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Pathways to Division I Team Title

At the 2008 NCAA Championships

Brown Beats Washington by Two Places

Rancho Cordova, June 1, 2008, 11:11 AM

The second requirement for Washington's Division I team championship possibilities has been met by it finishing 2 places behind Brown in the II Eights Grand Final.

Unofficially, after the II Eights races, Brown, with 34 points, leads Washington by two points. If Wasington beats Brown in the I Eights Grand Final, they will earn enough points than Brown to overcome the two team points deficit.

Washington's Four beats Brown

Rancho Cordova, June 1, 2008, 10:30 AM

In last night's blog entry, we laid out how Cal or Washington could challenge Brown for the team championship. The first requirement for Washington's Division I team championship possibilities has been met by it finishing 2 places ahead of Brown in the Fours Grand Final.

Mailbag: Would a team field a stronger second varsity boat?

Rancho Cordova, June 1, 2008, 9:00 AM

A JAMCO viewer asked why some teams “have Varsity boats in the 3rd level finals yet their 2V boats are in the Grand Finals? This oddity challenges logic….”

JAMCO replies: There are several explanations.

First, there are 4 "at large" varsity eights which are good eights that can push team varsity eights lower in the pecking order. Second, some team programs have less depth, e.g., a team may have a very strong varsity eight, but not enough rowers for a strong second varsity eight or a four. A larger team could have a stronger second varsity or four. Finally, the team points system is weighted towards varsity boats, for example a varsity eight placing 9th receives the same number of points as second varsity finishing 7th or a four finishing 1st.

Day 2: Saturday Repechages and Semi-Finals

Rancho Cordova, May 31, 2008, 4:15pm

Virginia Stumbles

As yesterday's entry indicated, there's a long way to go here in Rancho Cordova before the Division I team title is decided, and based on today's racing, it appears that Virginia stumbled out of team championship contention , when it failed to qualify for the Grand Final in the Varsity 8+ event.

California Still Breathing

California's V8+, by taking its first loss of the season, has left some questions about its ability to win that event, which is a "must" if California is to contend for the team Championship. Keep in mind, a California comeback victory in the V8+ with Brown second, together with a Brown victory in the second V8+ with California 3rd, and a 4+ victory by California over Brown by at least 1 place, both outcomes being consistent with their heat times, results in a tie for team points and a California team championship by defeating Brown in the V8+ tie breaker.

Washington V8+ Resuscitates Hope

Washington still has an outside shot at it if (1) it can finish one place better than Brown in the V8+, giving Washington +3 team points over Brown; (2) then finish at least 2 places ahead of Brown in the 4+ (another +2 points); and (3) finish within 2 places of Brown in the second varsity eight (-4 points), giving Washington a 1 point victory over Brown. The problem for Washington comes in finishing within 2 places of Brown in the second varsity race. Brown's heat time was the best in the field by half a second over Ohio State and Washington's heat time ranked 3rd. Then in today's repechages, Washington's winning time in the second repechage heat was slower than California's and Virginia's times in the other repechage heat. So, in the second varsity 8+ Grand Final, either (1) Brown needs to drop into 2nd place behind Ohio State and Washington has to finish ahead of either California or Virginia for 4th place, or (2) Washington has to finish ahead of both California and Virginia and place 3rd, if Brown wins the second varsity race. On top of a stumble by Brown or a comeback performance by Washington in the second varsity eights, Washington still has to move up in the varsity 8+ final to at least one finishing place ahead of Brown, and hold onto its second place ranking behind Virginia in the varsity 4+, with Brown finishing no better than 4th in that event.

Long Odds Against A Brown Collapse

Despite all of the above possibilities, both Cal's and Washington's hopes depend on Brown stumbling in the V8+, and probably in the second V8+, which its crews have shown no inclination to do so far. So, barring some unforeseen catastrophe, it would look like Brown's opportunity to win the Division I Team Championship this year expanded significantly after today's race results.

