There Can Be Only One: Western Division Championship Finale Set for This Weekend at Bucknell University
BRIDGEPORT, Pa. -- Pick the saying you want to describe this weekend's water polo action at Bucknell University -- Four Teams Enter, One Team Leaves? There Can Be Only One?
Whatever saying you prefer, the one constant is this - one team will leave the campus of Bucknell in Lewisburg, Pa. with the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Western Division title and plaque, while the other three will plot their revenge for the 11-team CWPA Eastern Championship on April 29-May 1 at Indiana University.
In the first "Post-NCAA" basketball championship weekend of the year, with baseball starting up and football in a state of labor meltdown, the eyes of the Collegiate Water Polo Association faithful will turn to the hamlet of Lewisburg as three of the league's nationally-ranked teams and the host squad each have a shot at claiming the Western Division title.
For No. 6 University of Michgian (23-4, 4-0 CWPA West), No. 12 Indiana University (15-10, 0-1 CWPA West), No. 14 Hartwick College (21-8, 2-0 CWPA) and Bucknell (10-10, 0-1 CWPA West), a berth in the postseason CWPA Eastern Championship is already secure with all 11 Division I/II teams in the league (Michigan, Hartwick, Indiana, Bucknell, Gannon University, Mercyhurst College, Princeton University, Harvard University, Brown University, University of Maryland, Geroge Washington University) advancing to the championship tournament for the first time in league history.
However, claiming the Western Division title will help in achieving the goal for all 11 teams: claiming one of three first round byes at the Eastern Championship.
Michigan, which will go for its 10th consecutive Western Division crown, leads the pack entering the weekend. If the Wolverines can knock off long-time rival and first year Western Division foe Hartwick at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 9, Michigan claims the division title.
However, if the Hawks pluck victory away from the Wolverines, the Western Division title race becomes a sprint to the finish line. Immediately following the Michigan-Hartwick game, Bucknell and Indiana will take to the tank. Indiana, which fell to Michigan in earlier competition, must beat Bucknell and then drop Hartwick, while Hartwick has to defeat Bucknell as well, to force a three-way tie at 4-1 in the division standings.
Per CWPA rules, if more than two teams are tied in won/loss records, goal differentials among the teams tied serves as the tiebreaker to determine the best team within the group until only two teams remain. The final two teams use their head-to-head results to break the tie. If the top two teams based on goal differentials are tied, the tie is broken with the results of their head-to -head competition. If the goal differential among all teams tied is the same, the total of goals scored against each other is used. If the total of goals scored between the teams is equal, the goal differential between common opponents seeded higher will be used to determine ranking. This may require averaging the goal differential per game if the number of games between common opponents is unequal. Should teams be tied in won/loss record and they have not played each other, goal differentials against common opponents that are seeded above them are used. If no common opponents are seeded higher, the goal differential against the highest seeded common opponent is used.
Now, if Michigan loses to Hartwick, Indiana beats Hartwick and Bucknell, but Hartwick losses to Bucknell, the Wolverines are Western Division champions due to holding a head-to-head victory over Indiana, thus breaking a 4-1 tie in the standings.
For Hartwick, the path to the championship is more straight forward - beat Michigan, beat Indiana and beat Buckenll and the Western Division title goes back to New York.
The Hawks, who moved over from the dissolved Northern Division during the summer to join former Southern Division member Bucknell, can win the title by tie-breaker as well. If Michigan loses to Hartwick, Indiana beats the Hawks and Bucknell falls to Hartwick, goal differential will determine the champion.
Bucknell can win the title on a tie-breaker if Michigan loses to Hartwick, while the Bison knock off both Indiana and Hartwick to put the Wolerines at 4-1, Hartwick at 4-1, Bucknell at 4-1 and Indiana at 3-2.
In addition to the Western Division showdown, Harvard University and No. 18-ranked Princeton University will clash in a Southern Division game at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 9 to kick-off the 11 game event.
It is important to note that the Western and Southern Division teams will crossover this weekend with Michigan and Indiana both facing the University of Maryland, Harvard taking on Bucknell and Michigan, and George Washington University squaring off with Michigan and Bucknell. All of the crossover games are eligible to be used in seeding the teams for the Easern Championship as any and all competition between CWPA Division I/II teams (league, non-league, tournament) is applicable for seeding purposes.
Bucknell University (Kinney Natatorium)
Saturday-Sunday, April 9-10, 2011
Saturday, April 9
Game 1 -- Harvard vs. Princeton, 10 a.m.
Game 2 -- Michigan vs. Hartwick, 11:30 a.m.
Game 3 -- Bucknell vs. Indiana, 1 p.m.
Game 4 -- Bucknell vs. Harvard, 4 p.m.
Game 5 -- Hartwick vs. Indiana, 5:30 p.m.
Game 6 -- Michigan vs. Maryland, 7 p.m.
Sunday, April 10
Game 7 -- Michigan vs. Harvard, 8:30 a.m.
Game 8 -- Maryland vs. Indiana, 10 a.m.
Game 9 -- Michigan vs. George Washington, 11:30 a.m.
Game 10 -- Bucknell vs. Maryland, 1 p.m.
Game 11 -- Bucknell vs. George Washington, 2:30 p.m.