College Squash Team Preseason Rankings – How Accurate?
By David Keating

photo Squash Magazine

December 14, 2016 - How good are college squash coaches at assessing other teams? Until now, no one had any idea. But thanks to a ranking method that started last year, we can take a look.

According to the College Squash Association, teams are ranked as follows:

                For team rankings, the season will have three phases:

                    * The preseason team rankings will be determined by a poll of varsity coaches;

                    * After the preseason rankings are published, the men’s and women’s ranking chairs and the Executive Administrator will rank the teams;

                    * Beginning with the ranking cycle that includes January 25th, a computerized ranking system will be enabled.

The only ranking method that really counts is the third. That one decides the placement and seeding of each team in the various divisions at the College National Team Championships. The computer ranking ignores the first two ranking phases and counts all matches.

Still, it’s interesting to compare the preseason rankings to the final season results.

One trend is clear – the women were a lot more predictable than the men. Some might say the women’s coaches were better than the men’s coaches at assessing team strength.  But I think the answer is pretty obvious. Thanks to unprecedented depth on men’s teams, there were many upsets last year. That in turn produced a final ranking that was considerably different than one in the preseason college poll ranking. 

The final rankings for the men’s teams were off by an average of 2.41 spots compared to the initial ranking based on a poll of coaches.  For women, the difference was just 1.29 spots. Among teams in the top eight, the variance was 2.875 ranking spots for men, and just 0.875 for women. No men’s team wound up in its predicted spot in the top division, while three of the women’s teams had final rankings equal to the prediction in the preseason poll.

Here’s a look at the final top 25 teams among men and women:

Note: only varsity teams are ranked in the preseason polls. Virginia fields club teams for men and women.