Author Topic: Future of Division III  (Read 352765 times)

Offline Ralph Turner

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2040 on: February 14, 2013, 10:37:45 am »
Respectfully Steve, I am not sure how the whole Pool B/Pool C thing shakes out in Hockey, but as for football, hoops and baseball, the process seems to work out pretty well, once we have had a chance to read the Championship Handbook (once it is published and revisions/corrections have been made.)  By Selection Sunday, we are usually quibbling about the last 1-2 slots.  There are enough Pool C slots in football, hoops and baseball that the last slot goes to a worthy team, and the next team on the table has an ugly loss that one can point to as the reason they might have gotten in.

As for minor sports such as golf, there are plenty of quality teams that are left behind.  That sport also has limited Pool C bids, because of the same dynamics in the numbers.

A couple of seasons ago, I think that we counted about 230 men's hoops programs that were entering into post-season conference tourneys for the AQ. That is about as close to a national tournament as one might get inside the philosophy of D3. 

Offline hickory_cornhusker

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2041 on: February 14, 2013, 10:45:40 am »
I think a question that needs to be asked is what is the purpose of the national tournament.

Is it to give deserving teams a postseason experience? If so then I would agree that the number of Pool C teams should be expanded because there are deserving teams left out.

Is the point of the national tournament is to determine the national champion? If so then at-large teams are absolutely unnecessary except in the case of giving the ECAC West teams (or other Pool B teams) a spot to fight for. If you can't win your league (season or tournament) I have pretty strong evidence that suggests you do not deserve to be the national champion ("You can't even come in 1st place in your league and you want to be considered 1st in the nation? That's a ridiculous idea.").

The current tournament is probably the best mix of both. The only safe way is to win your league (whether for your league it is the season or the tournament). If you can't do that you should be grateful they are even considering letting you play for a national championship. Except for Pool B there is a very clear route to the national tournament. If you can't do it you don't have much to complain about when you are preparing to play golf at the start of March.

Offline Hoops Fan

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2042 on: February 14, 2013, 10:59:45 am »
I think a question that needs to be asked is what is the purpose of the national tournament.

Is it to give deserving teams a postseason experience? If so then I would agree that the number of Pool C teams should be expanded because there are deserving teams left out.

Is the point of the national tournament is to determine the national champion? If so then at-large teams are absolutely unnecessary except in the case of giving the ECAC West teams (or other Pool B teams) a spot to fight for. If you can't win your league (season or tournament) I have pretty strong evidence that suggests you do not deserve to be the national champion ("You can't even come in 1st place in your league and you want to be considered 1st in the nation? That's a ridiculous idea.").

The problem isn't necessarily the national tournament; it's the conference tournaments.  If a conference gives their auto-qualifier to the regular season champion, it's tough to argue they don't deserve it.  They won the regular season, proven over a longer period of time.  If you give it to a conference tournament champion, you only have to get hot for a week or maybe even just one game.  That seems less fair to others, and thus the need for at-large bids.

Ultimately, though, we have to remember that a national tournament doesn't name the best team in the country, it merely names the team that won the tournament.  Granted, it's a tournament comprised of all the best schools and the winner certainly has a claim to greatness, but it's still defined by context.

Offline sunny

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2043 on: February 14, 2013, 01:36:42 pm »
I think a question that needs to be asked is what is the purpose of the national tournament.

Is it to give deserving teams a postseason experience? If so then I would agree that the number of Pool C teams should be expanded because there are deserving teams left out.

Is the point of the national tournament is to determine the national champion? If so then at-large teams are absolutely unnecessary except in the case of giving the ECAC West teams (or other Pool B teams) a spot to fight for. If you can't win your league (season or tournament) I have pretty strong evidence that suggests you do not deserve to be the national champion ("You can't even come in 1st place in your league and you want to be considered 1st in the nation? That's a ridiculous idea.").

