Wildcard Bids

by | March 9, 2011, 9:26pm 0

The USA Ultimate College Open Rankings came out today, which means that we’ve got an official starting point for seeing how the Nationals wildcard bids will break down. In order to rank teams, USAU uses an algorithm that factors in strength of schedule and margin of victory that you can see here. For a lot of people, myself included, understanding the bid allocation process can get cumbersome. Luckily, our friend Franklin D. Bluth has provided some explanation and examples, along with analysis. Check it out:

Since there is still much ultimate to be played, I expect these rankings to change quite a bit before April 3rd, but right now, this gives us a rough idea for how things will look at the end of the season.  All ten regions will receive an automatic bid, so I highlighted the highest ranked team in each region in dark green.

The next four bids are for “region strength.” This means that the ratings (not rankings) for each region’s top 8 teams are averaged, and the 4 regions with the highest averages are each guaranteed a second bid to nationals. They are highlighted in light green.

Once region strength bids are calculated, the teams that have earned bids for their  respective regions are eliminated, and the six highest teams that remain earn bids. These bids are highlighted in yellow.  For example, in the current rankings, the first team strength bid was given to the Northwest Region for having Oregon (#4) as the highest rated remaining team.  Oregon was competing against the North Central region’s Iowa (#14), the SC’s Colorado College (#22), the OV’s Ohio (#9), and other teams for the first team strength bid.

It is interesting to note that if all ten strength bids were team strength, instead of 4 region strength and 6 team strength, the number of bids each region receives would remain the same. You can see this in the below chart:

Below, I use the Winners/Losers format to give a rough idea of who gained/lost in these rankings.


Ohio Valley – For a region that, based on last year’s results, was expected to earn just one bid, 4 bids is incredible.  The 3rd and 4th-best teams should get a chance to prove themselves against top competition with Ohio playing at Easterns and Ohio State playing at Centex in the next couple weeks.

Great Lakes – So far, the top teams in this region have earned high rankings against weaker competition.  Like the Ohio teams, Michigan will be tested at Easterns, and Illinois has a chance to break into the top 18 at Centex.

Metro East – Not that whoever comes out of this region won’t be able to compete at Nationals, but for now, they are lucky to get one bid, having no teams in the top 40.


Southwest – Only 2 bids for 6 top 40 teams will make for a competitive regionals.

Southeast – It will be tough for national powers Florida and Georgia to share one bid, and rising teams like Georgia Tech and Central will have a tough time breaking through into Nationals.

Atlantic Coast – 1 bid is rough for a region with strong Virginia teams and multiple historically powerful North Carolina teams.

New England – Harvard has a number of big wins this year, and their low ranking is surprising.  One bid for this region will leave at least two of the three recently strong teams (Harvard, Tufts, and Middlebury) home for Nationals


North Central – Although three bids is a lot, this is a very competitive region, with all 4 teams that made nationals last year finishing in the top 12.  Wisconsin is right on the edge of earning the region a fourth bid, and has a chance to make some moves at Easterns.

Northwest – 2 bids for UBC and Oregon, each of which has had an outstanding year thus far. Without a third, though, they’ll have to be on their game in order to avoid an upset at the hands of Whitman and Washington teams that are playing well.

South Central – If we were using last year’s rankings, this region would only get one bid, so getting two bids this year is a step up. However, from the results it looks as though the teams in the region have stepped up as well.

Teams outside the top 40 to keep an eye on:

Tufts – 42

Kansas State – 43

Ga. Tech – 45

Cornell – 46

North Carolina – 47

UC-San Diego – 50

Carleton-GOP – 54

UNC-Wilmington – 55

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