I don't follow women's soccer all that closely, but I would imagine the NSCAA Coaches would have a decent sense of who the best teams in the country are. Substituting their collective wisdom for my own, it is hard to see how UCLA did not receive a royal hosing with the bracket released yesterday.
The four Number 1 seeds in the 64 team field are Virginia (ranked Number 1 by NSCAA- no quibble there), North Carolina (ranked Number 4 by NSCAA- no quibble there), Florida State (ranked Number 3 by NSCAA- no quibble there), and Virginia Tech (ranked Number 6 by NSCAA- MAJOR QUIBBLE). UCLA, ranked Number 2 by NSCAA was dropped to a 2 seed in North Carolina's region.
Again, having North Carolina as a 1 seed is fine. But UCLA should not need to play through Chapel Hill to reach the College Cup. In terms of comparative scores, UCLA and Virginia Tech both beat Notre Dame, although UCLA's win was in South Bend while Virginia Tech beat Notre Dame twice at home. UCLA and Virginia Tech both lost to North Carolina (this was UCLA's only loss of the season) by 1 goal margins. But again, UCLA's loss was in Chapel Hill, while Virginia Tech lost at home. UCLA beat Duke on the road, while Virginia Tech tied Duke (an unseeded team in the tourney) on the road. There is no logic based on comparative scores for Virginia Tech to receive a 1 seed at UCLA's expense.
To make matters worse, again using NSCAA rankings as the criterion, UCLA faces the hardest challenge in the round of 16, assuming all ranked teams progress as expected. UCLA's opponent in the round of 16 would be South Carolina, which is ranked Number 9 by NSCAA. Combining UCLA's 2 ranking and South Carolina's 9 ranking results in a combined ranking of 11 for this matchup. The next closest match-up would be Virginia Tech 6 and Santa Clara 8, for a combined ranking of 14. There is no other combined ranking in this round which is less than 20. Just for comparison, while the number 2 and 9 teams would be slugging it out, in the same round Number 18 Nebraska and Number 12 Portland would be squaring off. So again, UCLA is hosed by not having a 1 seed, and by having to play the toughest opponent in the round of 16.
And, just to make sure that UCLA would have the hardest road (intentional or not), the NCAA selection committee threw in one more wrinkle. The highest ranked team which did not receive a national seed is Number 10 ranked Stanford. And Stanford was thrown into South Carolina's bracket. So in the round of 32, assuming no 1st round upset, you have the Number 9 team playing the Number 10 team, and UCLA having to play the winner in the round of 16. Compare this to Virginia Tech, which received UCLA's rightful number 1 seed. The other game in Virginia Tech's bracket is Rutgers (received NO votes in the most recent NSCAA rankings) vs. No. 16 ranked West Virginia. So Virginia Tech faces the prospect of playing the Number 16 ranked team or a team with zero votes in the round of 16, while UCLA plays either the Number 9 or Number 10 team in the country in the same round.
I understand that you have to eventually play the top teams in the country to reach and to win the College Cup. I just don't see the equity in playing them in the round of 16 or on the road in the round of 8. So much for a 16-1-2 conference champion. The Bruins have had a fantastic season, one of which they can be truly proud. Let's hope they can cram this seeding right where it belongs.
Go Bruins !!