D-I College Championships 2015 Seeding Predictions: Men’s Division

We threw some darts; here's where they landed.

The crowd at the finals of the 2014 College Championships.
Photo by Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

I’m coming off of a 100% correct seeding prediction at the Club Championships1.¬†While I would like to claim that it is suggestive of my future success, I’m not feeling quite so confident this year.

The fact is that the seeding this year is brutally difficult because of a wide swath of upsets and surprise teams in the mix. We would love to see your take in the comments. Please note that we do our best to follow USA Ultimate’s guidelines for seeding: USAU’s rankings are heavily involved, head-to-head wins matter, and historic success matters. We do not explicitly try to avoid regional matchups.

We also only consider the teams available for seeding — that means you begin with the Regional champions and do not consider the teams behind them. Once a team has been placed, the next team up in that region joins the conversation. This has implications, especially for upsets like WWU’s finish above Oregon at NW Regionals.

Let’s kick things off right away with the pools generated by my predicted seeding.

POOL APOOL BPOOL CPOOL D
Pittsburgh (1)Texas A&M (2)North Carolina (3)UNC Wilmington (4)
Georgia (8)Central Florida (7)Florida State (6)Colorado (5)
Texas (12)Minnesota (11)Massachusetts (10)Maryland (9)
Wisconsin (13)UC Santa Barbara (14)Cincinnati (15)Auburn (16)
Western Washington (17)Oregon (18)Illinois (19)Cornell (20)

1. Pittsburgh

The clear #1 seed and favorite at the College Championships. Finished in the USAU rankings at #1 by a wide margin.

2. Texas A&M

Texas A&M was lined up for a #4 seed until UNCW lost to UNC and Oregon took second in the Northwest. With a H2H win over UNC and Colorado, there’s no other plausible team at #2.

3. UNC

Things start getting tricky at #3. You could absolutely argue that Colorado, with the higher USAU ranking, should go here. But I think a long look at Colorado’s resume (which includes a H2H loss to UNC) dampens my belief that they deserve a one seed. UNC has been injured all year, and when Ben Snell was finally healthy, they dominated at Regionals. UNC was also a preseason favorite and has a win over Pittsburgh. They should get a one seed.

4. UNC Wilmington

UNC Wilmington will go immediately behind UNC wherever UNC falls. Wilmington was going to be the #2 seed overall until they lost to UNC in the Atlantic Coast regional final. This seeding has the added benefit of putting them in a different pool than UNC.

5. Colorado

Colorado has a H2H win over Florida State and is higher in the USAU end-of-season rankings. As mentioned above, they could plausibly be placed at #3, but their resume just isn’t impressive enough to warrant that.

6. Florida State

Clearly a top six seed. With a head to head win over UNC, you could have FSU at #4 if Colorado were at #3. That would not be a crazy choice. It’s worth noting that if you went with Colorado at #3 and then FSU/UNC/UNCW, you would have the same 1/2 matchups (Colorado/UNCW and FSU/UNC) as you do with the seeding I’ve suggested. They would just swap pools. The seeding here just feels more correct.

7. Central Florida

Pretty clear that UCF should get the #7 seed. They are the next team down in the USAU rankings.

8. Georgia

Georgia finished one spot behind UCF in the USAU rankings. They had a strong season. They will round out the two seeds.

9. Maryland

Maryland may seem a bit inflated at #9, but with a H2H win over Massachusetts, this is where they belong. Note that you could plausibly put Cincinnati here, as Cincinnati has the higher USAU ranking. However, as I’ll explain below, this ignores too much season context.

10. Massachusetts

Will go right after Maryland. Clearly above Minnesota because of disparity in USAU rankings.

11. Minnesota

As winners of the North Central, Minnesota will get a #3 seed. Hard to argue with this spot.

12. Texas

Because of Texas’ H2H win over Wisconsin, I placed them here at #12. You could definitely argue that Wisconsin, who finished with a higher USAU ranking, should go immediately after Minnesota. But I think that the edge goes to the H2H here, since Texas would otherwise go right behind Wisconsin.

13. Wisconsin

Easy seed here. Will either go right behind Minnesota, or right behind Texas.

14. UCSB

Clearly the next seed. Finished behind Wisconsin and Texas in USAU rankings.

15. Cincinnati

This is obviously more of a “feel” seeding than a rankings-based one. UCSB beat Cincinnati twice, and with so little to go off of (Cincinnati has three games against Nationals teams; 2 losses to UCSB and a loss to Pitt) you have to try to make the seeding “right.” Blindly trusting the algorithm seems like a surefire method of way overinflating Cincinnati’s seed. This is indicative of where they should be.

16. Auburn

Auburn is clearly the next seed.

17. Western Washington

Some controversy! Should Western Washington really go this low? Consider this. WWU lost H2H to Auburn and finished well behind Auburn in the USAU rankings. The question becomes how much of a boost they should get for beating Washington and UBC at Regionals (remember: they did not BEAT Oregon, they only finished ahead of them). My answer is: not enough to push them higher than this.

Imagine if WWU had the same resume, but they had finished behind Oregon at Regionals. Where would you place them? Right here, at #17. Because Oregon does not get considered until WWU has been seeded, I think that WWU will fall to a 5 seed, and so will Oregon.

18. Oregon

Obviously Oregon will go right behind WWU wherever they land. Depending on how much the seeding committee decides to boost WWU for their wins at Regionals, that could mean they go as high as a three seed. I think that vastly overrates WWU, however. Remember that Oregon is NOT CONSIDERED until WWU is seeded. I think it is also worth noting that Oregon is going to be massively underseeded regardless of where they fall. Does it matter so much that they are a 5 seed as opposed to a 4 seed? Not really. One pool will be nasty tough no matter how you slice it.

19. Illinois

Illinois is the clear #19 seed. They also have a H2H win over Cornell. Note that they also have a H2H win over Auburn, which could complicate the bottom of the seedings somewhat. But Auburn had such a better overall season than Illinois (which is captured by the USAU rankings) that it should push Auburn higher. You could definitely argue for Illinois > Auburn, however.

20. Cornell

Cornell is the obvious last seed.


  1. Earlier I had written that I got last year’s college predictions correct. That was totally wrong and I was misremembering my club success. 

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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