NCAA – Bracket Projections v5.5

Seeded Teams

#1 Seeds

1 – North Carolina – ACC
2 – UCLA – Pac-12*
3 – Stanford – Pac-12
4 – Florida State – ACC*

#2 Seeds

5 – Florida – SEC
6 – Penn State – Big Ten*
7 – South Carolina – SEC
8 – West Virginia – Big XII*

#3 Seeds

9 – Notre Dame – ACC
10 – Pepperdine – WCC
11 – Texas Tech – Big XII
12 – Virginia – ACC

#4 Seeds

13 – Rutgers – Big Ten
14 – Wisconsin – Big Ten
15 – Texas A&M – SEC*
16 – Washington – Pac-12
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NCAA – What Chris Is Watching – 10/24/14 – (25) Arizona vs (2) Stanford

(25) Arizona vs (2) Stanford – 10:00 PM

Stanford will try to keep the pressure on UCLA at the top of the table, while Pac-12 surprise package Arizona will try to snag an upset to boost hopes of a top half finish and a first round home match in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will have it all to do based on recent evidence, as they’ve been dismantled, at least defensively, in their past two matches with two of the league’s kingpins this season, Washington and UCLA. To be truthful, the club’s last match, against the Bruins on their Senior Night, was a lost cause, as the defending national champs seemed hellbent on sending a message in the club’s last regular season home match of the season and put a beating on Tony Amato’s side to the tune of a 6-0 scoreline. It was the fifth time the Wildcats have given up multiple goals this season, and more worryingly, the third time it’s happened in six league games. Almost as worrying has been the sudden downturn in the offense, with the club having been shutout in its past two defeats, as well as in the league opener against USC. Gabi Stoian hasn’t scored in the past three, and keeping her firing in front of goal will be key to an upset on Friday night. Stoian’s goals aren’t going to be enough if the defense can’t tighten things up though. The club’s defensive record against top teams is a worry, and Friday would be a fine night to set things right.

After a dominating 3-0 win over Colorado back on The Farm last week, Stanford returns to the road for two games against the Arizona schools this weekend. The Card haven’t skipped a beat since their gut punch of a defeat to UCLA, shutting out both USC and the Buffs in dominant fashion. Stanford, with four wins over teams in the RPI Top 16 have pretty much clinched a #1 seed already unless they collapse down the stretch, but there’s still plenty of motivation to keep playing hard in case UCLA slips up in the race for the Pac-12 title. Some of the quieter names in the Stanford lineup were on the scoresheet against Colorado, with Taylor Uhl and Lauren Schmidt each netting their first goal of the season in the easy win. The defense was as dominating as ever, conceding a single shot on goal in the win. Considering how silly Stanford’s defense has made many an attack look this season, there’s no reason to think that the Card can’t put the clamps on Arizona’s offense on Friday. With a potent Arizona State side waiting on Sunday though, efficient use of his squad will be key for Paul Ratcliffe all weekend. If the Card can rush out to a quick lead and put the squeeze on, so much the better for the Palo Alto side.
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NCAA – What Chris Is Watching – 10/23/14 – (3) North Carolina vs (6) Florida State

(3) North Carolina vs (6) Florida State – 7:00 PM

It’s the latest chapter in one of the grandest rivalries in women’s college soccer, and odds are, it’ll likely be for the ACC title. Improbably, both of these sides come into their annual clash with perfect marks in the ACC, setting this up to be a titanic clash, and one that could be repeated in both the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament down the line. North Carolina have beaten back all challengers in the ACC thus far, beginning with Notre Dame a month ago and proceeding to reel off six more league wins to give them nine straight wins in a row overall. Against local rivals Duke, the Tar Heels turned on the offense once more, overpowering the Blue Devils in a 3-0 win on the road. It marked the eighth straight match that UNC has scored multiple goals this season, an astonishing number considering that, still, nobody on this club has scored more than four goals. Those four have come from the red hot Emily Bruder, who hasn’t started a match in the league season but who has nonetheless netted four off the bench, including two against Duke on a whopping six shots on goal. Bruder and Joanna Boyles have seemingly become the go-to players in the attack for the Heels with Summer Green turning into more of a provider with four assists. Green’s not scoring, having netted just once this year on forty-one shots, but at least she’s still chipping in with assists. The defense was leaking goals for much of the club’s winning streak though, and Florida State, without question, is the best club UNC’s faced since their draw with UCLA early in the season. They’ll have home advantage though and will be looking to their supporters to push them on to victory in this likely league title and #1 seed decider in Chapel Hill.

