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Soccer and Volleyball-Look at NCAA tournament chances for 2015 seasons

Discussion in 'University of Colorado News and Olympic Sports' started by AztecBuff, Oct 22, 2015.

  1. AztecBuff

    AztecBuff Club Member Club Member

    Mar 9, 2013
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    Last year, I started and maintained a RAMBLING (novela length) thread with (mostly) weekly posts summarizing how the soccer and volleyball hopes for making their respective NCAA tourneys looked based on standings, rankings, RPI and other ratings, etc.. Starting a little later this year, but thought I’d write something for this year starting now. I’ll be breaking this 1st week into two posts- The 1st post will be a more general (but still LONG) one, while the 2nd will provide more details for each specific sport.

    Note- I have no idea how selection committees actually weigh various factors in making selections, so every opinion below should definitely be taken with a grain of salt, and I’d appreciate any input from those with greater knowledge. My eyes also glaze over at just hearing the word “statistics”, so any future guesses at RPI are TOTAL guesses, especially for soccer where I couldn’t find anyone/ anything that gives futures gueestimates like I COULD find for volleyball in the Volleytalk forum.

    Right now, I’d say in general:

    · It looks like both soccer and volleyball have a lot of work to do, with the many great teams in the Pac meaning both teams will have to pull multiple upsets to even have a chance to get selected to participate in their respective NCAA tournaments. If the season was (as it’s sometimes proverbially said) “end today”, both teams would not be getting selected to their respective NCAA tournaments.

    · Both teams are quite a bit behind, especially in RPI, from where they were last year. (Soccer was around #55 in RPI this time last year vs. #110 this year. Volleyball was at #32 around this time last year, and is only at #63 right now.)

    · I’d guesstimate soccer is going to have to come close to winning most if not all of its 5 remaining matches to have even a chance to earn a selection bid, while

    · Volleyball has a few more chances to get big wins, and isn’t in a near win every match mode like soccer. However, I’m guessing (especially given their current RPI) they may have to go at least 7-5, and maybe as good as 9-3, in their remaining 12 matches to experience a totally stress-free tournament selection night.

    · As noted in more detail in the next post below, Pac 12 RPI is down relative to other conferences in both sports this year, so there will probably be a few less Pac 12 teams selected this year compared to last year, when 9 soccer and 10 volleyball teams made it to the tournament. (As mentioned in more detail in the 2nd post, an analysis in the Volleytalk forum estimates if favorites win out in the remaining Pac 12 volleyball matches, only 6 Pac 12 teams would make it into the tournament this year.)

    · For what it’s worth, I couldn’t find any article of what the worst RPI’s are that soccer or volleyball teams have historically had and still made the tournament. Looks like making it into the low-Mid 40’s is usually “safe”. I did find something that said the worst RPI team that made it in the last 5 years in men’s basketball was UCSB at #56 back in 2013. (That article also said however that, in basketball anyway, Power 5 (P5) conference teams generally have to have a better RPI than non-P5 conference teams like UCSB to be selected for an at-large berth in that sport.)
    I did read that Purdue volleyball, from another tough (Big 10) conference, didn’t make the tournament last year even with a 12-8 conference and 22-10 overall record, a #24 national ranking and #56 RPI at the time of tournament selection. One plus the Buffs may have over last year’s Boilermaker team already, however, is that Purdue didn’t have ANY “very good” wins over RPI Top 25 teams, while the Buffs might already have 2 in FSU and Stanford (depending how the rest of their year’s go), and have opportunities for more.)


    Resources used for selecting NCAA At-Large tournament teams

    For volleyball, anyways, the NCAA manual (http://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/2015DIWVB_Prechamps_Manual_20150929.pdf ) says the following “evaluative tools” are available to the selection committee to use in selecting at-large teams to the tournament-

    Regional advisory committee rankings, Division I record, Overall RPI, Non-conference record, Non-conference RPI, Conference record, Conference RPI, Road record, Record in last 10 games, Record against teams ranked 1-50 by RPI, Record against teams ranked 51-100 by RPI, Record against teams ranked 101-200 by RPI, Record against teams ranked below 200 by RPI, Record against other teams under consideration, Head-to-head, Significant wins and losses, Results against common opponents, Results against teams already receiving at-large bids, Site of match, Other circumstances that could affect results (e.g. injuries)

    (I have NO idea the weight given to these elements.)

