Friday, April 21, 2006

cMax Rankings

The first set of cMax rankings are out and this year they include lightweights. I like these rankings because if nothing else they bring some methodological rigor to the process and avoid emotion, something none of us humans can do. Of course, that is exactly why some people don't like them. You can read the full explanation for yourself, but these rankings use actual results to predict how any given boat will do against another. Only boats that have raced at least twice against other teams that have raced at least twice are included. Bucknell, for example, is not ranked because they haven't raced two boats in the rankings.

Now that I've sung its praises, this ranking lists as its top boat... Cornell. Huh? Cornell doesn't race lightweight women. There's obviously a problem which casts doubt on the rest of the ranking, but let me assume that Cornell is just a misplaced boat and that the rest of the rankings are correct.

The ranking shows Princeton only 0.9 seconds behind Radcliffe and Wisconsin only 0.6 seconds behind Princeton. Wow, that's a lot closer than they actually were when they raced. Nonetheless, this ranking tries to predict the average time difference and recognizes that any single race will be off the average. What it's really saying is that right now the top boat is just barely Radcliffe and second is too close to call. The biggest surprise is that Ohio State is 6th, ahead of UCF, Dayton, and Stanford. I'm not sure how that works since both OSU and UCF raced Marist, with UCF beating them by a lot more than OSU. (In fairness though, OSU is only 0.3 seconds ahead of UCF, so it's a virtual tie.) This all looks a little wacky to me and it's not helped by the presence of Cornell. One thing is for sure though, these rankings get better the more boats race.

The lightweights also get ranked in among the heavies, with Radcliffe at 50 overall (out of 175 total). I'm not sure how this works either since not that many lightweight boats race heavies, at least not that you can identify from the results. By comparison, the top men's light eight, Dartmouth, is ranked 9. This is consistent with the fact that compared to light men, light women have farther to go to catch up to their heavyweight counterparts. A look at world records shows this to be so. Using quads as proxies for eights (no light eights at Worlds), we find that light men are 2.1% behind the heavy men while light women are 5.1% behind the heavy women. I know these records are set at different times on different courses, but to set a world record the boats will have met up with generally the same conditions. On the erg, both men and women are about 7.5% behind the heavies, which suggests that when they both get on the water, lightweights do, in fact, row better than heavyweights. Light men, though, have been able to close the gap farther than light women.

Finally, take note of this article in the Daily Princetonian discussing the races tomorrow. In a complete reversal of the (Heavyweight) Rowing News model, the article begins with, and devotes the most space to, the lightweight women. Next come the light men followed by the heavy women. Meanwhile, with just one sentence at the end of the article are the heavy men, who just beat Harvard last week.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

georgetown got fast!