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Team State Qualification FAQs: Topic #3, Controlling for Sectional and Regional Difficulty


Just after Team State and during the Team State qualification process (during the individual state series), I am asked many, many questions "behind the scenes" by coaches and parents that want to understand the process better.  While the event is fresh in people's minds, I want to post a series of "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)" topics with basic descriptions of the qualification process.


Topic #3: Controlling for Sectional and Regional Difficulty


Q: Why is it necessary to consider sectional and regional difficulty in the Team State scoring process?


--There is a vast difference in the quality and depth of various sectionals and regionals.  For example, one sectional had only 5 wrestlers per weight class, on average, while several others had nearly double that number.  Another example: the 7th best wrestler from a sectional with all large schools had an average record of 17-11, while the average 4th place wrestler's record from a sectional of all small schools was 13-15. Simply assigning regional qualifier or semi-state qualifier points without considering these enormous differences would greatly skew teams' scores away from their true quality in many instances.


Q: In what way are sectional and regional quality levels measured?


--Because we want to assign points according to advancement to regional and semi-state, we must determine how difficult it is to advance out of sectionals and regionals.  This means we cannot simply consider which tournament sites have the most semi-state or state qualifiers, as this has little bearing on how "crowded" or difficult it is to advance.  For example, one sectional with 4 traditionally strong large schools with numerous state qualifiers every year had only 5.3 wrestlers per weight class last year because the other 4 schools had very low participation.  If we only consider our first impression of the tournament site's quality based on how many strong top-level individuals there are, we might miss the fact that it is very, very easy to place at least 4th and earn regional qualification.  We must use other methods to figure out advancement difficulty levels.


Q: How can we know how difficult it is to advance from a particular sectional or regional?


--We can look at the Genius ratings of all schools for the last several years and consider how many regional qualifiers and semi-state qualifiers they got while "controlling" mathematically for their sectional and regional path.  Using all of these factors simultaneously, we can project very, very accurately how many regional or semi-state qualifiers teams of any given Genius rating "deserves" if they were in an average level tournament path.  If we then add together how many regional and semi-state qualifiers the teams of each sectional and regional should have, we can know how difficult each tournament site is to advance from.


Q: What are Genius ratings?


--Genius ratings are computer ratings that use the system on which all major sports' "true talent" or "true ability" ratings systems are based.  All Las Vegas lines for particular games, for example, use the score-based ratings system that we use to compile the Genius ratings.  The ratings include all scores for all dual meets and tournaments in the IndianaMat database for the entire season.  They are very accurate, very predictive ratings over the long term.


Q: Once we know how many regional and semi-state qualifiers each tournament site "deserves", how do we specifically control for their various difficulty levels?


--Using our "deserved" regional or semi-state qualifier totals, we assign a "Category" level to each tournament that corresponds with a "quota" of advancers per weight class that are assigned to that tournament.  For example, a sectional that deserves 4 regional qualifiers per weight class is a Category 4 sectional. A regional that deserves 5 semi-state qualifiers per weight class is a Category 5 regional.  We then award regional qualifier points or semi-state qualifier points based on each site's Category quota (between 2 and 6 per weight class per site).  


Q: How can we award regional qualifier or semi-state qualifier points to 5 or 6 guys when only 4 really advanced?


--For sectionals, a Category 5 or Category 6 site's individuals receive regional qualifier points for placing 5th or 6th place.  For Category 5 or Category 6 regionals, we use tiebreaker criteria to award 5th and 6th place to individuals who are then awarded semi-state qualifier points despite not advancing in real-life.


Q: When are the Categories assigned for sectional and regional tournament sites?


--They will be announced each season during the last week or two before sectionals. This year, they will be announced Thursday or Friday before sectional as part of the Team State qualification procedures document that is always posted to the IHSWCA website.


Q: What about the "multiplier" that I heard about that controls for sectional and regional difficulty?


--The multiplier no longer exists  It was a little bit less accurate and more difficult for tracking your own team's score.


Q: Why does my sectional have the same (or lower) category than the sectional we face at regional when we had just as many semi-state qualifiers as them when our regional qualifiers faced each other face to face?


--Your sectional, despite having just as many (or more) strong top-end individuals, was not deeper than the other sectional at the 4th, 5th and 6th spots at your sectionals.  In other words, your sectional was not harder to get out of even though your best individuals are just as good or better than the other sectional.

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