large bids (Pool C).

For the purposes of this projection, one team in each conference has to be the presumed automatic bid.

Who’s in?
These are teams that have clinched automatic bids
Washington University-St. Louis, UAA champion

Who’s safe?
These are teams that would get in even with a loss in the conference finals, no matter what. There can only really be nine locks if there are 18 at-large bids.
St. Thomas
Puget Sound
Franklin and Marshall
Worcester Polytech
Wheaton (Ill.)
Richard Stockton

Who’s next?
For each team above which wins its conference tournament and automatic bid, a team from this list joins the ranks of the safe.
Buena Vista
Farmingdale State
Rhode Island College
St. Lawrence
Bridgewater State
Trinity (Texas)

Pool B ranking

No other Pool B team appears in Abegg’s regional rankings, encompassing 82 teams. The next team would likely be Maryville (Tenn.).

Safe Pool C teams
These teams are relatively safe even with the one expected loss.
1. UW-Stevens Point
2. Hamilton
3. Mass-Dartmouth
4. UW-Platteville
5. John Carroll
6. Randolph-Macon
7. Centre
8. North Central
9. Salem State
10. Elmhurst

Pool C bubble teams
These teams need a lot of things to go right ahead of them.
11. Amherst
12. McDaniel
13. Carnegie Mellon (Note, no conference tournament.)
14. St. Joseph’s (L.I.)
15. William Paterson
16. Ohio Wesleyan
17. Mississippi College
18. Whitworth

A-begging to get in
Better win out.
19. Montclair State
20. Colby
21. Wesley
22. McMurry
23. Augustana
24. MIT
25. DePauw
26. Ohio Northern
27. Bowdoin
28. Brandeis (Note, no conference tournament.)

I’ve gotten questions about Cornell and Mary Hardin-Baylor this week. They stand at No. 30 and 36 on Abegg’s Pool C list.

All other conference leaders not listed need to win out, as currently projected.

25 thoughts on “The Abegg projections

  1. Regarding the CCIW Pool C candidates, keep in mind, Elmhurst and North Central play Wednesday…so one will pick up a loss there. Then North Central plays at Wheaton Saturday. And there is a chance Elmhurst, North Central, and Augustana all see their in-region winning % go down in the conference tournament.

  2. Yep, like any Pool C candidate in a conference with a tournament, of course. That’s why I called out Brandeis and Carnegie Mellon specifically.

  3. Important to keep in mind that Patrick’s projections factoring in two of the five official primary criteria — in-region winning % and strength of schedule. The 3 others can have an impact:

    * in-region head-to-head
    * in-region common opponents
    * in-region results vs regionally ranked teams

    But generally, Patrick’s formula is about as close as it gets to breaking it down accurately.

  4. Patrick’s done an outstanding job. And maybe we’ll pick a few hours of extra sleep next weekend because of it. 🙂

  5. Question for Patrick – how many of the 17 Pool C teams from last year did you have correct, based on your final calculations (selection day)? The 2008 Pool C teams were:

    Amherst (NESCAC), 23-2 (.920)
    Centre (SCAC), 20-2 (.909)
    Mass-Dartmouth (LEC), 25-3 (.893)
    Gettysburg (CC), 20-3 (.870)
    Wooster (NCAC), 16-3 (.842)
    Brandeis (UAA), 19-4 (.826)
    Capital (OAC), 22-5 (.815)
    Buena Vista (IIAC), 17-4 (.809)
    Va. Wesleyan (ODAC), 21-5 (.808)
    Worcester Poly (NEWMAC), 20-5 (.800)
    Rochester (UAA), 19-5 (.792)
    Bowdoin (NESCAC), 21-6 (.777)
    Occidental (SCIAC), 14-4 (.777)
    UW-Stevens Point (WIAC), 20-6 (.769)
    Wash U (UAA), 16-5 (.762)
    Middlebury (NESCAC), 18-6 (.750)
    Wheaton (CCIW), 15-7 (.682)

    I’m guessing 14 or 15 of 17?


  6. Thanks everyone for the kind words (here and on D3boards). I hope that I can provide the best number-crunching and analysis as we head down the stretch. (Speaking of stretch, today’s also the start of my race for Democratic State Committee here in Massachusetts, so I really get to multi-task in the next few weeks!)

    Titan Q, I actually had 16 of 17 last year. Wheaton (#26 in my list) was the exception, as they were in most people’s projections. I can’t honestly say what set Wheaton apart from some of the other schools that were under consideration.

    I tend to think the numerical projections are accurate to about three spots. For example, Amherst is #11 this week, which really means that they’re somewhere between 8 and 14, which means they could be anywhere from comfortable with a loss to on the bad side of the bubble.

