Crunching Numbers (Part Two)


We're breaking down some of the most notable results of the season so far and evaluating how they could impact the NCAA qualifying picture. Click here to learn more about the Kolas qualifying system works. You can also read Part One here.

Furman & Texas Women Finish 6th + 7th at Dellinger Invite


Affected Teams (who could possibly earn Kolas points):

- BYU Cougars

- Boise State Broncos

- Air Force Falcons

- Oregon Ducks

- Oregon State Beavers


Potential Impact (on a scale of 1 to 10):

High (8)


Notes:

There were a handful of surprises this past weekend at the Bill Dellinger Invite, specially in the women's race. Outside of BYU, the Boise State and Air Force women were two teams that we didn't necessarily expect to do so well. They were part of the reason why we are talking about this Kolas scenario to begin with.


Of course, when one team thrives, another usually falters. In a stacked field with top-tier programs, the Furman women dropped to 6th place finish overall in what was one of the more perplexing results of the meet. For a team that was/is expected to finish inside the top two of the Southeast region, this is a relatively significant development.


It feels like a safe bet to think that Furman will still be in the top two of their region, especially with the only other major threat being NC State. As a result, the Paladins will likely give up a Kolas point to the teams who beat them.


The same goes for the Texas women who almost always finish inside the top two of the South Central region. They are, historically, the easiest team to earn national qualifying points from.


This means that BYU, Boise State, Air Force, Oregon, and Oregon State are likely going to earn two crucial Kolas points. For BYU, those points will probably not matter much. The Cougars will either earn enough qualifying points later in the season or they will finish inside the top two of the Mountain region and earn an automatic bid to Nationals.


For Boise State and Oregon, this result greatly improves their chances of advancing in the postseason, but these Kolas points don't necessarily guarantee them a bid to Nationals either. Both of these teams will need to score more points later in the season (and they will), but having these two somewhat-guaranteed points is a good way to enter the month of October.


Then we have Air Force and Oregon State. The Falcons, despite a great overall performance, will still need to battle through a Mountain region that has powerhouse programs BYU, New Mexico, and Colorado. Securing a top three finish, much less a top two finish, will be extremely difficult for Air Force. They will need all the points they can get if they want to qualify for NCAA's.


Luckily for them, they also beat an Oregon team that was running most of their "A" squad. Assuming that the Ducks qualify for Nationals - and they likely will - then Air Force is looking at three potential Kolas points. That is an extremely encouraging number for so early in the season and it should make them favorites to earn a national bid in the second half of the selection process.


As for Oregon State, it will be a challenge for them to get out of the loaded West region. Oregon, Washington, Stanford, Boise State, and UCLA could theoretically push the Beavers back as far as 6th place at their regional meet. If that happens, Oregon State may not have anyone to push them, leaving the Beavers flirting with the latter portion of the selection process. That's why having these two Kolas points is monumental. It only took them two points to qualify for the national meet last year and the same could happen again come November...


In other words, for the established and consistent national contenders, this isn't necessarily a huge season-defining result. But for teams who will need to battle through extremely competitive regional fields, this could give them an edge in the selection process.


Texas & Villanova Men Finish 7th + 8th at Dellinger Invite


Affected Teams (who could possibly earn Kolas points):

- Oregon Ducks

- BYU Cougars

- UCLA Bruins

- Boise State Broncos

- Portland Pilots

- Furman Paladins


Potential Impact (on a scale of 1 to 10):

High (8)


Notes:

Much like the women's race, two teams who are expected to place inside the top two of their region finished behind a handful of national contending programs.


For Texas, this wasn't much of a surprise. Just like their women's team, they historically give up a ton of points to other teams. It would be shocking to see them finish 3rd (or worse) at their regional meet this year.


Then we have the Villanova men. They placed 8th this past weekend, but didn't have Casey Comber in their lineup. Should Comber return, Villanova becomes a comfortable pick to make it out of the Mid-Atlantic region. However, without him, they will be in jeopardy of losing to Georgetown and Princeton. Those two teams alone could jeopardize Villanova's national qualifying hopes.


