We Approximated The USAU College Rankings: See The Early Bid Picture

We crunched the numbers of the USAU algorithm.

Central Florida's Shayna Brock celebrates a goal in the Florida Winter Classic Finals. Photo: Billy Dzwonkowski -- UltiPhotos.com
Central Florida’s Shayna Brock celebrates a goal in the Florida Winter Classic Finals. Photo: Billy Dzwonkowski — UltiPhotos.com

Ultiworld’s Cody Mills has put together a statistical tool to approximate the USA Ultimate rankings by using publicly available score data and applying the algorithm that USA Ultimate uses to run their numbers. While the results below are unofficial and could include some scores which are liable to be altered or removed from the official rankings, they are a good representation of the what the current rankings would look like.

Throughout the remainder of the college season, we will be running this USAU ranking approximation and, later, applying different algorithms and/or ranking methods to test possible alternatives to the existing algorithm.

For more information about the USA Ultimate algorithm, ranking system, and some of its perceived flaws, see this FAQ from last year.

Men’s Division

The rankings below include only teams with at least five sanctioned games. This is the same cutoff that USAU will use on their initial rankings next week.

#2North Carolina-WilmingtonAC2049.03
#6North CarolinaAC1897.14
#10British ColumbiaNW1825.46
#12Carleton CollegeNC1807.85
#16Texas A&MSC1701.78
#19Texas ChristianSC1688.38
#20California-Santa BarbaraSW1642.05
#22Ohio StateOV1626.67
#23Virginia CommonwealthAC1624.57
#24Cal Poly-SLOSW1622.68
#27South CarolinaAC1570.49
#30Georgia TechSE1561.33
#31Oregon StateNW1559.81
#32Virginia TechAC1550.98
#34James MadisonAC1528.13
#36Colorado StateSC1506.66
#38North Carolina StateAC1500.55
#40Case Western ReserveOV1476.09
#41Brigham YoungNW1470.55
#44John BrownSC1440.37
#45California-San DiegoSW1436.83
#46Western WashingtonNW1434.71
#47Central FloridaSE1431.58
#50Florida StateSE1418.00

Implied Bid Allocation

Atlantic Coast: 2 bids
Great Lakes: 1 bid
Metro East: 1 bid
New England: 2 bids
North Central: 3 bids
Northwest: 4 bids
Ohio Valley: 1 bid
South Central: 3 bids
Southeast: 2 bids
Southwest: 1 bid


Let’s begin with some caveats: not only are these rankings being considered quite early, they are also an approximation of the actual results. The first true USA Ultimate rankings will be released next Wednesday. There is a lot of season left and many of these results will start to settle in after Stanford Invite and Tally Classic this weekend.

Still, there are some eye-popping results in this first look. The Northwest is currently sitting with four bids, thanks to a strong performance from Victoria at the Santa Barbara Invite and even better results from Oregon, Washington, and UBC at SBI and Presidents’ Day Invite. The South Central has three bids, but Texas is sitting all the way back at #28. Right now, the region is relying on the undefeated #19 TCU to haul in that third bid.

And the Southeast, which pulled down four bids last year, is currently staring at only two, with 2015 powerhouses Central Florida and FSU sitting at #47 and #50, respectively. And, once again, the Southwest is painfully close to two bids, but UCSB is sitting just outside the cutoff at #20 and Cal Poly SLO not far behind them at #24.

It goes without saying that this weekend’s tournaments — particularly the Stanford Invite — will have a huge impact on the rankings. The Southwest could really help themselves; they have a realistic shot at three bids. The South Central also could be in for a big year. If TCU stays hot and #21 Arkansas or Texas gets some big wins, they will climb the ladder. And don’t forget: Missouri hasn’t played any games yet but are ranked in the Ultiworld Top 25.

Finally, can the Southeast climb out of the hole? It’s a long road back for FSU and UCF. Both teams will have a chance to chip into their deficit with strong results this weekend on opposite coasts.

Women’s Division

The rankings below include teams with at least one sanctioned game. We used a lower cutoff to more appropriately rank Whitman, who blew out so many teams at their first and only tournament that they did not meet the five game cutoff. The rest of the rankings are largely unchanged using n=1 or n=5.

#1Central FloridaSE2775.51
#9Ohio StateOV2155.74
#12Notre DameGL2118.09
#15Colorado CollegeSC2036.63
#19Western WashingtonNW2007.34
#20California-San DiegoSW2002.26
#22Southern CaliforniaSW1987.20
#23North CarolinaAC1979.75
#25Penn StateOV1944.21
#26Florida StateSE1901.62
#28North Carolina-WilmingtonAC1872.54
#35Georgia TechSE1713.18
#38Carleton CollegeNC1620.79
#39Colorado StateSC1618.18
#40James MadisonAC1576.19
#42Case Western ReserveOV1541.23
#43Washington UniversitySC1530.19
#45Cal Poly-SLOSW1519.21

Implied Bid Allocation

Atlantic Coast: 1 bid
Great Lakes: 2 bids
Metro East: 1 bid
New England: 1 bid
North Central: 2 bids
Northwest: 4 bids
Ohio Valley: 2 bids
South Central: 2 bids
Southeast: 1 bids
Southwest: 4 bids


Obviously, these rankings are early and approximated, and while they’ll give us a pretty good idea of what the picture is, the exact details might move a little. As more results come in, especially connective results that Centex, Stanford Invite, and Northwest Challenge provide, that will change the rankings, as will the decay function for January and February results.

Another big change to the rankings? The addition of British Columbia. Having not yet played, with their planned debut at the Stanford Invite likely to be impacted by weather, UBC will surely shove some teams down. That also means the Northwest’s four bids could move back up to five, as it was last season, although Western Washington is pretty close to the bubble as is.

The big winner is clearly the Southwest, who has wrangled four bids early on, with two teams positioned within striking distance of yet another bid! UCLA and Stanford have done as expected, but Cal and UC-Davis clock in at #13 and #17, respectively, a major coup for the region and a return to form for the once-mighty Southwest. Centex looms large for the second tier teams.

A region to watch could be the Atlantic Coast. While they sit with only a single bid at this point, they have three other top 30 D-I teams and a few just beyond that. Maryland, North Carolina, and UNC-Wilmington don’t have a ton of other opportunities to impress and will need to make use of what chances they do have.

There are also a couple of potential big movers and shakers to keep an eye on. Dartmouth’s weak QCTU has them in a hole, but they could make up a lot of ground with a strong Northwest Challenge. Kansas has also had a slow start, but could make waves if they win Centex again. QCTU also hurt Carleton, but the legacy program has Stanford and Northwest Challenge on the docket and chances to earn back a lot of the points they’ve ceded.

  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).

  2. Cody Mills
    Cody Mills

    Cody Mills currently coaches New York PoNY, Cal Poly SLO, and the USA U-20 Open team. He was a captain then coach at Stanford and has previously coached San Francisco Revolver and Oakland Guerrilla in the club men’s division. He also runs frisbee-rankings.com

  3. Scott Dunham

    Scott Dunham (also known as @Hallies_Dad) is a professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. He recalls playing a game that resembled ultimate on the Stanford CroMem lawn in the early 80's and took it up again around 2001 after moving to Seattle. These days, he plays pick-up around town and cheers on his daughter's teams (and those of her former teammates)

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