2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament Selection Thoughts: It’s Anybody’s Guess!

This is what undefeated looks like in the East! Harvard celebrates a perfect season (so far). Photo Courtesy: M. Randazzo

Following another day of close matches — and a couple of surprise outcomes — the bracket for the 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament is almost complete. Following are the conference winners:Golden Coast Conference: Pepperdine (24-7; on a seven-match winning streak) captures the title and NCAA automatic qualifier with a 14-12 victory over #4 seed and defending champion Long Beach State

Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference: Bucknell (22-8; second MAWPC title in four years) captures the title and NCAA automatic qualifier with a 9-4 win over #2 seed and defending champion George Washington.

Mountain Pacific Sports Federation: Stanford (19-2; back-to-back MPSF titles) captures the title and NCAA automatic qualifier with a 17-11 win over #4 seed Cal.

Northeast Water Polo Conference: Harvard (29-0; first perfect season in Eastern water polo history) captures the title and NCAA automatic qualifier with an 8-7 win over #2 seed Princeton.

Western Water Polo Association: UC Davis (16-7; nine-match winning streak) captures the title and NCAA automatic qualifier with a 14-5 win over #2 seed and defending champion UC San Diego.

Because the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference gave up it’s NCAA automatic qualifier, there are only two more spots; both are at-large bids. Swimming World’s Bill Cohn breaks the criteria the NCAA will uses to decide which teams will be awarded those spots. One other criteria in considering the seeding of teams: even though geographic considerations take precedence, in the case of Harvard, they are the country’s only undefeated team and may be seeded higher than a play-in game.

The bracket for the 2019 NCAA Men’s tournament will be released after midnight (EST) and can be found here.

The NCAA selection criteria are as follows:

• Won-lost record
• Strength of schedule
• Availability of athletes 

Then there are these primary criteria (in no priority order):

• Head to head
• Results vs common opponents
• Last 10 games record
Overall  Last 10 Common opponents
Stanford 18-2 8-1 UCLA 3-0, USC 0-1, Pacific 2-0, CAL 1-0
Pacific 16-5 6-4 Stan 0-2, UCLA 0-2, Cal 1-0, USC 2-0
UCLA 17-5 7-3 Stan 0-3, USC 0-2, Pacific 2-0, CAL 2-0
USC 14-5 7-3 Pacific 0-2, UCLA 1-0, Stanford 1-0, CAL 2-1
UCSB 21-7 6-4 UCLA 0-2, USC 1-1, Stanford 1-0, Pacific 1-2, Pepp 3-2

This is a developing story and will be updated


  1. avatar
    Doug Senz

    Who profreads this ( SCIAC gave up it’s NCAA qualifier)

    • avatar
      Michael Randazzo

      Good morning:

      If you look carefully, we did mention that the SCIAC gave up it’s NCAA qualifier (and have mentioned this repeatedly in our coverage this season).

      More to the point, how is it that Pacific loses TWICE in their tournament and still goes to NCAAs while UCLA — who beat them twice — does not.

      Much more on this…

      Your correspondent

      • avatar

        You can play the “who beat who” game all day for the at-large bid. Everyone has beaten everyone else among the top 5-6 teams. It basically comes down to season record (losses).

      • avatar
        Michael Randazzo


        So my response is: “Yes, no, I don’t know.” Yes, I agree that you can play that “who beat who” game (and drive yourself mad – though I though Bill Cohn did a good job laying it out). No, that it’s clearly NOT a game for UCLA (though of course they lost TWICE this weekend; one win gets them into the tournament).

        I don’t know (exactly) how Pacific gets the #2 seed given that they were the nation’s #4 team and they lost to UCLA twice – though if you accept that USC is the other at-large choice, the fact that the Tigers beat the Trojans twice makes it clear that they should be ahead of them. BUT what about Pepperdine (which brings me back to: I don’t know!)

        And you; do you think this bracket makes sense (especially given that Harvard, which is undefeated, draws the defending national champs…!)?!

        Your correspondent

  2. avatar
    Dante Dettamanti

    The first three criteria are “primary” criteria used for selection. The last three criteria are used only if the first three criteria are equal among teams.

    • avatar
      Michael Randazzo


      Sorry to be out of touch! It’s been a wacky season, so I’ve looked to bring in some more knowledgeable folks – Bill Cohn and Steven Munatones – to cover all that’s happening. Though, SOMETIMES I don’t listen; Bill had specified that there were TWO levels of selection criteria and I changed it because the formatting was wrong (and maybe b/c the NCAA is a vast conspiracy to me!). I just fixed it (as you pointed out…).

      More to the point; do you agree with the seeding? Your beloved Cardinal got the top spot BUT are the Tigers worthy of the #2 seed – especially after losing TWICE in their conference tourney?

      Your correspondent

  3. avatar

    UOP went undefeated in head to head GCC play. There was a day when winning the then PCAA head to head match-ups meant as much as winning the tournament at the end. Conference games are a major test–one day, one team, time to prepare. Yes, they played poorly this weekend but are the only GCC team to beat every single conference opponent. No other GCC team has a competing argument for an at large NCAA bid.

  4. avatar
    Dante Dettamanti

    Yes, UOP deserves the 2nd seed, as they have a 2-0 record against USC. That being said, USC should be seeded third 3rd ahead of Pepperdine because Pepperdine had 7 losses and USC had only 5 losses during the season. Since overall record (losses) is a primary criteria, USC has two fewer losses. The game between them, which Pepperdine won, should not be considered, as it is a secondary criteria. Stanford as the number one seed should be playing Pepperdine in the semi-finals, and not USC.

  5. avatar
    Dante Dettamanti

    By the way, USC and UOP both had 5 season losses, while Pepperdine and Santa Barbara had 7 losses. Pepperdine qualified because they won their league tournament; but that doesn’t guarantee a number 3 seed.

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