    RPI rant, and its Formula

    I also wanted to say I looked at RPI a little closer this year than I ever have, and definitely see how worthless the RPI number can be in truly evaluating a team’s season/ performance. I read some things on the web that say committee members sometimes use the numbers contained in RPI reports (on teams’ records against Top 25, 50, 100 RPI teams, bad losses etc.) more than just the RPI # itself, and hope that’s the case. That could definitely help both CU teams some, as they both already have at least one Top 25 RPI win, and have opportunities to pick up some more.

    Especially looking at volleyball, it amazes me how, even though qualitatively I’d say they had their best non-conference this year in MANY YEARS, they’ve been way behind last year’s RPI from the beginning. In the 1st RPI release this year (in early October), they were only rated at #72, as opposed to #34 in the 1st release last year. I assume the Buffs just didn’t play the “RPI Game” as well this year in non-conference, guessing the “easy” lower conference teams they played and beat this year have worst records than the easy teams they played and beat last year.

    For those who don’t know, RPI is calculated using following formula (from Wikipedia)-

    “RPI = (WP * 0.25) + (OWP * 0.50) + (OOWP * 0.25)

    where WP is Winning Percentage, OWP is Opponents' Winning Percentage and OOWP is Opponents' Opponents' Winning Percentage.”

    Note- At least for volleyball, there are also some adjustments to the unmodified number arrived at from the above RPI formula for things such as “good” wins against high RPI teams, “bad” losses against low RPI teams, bonus for scheduling at least 50% of your non-conference matches against RPI Top 75 teams, etc..
  2. AztecBuff

    AztecBuff Club Member Club Member

    Mar 9, 2013
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    As noted in the above OP, this post goes into more detail about soccer and volleyball standings, ratings, rankings, etc.


    1) Standings- After starting the conference year with a great home win against a ranked Cal team, the Buffs haven’t had much success, and are at 1-4-1 in conference (in a 2 way tie for 10th place), and 7-6-2 overall. Based on that, looks to me like the Buffs won’t be able to leave many IF any points “on the field” in its final 5 matches if they want to be even a bubble team for NCAA selection. (Last year the Buffs ended up 6-4-1 in conference, so they already can’t do any better than that, and that’s IF they win their final 5 matches.)

    2) RPI- The Buffs are quite a bit lower right now at #110 RPI than I believe they were at ANY time last year (looks like last year’s low was RPI #66). The past few weeks of conference have hurt a lot, as the Buffs peaked at #55 in RPI this year right after the Cal win. (On the bright side, I guess it’s good that they’ve have relatively large RPI movement within the span of 5 matches since Cal, given there are also 5 matches still remaining.)

    Looking at just Pac 12 teams, the Buffs are now the 11th of 12 teams in RPI, with ASU the closest above the Buffs at #86, while Oregon is lagging way behind at #230. (Last year the Buffs were at #36 in RPI both at the time of NCAA selection and in final RPI.)

    Overall, the Pac 12 average RPI for its teams this week is ~63.75, making it the 3rd conference in average RPI, down some from last year when it ended up the top RPI conference with an average of ~50. (In addition to CU being down, a lot of the average being down looks to be due to UCLA, who is having a rare down year, currently at RPI #82 after being #2 last year.) If this trend of the conference having a higher average RPI holds, I assume it could mean the Pac overall will get less than the 9 tournament selections they earned last year. (In 2013, the Pac 12 ended up with 6 tournament bids when it had an average RPI of 59.)

