2016 Women’s NCAA XC Regionals Preview: Which Teams Will Be Dancing in Terre Haute on November 19?

*What do you think? Vote in the 2016 LetsRun.com Regional Polls.

By LetsRun.com
November 10, 2016

Shortly after 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, the fields for the 2016 NCAA Cross Country Championships will be set. All nine of the NCAA Regional Championships will have concluded by then; all that will remain is for the results to be published and the proper formulas applied to generate the 31 men’s and 31 women’s teams that will head to Terre Haute’s LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course on November 19 for the Big Dance.

We here at LetsRun.com expect to be able to publish the NCAA qualifiers within minutes of the final results being posted thanks to the amazing computer program of former Duke runner and Olympic Trials qualifier (and Harvard Ph.D. candidate) Bo Waggoner. On Friday, we’ll be running the program all day long and updating the fields after each of the regional results come in.

Friday is one of the best days to be a college cross country fan, but it’s also one of the most hectic. To prepare you for all the races, we’ve used Bo’s program to project the qualifiers for NCAAs based on results up to this point and the most recent USTFCCCA Regional Rankings (men here, women here). The women’s projections are below; we have the men’s projections in a separate article: LRC 2016 Men’s NCAA XC Regionals Preview: Find Out Who’s Projected to Qualify for NCAAs, and Why Oregon & Colorado Could Be the Keys.

After projecting the fields, we previewed each region. You can find those previews, including links to live results (where applicable), below. If you want a quick and dirty summary, scroll all the way to the bottom where we’ve outlined the key regions in two sentences.

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If the regionals go according to form, this is who will be in NCAAs.

Automatically selected (projected to finish top-two at Regionals)
1. Michigan
2. Eastern Michigan
3. Penn State
4. Villanova
5. Iowa State
6. Oklahoma State
7. Colorado
8. New Mexico
9. Providence
10. Harvard
11. Mississippi
12. Mississippi State
13. Arkansas
14. SMU
15. NC State
16. William & Mary
17. Washington
18. Stanford

At-large teams
19. Portland
20. Oregon
21. San Francisco
22. Baylor
23. Utah
24. BYU
25. Yale
26. Notre Dame
27. Michigan State
28. California
29. UCLA
30. Penn
31. West Virginia

*Check out this article for the logic behind why each team was selected: *LRC  2016 NCAA Women’s Regional Projections Assuming Everything Goes According To Form

Total bids by region
7: West
4: Mountain, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic
3: South Central, Northeast
2: South, Southeast, Midwest

Ranked Team That Will Be Left Out
No. 26 Minnesota (Minnesota would be the first team out according to our projections)
No. 29 Air Force

Unranked Teams That Would Be Dancing
UCLA (#31 in votes)
William & Mary (#33 in votes)
Mississippi State (#34 in votes)

Below, you’ll find analysis of all nine regions. There’s a quick cheat sheet of the teams/regions to watch for at the bottom of the article.

# = team is projected to qualify for NCAAs

South Regional
Live results *
Official site
Apalachee Regional Park, Tallahassee, Florida
Start times: 8:30 a.m. ET (women); 9:30 a.m. ET (men)

USTFCCCA Regional Rankings

  1. No. 14 Ole Miss #
  2. Mississippi State #
  3. Vanderbilt
  4. Alabama
  5. Lipscomb
  6. Florida
  7. Memphis

Five of the top six teams in this region raced each other at SECs two weeks ago, and the results are reflected in these rankings: Ole Miss was 2nd with 76 points, followed by Mississippi State (4th, 138), Vanderbilt (5th, 170) and Florida (8th, 185). Ole Miss has never made it to NCAAs but the Rebels would need a massive blowup to miss out this year; thanks to points accrued at Penn State and Notre Dame, they could qualify even if they finish fourth. All of the other teams will need to finish top-two as no one else has enough points to go on their own.

Southeast Regional
Live results * Official site
Panorama Farms, Earlysville, Virginia
Start times: 11 a.m. ET (women); 12 p.m. ET (men)

USTFCCCA Regional Rankings

  1. No. 2 NC State #
  2. William & Mary #
  3. Kentucky
  4. Eastern Kentucky
  5. Virginia Tech
  6. Furman
  7. Louisville

The situation here is very similar to the one in the South. NC State is a lock after racking up a ton of points at Notre Dame (2nd), Wisconsin (2nd) and ACCs (1st), but none of the other teams have enough points to get in on their own. That means that William & Mary, Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky will all have to finish second or they’ll be watching from home. For Kentucky, it would be their first NCAA bid since 2008; for Eastern Kentucky, it would be their first NCAA bid ever.

