The Wood Report: Liability Index – How deep is each NCAA XC team?
The red dot represents your regular-ass projection. Nothing fancy here. Now, the blue dot represents the scoring scenario if that respective team’s fifth best runner has a great race and finishes alongside that team’s third best athlete. That would be a pretty good day! The yellow dot represents a scenario where your fifth best athlete falls off the face of the planet and you need to score your sixth best athlete. Not a completely unlikely situation! As you can see, Oregon has a pretty tight spread. This means that their 3, 4, 5 and 6 runners are basically interchangeable. Also, if Arkansas has a bad day, it could go really south for them. If they rely on their sixth man, they could potentially fall off the podium.
This line of thought has spawned the Liability Index:
The above teams are ranked in the projected Wood Report finish order. However, a color bar was added. The further the bar goes out to the right, the more trouble you are in if you are relying on your sixth best athlete. This is not to say that they are going to have a bad day! It’s just a risk-based approach to the projection.
Combining the two analyses above, there is a reasonable hypothesis out there making the case for a Stanford or Syracuse victory, as these teams seem to be deeper.