    Best wins and worst losses- Right now, the Buffs best win is against RPI #17 Cal, while the worst loss is to #230 Oregon. I also don’t know how ties are evaluated in soccer, but I assume the tie to start the year against current RPI #288 CSU also won’t help come selection time.

    Don’t know if the Buffs can statistically even make it to the point now where they can make it to the “safe” RPI point (low 40’s) to easily be selected. One of the other things committees supposedly look at is how teams have performed late in the year. Since the Buffs will, as noted above, have to probably win most if not all of their matches to even be in the discussion for tournament selection, assuming they do they will have a nice end of season performance as a plus.

    3) Projected Bracketology
    Too early in the season. (Last year, both collegesportsmadness.com and topdrawersoccer.com starting doing projections the last couple weeks of the season.)

    4) Rankings-

    The Buffs aren’t showing as officially ranked or receiving votes in the NSCAA (Coach’s) top 25 poll.

    Overall, the Pac 12 has 4 teams in the Top 25 (#’s 4, 14, 24 and 25), and 2 others receiving votes (#’s 26 and 28).) Note- the only match remaining for the Buffs against a ranked team is this Sunday’s against #24 USC (#26 RPI), so that may be the best chance for the Buffs to get a “big” win. (Although Arizona, receiving the 26th most votes in the coaches’ poll, actually has a higher RPI (currently #12), so getting a win against them on 10/30 MIGHT mean more to the selection committee.?.)


    1) Standings- In conference, the Buffs are at 4-4 and are in a 3 way tie for 5th place, and overall are 12-8. The league is showing a lot of parity so far, with another 3 teams within a game of the Buffs, only 1 undefeated team (USC) and no team is winless.

    2) RPI and Pablo ratings- In the latest official RPI ratings, the Buffs are at their highest rating of the year at #63. Within the Pac 12, the Buffs are 9th in RPI, with Washington State right above them at #62, and Utah quite a bit behind at 10th in the conference at RPI #119. (Last year, the Buffs were at #32 this time of the year, #27 at selection time and ended up at #24.)

    Overall, the Pac 12 teams are averaging a 57 RPI, 2nd behind the Big 10, which is averaging ~42. IF RPI is any indication, looks like the Pac will not get near the 10 teams selected for the Tournament that it received last year, as it ended the last year with an average of 35.5. (As the Pac teams play each other, I assume the average may go down a little (???), but comparing the 1st average I have from 2014 (from 10/27/14), the Pac average was quite a bit lower (31) last year vs. the 57 it’s currently at this time of year.)

    In the more respected “Pablo” ratings***, the Buffs are at #41, after ending last year at #22. Among Pac 12 teams, the Buffs are 8th, ahead of Washington State, Utah, Oregon State and Cal.

    (*** In case anyone cares to know why, I included this "Pablo" rating since, in the Volleyball forum I frequent, most of the posters seem to think it's a MUCH better indicator of how good a team actually is as opposed to RPI. As I understand it, the main things it factors in its calculation/ algorithm that RPI doesn’t is (a) how close the various team’s and their opponents match scores have been, as well as (b) looking at whether wins or losses are at home or on the road. If you're a stats or very detail oriented person and have some time to waste, Pablo’s explanation of his rating can be found at http://www.richkern.com/vb/rankings/PabloFAQ.asp (warning- as a non-stats/ math/ detail person, it made my head hurt so I stopped reading quickly.) Regarding the Pablo rankings listed above, did want to thank my source, the following post in the main volleyball forum - http://volleytalk.proboards.com/thread/60416/pac-12-week-5-2015 .)

    Don’t know what it is, but someone in Volleyball also recently ANOTHER rating available (for many sports) called Massey’s (http://www.masseyratings.com/rate.php?lg=cvol&sub=NCAA I ). That rating really seems to like the Buffs, as their currently rated #28 there.