Northeast Regional
Official site
Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, New York
Start times: 11 a.m. ET (women); 12 p.m. ET (men)

Providence repeated at Big Easts two weeks ago and will return to VCP on Friday in search of their 5th straight NCAA appearance (courtesy ProvidenceXC | Track) Providence repeated at Big Easts two weeks ago and will return to VCP on Friday in search of their 5th straight NCAA appearance (courtesy ProvidenceXC | Track)

USTFCCCA Regional Rankings

  1. No. 3 Providence #
  2. No. 18 Harvard #
  3. No. 23 Yale #
  4. Syracuse
  5. Brown
  6. Cornell
  7. Dartmouth

Providence is a lock, and both Harvard and Yale (looking to end a 14-year NCAA drought) should go. Yale gets in relatively comfortably under the current projection (at #25), but if Heps champion Harvard were to flip-flop with Yale at regionals and finish 3rd, the Crimson would be one of the final teams in, putting them in danger if there are upsets in other regions. The other schools in this region will have to rely on an upset to get in, ideally having Yale finish 4th (as they will have more points than Harvard). Yale (69 points) smacked Brown (105), Cornell (133) and Dartmouth (142) at Heps (and beat all three at Paul Short as well) and finished well ahead of Syracuse at Wisconsin (335 to 454), however, so it would take a sizable upset for the Northeast to send four teams.

South Central Regional
Live results * Official site
Agri Park, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Start times: 12 p.m. ET (women); 1 p.m. ET (men) 

Arkansas made it courtesy Razorback XC/TF) Arkansas made it 4 straight SEC titles on Oct. 28; they will go for their 6th straight regional title on Friday (courtesy Razorback XC/TF)

USTFCCCA Regional Rankings

  1. No. 7 Arkansas #
  2. No. 29 SMU #
  3. No. 25 Baylor #
  4. Rice
  5. Texas
  6. Stephen F. Austin
  7. TCU

Arkansas should make it, as usual, and right now the region is projected to send three teams as Baylor was 5th at Wisconsin. But why is Baylor, which destroyed SMU at Wisconsin (228-388), ranked behind the Mustangs in the region? Because Baylor bombed at Big 12s and finished 5th while SMU won the American Conference. We think it’s very likely that Baylor beats SMU at regionals, however, as Peyton Thomas (29th at Wisco) went down at Big 12s, leaving Baylor shorthanded. If she’s back for regionals, Baylor likely auto-qualifies, which leaves SMU out in the cold (as SMU doesn’t have enough points for an at-large bid). One team rooting hard for Baylor is Georgetown: if the Bears get in automatically, that frees up an at-large spot (SMU’s spot), and Georgetown would be the next team in (Minnesota is the first team out in our current projection, but since one of its points comes from SMU, Georgetown would leapfrog Minnesota).

Mid-Atlantic Regional
Official site
Penn State Blue and White Courses, University Park, Pennsylvania
Start times: 12 p.m. ET (women); 1 p.m. ET (men)

USTFCCCA Regional Rankings

  1. No. 9 Penn State #
  2. No. 21 Villanova #
  3. No. 24 Penn #
  4. No. 27 West Virginia #
  5. Georgetown
  6. Bucknell
  7. Princeton

Welcome to the bubble region. Penn State is the clear top dog here and should auto-qualify, but the battle for 2nd-3rd-4th will be intense. Villanova, Penn, West Virginia and Georgetown all have paths to at-large bids but they’re all projected to be among the last teams in should they make the Big Dance. The region could send five teams if Baylor beats SMU (as we expect) but if there are upsets elsewhere, the Mid-Atlantic could only send two. That makes this race one of the most important of the day.

Midwest Regional
Live resultsOfficial site
Ashton Cross Country Course, Iowa City, Iowa
Start times: 12 p.m. ET (women); 1 p.m. ET (men)

USTFCCCA Regional Rankings

  1. No. 12 Iowa State #
  2. No. 17 Oklahoma State #
  3. No. 26 Minnesota
  4. Missouri
  5. Tulsa
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Kansas

Iowa State, which is coming off a win over Oklahoma State at Big 12s, is the favorite here and should advance as long is it finishes in the top four. The other squads will need to finish in the top two, however, or risk missing out entirely. OSU, 7th at NCAAs last year, is a good team, undoubtedly among the top 31 in the country, but the Cowgirls sat out Wisconsin and Pre-Nats, and ran at Penn State instead, where fewer points were on offer. That could come back to bite them as our system has OSU missing out if it finishes third on Friday. Minnesota is in a similar position. The Gophers are currently our first team out, so to make it to Terre Haute, they’ll either need to finish top two or receive help elsewhere.