The task they face is an uphill one. To say the least. Florida State have been clubbing people over the head for the better part of the season, as evidenced by their absurd 1.69 weighted total shot ratio number, the highest among any club in the Big Eight conferences in league matches. For all the worries about the defense, the Noles have conceded just a single goal in the club’s last seven matches. Yes, FSU has conceded just a single goal in ACC play with only three matches left to play in the league season. After having to shuffle things up for a lot of the early part of the season, stability has brought great results, with Megan Campbell and Emma Koivisto on the flanks and Kristin Grubka and Kirsten Crowley doing solid work in the middle. The offense has been deadly as well, with four players with seven or more goals. There’s depth in spades as well, with Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Cheyna Williams doing the damage from the start and Berglind Thorvaldsdottir and Marta Bakowska-Mathews attacking from the bench. It’ll be worth watching if Thorvaldsdottir plays on Thursday though, as she missed the match against Pittsburgh, though that was well in hand. A win in the lion’s den of Fetzer Field would go a long way in adding the true marquee win the club needs for a #1 seed. With NC State and Duke left, Florida State would likely wrap up the league title with a win on Thursday as well. These two clubs have played some absolute classics through the years and the stage looks set again for a must-see showdown on Thursday
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NCAA – Chris’ Annual Late Season Power Poll

Ah yes, it’s time for the most divisive column of the season. I don’t really have much time to go into details, but here are how I see the teams right now. This isn’t based on a body of work a club’s done but instead who I’d favor on a neutral field if the season ended today.

Tier I – The Destroyer of Worlds

1. UCLA

Tier II – Legit Threats to The Crown

2. Florida State
3. Stanford

Tier III – The “Who Knows” Tier

4. Virginia

Tier IV – We Might See You In December

5. North Carolina
6. Texas A&M
7. Penn State
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NCAA – Bubble Watch Proper – Week Four

AAC

Bubble – UCF, UConn, Memphis, South Florida
Bubble (Danger) – Tulsa

This league’s a mess right now, and UConn’s probably going to be on the wrong end of a double-edged sword. The Huskies got their big result by beating UCF this past weekend…but that also dropped UCF’s RPI to the extent that UConn’s profile still doesn’t look great in comparison to its rivals. UCF should be fine if they don’t cough up any of the games at home this weekend. If they fall onto the bubble? Trouble. The Knights don’t have any results against anyone higher than RPI #40 Memphis. Those Tigers are going to have to win a few matches in the AAC Tournament, as they still haven’t taken the expected RPI hit from the league’s gruesome Texas twosome yet. South Florida’s profile isn’t awful, but it’s not great either, so the Bulls are probably going to need to keep winning into November, despite two weekend wins. Having won just one of six league games, it’s safe to say Tulsa’s run out of steam far too soon.

Atlantic 10

Lock – La Salle
Bubble – Rhode Island
Bubble (Danger) – George Washington

Precedent says La Salle is now safe at RPI #21…but are they? They’ve got no positive results against RPI Top 50 teams, but if they were excluded from an at-large spot, they’d be the highest ranked team to ever be denied a bid since we started keeping these numbers. Advice? Keep winning. Rhode Island’s hanging onto the bubble doggedly but doesn’t have a chance, along with George Washington, who’ve still done well to win their last three in the league.

