Instant Reaction: Men’s Seeding & Pools

Some quick thoughts on the seeding and pools.

Pitt's Max Thorne and Joe Bender celebrate a victory at the 2015 Stanford Invite.
Pitt’s Max Thorne and Joe Bender celebrate a victory at the Stanford Invite. Photo: Gerry Mooney.

What a pleasant surprise to get the seeding announcement today! Due to some security flaws in the new score reporter, it’s actually fairly easy to see “hidden” seedings with a little bit of work — I believe Wisconsin coach Hector Valdivia was the first to notice that seedings were released, which may have accelerated the release by USAU.

Either way, here they are. Here are some initial thoughts.

– First of all, on the overall seeding. Pretty much went as I expected. I picked the top 8 seeds exactly, and most of the rest went approximately the way I would have seeded them. Western Washington got a little bump above where I had them at #17, but, as I said at the time, it hardly matters in the scheme of things, as Oregon’s pool would be nasty difficult regardless of whether they got a 4 or a 5 seed.

– …and Oregon’s pool is nasty. Pool C is the obviously most treacherous, with three true powerhouses from this season — UNC, Florida State, and Oregon — all together in one pool. You could argue that all three were top five teams this year when all was said and done after Regionals. I think this will be the last year we see the “Regionals results” rule that requires lower finishing teams at Regionals to be seeded behind teams above them. It is nonsense to have three such fantastic teams all in one pool.

– Hard to understand some of the little individual seeding decisions. Maryland beat UMass straight up at Easterns, but got seeded behind them. Cincinnati got really punished for not playing much of a regular season and got pushed down to #18. While that seems reasonable from a “central planner” perspective, it totally disregards the rankings, even more than I argued that they should be ignored in my seeding predictions! It’s not clear when the algorithm applies and when it does not and I think this highlights some of the vagaries of the current bids/ranking/seeding situation.

– Pool D is also quite tough, as it always is with the 4, 5, and 9 seeds together in a pool. Massachusetts is a frightening three seed and, according to reports, the team is playing extremely well right now. They stomped out all comers at New England Regionals. And what of UCSB? They emerged from a deep and treacherous Southwest region to be the lone survivor. How good have they gotten? Both teams seem like real upset threats. UNC Wilmington has got to be upset with themselves for failing to close out Regionals and landing in Pool B.

– If I’m Texas A&M, I’m having a party right now. To me, they have the clearly easiest path to a quarters berth. I think they match up well with Central Florida, and the next two teams down are maybe a little bit overseeded relative to their regular season performance. I haven’t seen Minnesota at full strength and they could prove to stymie the higher seeds. But I like A&M’s position a lot and I think their chances of making it to semis just went way up simply because of the seeding. They dodged the Oregon bullet and got perhaps the easiest draw in the 4/5 seeds.

– Regarding Pool A, I think Pittsburgh cruises. After that? Verrrry interesting. Auburn has a win over Wisconsin. Georgia and Auburn played to a nailbiter finish at Regionals. Auburn will be playing loose — after all, they weren’t even supposed to be here! I really think all four teams after Pitt have a really good shot at making prequarters.

– Some must-watch games: A&M v. Central Florida, Pitt v. Wisconsin (they played a classic at Warm Up), Colorado v. Massachusetts (AKA Stanley Peterson v. Jeff Babbitt), Auburn v. Georgia redux. The list goes on.

– Lots more to come in the next week and a half before Nationals!

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

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

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