Sunday, October 01, 2006

format question

An irate reader asks, yet again:
Can you ask some UPA type this question: "What other sport uses the UPAs 16.3.1
format?" know, the one in which you have to beat everyone twice. I all
tried to convince them it was idiotic and failed. Format switches from
double to triple elimination, is designed to have repeat games, even on the same
day, and it simply silly. I understand the point -it protects from a specific
instance of bad seeding - but it is solving a problem that likely doesn't exist.

I will field this one.

The UPA is at the cutting edge of tournament
formatting. Some tournaments do have losers' brackets
but those are for sports where underdogs have a
fighting chance in any game and the format is designed
to pick a winner, not to sort out places 2-N.
Generally, few other sports care about picking
non-winners, simply calling the finals loser the 2nd
place team, the semis losers joint 3-4, etc., and if
they have a need to pick only 3, say, they will
declare the team that lost to the eventual winner to
be the 3rd place team. In a case like that, since the
semis are generally 1-4 and 2-3, the 4th seed would be
the most likely one to finish 3rd.

Now, onto the 16.3.1 format, the modified triple-elim
to pick three teams. Yeah, it's screwy, since the
most likely scenario is that 3 beats 4 in the backdoor
"final", loses to 2 in the 2nd place game while 4
beats 5 again (which had just beat 6), then 3 plays 4
again for 3rd. But, you know, it's easy to come up
with scenarios where N did not play N+1 and just
happened to lose to the same teams in a slightly
different order because of the seeding (which might
even be a fair seeding).

And it's always to a team's advantage to win a round,
even if the most likely scenario is that they'll lose
next round and have a rematch.

The problem, of course, is that the format thinks that
if A beats B once, it will always beat B, when that
doesn't happen all the time, and people are
uncomfortable when B beats A in the rematch, and angry
when A beats B for a second time in three rounds.

How's that?
And he irately responded:

A format that expects rematches is a bad one. I think what happened at
college regionals a few years back is a good example. Basically a bunch of
teams played each other twice and they all split. Umass lost to brown by a
point in the finals, a guy broke his leg, then went on to lose 2 more games
and be knocked out. More interesting, I think Dartmouth lost to Harvard ten
beat Harvard, same with Dartmouth Williams or something, certainly with
Dartmouth umass. It leaves a very bad taste to have to play a team twice, as a
matter of course, not some screwy 15 beats 2 scenario, and have them split,
and make the winner of the 2nd game the victor. If you want teams to play
multiple times, make it 3 and have it be a best of 3. the way it sits,
there will be multiple rematches, and likely multiple splits. I realize we
are unique in having to pick seeds 1-3 and not just 1-2, but there is a
limit to "fairness", especially when it introduces more "unfairness".

Bunch of tree-hugging wussie liberals, if you lose you don't get a
rematch just bc its nice.


Jeremy Redburn said...

The one problem I have with the format is that it's possible for team A to beat team B 2 out of 3 teams and have A finish 4th and B finish 3rd. I apologize if this has changed since I last looked at the format, but this almost came up at New England 2003 college regionals.

Harvard was seeded 4th and Williams 5th. In the 2nd round, Williams beat Harvard. Williams then lost to Brown in the semis while Harvard played up through the loser's bracket. They met again Sunday morning in the game to play the finals loser. Williams won again.

If Williams had lost their game against UMass and if Harvard had beaten Dartmouth, Williams and Harvard would have played for a 3rd time on the weekend for the final bid to nationals.

If we (Williams) had played that game and lost, it would have been a very tough pill to swallow.


charlie cheever said...

Yeah. We (Harvard) thought about that as well. I think it is worth noting that the situation you describe didn't end up coming to pass though, since Williams took advantage of the opportunity to win 2nd place by beating UMass--an opportunity earned by beating us.

Something that did happen that year was that we (Harvard) were something like 5-0 on the season vs. Dartmouth, beat them something like 15-7 on Sunday morning, and then had to play them again later in the day, and ended up losing on double game point, and they ended up going to Nationals--beating a UMass team that had lost a very close game in the finals to Brown and then lost another game-to-go to Williams.

Losing that rematch was really disappointing for us, and I can only imagine how disappointing that was for UMass.

I don't really blame the format for those outcomes though since the format was well-known going in.

And I don't like the idea of rematches not being played out and just handed to the original winner because the consequences of that are that all kinds of games then become meaningless, and I think the format becomes very weak.

Tarr said...

Jeremy -

This is not the case - if a team is 2-0 against their opponent coming into the last round, then they don't have to play them. I'm not %100 positive this was the case in 2003, but I'm pretty sure it was.

I've addressed this particular format many times (on and over e-mail) and I don't really care to do it in detail again. Suffice to say, we now have a pool-play version of 16/3 that is much less likely to produce rematches on Sunday. It has its own potential problems, but if you really hate rematches, then an alternative exists.

jtflynn said...

I believe the only cases where you don't have to play out games in the case of rematches are if they are seeding games and if both teams agree to accept the earlier outcome. This was the option presented at '00 NW regionals when Bonzi (Portland, OR) beat Furious in the 2/3 seeding game. Furious had no interest in playing the game, and we could have just taken the 3 seed and headed to Florida. Instead, we upset them and were rewarded with a 4 seed in Sarasota. The #5? Yes, FG.

Short story long,

Tarr said...

Jeff et al,

Look at page 2 of the current format manual, under "Placement Games (Required or Not?)". There are two cases, and y'all appear to only be familliar with the first.

Anonymous said...

On a similar note...this sectionals our team (Haymaker) beat an opponent Sunday AM in semi's to go to finals. We lost in finals and had to re-play that same team again in the back-door 'game to go' (our section only had 2 bids). In that game we lost. I guess it just seems to negate the value of winning that semi-finals game if you have to bea them again.


parinella said...


The official response to this would be that the format needs to be independent of which teams are playing. In your case, had you won the finals (or had the team you beat lost their game), then the 2/3 game would not have been a rematch, and most here agree that that game has to be played to determine 2nd place (although few other sports play that game, but few other sports care that much about who is in 2nd). So, the 2/3 game has to happen (so goes the thinking) because of the very real possibility of this rematch.

At 2002 NE Regionals, this game _was_ conditional (in this case, it was for the 3rd and final spot to Nats). DoG beat Hogg in the 1/2 game. NY beat Goat in the first 3/4 game. NY then plays Hogg while Goat plays Zebra Muscles, which had just won another backdoor game. NY loses and Goat wins, and the tournament ends because that game would have been an immediate rematch. Had Hogg lost, Hogg and Goat would have played for the 3rd spot.

An additional odd point about this was that NY was already assured of a place at Nationals while Hogg (which beat NY the day before) could still get knocked out by losing two in a row. NY had beaten both Goat and Zebra that day already.

Tarr said...

JP wrote, "An additional odd point about this was that NY was already assured of a place at Nationals while Hogg (which beat NY the day before) could still get knocked out by losing two in a row. NY had beaten both Goat and Zebra that day already."

Josh, read that carefully. You said that the backdoor game seems to negate the benefit of winning semifinals. (Of course, you do avoid an elimination game, but I understand what your point is).

The 2002 situation is the alternative, where Boss Hogg was, effectively, screwed by winning semifinals. If they had lost to NY in semifinals, then they would be the ones playing for seeding at nationals in stead of still playing to get there. Deciding to not play rematches does NOT save you from the so-called "poison pill win".