D III Women's Volleyball

A source for NCAA Division III women's volleyball info and opinion, with a focus on the Midwest and Central regions

2014 regional rankings: NWU, Carthage lead Central, Midwest

The NCAA published the first of three public rankings today.

1. Nebraska Wesleyan
2. Washington-St. Louis
3. St. Thomas
4. Augsburg
5. Saint Benedict
6. Coe

1. Carthage
2. Elmhurst
3. UW-Stevens Point
4. Millikin
5. UW-Whitewater
6. UW Oshkosh
7. Cornell

Top three in other regions:
Great Lakes: Hope; Wittenberg; Calvin.
Mid-Atlantic: Christopher Newport; Eastern; Juniata.
New England: Williams; Bowdoin, Roger Williams.
New York: Richard Stockton; Clarkson; New Paltz St.
South: Emory; Washington and Lee; Virginia Wesleyan.
West: Cal Lutheran; La Verne; Pacific Lutheran.

I will add commentary, if any, later this evening. Off the top of my head, I hope the AVCA voters are taking notes.

I can say that my projected rankings for the Central and Midwest were nearly identical. I had St. Ben’s and Augsburg flipped in the Central. My Midwest order was Carthage, UWSP, Elmhurst, Millikin, Cornell, UWW, UWO. I’ll dig into it later tonight. I’ve been meaning to post something since they came out, but I’m still at work. Shh.

Update (10/23 at 7:15 p.m.): I still think I’m correct about Saint Benedict being ahead of Augsburg. AC has winning percentage by a lot. CSB has SOS by a lot and a head-to-head sweep. Both are 6-3 against common opponents and the variances within that record add up to a wash essentially. It may be moot now that AC beat St. Thomas, but I don’t see it this week.

Despite my questioning of the MIAC order of things, I want to give the Central a high-5 for putting Nebraska Wesleyan atop the region. The numbers support it, but NWU’s placement in recent years has been questionable to me. I admit NWU is a tough comparison due to its unique schedule, but the P Wolves have gotten less than a fair shake in the recent past. Glad I can put that particular rant to rest for this year. Now we’ll see if NWU is a No. 1 seed next month.

In the Midwest, I overestimated UW-Stevens Point’s strength of schedule. The top four are good.

Cornell is tricky. Wins over Carthage, UW-Stevens Point and St. Thomas are among the top victory trios in the entire country. Cornell’s loss to Northwestern, combined with UW Oshkosh’s win over the Eagles, may be the tipping point in that comparison. My projection had Cornell anywhere from fifth to seventh. The committee says seventh, I went with fifth. Take away the mandatory SOS killers and Cornell looks a lot better. That’s not within the criteria, but Cornell’s resume still looks better to me than it does to the Midwest RAC.

All three of the Rams’ signature wins are better than any of UW-Whitewater’s wins. The best wins for the Warhawks among the gaudy SOS are probably Coe, UW Oshkosh and Randolph-Macon. Quality wins all, but they pale in comparison to Cornell’s.

I also thought Oshkosh’s ceiling was seventh. I had the Titans, who have two great wins, battling Chicago’s mixed bag of results for the last spot.

If there’s one takeaway for me from today’s rankings, it’s that when two teams are close, winning percentage is more highly valued than most other criteria. That was the case last year as well, especially when looking at the final few Pool C bids in 2013. I appreciate the relative consistency from last year’s rankings and selections into the first set of rankings this year. Now coaches know they should probably ease up on their scheduling. At least for the time being, now that SOS isn’t as prized as it was for a decent stretch prior to 2013.

No one on the committees cares about my opinions, but I do not think the winning-percentage-trumps-SOS trend is a good one. I know rotating committee members means differing weights on the criteria, but I hope they don’t start regularly rewarding 32-win schedules for the sake of 32-win schedules like they did in 2013. I think incentives should be granted for quality rather than quantity.

-Ricky Nelson


Written by Ricky Nelson

October 23, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. With respect to the West, I certainly don’t have issues with the teams or the order. It’s certainly one of the many permutations possible.

    Cal Lu is a no brainer at #1.

    La Verne at #2 also makes sense with their victories over Colorado College and Claremont M-S.

    I can actually see Pacific Lutheran anywhere from #3 to #7 in the West. Strong wins over Trinity and CMS but a split with Whitworth (recently swept) and a loss to Linfield tells me that they are not as strong as they started the season. Having said that, they finish their conference play mainly at home and with no conference tournament they look to be a lock for the automatic bid. Interesting note (maybe only to me): I think if Whitworth and Pac Lu win out they will tie for the championship, which Pac Lu gets (with the bid) based on the NWC third tie breaker. Since Whitworth may not receive an automatic bid, this has repercussions to every possible at-large team as a Whitworth championship means one less available at-large spot (if you assume Pac Lu will get one).

    #4 through #6 could be any order between CMS, Colorado College and Trinity, but I would have had CMS on the tail end due to their loss to Trinity (but I would now look foolish with the recent CMS victory over Cal Lu).

    #7 is most likely UMHB and I guess they failed to make the top 6 due to a lack of strength of schedule (almost 100 places behind the other 3), but they did beat Trinity on a neutral court. So, we have a perfect example of a head-to-head result NOT outweighing SOS.

    Looking forward to your next post Ricky…this job of yours is really getting annoying!


    October 23, 2014 at 5:04 pm

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