ACC

Lock – North Carolina, Florida State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame
Bubble – Clemson, Boston College
Bubble (Danger) – Duke, Wake Forest

North Carolina and Florida State are both battling for a #1 seed, and the latter arguably needs a win more in their meeting this week given the clubs’ win profiles. Virginia just doesn’t have the results right now to merit a top two seed, though that could change down the stretch. Virginia Tech seems to be fading after their ferocious start, while Notre Dame looks like a very good team being victimized by the RPI at the moment. Clemson’s not listed as a lock, but they’ll be there next week in all likelihood. Boston College probably won’t want to tempt fate on the bubble, but it might just be a matter of running out the clock and not dropping too far. Duke looks unlikely to finish at .500 given their finishing kick, while Wake Forest is alive, technically, for another week.
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NCAA – What Chris Is Watching – 10/22/14 – (44) Boston University vs (24) Colgate

(44) Boston University vs (24) Colgate – 7:00 PM

It might be the most important game in the regular season history of the Patriot League. Colgate is edging towards a league title and have a three point lead on Navy with three matches to play. Perhaps more important though is the ramifications in the RPI this one could have. As absurd as it sounds, the Raiders could edge their way into the RPI Top 20 with a win over Boston U on Wednesday night. Lehigh and American are the last two matches on the docket and should both be winnable, meaning three points here would all but wrap up the title barring a catastrophic finish to the league season. That also would mean a maximum of one more loss on the season, and three more wins (or four if they fall in the conference tournament final) that may well mean the Raiders finish above the bubble zone, even if they don’t win the auto bid. Kathy Brawn’s side may still arouse some teeth gnashing amongst the selection committee given a lack of truly great results, but wins against Providence, Syracuse, and Harvard have shown it’s not been all patsies for the Raiders this season. The team is unbeaten in thirteen matches, having not tasted defeat since the opener against Boston College. Having conceded just twice in the league thus far, the Raiders have been doing it with a mean defense, but they’ve also scored the second most goals in league play. Sarah Coy leads the pack with eight goals, and with the likes of Caroline Brawner also on offer, the Raiders have plenty of talent. The Raiders haven’t blown too many teams out, but they’ve become masters of winning close matches. They’ll probably have to do so again on the road on Wednesday.

Boston University was seemingly in a good position for an at-large bid going into league play having opened up the season with wins over La Salle and Boston College. But the Terriers have begun to fade in Patriot League play, with draws against Army and Lehigh and a loss to Loyola (MD) delivering likely fatal blows to title hopes. The Terriers have dropped down the RPI as well, but the Colgate match provides one last regular season opportunity to climb back up it in time to perhaps save their at-large bid hopes should they not win the auto bid in a few weeks time. The real question is how the shock defeat to Loyola (MD) may have affected confidence within BU. The match was a real rock fight, with just three combined shots on goal, but the Terriers’ offensive frailties were on full display after being unable to hit back once the Greyhounds scored early in the second half. Jenna Fisher and Erica Kosienski both have three goals in the league, but the former was quiet against Loyola, and the latter didn’t play. Colgate has one of the region’s most stern defenses, and even with home advantage, putting up chances has to be a worry. But walking away with nothing could potentially be the last straw for their at-large hopes, meaning holding strong at home will be crucial on multiple fronts on Wednesday night.

NCAA – Weighted Total Shot Ratio – Week Six

Your weekly trip to the metrics nerd cave:

AAC

1.35 – Cincinnati
1.33 – UCF
1.22 – South Florida
1.19 – UConn
1.06 – Memphis
0.97 – Temple
0.82 – East Carolina
0.81 – Tulsa
0.52 – Houston
0.50 – SMU

ACC

1.69 – Florida State
1.57 – Virginia
1.35 – North Carolina
1.29 – Clemson
1.25 – Notre Dame
1.15 – Duke
1.00 – Boston College
1.00 – Virginia Tech
0.85 – Louisville
0.79 – Wake Forest
0.59 – Miami (FL)
0.56 – Pittsburgh
0.46 – NC State
0.45 – Syracuse
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NCAA – Keep Punching That Ticket – Week Two

Your weekly dose of the race for the postseason.

