My school finished 31st at HSNCT and I don't know how to feel

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Scone
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My school finished 31st at HSNCT and I don't know how to feel

Post by Scone »

I am on Eden Prairie High School's C team. Eden Prairie High School is in Minnesota and sent 4 teams to HSNCT. Its A team finished 31st. As far as I know, that's pretty good for a random school that isn't talked about often. Groger Ranks put us at 73rd for pre-HSNCT and HSQBRank put us at 145th for pre-Nationals, so for the majority of the season, I was rather fatalistic about how we would peform at HSNCT. However, we placed higher than that, so that should be a good thing.

Wayzata High School is also a high school in Minnesota that sent 5 teams to HSNCT. We lose to them quite often. Wayzata A and C also placed 31st. Wayzata A was ranked 5th by Groger Ranks and 19th by HSQBRank.

There are two views that I could take on this that I'm very torn by. On the one hand, 31st, while being higher than 73rd, is not that great of a finish. Nobody has heard of Eden Prairie because the Minnesota circuit is, and will probably continue to be, dominated by Wayzata. However, another part of me wants to be pumped for our teams finish and has a sort of "in your face" attitude against our local competitors. I don't want to get an ego, but I don't want to be pessimistic about our performance.

Yet another part of me is curious about the role of ranking programs such as HSQBRank and Groger Ranks. Yes, it's probably inevitable that the rankings get less precise as you consider lower and lower ranked teams. However, Thomas Jefferson Science & Tech A, of which both ranked 1st, got 5th at HSNCT. Plus, there was Wayzata's performance. However, both of these results could be explained by them just having a bad day, or eating bad food. What is the role of these ranks, and how should I use them when looking at where our team stands? That's what I wonder.

So, how am I supposed to feel about our team's finish?
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Re: My school finished 31st at HSNCT and I don't know how to feel

Post by Stained Diviner »

A few things...

One is that I have heard of Eden Prairie. I was very excited when the team I coached beat Eden Prairie in 2007. Your team had Trevor Davis, Gautam Kandlikar, and Michael Wright who went on to, respectively, win a ICT individual scoring title, help win an ICT team title, and attended the world's greatest university.

Another is that your C Team is better than you think. You got some very difficult card matchups that kept you out of the playoffs. The teams that beat you finished 4th and tied for 31st. There were many playoff teams with lower PPB than you and that you would have had at least a 50/50 shot against had you played them head-to-head. Your school for the most part has a lot of non-seniors, so you have the potential to be very good in the near future.

Another is that the rankings should be seen as fun exercises. Some people crunch some numbers and do the best they can to rank teams. The rankings are sometimes off--partly because a small change in bonus conversion or powers can make a big rankings difference once you get past the top handful of teams and partly because national tournaments are played on harder questions, which some teams handle that better than others. You are pretty much being ranked by a spreadsheet, and the best attitude to take is to gear up going into nationals to see if you can outperform the spreadsheet's predictions.

TJ did have the highest bonus conversion at HSNCT, so the rankings sort of got it right. TJ got eliminated by a 20-point loss to Stevenson, and that's difficult to predict--we don't know what would have happened if TJ had gotten one more tossup in that match and gone on to the semis. TJ did put up the best stats during the season, and I would be very proud if I ever coached a team that did that.
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Re: My school finished 31st at HSNCT and I don't know how to feel

Post by Apocolocyntora »

Hello, Wayzata alumna here, I think you should feel great about Eden Prairie's finish--you guys had a great weekend! It's important to contextualize any set of rankings through the methodology used to create them and the data used. For instance, hsqbrank ranks teams by adjusted points per bonus--you look at a team's points per bonus on a specific set, you adjust that ppb to a standard set (Fred uses an IS set as the standard), and rank teams by their best adjusted ppb performances. At HSNCT, you can see that Wayzata A had 21.14 ppb, Wayzata C had 17.62 ppb, and Eden Prairie A had 16.35 ppb.

Looking solely at points per bonus, one can suggest a difference in skill level between these teams. However, it is also evident that ppb is not what makes a team win, nor necessarily the best metric of a team's strength--in fact, despite winning the tournament, Beavercreek had the 10th highest ppb. (And no one could deny that they are an amazing, extremely talented team whose win was well-deserved!)

I am not very familiar with how GrogerRanks ranks teams, but even just looking at hsqbrank's methodology and the actual results of HSNCT, it should be evident that rankings aren't perfect metrics of teams' performances--especially given that there isn't any other set of the same format and difficulty as HSNCT that is played en masse by high school teams that could be used to predict HSNCT performances.

