Women's projections coming tomorrow (Sunday, 10/27)
Instead of overloading our KOLAS page with a ton of text, we decided to utilize our article feed to describe how our Kolas projections are expected to play out (as of right now).
If the season ended today, who would be going to the Big Dance? Who would be ending their season early? Thanks to the incredible work from Bo Waggoner, we were able to work together to compile key Kolas-defining results and utilize his XC Quals calculator which allows users to input their predictions for the NCAA regional meets in order to get an expected output of the 31 teams expected to make it to Nationals.
A big thank you to Bo for working with us on this project! We highly recommend you visit his site and play with the projections on your own.
And before you ask, yes, the calculator understands how to take B Teams into consideration.
If you haven't already, we also strongly suggest that you read our UNDERSTANDING KOLAS page to get a refresher on how the Kolas system works. There are a ton of caveats to consider and they can all greatly impact the NCAA qualifying picture...
If the season ended today, here are the 31 projected teams that we have going to Nationals on the men's side...
Before we get into discussing point totals, it's important that we make a few notes about our auto-lock teams (the squads who will finish in the top two of their region).
We opted to put Villanova at 3rd in the Mid-Atlantic region with Georgetown taking 2nd. Villanova may actually be the better team this postseason, but we have yet to see them run their top squads. If they run their best seven runners at the BIG East Championships (and win), then the Hoyas and Wildcats will likely switch spots.
The Northeast region will likely go to Iona and Syracuse (as usual). Despite the recent struggles from Syracuse and the quietly strong performances from teams like Stony Brook and Army, we have opted to keep the Orange and the Gaels in our top two. We still strongly believe that they will be the top two teams in the region.
Then there is the West region. This is a tricky meet to decide because certain teams often don't run all-out efforts (i.e. Stanford in 2018) as they keep their focus solely on qualifying for NCAA's in an attempt to not exert any unnecessary effort. We have Stanford and UCLA in the top two spots of the region right now, but the tactics of that race could change things up.
The same could be said for the Mountain and Great Lakes regions, but to a lesser extent.
The Midwest regional meet will likely go to Iowa State and Tulsa. However, if Oklahoma State debuts their full lineup, we shouldn't be surprised to see them take a top two spot at the regional meet. Their firepower, when completely healthy, becomes increasingly more valuable in a regional field such as this. Even so, we will keep them at 3rd.
The South region is up in the air in terms of auto-lock teams. Alabama hasn't debuted a full lineup yet while Ole Miss, Florida State, and Middle Tennessee State look like legitimate auto-lock contenders. We have decided to put Ole Miss and MTSU inside the top two of the region with Florida State 3rd and Alabama 4th. That, however, is not set in stone.
It's a very similar story in the Southeast region. We feel relatively confident that NC State will be in the top two of their region, but recent rumors of a possible injury to #2 runner JP Flavin makes that assumption less viable. Even so, we have opted to go with NC State and Eastern Kentucky as the top two teams in that region. The order behind them will be extremely difficult to guess as it is truly a toss-up between Virginia Tech, Virginia, Furman, and maybe Duke. We'll take Virginia Tech at the 3rd spot, Virginia in 4th, Furman in 5th, and Duke in 6th...but that could very easily change.
Alright...let's talk about the 13 at-large bids.
At-Large Bid #1: Colorado Buffaloes
Once all of the automatic qualifiers are calculated, the Buffs are clearly the first team in with a total of 9 points. They earned those points from Joe Piane and Pre-Nats where they beat Purdue, Indiana, Georgetown, Iona, Ole Miss (twice), Arkansas, NC State, and Eastern Kentucky.
They do not give any teams any points since all of the teams who beat them earlier this year have already qualified for Nationals.
At-Large Bid #2: Wisconsin Badgers
The next team with the most points is technically Notre Dame with 7 points, but they are projected to finish 5th in their region, so they are not yet eligible for national qualification at this point in the selection process since Wisconsin and Michigan are the next two eligible teams ahead of them.
Oregon also has 7 points and technically, they are eligible for national qualification. However, they are projected to finish 4th in their region behind Portland. Oregon could theoretically push Portland into the national meet, but the goal of the selection process is to avoid a a push scenario if we can. Since we know Oregon will qualify on their own later in the selection process, we're going to hold off on them for now.
That means the teams with the next most points will be Wisconsin with 6 points. Michigan also has 6 points, but they are projected to finish 4th in the Great Lakes region behind Wisconsin.
Therefore, the Badgers get the next qualification spot.
Wisconsin had losses to Michigan and Notre Dame at Joe Piane, so each of those teams get one point.
At-Large Bid #3: Michigan Wolverines
Much like the Oregon/Portland situation, Notre Dame technically has the most points with 9 at this point of the selection process and they are now eligible to be chosen. However, they would push in Michigan who is one spot ahead of them. Since we know Notre Dame will qualify later in the selection process, we can stick with selecting the Michigan Wolverines who have 7 points.
They give one point each to Oregon and Portland (since those teams beat them at Nuttycombe) and one point to Notre Dame (since the Irish beat Michigan at Joe Piane).
At-Large Bid #4: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
We can now finally select the Irish who have a whopping 10 points. Their performance at Nuttycombe will yield one point each to Oregon, Portland, Boise State, Southern Utah, and Utah State.
At-Large Bid #5: Portland Pilots
We can now finally select the Portland Pilots who are expected to finish 3rd in their region. They have 7 points. Oregon has more points than them at this point in the selection process (9), but like we saw earlier, we want to avoid a push scenario and we know Oregon will get in later on.
