Division III Women’s Tournament Explained

The NCAA Division III Women’s tournament has recently drawn criticism and fire due to the non-inclusion of Wisconsin-Stevens Point as one of the teams playing for the championship.

While unfortunate, the selection committee had a tough decision to make based on the rules that they were given.

According to the NCAA Division III Women’s Championship Handbook:

Pool A will be compromised of the team champions from each conference that meets the requirements for automatic qualification.

Pool B will comprise of independent institutions and institutions that are members of conferences that do not meet the requirements for automatic

Pool C will be reserved for institutions from automatic qualifying conferences that are not their conference champion.

Berths from Pool B and C will be selected on a national basis, using regional selection criteria. There will be no predetermined regional allocations for Pools B and C.

Pools B and C will not be combined.

There will be no maximum or minimum number of berths from one region.

For the 2002 championship, no conference will receive more than one automatic berth.

2002 berths:
Pool A= 3 institutions
Pool B= 1 institution
Pool C= 2 institution

Pool A conferences this past season were: ECAC East, NESCAC and MIAC

This means that five of the six berths were coming from those three conferences, and one team, the Pool B selection, would come from all of the other conferences.

The NCHA and ECAC West fell into the selection criteria as Pool B teams.

When the selections were announced, the selections went as follows:

Pool A: Manhattanville, Bowdoin and St. Mary’s
Pool B: Elmira
Pool C: Gustavus Adolphus and Middlebury

Note that this was according to the criteria laid out. Pool A were the automatic qualifiers due to winning the conference tournament. Pool B was a team that was not a member of an automatic qualifying conference. Pool C teams
were both members of automatic qualifying conferences that did not win the automatic berth.

Pool A is pretty clear. Pool C was also pretty clear, the two teams selected were the best of the remaining teams in the three qualifying conferences according to PWR and RPI.

Therefore, the source of the controversy lies in Pool B where Elmira was selected ahead of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

If one did a head-to-head comparison of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Elmira, what would one see?

Once again, from the NCAA Division III Women’s Championship Handbook:

The committee will select three at-large teams based on conference and regional competition using the following primary selection criteria (in priority order):

1. Winning percentage, head to head results and results against common opponents;

2. Strength of schedule as determined by opponent’s winning percentage,


3. Results against teams already in the tournament.

Let’s take a look at a comparison:

Winning percentage: Elmira – 94.2%, Wisc.-SP – 96.3%
Head To Head: None
Results Against Common Opponents: No games played
Opponents Winning Percentage: Elmira – 55.01%, Wisc,-SP – 51.61%
Results Against Teams In Tournament: Elmira – 1-0 (over Manhattanville), Wisc.-SP – 2-0 (over St. Mary’s and Gustavus Adolphus)

It’s a tough call. Break it down even further and let’s use the PWR.

Elmira is first in the PWR, Wisconsin-Stevens Point second. But what about the
individual comparison?

           Elmira       vs     Wis.-Stevens Point
RPI 0.6790 1 0.6735 0
L16 15- 0- 1 1 15- 1- 0 0
TUC 10- 1- 1 0 12- 1- 0 1
H2H 0 0
COP 0- 0- 0 0 0- 0- 0 0
PTS 2 1

Elmira wins the comparison.

Is this how Elmira got chosen? No one but the committee really knows.

But the bottom line is it was a tough choice, but as one can make the case as to why Wisconsin-Stevens Point should have been in the tournament, you can also make the case that Elmira should have been in the tournament for the same reasons.

This isn’t meant to justify Elmira getting into the tournament, or Wisconsin-Stevens Point being left out of the tournament. This is just a thought process.