    3) Projected RPI Estimates
    Also, take it for what it’s worth, there is a poster on the main Volleyball forum (Username Bluepenguin (BP), thanks to him/ her) who estimates what record all D1 teams will end up with (I believe using the Pablo rankings and adjusting for home vs. road to guess the wins and losses the rest of the year). And, from those estimated ended standings, and the record of a team’s past and future opponents, it estimates what all the teams’ RPI’s will end up at. This week, BP estimates the Buffs only finishing up 8-12 in conference (so 4-8 the rest of the way), which would mean they wouldn’t come close to making the tournament, as their RPI with that record is only estimated to end up at an RPI of ~#91 (http://volleytalk.proboards.com/thread/60423/rpi-futures-week-10-18 ).

    (Note- the changes in BP’s projections also show how fluid RPI still is, as that projection showed the Buffs with only a #117 ending RPI assuming only a 5-15 conference record before the Buffs played the Oregon schools 3 weekends ago.)

    Assuming these calculations are at all accurate, it does show the Buffs will probably NEED to get to at least 11-13 conference wins, especially with the Pac looking a little weaker overall this year from an RPI perspective. (The last couple years, 8 conference wins was enough for ASU (in 2013) and USC (last year) to make the tournament, but as noted in the RPI section above the conference is appearing (relatively) weaker this year per RPI. Actually, if the BP current estimates actually happened, probably only 6 teams would make the tournament from the Pac vs. 10 last year.)

    4) Rankings

    As noted in another thread, the Buffs are once again receiving votes in the Coaches’ Poll, and are unofficially ranked #28 in the country.

    This week, there are 7 Pac 12 teams ranked (#’s 1, 4, 10, 11, 13, 14 and 25), with CU the only one “only” receiving votes.

    On the bright side, the Buffs have 8 (out of a total 12) remaining matches against the rnked teams, with 7 of those against current Top 14 opponents, so they have many chances to earn quality wins and build their “resume” that way. If they can win 3-4 of those, already possibly having 2-3 (depending on how the season goes for FSU, Stanford and Oregon), I assume that COULD (???) make it very tough to leave them out of the tournament (assuming of course they also win most of their 4 remaining matches against the other unranked but still tough Pac teams).

    Note- One wildcard that recently popped up in the conference is that ASU’s great senior outside hitter Macey Gardner severely injured a knee a couple weeks ago, and is out for the year, right when ASU was experiencing probably its best season ever (they were 13-0 and the #5 ranked team in the October 5th poll). Since her injury, ASU is 0-4, and have already fallen to #13 in the poll. On the bright side for the Buffs (although I’d much rather Ms. Gardner was still healthy), it might make victories against the Sun Devils a little easier. Negatively, any wins against ASU may not mean as much as who knows how many more losses they’ll now suffer, and how much those losses will hurt their ranking and RPI (currently still good at #17)
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2015
  3. BeBe

    BeBe Club Member Club Member

    Oct 11, 2005
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    One correction on the situation at ASU.... Macey Gardner was injured in the ASU match at Washington on 10/9. Prior to that match, ASU was 15-0. They have played 4 matches without Macey (including the match at Washington in which she was injured) and have lost them all. These four matches were all on the road. The Utah match on Friday will be the first home match for ASU since losing Macey.
  4. AztecBuff

    AztecBuff Club Member Club Member

    Mar 9, 2013
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    BeBe- Right you are. I corrected the post. Let me know if you see any other screw-ups by me.
  5. MarkW

    MarkW Well-Known Member

    Jul 23, 2012
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    Concerning soccer, they may have a chance to make the post season but in reality they lost it with the losses at the Oregon schools in the second weekend of the conference schedule. Remember, CU had come off a win v Cal to start conference play and seemed to have momentum, but being upset at Oregona nd Oregon State put them in the position of having to beat the Washington schools which the failed to do.

    At this point CU should CU play with the poor chemistry that's plagued them in conference play they'll be lucky to win one more game this season.
  6. buffgal

    buffgal Club Member Club Member

    Jul 7, 2009
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    Volleyball win lost night should have helped CU's chances and if they can pull off another win tonight, they might crack the top 25 again.

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