Monday, April 23, 2007

Finishing Sectionals/Moving on to Regionals

Our story continues as Sectionals is postponed due to the 5-day Noreaster that we suffered through this week. What was left to play was our game with Northeastern for 2nd place in the section and the recently changed bracket(we got our 6th bid back during the week.....) with BU, MIT, BC, and Brandeis vying for the 6th spot to regionals. According to the SRT, MIT beat BU for 5th and Brandeis beat BC, so BU will play Brandeis for 6th...sometime this week? Good luck to both teams. So we hosted Northeastern on a beautiful day out at the Wellesley Campus. It was good to catch up with Coach Adams and we talked about how wide open the region was (more on this later).

The game started off very close and patterns developed that would continue throughout the game. We received and had some success working down the field. NU was playing a poachy clam that was mildly disconcerting and we ended up turning it in their end zone. They came back and scored to break us for 1-0. We manage to tie it up, but our execution is rough. Lots of drops, errant passes, etc. Maybe this could be as a result of NU's junk D, but I felt at the time that it was more a function of our execution. NU goes up a couple of breaks, and we crawl back to 4-4. We are having some success with our zone and getting some short fields to work with. NU, however, is having a very good day on O. They are effective with their break marks plus dump swing. We seem to be struggling to even take away what we are trying to take they are taking what we give them as well. We get the turn, but we drop the disc in the end zone. We get the disc again on the line, but we can't convert. NU puts up a couple of big passes and goes coast to coast for the 5-4 lead. Then....the wheels came off the train. Our execution errors give NU extra possessions, and their O just seemed to crank up a notch. They go on a 3-0 run to take half. Second half is more of the same. NU closes the game with an 11-1 run to win 15-5. Ouch. NU played very well and while folks were giving them some crap at Sectionals about playing HAPD(maybe they are just smart), their offense was as good as any I have seen all season. Congratulations to NU for taking 2nd place in the Section. I wish them the best of luck in two weeks. I think NU has to realize that we need to look for positives in the game. Stuff to build on. A chance to reassess our process goals. I feel confident that they won't take it as disrespectful when I say that most of our turns were either execution or unforced errors. I think with a bit more offensive efficiency that the game is a much closer affair.

So moving onto Regionals. Lots of work to do in the next couple of weeks. I guess the thing to talk about is seeding...and this is going to be a bear to seed. Here is just a sampling at some of the "problems":

-Harvard having a "poor" Yale Cup(with 8 players) then beating Northeastern at Sectionals on their way to finishing 4th. Lots of data here to underseed them. With Lucy and Ellen on the out.
-BU potentially finishing 6TH in the section. There is a first round game I don't want to have.
-Wesleyan losing a bunch of games at Yale Cup, then winning the section.
-The format at Yale Cup basically makes any kind of analysis using final placement useless.
-Dartmouth having a "weak" start of the season.
-Yale having a great Yale Cup then losing two games at Sectionals on their way to a second place finish.
-Williams losing many close games at Yale Cup....wins their Section easily.

So, my attempt at seeding is a based on a ranking of strength, supported, as much as possible, by data. Specifically, head to head and, importantly, record against common opponents. I think the later is one that gets overlooked. There will be little previous years results and little to no final placement at Yale Cup as part of the ranking.

1)Tufts-only real blemishes are the Yale Cup loss to NU and an Ultimax loss to Williams in March. Beat everyone else and beat NU at Sectionals. Clearly deserves the 1 seed.
2) Northeastern- loss at Sectionals to Harvard, but has a better Record Against Common Opponents(RACO)(4-2) than Dartmouth (2-4), Head to head win over Wesleyan and better RACO (6-4) than Willams (3-6). As Sectional winners, these 3 teams seem to have the only claims on the 2 spot.
3) Dartmouth- head to head wins over Yale,Wellesley, and Williams. Better RACO(4-1) than Wesleyan(3-4).

Now it gets hard. I think the 4 teams vying for the 4-7 slots are: Williams, Wesleyan, Yale, and Wellesley. No one else, based on Sectional results, can really be considered for these slots. Williams, with head to head losses against Yale and Wellesley combined with with a worse RACO (1-4) than Wesleyan plus the fact that Wesleyan must be seeded higher than Yale, is pretty much locked in at 7. So, for the 4-6 slots, I think there is a line of reasoning that goes: Yale has a head to head win over Wellesley, the Wesleyan sectional win is an "upset"...put Wesleyan at 4, Yale at 5, Wellesley at 6. My problems with this analysis are: 1) it doesn't use all the data, 2) it overweights the Yale head to head win, 3) it underweights Yale's two loss sectional performance, and 4) it overseeds Wesleyan from a strength point of view. Looking at RACO as a data point, I think a better gauge of Wesleyan's strength can be obtained. Wesleyan has a worse RACO against Tufts, NU, and Wellesley, but a better RACO against Williams. In other words, I think it is hard to argue that Wesleyan deserves a 4 seed from a point of view of a strength ranking. So that results in:

4) Wellesley
5) Wesleyan
6) Yale
7) Williams
8) Brown- Head to head over Williams was a forfeit. Williams has a better RACO(2-2 vs 1-3). Head to head win over Harvard
9) Harvard
10) Conn College- Quality win over Yale. Better RACO than MIT
11) MIT
12) BU--if they beat Brandies and qualify..if not then Vermont
13) Vermont or Brandeis
14) Bowdoin
15) Middlebury


jsa said...


So, we get the "nightmare" first round match-up with BU if they qualify, huh?

Can't really argue with your analysis. My girls stepped it up so big at sectionals. Big wins over Conn, Brown and Yale.

Conn is also a potentially very tricky first round match-up... Leela Tunnell is a fantastic player.