    As a reminder, wins don’t tend to help that much at this time of the year, but losses make a big difference. Just losing a game to a weak opponent could drop you about 10 places, while losing to a team ranked above you still generates a slight hit.

  7. This is a situation where the UAA schools get an advantage without a conference tournament. Carnegie Mellon and Brandeis can make it through the rest of the season without a loss. Everyone else has to end on a loss going into selection Sunday/Monday or they have the Pool A and aren’t concerned about any of this.

  8. Yeah… but one could also argue Brandeis and Carnegie Mellon are in situations where a conference tournament could have helped them get into the NCAA tournament. Brandeis needs to win out to hope to get in and even then it will be a very dicey time on the bubble. If they had a conference tournament, they could get on a streak (like they have several times this season) and win the AQ.

    It is a double-edged sword.

  9. How come Guilford’s not listed-they are leading the ODAC(actually yhey’re tied with Randolph-Macon but own the tiebreaker)?

  10. Patrick tells me he’s projected who will win each conference based on who is higher in his ratings. And he bases those ratings on national numbers, since those are more useful and it’s not part of the NCAA’s regional rankings picture.

  11. Guilford and Randolph-Macon make an interesting case. Because RMC has two non-regional losses, they play out much better in the Pool C rankings than Guilford because those two losses are ignored.

    Guilford is favored to win the conference based on overall play (the records are the same in D3 but Guilford has a tougher schedule). They would be in the “Who’s Next” list with Trinity TX, just 3 spots farther down (add Transylvania and St. Mary’s MD between Trinity and them).

    Teams like Guilford, Transy, and St. Mary’s are in good shape with one more loss, but there are 18 schools ahead of them that could also lose their conference tournaments (and take a Pool C). Some of the schools Pat has listed as “Safe Pool C” would also be in trouble with tons of upsets in the conference tournaments.

  12. The UAA’s Pool C advantage in the process comes from existing in multiple regions. While the WIAC and CCIW members have to wait one at a time for their turn to be considered, the UAA can potentially have three or four teams all up for consideration at once.

  13. Patrick:

    The different projections for UW-Whitewater, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Platteville are interesting given how similar the records are. Can you explain how your system places them where they are shown?

  14. Whitewater’s schedule is a little stronger than Stevens Point’s so their overall power ranking is the highest; in Pool C terms they are essentially tied and so their positions on the Pool A list and Pool C list are the same.

    Platteville has fewer regional wins than the other two, so ends up a little lower.

  15. Tuesday’s win by Salem State over Bridgewater State means those two teams change places (Salem State now as the Pool A favorite). Bridgewater State, even with the loss, is probably #8 ahead of North Central on the Pool C list (whereas Salem State was #9).

  16. If Hamilton wins their final two regular season games, they’re definitely in. With 1-1 and then a loss in the conference tournament, they might still be in.

  17. Patrick’s take on last night’s games, taken from a message board post:

    Here’s what Wednesday’s games did to Pool C consideration:

    Whitewater and Platteville dropped a few spots, but both are still comfortable (#3 and #6 Pool C teams, respectively). As a result, Stevens Point takes over as the likely Pool A team from the WIAC.

    North Central drops with their loss to Elmhurst from #8 to #13 among Pool C teams; they’re now on the bubble. Elmhurst strengthens their hold on a Pool C bid at #9.

    Montclair State’s win over William Paterson switches these two teams in the rankings, they’re at #14 and #19, respectively. Both are on the bubble, but Montclair’s sweep of Paterson probably means they would be ahead in the final selection.

    As stated above, UNE’s loss eliminates their Pool C chances, but they’re still likely Pool A.

    Wesley’s loss finishes their chances.

    Cornell, Hope, and Bethel gained ground but are likely too little, too late for Pool C bids.

  18. Mr. Abegg, God of D3 Hoops behind Mr. Coleman:

    Lawrence University (18-6) is on a roll right now through its conference, but has pre-Christmas losses to Marian,UW-Oshkosh and Cal Lutheran, and 3 conference losses to Grinnell (12-3), Carroll (12-4) and Ripon (10-14 ugh). Since then they won 6 straight including defeating Caroll and St Norberts (12-3) twice by 25 points each. Does the method you use consider momentum? Also, does the UW-Oshkosh win over Whitewater last night help LU any with those schools in the West? Does Stevens Point losing hurt us–we killed them in December as well.


  19. Momentum isn’t considered by the NCAA committee.

    I don’t think UWSP losing hurts Lawrence as long as UWSP remains in the regional rankings. I’m sure they will.

    Problem is Lawrence would need to lose again to get into Pool C and that may be too much. But Lawrence is definitely on a roll, no doubt.

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