Day 1: Friday Preliminary Heats

Rancho Cordova, May 30, 2007

Who has a chance to win the NCAA Division I team title? It looks like it’s either Brown, California, Virginia or Washington based on this morning’s heats.

What follows is not conclusive of anything. Two tough days of racing lie ahead before the 2008 NCAA Women’s Rowing team champion will be determined. Still, we can speculate as to which team will win the overall title by assuming the six fastest crews in the Division I 4+ and two eight events all make the grand finals and row the same times they posted in today’s heats.

The starting point of this analysis is to identify six Grand Finalists for each of these three Division I events based on heat times. That table and finishing time and team points earned in each event would look like this:

Fours   II Eight   I Eight
VIR (12 pts) 7:27.07   BRN (24 pts) 6:44.46   BRN (36 pts) 6:23.12
WAS (11) 7:31.66   OHS (22) 6:44.87   CAL (33) 6:23.79
MSU (10) 7:31.83   WAS (20) 6:47.18   VIR (30) 6:24.95
BRN (9) 7:34.28   CAL (18) 6:49.17   YAL (27) 6:25.60
CAL (8) 7:36.21   VIR (16) 6:49.22   STN (24) 6:25.68
YAL (7) 7:43.73   TEN (14)
6:53.30   WAS (21) 6:26.88

Can Cal Overcome Brown?

Based on this table, it appears that Brown, California, Virginia and Washington have good chances to place somewhere among the top four in team points earned under NCAA point tables, based on the foregoing table as follows: Brown 69; California 59; Virginia 58 and Washington 52. A 10-point lead by Brown may seem almost insurmountable, but could evaporate if Brown falters in all of its projected close races, highlighted above. For example, taking the worst case for Brown in all of its projected close contests, i.e. Brown places 2nd and California 1st in the varsity 8+, with Virginia 3rd; Brown is 5th and California 4th in the 4+; and Brown is 2nd and Ohio State 1st in the second varsity; then the point totals would look like this, assuming no changes for Virginia and no change for California in the second varsity events: Brown 63, California 63 and Virginia 58, a tie between Brown and California, with the team title going to California by virtue of its tie-breaker victory in the varsity 8+.

Who's Second If Brown Wins?

However, if Brown does not suffer such adversity in all of those projected close contests, then Brown wins, and the next interesting question is who places second overall, California or Virginia? As it turns out, if Virginia defeats California in either the second varsity or first varsity 8+ races, then Virginia overcomes California for second place in the team standings by 3 or 5 points.

How Virginia Could Take It All

There are other plausible scenarios by which Virginia could win the overall title. To do so, it would either have to win the varsity 8+ and maintain its other places in the above table, with Brown dropping to third (winning by one point), or move up to 4th in the Fours and Brown dropping to 2nd in the varsity 8+ (winning by a tie-breaker).

The Odds for a Washington Comeback

Finally, the last of these four crews with any possibility of winning the overall team title is Washington. To do so, it would have to make up a length on Brown to win the Varsity 8+, or, if Brown slips back to 3rd place, then Washington could still win by one point if it beats Brown and places at least 2nd in that event. Of course, this assumes Washington places 2nd in the 4+ and 3rd in the second varsity eight as per the above table and neither California nor Brown moves up significantly in the 4+ or second varsity 8+.

Complicated, Isn't It?

The point of this analysis is not to predict anything, but rather to underscore the complexities and potential drama that will unfold as these three Grand Finals events are run. The options open to each of these crews will either expand, shrink or disappear altogether as each of these events concludes. Almost no matter what happens early on, there will always be possible finishing orders in remaining contests that may alter the outcome, and a quick reference to the above table and to tomorrow’s results in the varsity 8+ semi-finals and the repechage races for the 4+ and second varsity 8+, may help you determine which of those possibilities are plausible.

Note: Washington State University, with a slightly faster heat time than Tennessee, has been left out of the pro-forma second varsity eight Grand Final because it has the 3rd fastest heat time among the crews in its repechage Saturday, and only two of those crews advance to the Grand Final.

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