NAQT State Open MS Stats

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NAQT State Open MS Stats

Postby crbirdx1 » Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:34 am

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Re: NAQT State Open MS Stats

Postby Djones » Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:42 am

So I have a question about how the Middle School playoffs were run. Obviously someone reading the wrong round threw any plans you had into chaos, but my MS coaches and players were really confused by the final standings.

After 5 rounds, there were clearly three 5-0 teams and three 4-1 teams. Those three 5-0 teams were far and away better than the rest of the field. Using any metric that could have been used (PPG, PPB, powers), Northmont MS was the 4 seed. My kids were told that it was a page playoff and we started with Solon, who was one of the three undefeated teams. This left the other two 4-1 teams to play each other. When we lost to Solon, we were told we were eliminated in T-5th place, without ever having played either team lower than us, one of whom won the game between the lower seeded teams and finished 4th.

I'm just curious as to the structure of that playoff system. While I know that you guys were likely trying to find something on the fly after the packet issue, it doesn't seem to make sense to me how it was structured. It would seem to make sense to have Solon play the 6 seed and the 4 and 5 seeds play each other unless there is something that I'm not seeing.

Just to be clear, this isn't a complaint as our MS team was in no way going to play for the championship, I just wanted to see what the thought process was on the way it was laid out. Thanks!!
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Re: NAQT State Open MS Stats

Postby trbenedict » Thu Apr 18, 2019 2:43 pm

Jumping off of David's post, I have some thoughts to raise as well about the playoff format (which I freely own that MVS benefited from).

1. As written in the tournament announcement, the goal of this year's playoff system was originally that a team wouldn't be eliminated with one loss, which is objectively ideal and helps address issues with the tournament finals last year. However, once one round was read out of order, leaving only 9 packets, the ability to ensure that one loss wouldn't doom a team went away. The question then becomes how to most fairly eliminate a one-loss team.

2. Based on what I understood at the tournament site, the top two teams in each division remained in championship contention: Copley A, MVS, Solon, Northmont A, Copley B, and Heights. MVS and Copley A, the top two seeds, played each other for a fast-track to the finals. Meanwhile, Solon played Northmont, and I'm assuming Copley B played Heights, in what were elimination games (with the fast-track 1 v. 2 matchup and the other elimination matchups, this looks like a Page playoff but with six teams, or maybe like a modified form of the OAC Regionals bracket). Northmont and Heights ended up going home with 4-2 records, and MVS lost to Copley A, dropping to 5-1. For winning the 1 vs. 2 matchup, Copley A got rounds 7 and 8 off and earned a place in the finals.

3. With MVS, Copley B, and Solon all still in it, MVS gets matched up with Copley B, and Solon sits out Round 7. MVS beats Copley B in Round 7, dropping them to 5-2 and eliminating them. MVS then goes on to play Solon in Round 8 and wins, eliminating Solon with a 6-1 record. This is the first weird thing: Solon is now out of the tournament with one loss and without a chance to play Copley (if they actually did play against Copley during that Round 7 that I thought was a bye, disregard this).

4. The second weird thing occurs in round 9, the last full packet remaining.(*) Copley A (6-0) is now matched up against MVS (7-1) in a one-game final, which MVS wins, dropping Copley to 6-1 and improving MVS to 8-1. Copley A and MVS now have one loss apiece, with both teams having only lost to each other. By virtue of the playoff format, MVS outperforming Copley in Round 9 counted more than Copley outperforming MVS in Round 6, so MVS won. For everyone except MVS, the playoffs have been essentially single-elimination.

To re-state the question above: what is the most fair way to eliminate a one-loss team? Could this have been improved?

You could just take four teams to the playoffs and do a true Page playoff (you'd have the finals set up with two packets left). However, with three 5-0 teams it still means someone's getting knocked out with one playoff loss, and the two bracket runner-ups who don't qualify for wild card would also be eliminated with one loss. (We actually ended up playing the games that would go with this scenario this year: Copley and MVS would be the 1 v. 2, Solon and Northmont would be the 3 v. 4, MVS vs. Solon for the second finals berth, then MVS vs. Copley, now with two rounds left, in an advantaged final. Solon still exits with one loss).

You could also take eight teams to the playoffs, split them into Flight 1 and Flight 2, and have the winners of each flight meet in a one-game final...but again, with three 5-0 teams, one of those could be eliminated with one loss, and potentially so would the loser of the one-game final (Rounds 6, 7, and 8 would be read for the playoff pools and Round 9 would be reserved for the final).

If you really wanted to, you could just throw the four top seeds into a round robin and see what comes out after those three rounds, but see caveats above.

None of these scenarios is great, and you can decide for yourself whether any of them would have been more "fair" than what the actual format was last Saturday. Greg was put in a very difficult position having to work one round short, and I have nothing but respect and gratitude for his work on MS State this year...this post is not meant to be a finger-wag, but to be part of a larger conversation about how things could continue improving.

After all this, what I would really like to propose is a hard cap of 12 teams at next year's NAQT MS State (and, to ensure diverse representation of schools, ask each school to only bring one team, with B teams and beyond being waitlisted). For context, this year we had 11 different schools represented if you count the Empty Chairs team, and last year we had 12 different schools represented.

