Nationals Seeding: Or how no one can agree.

by | May 9, 2011, 12:42pm 0

Predicting seeding is always difficult, because of the many factors you have to consider. I always enjoy watching the seeding disputes come around before Nationals, because everyone has a different take. It’s like the bracket before the bracket, something to think about for a week before Memorial Day Weekend gets here. What is interesting about seeding is how people rate certain results. What does a win at regionals mean vs. regular season? With the regular season games meaning more this year, how much of a weight does that carry? Below are the factors that are frequently used when people explain their seedings.

  • Reputation, they’re so good, I played them
  • Players on the team, that dude is sick
  • Tough Region, that region is stacked with good teams, they’ve got to be ranked high
  • Head to Head Wins, they beat that team earlier in the season, why are they lower?
  • Quality Wins, they only beat that team by 2
  • Predictions, I think this team has the best shot at winning, they should be 1

Predictions is one the most intriguing things about seeding. Many people believe that the team that seems to be the favorite to win Nationals should be the number one seed. This year is a perfect example, with plenty of people taking Pitt as the number one team, and thus the favorite to win it all. They’ve been my pick since I started thinking about it last August.

However, seeding isn’t something that should be given based on predictions. You have to look objectively at the results in some way, and it’s incredibly hard to do it consistently. Head to Head wins, quality wins, tournaments won, how far the teams made it before they were eliminated, what region they came out of, and this year we have to deal with the regular season ranking. Florida, who has had impressive wins over Carleton, Pittsburgh, and the rest of the field, is ranked behind Pittsburgh. It’s going to be interesting how USAU deals with this if their own ranking still has Pittsburgh number 1, with Florida having the most recent head to head win.

There are valid arguments to both sides, and frankly Florida or Pitt at number one would make sense to me. I lean towards making head to head games count more when seeds are already adjacent. However, then we go into, does it really matter that it was the finals? Pittsburgh beat Florida on Saturday at Easterns, 13-11 in a “meaningless” cross over game. With both teams at 1-1 on the season, do we defer to the latest game? Or do we play the Florida is 2-0 against CUT where as Pitt is 0-1. Pitt is 2-0 against Colorado where Florida is 0-2.  When things are this close I tend defer to the most recent common result, which is their head to head. Florida by a nose.

There were certain seeds I thought to be really apparent, that Illinois would be in the bottom four. After all, this is a team that beat no other nationals contender heading into the series. However, if Iowa is going to get a big boost due to win over Carleton, should Illinois get a big boost by beating a formerly ranked top 10 team in Michigan? How big are these regional results? Would I be contradicting myself by considering the totality of Illinois season, when I used a more recent result to give Pitt the edge over ? No, Pitt and Florida were put high up for the totality of the season and then I used the results around adjacently seeded teams to shuffle them accordingly.  Illinois has not proven consistently that it can hang with the big teams, one game isn’t worth a jump into the top 10.

Speaking of upsets, figuring out where Iowa fits into the mix is a tough case. Certainly a win over CUT should move you up somewhat from their previous USAU ranking of 14. The question is how far? Is 5 spots too much? CUT was clearly a top 4 team for most of the regular season, spanking teams, but they have to drop down pretty far after finishing 3rd in their region. There’s no way I can put UVA behind them, with UVA having wins over Harvard and Colorado.  Then I had to look at UCSC. A team that had very few losses on the season, a win over Wisconsin, but no other close games against the top teams. In a game with Iowa vs. UCSC, I would predict UCSC to win every time, but I think it’s reasonable to move Iowa ahead five spots for a win over CUT.

After all of that, things are pretty hot mess. This year’s field is nothing short of incredible, with many teams being capable of going deep. In 2009, Colorado and CUT were head and shoulders above the rest. In 2010, pool A and C had some upsets but Florida and CUT were far and away the clear favorites.  No matter how I rearrange these pools, it seems like every pool could result in a good team being eliminated before pre-quarters. It’s the way things should be, and will lead to more exciting ultimate. Without much further ado, here are my take on seedings with the help of Zack Smith.


  1. Florida – Highly ranked in USAU, win over Pittsburgh at Easterns Final
  2. Pittsburgh – Finals at Stanford and Easterns, only losses to CUT, Florida, Oregon
  3. Colorado – Finals at Warm up, losses to Pitt at the Quarters of Easterns and Semis of Stanford
  4. UBC -Won the crazy Northwest, head to head over Wisconsin, 1 point quarters loss to Pitt at Easterns
  5. Harvard – Two H2H wins over Wisconsin, semis at Stanford, quarters at Easterns
  6. Wisconsin- Won the North Central, wins over CUT, Florida
  7. Oregon – Win over UBC, quarters at Easterns, win over Pitt at stanford
  8. Virginia – Win over Colorado, Harvard, only losses to Wisco, CUT, Florida, Colorado
  9. Iowa – Beating CUT moves you up a bunch
  10. Carelton – Dominated the regular season with the exception of Florida, Wisconsin, but 3rd in the region? Ouch.
  11. UCSC – I could put these guys higher, but they just haven’t beaten the top teams this year. They haven’t lost to many either
  12. Colorado College – Impressive regional performance, but I don’t value that UBC win as much with them being 1-1.
  13. Texas – Head to Head win over Washington
  14. UWashington – Finished ahead of Whitman
  15. Whitman – 4th in the NW
  16. Stanford – Peaked at the right time, head to head win over Tufts
  17. Tufts – You got a bid by beating Harvard, but only other big win over Texas
  18. Luther – Beat a good Minnesota team to get in
  19. Illinois – 1st in the Great Lakes, but no big wins in the regular season
  20. Cornell – Sit back and relax, it’s the Metro Easy


I look at this field, and I immediately say holy shit. Colorado College and UCSC are not in the top 10? Let me say that I could completely understand arguments switching around teams seeded from 7-13. I know that people are going to call me out for having Virginia and possibly Oregon so high, but they preformed well against top teams.  CUT really messed everything up, but they’re still a national title contender. I really do base most of my seedings on performance against the top teams in the country. A win over them is pretty big, as Colorado, Pitt, Florida, and CUT have mainly just been beating each other this year. None the less, I’ve listed what I consider for seeding.

  1. Totality of Season, Regular Season is supposed to be more meaningful now, is it?
  2. Head to Head wins
  3. Performance against the top teams in the country
  4. Region Strength, and of course finish at Regionals has to be taken into account

What I also thought was fun was putting together pools for Nationals. So take a look based off my seeding. Don’t like it? Rearrange it yourself and notice it really doesn’t matter, this tournament is going to be ridiculous.

Note:  Just edited the pools, thanks Enrique and Anon.


Florida Pitt Colorado UBC
UVA Oregon Wisco Harvard
Texas UWash Whitman Stanford
Tufts Luther Illinois Cornell


Don’t like UVA so high? Move up UCSC? Lets try it.

Florida Pitt Colorado UBC
UCSC Oregon Wisco Harvard
Texas UWash Whitman Stanford
Tufts Luther Illinois Cornell


Yeah, have fun with those pools.



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