The problem isn't necessarily the national tournament; it's the conference tournaments.  If a conference gives their auto-qualifier to the regular season champion, it's tough to argue they don't deserve it.  They won the regular season, proven over a longer period of time.  If you give it to a conference tournament champion, you only have to get hot for a week or maybe even just one game.  That seems less fair to others, and thus the need for at-large bids.

Ultimately, though, we have to remember that a national tournament doesn't name the best team in the country, it merely names the team that won the tournament.  Granted, it's a tournament comprised of all the best schools and the winner certainly has a claim to greatness, but it's still defined by context.

This is precisely why I like "limited participant" conference tournaments where no more than roughly half the league gets in.  Even better if there is not a predetermined site and the #1 seed gets home field/court/etc. As much as a conference tournament may seem to be less reflective of the season as a whole than simply giving the first-place team, sometimes the opposite is true.  Tennis is a good example.  Say Team A loses to Team B in the regular season but Team A's #1 player is injured for that match and they lose 5-4.  In every match throughout the season, it is clear Team A is the stronger of the two teams (not hard to figure out in a sport like tennis). If those two teams play again in the conference championship at full strength, Team A likely wins quite easily.  (Of course, the opposite can happen - which is why at-large bids are a good thing).  I like the idea of a team earning their way into the conference tournament (and the #1 seed earning home advantage). It sort of does add extra "preliminary" rounds to the national tournament.  A conference tournament also gives leagues a way to determine AQs when multiple teams tie for first place and there isn't an easy tie-breaker to fall back on like head-to-head.

Offline Hoops Fan

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2044 on: February 14, 2013, 03:09:08 pm »
I think a question that needs to be asked is what is the purpose of the national tournament.

Is it to give deserving teams a postseason experience? If so then I would agree that the number of Pool C teams should be expanded because there are deserving teams left out.

Is the point of the national tournament is to determine the national champion? If so then at-large teams are absolutely unnecessary except in the case of giving the ECAC West teams (or other Pool B teams) a spot to fight for. If you can't win your league (season or tournament) I have pretty strong evidence that suggests you do not deserve to be the national champion ("You can't even come in 1st place in your league and you want to be considered 1st in the nation? That's a ridiculous idea.").

The problem isn't necessarily the national tournament; it's the conference tournaments.  If a conference gives their auto-qualifier to the regular season champion, it's tough to argue they don't deserve it.  They won the regular season, proven over a longer period of time.  If you give it to a conference tournament champion, you only have to get hot for a week or maybe even just one game.  That seems less fair to others, and thus the need for at-large bids.

Ultimately, though, we have to remember that a national tournament doesn't name the best team in the country, it merely names the team that won the tournament.  Granted, it's a tournament comprised of all the best schools and the winner certainly has a claim to greatness, but it's still defined by context.

This is precisely why I like "limited participant" conference tournaments where no more than roughly half the league gets in.  Even better if there is not a predetermined site and the #1 seed gets home field/court/etc. As much as a conference tournament may seem to be less reflective of the season as a whole than simply giving the first-place team, sometimes the opposite is true.  Tennis is a good example.  Say Team A loses to Team B in the regular season but Team A's #1 player is injured for that match and they lose 5-4.  In every match throughout the season, it is clear Team A is the stronger of the two teams (not hard to figure out in a sport like tennis). If those two teams play again in the conference championship at full strength, Team A likely wins quite easily.  (Of course, the opposite can happen - which is why at-large bids are a good thing).  I like the idea of a team earning their way into the conference tournament (and the #1 seed earning home advantage). It sort of does add extra "preliminary" rounds to the national tournament.  A conference tournament also gives leagues a way to determine AQs when multiple teams tie for first place and there isn't an easy tie-breaker to fall back on like head-to-head.

Right, but as you pointed out, the opposite can happen and any number of factors can limit what a team does.  MIT's men's basketball team right now is without two starters (and have been all year) from what was clearly the best returning line-up in the country.  Should those guys come back for the tournament, they'll be better than their record and if they win, no doubt people would call them the best team.  Of course they weren't the best team most of the year.