Coach, Wesleyan Vicious Circles

JYD said...

George - we at NU know that our two teams are a heck of a lot closer than a 15-5 score might indicate. Things did click very well for us on Saturday, but the next game will bring a new story and I will certainly not be taking anything for granted should we play again at Regionals. Like we talked about on Saturday, there are so many solid teams in the Region this year that no games will be easy, and thats very exciting; I think you and the Whiptails will have great success.

I was trying to sort through the Regionals seedings a bit last night and came up with a pretty similar breakdown to what you listed above. The Wellesley/Wesleyan/Yale grouping is a tough one to sort because Yale seems too low at 6, but Wesleyan seems too high at 4. I guess it doesn't matter all that much because all of the 2nd round games and the majority of 1st round games will all be great battles. If BU does in fact take 6th in our Section and gets something around an 11 or 12 seed, they would have to be the most dangerous seed that low in some time...

Good luck getting ready for Regionals!

Northeastern Coach

gcooke said...

I am glad that everyone got the memo that only male coaches of NE college women's teams can participate in this dialog.

Yep, great work down there. I think there is tendency to write teams off after Yale Cup. I am glad to see that you guys worked hard and got those big wins.

Agreed about LT, she has been a force at NUTC for the past 4 years or so. Plus she is as nice as they come. Great to see that program benefiting from her talents.

Thanks for the comments. The Whips appreciated the opprtunity to check on where we are at. Thanks for a positive and hard fought game.


Jeffrey Asher said...

I agree for the most part. I originally thought Dartmouth would be 2 with NU 3, but looking at it again, I think it makes more sense the other way.

4-5-6 is close, as is 7-8. Are RC's allowed to ignore forfeit wins for seeding?

I think we (Harvard) are where we should be seeded. The wins over Dartmouth and NU show that we can play well, but we don't have good enough results to justify placing us any higher.

I'd put MIT and BU (if they make it) above Conn College. BU has a better RACO against Conn College and MIT's is virtually identical.

After that, it's a big question mark. Conn College, Bowdoin and Middlebury all have very few wins out-of-section. UVM and UMF have some, but not many. I'll agree with your seedings, but there's very little info about those teams.

-Jeff Listfield
Coach, Harvard Quasar

nell said...

so i guess i'll go ahead and add some estrogen to the discussion, george...

agreed that the yale-wellesley-wesleyan-williams (as if we didn't have enough trouble with keeping us straight already) cluster is a tough one, but i also agree with how you have those four seeded.

i agree with jeff that BU could (should?) be ranked higher than conn college; in addition to the reasons already listed, they have a win against NE (which should count more than CC's against yale; both were of a similar score, and both teams lost in subsequent games). As far as MIT/CC goes it's pretty much a tossup, so MIT gets the benefit of BU's helium. Also, BU and MIT both have higher RRIs than CC, though i don't know how much that gets taken into account here.

Also re: conn college versus, say, BU, i'm curious--how much can/does the difficulty of a team's season be taken into account? with these two particular teams, BU's season dwarfs Conn College's (and others seeded higher). Theoretically, i'd imagine a longer, tougher season would make for a more competitive team, and in the absence of other head-to-head indicators, is this taken into acccount?

Also, to throw this out there--i feel i should say that all the BU speculation is in no way disrespect to Brandeis or taking the game as a done deal. BU just provides so many interesting seeding wildcards to look at.

one final thought: this season in particular there seems to be a LOT of upsets and up-and-down. i'm curious how much of the seedings tangle is parity, and how much of it is team inconsistency. i'm inclined to think it's the latter, for whatever reason that may be.

The Carr said...

I'll go ahead and volunteer my thoughts as a non-coach of a NE womens team (of course I'm still biased).

Tyke and I were talking about seeding last night and originally I had Wesleyan 4, Yale 5, and Wellesley 6. My main reasoning for this was weighting sectionals performance heavily. Especially since Wesleyan avenged two Yale Cup losses by beating Yale and Brown at sectionals. Since Wesleyan is apparently playing much better, I paid less attention to their 8-3 loss to BU and more attention to BU's loss to MIT at sectionals.

However, I reconsidered and decided that there is more to a season than just sectionals and that Yale Cup and even earlier tournaments do carry weight. Considering this, Wellesley has had a much stronger season (wins over Ohio and Georgia) than Wesleyan, and could even be considered comparable to Yale (see their RRI's). This was evidence enough for me to think that Wellesley deserves the 4, Wesleyan the 5, and Yale the 6. I'll also agree with the others that MIT and BU (should they indeed beat Brandeis) have a good argument to be above Conn College as well.


gcooke said...

Hey all,

I took another look at the Conn Coll/MIT/BU cluster, and I am agreement that BU should be seeded higher than Conn College, due to RACO and, specifically, that BU has the win over Wesleyan.

So that gives us:

9) Harvard
10) MIT
11) BU(if they beat Brandeis)
12) Conn College

A couple of quick thoughts about seeding. First, some folks will say, when looking at the above seedings, "What about the potential Wesleyan v Conn College" sectional rematch...shouldn't that be avoided?" We need to remember that seeding is a ranking of perceived strength and that mandate trumps the concern of sectional rematches. If two teams are considered roughly equal...then there is the possibility that a tweak could be made. My opinion is that teams need to be rewarded for their performance. Tweaks like sectional rematches create scenarios in which teams are essentially "scripted" in to certain slots.

My take on Nell's questions: If considering a season's worth of data informs the strength ranking, then, yes, it should be considered. Also, RRI is not a listed parameter for seeding in the UPA seeding guidelines.

Lastly, I appreciate the reminder that BU qualifying is not a done deal. This topic, as Nell mentioned, is not at all meant as overlooking or being disrespctful to Brandeis' successful season.