Still, it seems like a very realistic possibility that both the Longhorns and the Wildcats finish inside the top two of their respective regions. If that ends up being the case, then who do these teams give points to?


Oregon, BYU, UCLA, Boise State, Portland, and Furman are all expected to earn two Kolas points from Texas and Villanova.


For the top three teams in this race (Oregon, BYU, and UCLA) this isn't really a big deal. Much like the top programs in the women's race, these teams were all going to find ways to earn themselves a spot to Nationals. Whether it was scoring a ton of points at other meets, earning a top two spot in their region, or getting involved in a "push" scenario, no one is really concerned with the national qualifying hopes of these three teams.


Portland is in that conversation as well. They didn't run their "A" group this past weekend and therefore missed out on beating other top teams who could have given them Kolas points, but the Pilots are a team that will easily find their way into NCAA's once they run their top lineup.


However, for Boise State, this is a relatively important result. Their win over Portland likely doesn't mean anything since the Pilots didn't run their "A" squad and finishing ahead of Furman is far from a guarantee in terms of earning an additional point. Even so, their 4th place finish gives them two key points.


If Boise State were to flounder at Nuttycombe, then they would still be on the fringe of the national qualifying conversation assuming that they didn't earn any additional points before their regional meet. Having those two points from Texas and Villanova gives the Broncos a safety net of sorts if they happen to have a rough day at Wisconsin.


And for Furman? Well, their 6th place finish this past weekend was probably a season-defining performance. Much like Boise State, they will head to Nuttycombe in mid-October to cap off their regular season and they will do so with a two-point cushion. If things go poorly at Wisconsin, they can take solace in the fact that they will still be in the national qualifying conversation.


Furman will enter a deep Southeast region in November that is crowded with talented teams such as NC State, Virginia, Duke, Eastern Kentucky, and a handful of other sneaky good programs (such as Wake Forest, Louisville, and Virginia Tech). If they don't run well at Nuttycombe and don't finish inside the top two of their region, then there is a chance that the Paladins will need to wait until late in the selection process to be considered for a spot to Terre Haute. Luckily for them, they'll still have two Kolas points and will still be heavily considered for a spot to NCAA's.


Had Coach Gary's crew not traveled out west, Furman's only realistic chance of earning any Kolas points this past weekend would have been at Panorama Farms or Roy Griak. However, both of those meets were far from guarantees in terms of teams who could potentially offer Kolas points. Texas and Villanova were (and are) much safer bets, so the investment of traveling across the country will almost definitely pay off for this group a month and a half from now.


While it may not seem like a big deal, Furman's 6th place finish this past weekend gives them a huge boost in terms of their chances that they make it to the national meet, even if their race on October 18th goes poorly.


Wait, you didn't talk about the John McNichols Invite...


Yes, we know. The problem is that the results in both the men's and women's races didn't really give us any surprises or upsets (which is what usually triggers these Kolas scenarios).


On the men's side, Northern Arizona, Stanford, and Iowa State probably aren't going to need any Kolas points from the teams they beat since they will likely earn a top finish in their respective regions. Even the 4th place Purdue team has a good chance of finishing inside the top two of their region or getting pushed in to Nationals. And, even if they did beat one of those three programs, it was only going to give them one point.


The same can be said on the women's side. Arkansas, Stanford, Washington, and Michigan are heavy favorites to finish inside the top two of their region. Even if they don't, they will almost definitely get an at-large bid anyway.


It's probably important to note that the Northern Arizona women (who finished 5th overall) beat Illinois in this race. The Illinois women have slowly entered the national qualifying conversation after a solid race at the Buckeye Preview. After news broke that Minnesota is redshirting their top two runners, it became clear that Illinois could be a contender for a top two spot in the Midwest region. If the Fighting Illini' were able to finish inside the top two of their region, then NAU would earn a single Kolas point.


That point would certainly help the Lady Lumberjacks, but it wouldn't dramatically swing their postseason hopes one way or another.


In other words, the potential Kolas impact of this meet was minimal at best.