That's why we have to recognize the limits of a tournament at all.  People claim it's better than a poll or whatever the BCS does, but really it doesn't do a better job of determining the best team, it merely crowns a tournament winner.  The team that played the best consistently over a period of weeks at the end of a long season.  You can still make an argument (and some do) that another team is really the best.

It is just one of the limitations of a tournament.  However, if you want to do your best to make sure the best teams over the course of the season have a chance to win the tournament, you take conference champs, not conference tourney winners.

A few at-large bids make sense for clearly deserving teams.

Offline sunny

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2045 on: February 14, 2013, 06:46:57 pm »
I think a question that needs to be asked is what is the purpose of the national tournament.

Is it to give deserving teams a postseason experience? If so then I would agree that the number of Pool C teams should be expanded because there are deserving teams left out.

Is the point of the national tournament is to determine the national champion? If so then at-large teams are absolutely unnecessary except in the case of giving the ECAC West teams (or other Pool B teams) a spot to fight for. If you can't win your league (season or tournament) I have pretty strong evidence that suggests you do not deserve to be the national champion ("You can't even come in 1st place in your league and you want to be considered 1st in the nation? That's a ridiculous idea.").

The problem isn't necessarily the national tournament; it's the conference tournaments.  If a conference gives their auto-qualifier to the regular season champion, it's tough to argue they don't deserve it.  They won the regular season, proven over a longer period of time.  If you give it to a conference tournament champion, you only have to get hot for a week or maybe even just one game.  That seems less fair to others, and thus the need for at-large bids.

Ultimately, though, we have to remember that a national tournament doesn't name the best team in the country, it merely names the team that won the tournament.  Granted, it's a tournament comprised of all the best schools and the winner certainly has a claim to greatness, but it's still defined by context.

This is precisely why I like "limited participant" conference tournaments where no more than roughly half the league gets in.  Even better if there is not a predetermined site and the #1 seed gets home field/court/etc. As much as a conference tournament may seem to be less reflective of the season as a whole than simply giving the first-place team, sometimes the opposite is true.  Tennis is a good example.  Say Team A loses to Team B in the regular season but Team A's #1 player is injured for that match and they lose 5-4.  In every match throughout the season, it is clear Team A is the stronger of the two teams (not hard to figure out in a sport like tennis). If those two teams play again in the conference championship at full strength, Team A likely wins quite easily.  (Of course, the opposite can happen - which is why at-large bids are a good thing).  I like the idea of a team earning their way into the conference tournament (and the #1 seed earning home advantage). It sort of does add extra "preliminary" rounds to the national tournament.  A conference tournament also gives leagues a way to determine AQs when multiple teams tie for first place and there isn't an easy tie-breaker to fall back on like head-to-head.

Right, but as you pointed out, the opposite can happen and any number of factors can limit what a team does.  MIT's men's basketball team right now is without two starters (and have been all year) from what was clearly the best returning line-up in the country.  Should those guys come back for the tournament, they'll be better than their record and if they win, no doubt people would call them the best team.  Of course they weren't the best team most of the year.

That's why we have to recognize the limits of a tournament at all.  People claim it's better than a poll or whatever the BCS does, but really it doesn't do a better job of determining the best team, it merely crowns a tournament winner.  The team that played the best consistently over a period of weeks at the end of a long season.  You can still make an argument (and some do) that another team is really the best.

It is just one of the limitations of a tournament.  However, if you want to do your best to make sure the best teams over the course of the season have a chance to win the tournament, you take conference champs, not conference tourney winners.

A few at-large bids make sense for clearly deserving teams.

The NCAA DOES take conference champions.  They leave it up to the conferences how to decide those champions. As you say, the tournament model has its limitations, but (thankfully) the cases of teams who could have made a legitimate argument at being the best in the nation being left out of a tournament are few and far between. (The last incredibly egregious one I can remember was W&L being left out of the Division III men's lax tournament after they went undefeated before losing in the ODAC Championship game. But that only happened because there were ZERO Pool C bids for that tournament that year and that was over a decade ago.)