Portland does not give away any points.
At-Large Bid #6: Oregon Ducks
We can now select the Oregon Ducks who have 9 points. They do not give away any points.
At-Large Bid #7: Southern Utah Thunderbirds
The team with the next most points is Boise State. They have 6 points. However, they are projected to finish behind Washington in the West region. Although the Broncos are eligible for qualification, we don't want a push scenario if we can avoid it. We know they will get in later on, so we'll hold off on them for now.
That leaves us with Southern Utah and Utah State both at 5 points. Southern Utah is expected to finish 4th in their region while Utah State is expected to finish 5th. Colorado, who is projected to finish 3rd, was already selected. As a result, Southern Utah is the next team picked for Nationals.
Southern Utah gives one point to Boise State (from Nuttycombe) and one point to Duke (from Roy Griak).
At-Large Bid #8: Utah State Aggies
While Boise State is still waiting their turn, we will now pick Utah State who has 6 points. They give away one point to Boise State from Nuttycombe.
At-Large Bid #9: Washington Huskies
Boise State is still waiting, but they won't be for much longer. The next two eligible teams with the most points are Washington and Virginia. They both have 3 points.
Technically, Furman and Gonzaga have more points (both have 4), but there are two or more teams ahead of them in their region who have not yet qualified for Nationals. That is why they need to wait to be eligible for national qualification.
Virginia is projected to finish 4th in their region behind Virginia Tech, but Virginia will not qualify for Nationals if we wait for Virginia Tech to be selected. For that reason, we must consider Virginia right now and have them push-in Virginia Tech if the Cavaliers win this tie-breaker with Washington.
We must now decide a tie-breaker between Washington and Virginia. The two teams never faced each other during the regular season, so we have to see who has a higher win percentage against all of the same teams that they faced this season (remember, we haven't factored in conference meets in this Kolas update).
After comparing 15 common opponents, Washington emerges with a slightly better win percentage over Virginia, 60% to 58.8%. Therefore, the Washington men are the next team selected. They give one point to Army, Stony Brook, and Harvard.
At-Large Bid #10: Boise State Broncos
With Washington now into the national meet and Boise State not needing to push anyone in, the Broncos are now selected for the #10 at-large spot. They have a total of 8 points in this stage of the selection process.
Boise State does not give away any points.
At-Large Bid #11: Gonzaga Bulldogs
Now that all of the West region teams who finished ahead of them are into the national meet, Gonzaga can now qualify on their own. They have 4 points after beating Princeton, Georgetown, Syracuse, and Eastern Kentucky at Nuttycombe.
Furman also has 4 points, but they are not yet eligible since Virginia Tech and Virginia are ahead of them in the regional results and neither of those teams have been selected to the national meet yet.
With Gonzaga now qualifying, they give one point to Florida State, Iowa, and Wyoming.
At-Large Bid #12: Florida State Seminoles
The 30th spot overall and the #12 at-large bid is tied between Florida State and Virginia. Both teams have 3 points, so we must go to the tie-breaker scenario.
These two teams have not yet raced each other in this Kolas update, so they will have to go to the common opponents tie-breaker.
Keep in mind that this Kolas update does not factor in any conference meet results because conference meets have not yet been run. Florida State and Virginia will be facing off at ACC's next weekend, so that is an absolutely monumental match-up for both of these teams assuming the regional results match our projections. Whoever comes out ahead of the other at ACC's could cause a complete shift in our Kolas qualifying projections.
When you compare the common opponents of each team, you'll find that Florida State has the edge. Between the 19 common opponents that they have faced so far this season, Florida State has a winning percentage of roughly 61.9% while Virginia has a win rate of 59%. Therefore, the Seminoles qualify for Nationals.
Since there is only one spot left for Nationals, and Virginia is expected to finish 4th in their region behind Virginia Tech (3rd), there is no longer room for Virginia in the national meet since they would have to push Virginia Tech into Nationals if they were to qualify.
In other words, Virginia is now out of the national qualifying picture after losing two tie-breakers by less than 3% each time. Ouch.
This also means that Furman, despite having 4 points, is also out of the equation since they are expected to finish behind Virginia.
At-Large Bid #13: Stony Brook Seawolves
The final spot comes down to three teams. Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, and Stony Brook all have 2 points each. We must now go to a tie-breaker.
Oklahoma State is immediately out of consideration since they lost a head-to-head battle against Virginia Tech at Pre-Nats. This leaves us with a tie-breaker between Virginia Tech and Stony Brook. Since these two teams never raced each other during the season, we must go to a common opponents tie-breaker.
These two teams faced the same eight teams during the regular season, albeit at different meets.
Virginia Tech beat six of those eight teams. Stony Brook beat seven of those eight teams.
The one team that Virginia Tech didn't beat is Washington. Stony Brook beat Washington at Beantown.
That single result from September saved Stony Brook's season and ended Virginia Tech's.
Stony Brook gives one point to Army (who beat them at Beantown) and one point to Penn (who beat them at Paul Short).
First Team Out: Army Black Knights
Army had 2 points before Stony Brook qualified, but because they are expected to finish 4th in their region, they couldn't qualify since there was only one spot left to Nationals and Army would have had to push in Stony Brook in order to earn a spot.
However, since Stony Brook gave Army another point, the Black Knights now have 3 points which is one point more than any other eligible, non-qualified team at this point in the selection process.
Army is the First Team Out of NCAA's.