* = Clinched Conference Tournament Berth
** = Clinched Regular Season Title
^ = Eliminated from Conference Tournament Contention

America East

*13 (19) – Hartford
11 (17) – Albany
11 (17) – UMBC
10 (13) – Maine
08 (14) – New Hampshire
07 (13) – Stony Brook
-
05 (11) – Binghamton
04 (10) – Vermont

Ineligible – UMass-Lowell

AAC

18 (24) – UCF
14 (20) – Memphis
12 (18) – Cincinnati
12 (18) – South Florida
12 (18) – East Carolina
12 (15) – UConn
10 (13) – Temple
07 (13) – Tulsa
06 (12) – SMU
01 (07) – Houston

ACC

21 (30) – Florida State
21 (30) – North Carolina
18 (27) – Virginia
15 (24) – Notre Dame
-
13 (22) – Clemson
10 (19) – Duke
09 (18) – Virginia Tech
09 (18) – Boston College
08 (17) – Louisville
07 (16) – Wake Forest
06 (15) – Pittsburgh
06 (15) – Syracuse
^01 (10) – Miami (FL)
^00 (09) – NC State
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NCAA – Bracket Projections v5.0

Seeded Teams

#1 Seeds

1 – Florida – SEC
2 – North Carolina – ACC
3 – Stanford – Pac-12
4 – UCLA – Pac-12*

#2 Seeds

5 – Penn State – Big Ten*
6 – Florida State – ACC*
7 – South Carolina – SEC
8 – West Virginia – Big XII*

#3 Seeds

9 – Rutgers – Big Ten
10 – Pepperdine – WCC
11 – Wisconsin – Big Ten
12 – Texas Tech – Big XII

#4 Seeds

13 – Notre Dame – ACC
14 – Washington – Pac-12
15 – Virginia – ACC
16 – Texas A&M – SEC*
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NCAA – What Chris Is Watching – 10/19/14 – (14) Kansas vs (9) West Virginia

(14) Kansas vs (9) West Virginia – 2:00 PM

With all due respect to current leaders Oklahoma State, the Big XII title will likely be decided on Sunday afternoon in Lawrence when Kansas hosts West Virginia. The Jayhawks’ margin of error diminished noticeably following their first league defeat on Friday, a 1-0 loss to Texas Tech. The Jayhawks had previously racked up four straight wins to put themselves in the driver’s seat for a shock league title. Against the Red Raiders though, KU fell prey to a late defensive mix-up at the end of the first half that would eventually prove decisive. While the defense limited Janine Beckie to just one shot on goal and TTU to three overall, they couldn’t tally more than three shots on goal themselves, marking the first time the club’s been shutout since their only other loss, to Marquette. KU’s defense still hasn’t conceded multiple goals yet this season though, something that will probably serve them well against West Virginia’s dangerous attack. However, if the Jayhawks can rebound and top the Mountaineers on Sunday, they’ll be back in control of the title race with two winnable matches left. A win over WVU would also keep them in seed contention with a few weeks left in the regular season.

Having now won three in a row and gone unbeaten in eleven, West Virginia will face likely back-to-back Big XII title deciders in the next week against the Jayhawks on Sunday and then Oklahoma State next Friday. The Mountaineers’ title credentials may have come into a little bit of doubt after a 0-0 draw with TCU to open up their league season, but WVU has seldom put a foot wrong since, winning all three of their following league games by multiple goals. Iowa State was the latest club to be fed into the woodchipper on Friday, as WVU put up twenty-three shots, including nine on frame, while limiting ISU to just one on-target shot on the evening. The club may have gone into the break tied at 0-0, but they scored through Kate Schwindel shortly after the restart and didn’t look back before adding two more late. Sunday should provide a fascinating test for an attack that has scored multiple goals in six of its last seven, including four goals four times in that span. Shutouts against Duke and TCU show WVU’s mortal, but they also have seldom fired blanks this season. A win over the Jayhawks would also boost WVU’s case for an all-important high national seed, though the club might need to do more damage in the Big XII Tournament given the resumes of their rivals on that front.
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