First, a tangent: The rankings will be announced any time now, there’s some thought that WOU should move into the #1 ranking, but we honestly are really 50/50, not because we don’t believe in the Wolves and want them to be #1, but because it’s subjective. Current #1 West Liberty killed a 1-5 Central State team, and then #2 Augustana murdered a 3-8 Wayne State team, so… Both did exactly what they needed to do to remain in those positions. #4 Moorhead beat 6-6 Northern State by 11, which isn’t great, so it shouldn’t cause them to rise. Cal Poly Pomona at #5 beat East Bay by 10, but East Bay has been giving everyone problems this year (Chico, SPU, now CPP) so seems par for the course. We’re curious to see if UCSD goes anywhere. We’re not in the camp that they necessarily need to move up, but we’re definitely in the camp that they shouldn’t move down considering they’re 9-1 with the one loss coming against the #3 Wolves and there are six one-loss teams ahead of them.
Aside from those pressing points -we’ll share our opinion on the rest of the actual tangible poll tomorrow. Moving on.
Some years it’s obvious who the Regional host is going to be, other years less so. The GNAC hasn’t hosted a regional since 2013 when Western Washington hosted it. In 2014 it was held at San Bernardino State and in 2015 Azusa Pacific. This year, we don’t see the trend of a SoCal school hosting it changing because:
a. SPU’s planned strength of schedule didn’t work out.
b. WOU’s lack of strength of schedule is glaring.
Strength of schedule is official criteria this year and while we think at this point they’re 100% on a trajectory to win an at large bid, we see the host site going to a SoCal school.
As it stands:
The GNAC is 16-15 against the Pac-West, 7-7 against the CCAA.
The Pac-West is 16-15 against the CCAA.
The West Region as a whole is 15-4 against non-west, while our non-west opponents are 45-42 overall.
So that would make you think “Okay, we’re going to Monmouth.” Hold on there Wolves. The CCAA is 61-48 overall (this takes into account west region, non-west region, and four-ish games of conference play). Yes, the GNAC has only played two conference games, but remember: Conference games add losses as well as wins, so we’re inclined to think it’s a wash at this point. Yeah, more games have been played; the other conferences have more teams.
Here’s what we’re looking at in terms of West Region potential hosts:
Humboldt -They’re 5-1 and their SOS is lacking massively, but they had a really good team last year, they return a lot, they haven’t played anybody, but at 5-1 it’s too early to officially rule them out. At this point, any one loss team has to be considered because they’re a one loss team a third of the way through the season. What do we think of heading to Arcata? Great. It’s roughly a 10 hour drive from Seattle and a seven hour drive from SoCal, so very central location, the campus is beautiful, and it would just be fun to get up there because we haven’t been in NorCal in a super long time (we as in the Regional; we as in us personally went to NorCal last week).
Cal Poly Pomona -currently undefeated at 9-0, like Western Oregon have a glaring lack of SOS, but we think CPP will have a chance to bump their strength of schedule more than the Wolves, because we see more schools in the CCAA being in serious consideration for at-large bids. The Broncos most quality non-conference wins are against Azusa Pacific (7-3) and Point Loma (5-5) but during the regular season they’ll be playing Humboldt (5-1), Chico (7-2), and UCSD -all other contenders for at large bids. What do we think of heading to Pomona? We’re down. SoCal in the Spring is always good. No complaints.
UCSD -currently 9-1 with their only loss being against undefeated WOU. They just played a really weird game against San Marcos where they managed to win going 4-5 in the final minutes due to foul outs and injuries. We like this team. We like this coaching staff. Because they’re CCAA they will get tested during the regular season, but they were also tested during non-conference. The Tritons have quality wins against Colorado Mines (6-3), Cal Baptist (10-2), and they only lost to WOU by four. Hopefully the WOU loss served as quality education because honestly the Tritons made some really, really stupid decisions during that game -they totally could have won it, to the point that it veers on the territory of a non-loss for the Wolves because it was that close. What do we think of heading to San Diego? Honestly, it’s a PITA. The flights from Seattle to SD are way over priced, but… again, SoCal in the Spring can’t complain, plus it’s a great location for the vast majority of teams looking the tournament.