Great Lakes Regional
Live results * Official site
Zimmer Championship Course, Madison, Wisconsin
Start times: 1 p.m. ET (women); 2 p.m. ET (men)

Michigan claimed the Big 10 title on October 30 courtesy Michgan Womens Track Michigan claimed the Big 10 title on October 30 (courtesy Michigan Women’s Track and Field)

USTFCCCA Regional Rankings

  1. No. 5 Michigan #
  2. No. 13 Eastern Michigan #
  3. No. 14 Notre Dame #
  4. No. 22 Michigan State #
  5. Ohio State
  6. Butler
  7. Wisconsin

The top four teams — Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Notre Dame and Michigan State — are all well-stocked with points, which means that all of them should get in as long as they finish in the top five. Ohio State (5th Big 10s), Butler (4th Big Easts) and Wisconsin (6th Big 10s) will all be hoping one of those teams slips up and falls to fifth place so that they can get pushed in.

Mountain Regional
Official site
Steve & Dona Reeder Cross Country Course, Logan, Utah
Start times: 1 p.m. ET (women); 2 p.m. ET (men) 

USTFCCCA Regional Rankings

  1. No. 1 Colorado #
  2. No. 6 New Mexico #
  3. No. 20 Utah #
  4. No. 18 BYU #
  5. No. 29 Air Force
  6. Colorado State
  7. Northern Arizona

Same story as in the region above. The top four teams (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and BYU) all have a ton of points and should have no problem getting in as long as they’re top five on Friday. Air Force, meanwhile, needs to beat one of those schools as the Falcons don’t have any points. There’s definitely a chance that that happens, however, as Air Force is coming off its best race of the season, losing to No. 6 New Mexico by just 11 points (42-53) at the Mountain West meet. If the Falcons can produce a similar performance on Friday, they have a good chance to knock off Utah or BYU and go dancing for the first time in program history.

West Regional
Live results * Official site
Haggin Oaks Golf Course, Sacramento, California
Start times: 2 p.m. ET (women); 3 p.m. ET (men)

USTFCCCA Regional Rankings

  1. No. 4 Washington #
  2. No. 7 Stanford #
  3. No. 10 Portland #
  4. No. 11 Oregon #
  5. No. 16 San Francisco #
  6. No. 27 California #
  7. UCLA #
  8. Cal Poly
  9. Boise State

Right now, this region is projected to send seven teams, but that could easily expand to eight should Boise State defeat Cal Poly. It could also shrink, however, if Stanford finishes outside the top two. Stanford has points (it beat Eastern Michigan and Mississippi State at Pre-Nats and Oregon and Utah at Pac-12s) but not enough to get in as one of the first few at-large teams, especially if it finishes ahead of Oregon at regionals. We can’t say for sure how many bubble teams would get in if Stanford doesn’t auto-qualify (it depends on the interpretation of certain tiebreakers), but the general point is that it’s better for teams in the West if Stanford finishes in the top two and better for bubble teams in other regions — Georgetown, Minnesota — if Stanford finishes outside the top two.

The order of finish here is going to be very important as many of the teams have lots of points but could be blocked by teams without them. Stanford has enough to get in on its own, but California and Cal Poly would need to be pushed in. Boise State, on the other hand, picked up several points by finishing 4th at Roy Griak but may not get to use them if they’re blocked by Cal Poly. Remember, the push can only be used once per region. So if California is pushed in by UCLA, then Cal Poly would permanently block Boise State. How the West unfolds will have huge implications on the at-large picture.

Also worth noting: Portland, which is close to a lock, has never made it to NCAAs on the women’s side.

Pay Attention To …

If you read the whole preview, you know which schools/regions to look out for, but we’ll recap them quickly here.

  • Northeast: Providence, Harvard and Yale should all go. If another team manages to beat one of those three, they’ll likely be pushed in.
  • South Central: Arkansas should breeze through. If SMU beats Baylor, the region should send three teams; if Baylor beats SMU, likely just two.
  • Mid-Atlantic: Penn State will go. The rest of the contenders — Villanova, Penn, West Virginia and Georgetown — are all on the bubble. How many qualify depends on results in other regions.
  • Midwest: Iowa State can finish third and still go. Oklahoma State and Minnesota need to finish top-two to be sure.
  • Great Lakes: For the region to send five teams, someone needs to beat Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Notre Dame or Michigan State.
  • Mountain: For Air Force to make its first NCAA appearance, it needs to beat Colorado, New Mexico, Utah or BYU.
  • West: A crazy region that could see as many as eight teams make it. California and Cal Poly don’t have points so will need to beat a school such as San Francisco, UCLA or Boise State to get in. If Stanford auto-qualifies, that means more teams from the West. If Stanford is third or lower, that means fewer teams from the West (and hence, more from other regions).

What do you think? Vote in the 2016 LetsRun.com Regional Polls. We’ll compile the votes and then run the computer program to see who gets in and who is left home after the fans’ vote.

LRC Who’s In? Who’s Out? 2016 NCAA Women’s Regional Projections Assuming Everything Goes According To Form

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