It's also important to factor in that many teams do not have the same players at every single tournament they attend, so that provides another aspect of variability between performances at tournaments. Moreover, at HSNCT, most rooms do not get through all 24 questions in 18 minutes. This can greatly influence the outcome of a round between closely-matched teams--if Team A has a strong science specialist and Team B has strong humanities players, and the teams get through 23 tossups during a round, the outcome of the round may be quite different if tossup 24 is a science question. The fewer questions teams get through during a round, the more this effect is heightened. Add on to this the high-speed nature of HSNCT and the abundance of buzzer races, and you've got a perfect storm for many upsets and many Cinderella runs. I'm sure people could make an argument that the structure of HSNCT also contributes to its lack of predictability.

All this is to say that, while rankings can certainly be helpful to gauge a team's strength, you should not consider them the be-all end-all answer, especially for a tournament as variable as HSNCT. The fact that ranking websites ranked Eden Prairie lower than they performed in no way diminishes their placement at HSNCT, just as the fact that Wayzata placed lower than expected does not mean that they are a weak team. Don't rely on rankings to form your expectations for yourself or your team, and strive to do your best and enjoy yourself at every tournament you compete at.
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Re: My school finished 31st at HSNCT and I don't know how to feel

Post by Monstruos de Bolsillo »

Scone wrote: Tue May 28, 2019 8:04 pm Nobody has heard of Eden Prairie because the Minnesota circuit is, and will probably continue to be, dominated by Wayzata.
That's definitely not true. I think anyone with a reasonable interest in high school quizbowl has heard of your school. Not that that should even matter though.
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Re: My school finished 31st at HSNCT and I don't know how to feel

Post by etchdulac »

Monstruos de Bolsillo wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 2:19 pm
Scone wrote: Tue May 28, 2019 8:04 pm Nobody has heard of Eden Prairie because the Minnesota circuit is, and will probably continue to be, dominated by Wayzata.
That's definitely not true. I think anyone with a reasonable interest in high school quizbowl has heard of your school. Not that that should even matter though.
To add on: As someone from across the country who has staffed about a dozen HSNCTs, Eden Prairie has attended 13 straight. They've finished 7th, 11th and 13th. From an outsider's perspective, at one point, Eden Prairie was what Wayzata is now: the school you think of first from Minnesota.
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Re: My school finished 31st at HSNCT and I don't know how to feel

Post by Scone »

Monstruos de Bolsillo wrote:

That's definitely not true. I think anyone with a reasonable interest in high school quizbowl has heard of your school. Not that that should even matter though.
etchdulac wrote:

To add on: As someone from across the country who has staffed about a dozen HSNCTs, Eden Prairie has attended 13 straight. They've finished 7th, 11th and 13th. From an outsider's perspective, at one point, Eden Prairie was what Wayzata is now: the school you think of first from Minnesota.
Well, shows what I know.

The points brought up earlier about how the specific methodology of ranking systems relies on information such as PPB and Powers make sense to me. While it might be a measure of how many points a team would be able to gather, it doesn't guarantee that in an elimination bracket each team will manifest those exact stats, since quiz bowl is a very much human game. Because of this, it's possible that a team that is "better" than another will rank lower than them.

With that knowledge in mind, though, does that take away from the accomplishment of any particular placing at a tournament? One could make an argument that if you win a tournament on a fluke, you didn't deserve to win. On the contrary, it's possible that you won because you kept your cool or played optimally, skills that can't be quantified.
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Re: My school finished 31st at HSNCT and I don't know how to feel

Post by Cody »

At the end of the day, any ranking is just an imperfect correlation of team strength and ability across a large, large number of high school tournaments. They are not, and are not intended to be, definitive. The rankings can be useful, but they don't have any bearing once you've secured a finish at a national tournament. Placement is the only thing people will remember after the season is over.
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Re: My school finished 31st at HSNCT and I don't know how to feel

Post by Ent »

Speaking strictly objectively:

1. Your A team qualified for a tournament that attracts some of the very best talent in the nation in quizbowl, and is a legitimate national tournament.

2. Your A team did well enough to qualify into the playoffs of that tournament (top 126 of 336)

3. Your A team then managed to win some playoff games before bowing out ... so 78 teams that can claim to be playoff teams at this great national tournament definitively finished behind your A team.

4. Looking at the final standings, there are some truly great historic programs who finished tied for 31st, or lower.

5. No one got sick or injured (I hope).

I can't tell you how to feel. I just know if this were my team, I would be ecstatic! The only way I would not feel amazing about this would be if you went into this tournament feeling that you had a very legitimate chance of a top-10 finish, and something catastrophic took place, and your team finished back in the pack.

I think if your team exceeded your goals (whatever those goals were), topped your own expectations (whatever your expectations were), and you had fun, there is only really success to be celebrated.
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