Seattle Pacific -Currently 8-1, their one loss is to 7-1 CU-Irvine; they have wins over Chico State and Azusa Pacific, so definitely the best SOS in the GNAC, but we think they were intending to include BYU-H and Dixie State as part of their SOS and at this point they’re not. SPU just seems to kind of always get screwed in regard to hosting and honestly -we’d rather go somewhere fun during the Spring rather than stay home, so… Either way. The Falcons aren’t going to really get tested much during the regular season -there’ll definitely be scares, everyone wakes up to play them, so @ MSUB’ll be rough, the Alaska schools are always brutal, CWU hopefully they’ll escape without injuries, the second WWU game should test them, and then of course WOU x2 will be terrifying, but… WOU in all honesty is less scary than the others because if you lose to WOU you know it’s another tourney bound team so it doesn’t matter quite as much.
Western Oregon -Currently undefeated, as noted we don’t think they’re going to move into a #1 ranking, we’ve said before that we like the idea of heading to Monmouth, but we don’t think it’s going to happen because the Wolves SOS is 100% atrocious and it was intended to be bad. It wasn’t a case like SPU where they scheduled theoretically good teams and then those teams weren’t as good as anticipated -they scheduled down in regard to matching up with NDdN, FPU, and HNU in particular. With all they had coming back, there’s really no excuse. We’ve noted this before: D2 schedules have some pre-standing arrangements, but they’re largely very movable for your personnel. We’re guessing that if WOU had reached out in interest of playing some of the projected top CCAA/Pac-West teams, they would have gotten an affirmative because CPP’s SOS sucks too and that would have been a really good match-up. You’re no longer “saving” yourself by scheduling bad teams -not that we ever thought it was a good idea regardless of SOS counting, because of that little thing called personal integrity. Any game, anywhere, any time. That has always been our policy and it’s served us well.
We’ll say this right now: We don’t see a Pac-West team hosting the tournament this year. It’s most likely going to be a CCAA team or Western Oregon. But we’re going to go through and talk about a few teams with potential, just incase all heck breaks loose.
Azusa Pacific -At 7-3, this seems 100% unlikely, but we’ll include it just because you have to admit that those three losses come @ SPU, against Cal Poly Pomona, and at Point Loma in overtime. Point Loma has five losses, but those losses come against Western Oregon, Cal Poly Pomona, Dixie State, CU-Irvine, and Cal Baptist. Five losses are enough for us not to include PLNU in our discussion of hosts, but we will give them due credit that the schedule has been brutal. Still, play good teams and win. We like Azusa, we respect their record, but hosting isn’t gonna happen. Tournament bound minus the hosting? We like their chances.
Cal Baptist -Good win against #4 MN-Moorhead, killed the Sea lions of Point Loma, narrowly got beat by Azusa, somewhat quality win against Alaska-Anchorage, they’re yet to play CU-Irvine, so those two games loom large on the schedule. We don’t see them hosting but we do see them making the tournament.
CU-Irvine -This is kind of the ‘x’ factor team of the Pac-West. If a PW team is going to host, it’ll likely be CU-Irvine, which is just fine with us; SoCal, + one of our favorite colleagues lives in that area, so that works. CU-Irvine is famous around this blog for being SPU’s one loss, the Eagles themselves have a loss against San Marcos but from our understanding that’s a long-standing NAIA D1 rivalry, so… We look at that differently. Anything can happen in a rivalry game. We anticipate CU-I being ranked officially this week, we like it because it helps our conference SOS. It seems unlikely that the Eagles host -they’d basically have to go undefeated in conference play for it to happen, because their only quality win is against SPU and that was in OT on a neutral court, so… Still more than Chico has, but we’re looking forward to following them during conference play and seeing what happens. The Eagles are going to serve as the GNAC blog Pac-West pet until further notice.
The short version of that is we see Western Oregon, UCSD, and Cal Poly Pomona as being the teams likely to host, with Seattle Pacific, CU-Irvine, and Humboldt being other remote possibilities. We think Humboldt will pick up some losses in a hurry now that they’re playing actual teams (we complain about WOU & CPP’s SOS, but Humboldt is so much worse), with CU-Irvine the Pac-West doesn’t seem to have the collective SOS to make it a possibility, and then SPU is suffering not only from a lack of conference SOS, but also from a lack of signature non-conference win -which, yes, is frustrating because they tried and they won good games during non-conference but it likely wasn’t enough.
We like the thought of the Regional going to Cal Poly Pomona or UCSD largely because we don’t want to stay home in Seattle, SoCal is nice, and the infrastructure for hosting such a tournament in Monmouth is there but not desirable.
A post about the West vs. the Rest will be up in an hour and then tomorrow’ll be a nice big discussion about the rankings.