Clearly, the tournaments exists for reasons other than simply crowning the best team. The reality is that only one team can "be the best" or win the national title. And the more severe reality is that for many teams (or entire departments) reaching an NCAA Tournament one time will be a crowning jewel.  I like the limited conference tournament/national tournament model because it allows for programs of different resources and stages of development to hang their hats on different things (making the conference tournament/making the conference tournament final/winning the conference and advancing to the NCAAs/winning a game in the NCAAs/advancing to the Sweet Sixteen-Semis-Division III World Series-etc/winning the national championship. Each "step" or achievement can vary in meaningfulness depending on the perspective of the program.

Offline Steve Wiitala

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2046 on: February 14, 2013, 10:40:00 pm »
I think a question that needs to be asked is what is the purpose of the national tournament.

Is it to give deserving teams a postseason experience? If so then I would agree that the number of Pool C teams should be expanded because there are deserving teams left out.

Is the point of the national tournament is to determine the national champion? If so then at-large teams are absolutely unnecessary except in the case of giving the ECAC West teams (or other Pool B teams) a spot to fight for. If you can't win your league (season or tournament) I have pretty strong evidence that suggests you do not deserve to be the national champion ("You can't even come in 1st place in your league and you want to be considered 1st in the nation? That's a ridiculous idea.").

The current tournament is probably the best mix of both. The only safe way is to win your league (whether for your league it is the season or the tournament). If you can't do that you should be grateful they are even considering letting you play for a national championship. Except for Pool B there is a very clear route to the national tournament. If you can't do it you don't have much to complain about when you are preparing to play golf at the start of March.

My only real objection to the process is the lack of clarity that exists in hockey (and probably in other sports).  We always seem to get to the point where the committee includes a team in the field that doesn't really seem to fit, while a more deserving team gets left out.  In hockey, we have only one league (ECAC West) that doesn't get an a Pool A bid, and is left to swim in Pool C.  If it weren't for the ECAC West, I would really not have a problem with sending only league champions to the tournament.  My problem (as a statistician) is that there is not a uniform application of the Pool C criteria by the committees.  If we said that Winning percentage was x%, SOS was x%, etc, I could relate to the process better.  When my school (Norwich) got left out when they lost in the league tournament, I had no problem, except for the fact that a team with a weaker portfolio got in.  Heck, leave both of them out.
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Offline smedindy

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2047 on: February 14, 2013, 10:49:33 pm »
Steve,

I don't think I've ever seen an NCAA field, in any sport, in any division, where there wasn't some complaints or arguments about one team being in the field and another team being left out.

I also think 'league champs only' is wrong. All deserving league champs should be in (as long as they're a 'real' league meeting the criteria and number of teams) in every sport and there should be at large teams to balance the fields to a make a 16, 32, 64, etc. team field. (I don't like unbalanced fields, either).

And as much of a numbers geek as I am, I also think there needs to be a bit of nuance. The difference between teams is so small, so slight, at the tail end of "C" that it is nuance...
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Offline Steve Wiitala

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2048 on: February 14, 2013, 11:07:48 pm »
Steve,

I don't think I've ever seen an NCAA field, in any sport, in any division, where there wasn't some complaints or arguments about one team being in the field and another team being left out.

I also think 'league champs only' is wrong. All deserving league champs should be in (as long as they're a 'real' league meeting the criteria and number of teams) in every sport and there should be at large teams to balance the fields to a make a 16, 32, 64, etc. team field. (I don't like unbalanced fields, either).

And as much of a numbers geek as I am, I also think there needs to be a bit of nuance. The difference between teams is so small, so slight, at the tail end of "C" that it is nuance...

Obviously, at this point, we in the hockey world are focused on the selection process for out tournament.  My objection to the process is the lack of objectivity.  No matter how many teams are in the field, there will be teams left out with what seems like legitimate claims on the last spot.  As a statistician, I would prefer that some kind of objective measure be used, instead of the current process in which the committee is given a list of criteria and told to use them with no specification as to how those criteria are to be weighted.  The problem is that the perception of the process allows outsiders to question whether the "last team in" was chosen because of merit or past reputation.  That is the reason that I'd be willing to eliminate all Pool C selections.

