USA Ultimate has released a preliminary finalranking for bid allocation. While most of the action in the top eight changed little, the bottom eight provided plenty of drama. Philadelphia’s Southpaw gets punished for going winless at Labor Day and New York’s PoNY sneaks in to earn the Northeast a third bid, one they’ll likely claim for themselves.
Still, the story of the first true USAU regular season ranking system isn’t PoNY, but Madison Club.
The feeling is that those who control top tournaments Labor Day, Chesapeake Invite, and Emerald City Classic control who gets a strength bid. When teams get the chance to hang some points on the big boys, maybe they can steal a win or two and find themselves at Nationals.
Madison Club shows us that couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything becomes clear after looking at numbers, it’s that teams on the fringe of the top 16 have a better shot at getting in by going to weaker tournaments. Madison Club did themselves a favor by going to Chicago Heavyweights for their first tournament, while Southpaw chose the Chesapeake Invite.
The result: Southpaw lost to better teams while Madison Club beat worse ones.
Let us not forget that Madison Club first did their job by playing against top competition at Labor Day, including playing San Francisco Revolver to universe and beating Southpaw on Sunday. But don’t pretend that facing weaker opponents did not help their ranking. Looking through their schedule, they faced nine teams outside of the top 16, and seven against the top 16. Their average rating when facing those lower nine teams was 1710, good enough for 5th. However, their average rating vs. the top 16 was 1327, which would not good enough for a bid.
In short, Madison Club managed to land in 12th place without beating a team in the top 16 and finishing ahead of their regional rival from Minnesota, Sub Zero (who also had a streaky record, but did notch top 16 wins against Washington, DC’s Truck Stop, New York’s PoNY, Santa Barbara’s Condors and Vancover’s Furious George).
Want a bid? Go to Chesapeake Open, Heavyweights, SoCal Slammer, and maybe even the Boston Invite next year and stick to one “elite” tournament.
Does PoNY deserve to be in?
The talk around the nation is that PoNY didn’t deserve to be in because they didn’t win noteworthy games. After their season was said and done, they only had one bad loss, which was to 18th ranked Boost Mobile. Their worst loss after that? They lost to to 15th place Sub Zero by two points. Without a standardized schedule, some teams play higher strength opponents while some play lower. A team should be able to get into the top 16 despite having no signature wins.
Looking at PoNY’s schedule, you’ll see early season crushing wins over easy teams, and close games with top teams after that. Most of their losses are by three points at most. At this point, PoNY is simply the bottom dweller of a powerhouse college basketball conference. They still get into the NCAA tournament because they’re better than the other teams around. We can scream all we want about their loss to Boost, but did PoNY have any 13-4 losses to Furious? A 7-13 loss to Machine? Nope. The season isn’t just built on head-to-head wins, but an aggregate of how you do point for point. Even without winning a game vs. the top 16, PoNY deserves to be in.
Thanks to Ultiphotos for the shot of Madison Club against Machine at last year’s Club Championships!