Last year and this year, we ran into the problem of not having enough packets to do a fair advantaged final. With a 12-team cap, everyone is guaranteed 8 games (6/6 in the morning for five prelim games, 4/4/4 in the afternoon for three playoff games). You also, assuming no packet security issues, save rounds 9 and 10 for finals (tiebreakers and replacements can be pulled from questions 21-24 in each packet). This also means you only have to run six game rooms, so you don't have to find as many quality readers (always tough with the HS championship going on down the hall). We can't currently support a 24-team NAQT MS State, and carrying 18 teams has created playoff format problems. I'd be interested to know what other members of the community think about this idea.

Again, I want to express nothing but thanks to Greg, Cortney, and everyone else who made NAQT State Weekend happen. It takes a lot of hard work to run two state championships on the same site in the same day, not to mention a lot of volunteers, and it's only through their efforts that we get to enjoy the convenience of having both the HS and MS championships in one place.

---

(*) Josh Eck, Sue Korosa, and I were talking after the MS final,(**) and Josh made the good point that we potentially could have pulled the unused questions 21-24 from the other MS packets to make a new 20/20 round...while not a great solution due to a potentially skewed distro, this could have worked, except some readers were apparently reading all 24 tossups in the morning so the questions could have been spoiled.

(**) In relation to the above, I'd also like to thank Sue and Josh for both being incredibly gracious after the MS playoffs ended despite the issues with the playoff format. It goes without saying that they're both stand-up coaches with quality teams made up of excellent kids, but I'm going to say it anyway.
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Re: NAQT State Open MS Stats

Postby Djones » Thu Apr 18, 2019 3:54 pm

One possible solution could come from NAQT's end. While the D2 SCT set is clearly being set aside for most HS state championship tournaments, perhaps they could write one of their MS sets to be the "state championship set" and include 2 additional rounds. That seems like it would alleviate all of the problems that you suggested Tyler. Not sure how amenable NAQT would be to that suggestion, but given the growth in the MS game nationally, it could perhaps be a possibility.
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Re: NAQT State Open MS Stats

Postby tomoore » Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:49 pm

Djones wrote:One possible solution could come from NAQT's end. While the D2 SCT set is clearly being set aside for most HS state championship tournaments, perhaps they could write one of their MS sets to be the "state championship set" and include 2 additional rounds. That seems like it would alleviate all of the problems that you suggested Tyler. Not sure how amenable NAQT would be to that suggestion, but given the growth in the MS game nationally, it could perhaps be a possibility.

Am I wrong in assuming that an A-set could be utilized for the MS State Championship? Or does an A-set for middle schoolers pose the same (uneven) difficulty that the current D2 SCT arrangement does for high schoolers?
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Re: NAQT State Open MS Stats

Postby trbenedict » Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:31 pm

I was actually going to suggest using an A-set at the end of my post as a second proposal, but the length was getting up there and it seemed less germane to the points at hand.

Yes, I think an A-set could be used at NAQT MS State. In a matchup of two high-level MS teams on an MS set, both teams will probably combine for about 16 powers out of 20, and given the short question length and narrow MS canon, the questions essentially become speedchecks...this certainly seemed to be the case in the two Miami Valley-Copley A matchups, neither of which were particularly close games on paper but were extremely evenly matched, to the point that each question felt like a buzzer race.

However, an A-set might not be the perfect solution, since with harder questions you still might end up waiting around until the question hits the clue that everyone knows, causing a difficulty cliff effect. An A-set might also do better at separating teams due to bonus conversion, or it could cause everyone to regress to the mean.

The top four prelim PPB on MS-30 were 24.17, 23.40, 22.53, and 18.41. To look at the best A-set PPB from those same teams at relatively full strength: 20.31, 16.84, 16.35, 13.30.(*) We see greater separation at the top, since it's harder to pull an "easy" 30 on an A-set than an MS-set. However, we also see the teams getting bunched up around the 16.50 tier...is that more desirable than being bunched at the 23.00 tier? Also, if the team with the 4th best PPB at MS State (Northmont A) goes from 18.41 to 13.30 on an A-set, how would the other 14 teams in the field do? Does it better serve the entire tournament to remain on an MS packet? I don't particularly have an answer, but it's worth talking about.

(*) Miami Valley, Solon, and Northmont stats taken from Western Reserve in March, Copley A stats taken from Hicksville in November
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Re: NAQT State Open MS Stats

Postby tomoore » Fri Apr 19, 2019 3:17 pm

Thanks, Tyler. I personally wasn’t considering an A-set transition as a matter of “let’s make the questions harder”, but rather as a near-“difficulty appropriate” resolution to the ‘scarcity of rounds’ dilemma presented last Saturday.

‘Loud and clear on the difficulty cliffs you mention. I feel the same way about the current D2 SCT arrangement for HS states, although at least 80% of the problem there (I think we all can recognize) can be remedied with some policing of the field. I’m not entirely sure what can be made better myself regarding MS state and the topic of competition materials, but I’m sure a hard field cap of 12 takes such efforts in the right direction (not unlike how HS states should perhaps be a cap of 24.)
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