I also agree that the size of the field should be a power of 2, or at least half way between powers of two.  the 1:6.5 ratio leads to unbalanced brackets, and since the match ups in early rounds are also governed by travel restrictions, we often get inequities in the way that the brackets are set up. 
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Offline Ralph Turner

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2049 on: February 15, 2013, 10:01:27 am »
The Championship structure is the essentially the same for all sports.

Is your complaint about the Pool C bid because the team from a perceived weaker region was picked instead of a team on the table from a perceived stronger region?

Is the quality of play in the various regions so disparate that the SOS does not work homogeneously across the nation and the sport at the D3 level?

Thanks.   :)

Offline Steve Wiitala

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2050 on: February 15, 2013, 01:14:36 pm »
The issue is the rather arbitrary way that the committee appears to apply the criteria.  In ranking some teams WIN% is the most important criterion, and SOS is secondary.  In other cases SOS is more important and outweighs WIN%.  The real problem is the lack of transparency.  In hockey there are two regions (we are a small sport), an 11 team field with 8 Pool A leagues and 3 Pool C bids.  (We have one league with only 6 teams, and no independents, so there is no Pool B). 

The last couple of years what has happened has been the case that there seems to be a lot of game playing going on.  The regional rankings have been manipulated to help one region get the upper hand in the selection of Pool C slots.  A team mysteriously appears at the bottom slot (16th in the East or 8th in the West) that enables a borderline candidate's resume for the last Pool C spot to improve.  The real problem is that in some ways hockey traditions and practices are different from other sports, and the problems in selecting the field really started with the advent of the Pool system. 

Before that started, there were some weak leagues that didn't get auto bids, and the number of at large bids was larger.  We all understood who would be in an who would be out - the process was transparent.  With the granting of Pool A almost automatically to any league with 7 or more teams, we have gone from  5 auto bids to 8 - The ECAC Northeast, MASCAC, and MCHA have all recently been given auto bids, and two of those leagues have exactly 7 members, and are very weak.  When you lose almost  20% of the field to accommodate auto bids for teams that have no chance, it squeezes the Pool C choices and makes the whole process seem very political. The MASCAC + ECAC NE totaled 13 teams, and when the MASCAC was formed, they ended up with 7 teams by taking 6 ECAC NE teams and "stealing" one from the ECAC E.  The net result was the loss of a Pool C spot at the cost of adding a team with little chance to advance.  In other sports, I'm sure that happens as well (Norwich playing in the Football tournament a couple of years ago would be a good example), but the percentage of the field that is affected is greater. 

My rant I guess really comes down to the "one-size fits all" approach that is used in setting the field.

I apologize for the long rambling rant  :P

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Offline fantastic50

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2051 on: March 19, 2013, 04:41:26 pm »
Perhaps we will be adding some large public institutions to the Great Lakes and Midwest regions...  ;)

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Offline FCGrizzliesGrad

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2052 on: March 20, 2013, 12:02:40 am »
Maybe Chicago could rejoin it's former conference-mates... and we'd have someone who might be able to beat Mount Union at football ;D
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Offline Captain_Joe08

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2053 on: March 20, 2013, 12:11:41 am »
Maybe Chicago could rejoin it's former conference-mates... and we'd have someone who might be able to beat Mount Union at football ;D

The bigger question is will Wisconsin bolt the B1G and join the WIAC with their fellow UW schools? ;D
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Offline Ralph Turner

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Re: Future of Division III
« Reply #2054 on: March 20, 2013, 09:08:56 am »
Maybe Chicago could rejoin it's former conference-mates... and we'd have someone who might be able to beat Mount Union at football ;D

The bigger question is will Wisconsin bolt the B1G and join the WIAC with their fellow UW schools? ;D
+1 to both! :)