We’ve entered a new world of rankings when it comes to college tennis.
The Oracle/ITA Team Rankings are using a new starting format this spring where they only publish the top-25, plus those getting votes. After the computer takes over, they will only be publishing the top-50. (source: 2016-2017 ITA Division I Ranking Manual)
Let me take a few minutes to describe what is going to happen when the rankings are published on February 21.
I think we can all assume that the 16 teams at the indoors will acount for 16 teams in the final human-generated Feb 8 (men)/Feb 15 (women) ballots. What is unique here is that the women still have a ballot-based ranking AFTER the Indoors, while the men don’t.
Where it gets interesting is who the other nine teams on each ballot are that make up the rest of the rankings.
Let’s assume about 25 additional teams get votes for those nine places. Right now only 15 teams essentially get those spots. This means that only 41 teams will be mentioned in the final ballot vote. That would mean 25 ranked teams and 16 receiving votes. (My personal guess is that it won’t be that many)
Now the first computer rankings will be based on best 4 wins and all losses. How many teams will have wins over those 41 teams outside those 41? We know 45 teams will win at least one match at the kickoff weekend. But 15 of those will be wins versus teams probably on the outside.
Every win outside of the 41 will be considered an unranked win (4 points). This means that a majority of the rankings will be four win teams over ‘unranked’ teams, likely on the road with the fewest losses or losses against ranked teams.
That’s quite a few teams with 16 to 17.6 points divided by (four plus the loss points). I am guessning we may some not-so-familiar names in those first computer-generated rankings. We definitely would if they published the full 125.
Now, just to clarify things, I am not suggesting this is bad or these rankings stink. I am just saying you should expect the first rankings to continue to look a little different than we are used to seeing. I even suggest this may be more exciting.
The USTA will also be publishing a top-25 that will be a ballot all season long (beginning after the Indoors). For full disclosure, I am voting in that poll.
All-in-all, this should be exciting for college tennis and hopefully more media outlets will pick up on one or more of these polls.
Now let’s get to some tennis!