The tournament that could have been

For better or worse, the NCAA changed the hockey tournament selection criteria this year. While the formulas were carefully crafted to produce a nearly identical outcome for last year, things could have been a little different this year if the change hadn’t been made.

The PairWise Rankings that could have been

First, the collegehockeyranked supercomputers have produced a table of where this year’s top 20 would have ranked under last year’s formula.

PWR Old PWR
Minnesota 1 1
Boston College 2 3
Union 3 2
Wisconsin 4 8
Ferris State 5 9
Quinnipiac 6 5
Mass.-Lowell 7 4
Notre Dame 8 11
St Cloud St 9 7
MSU-Mankato 10 13
Providence 11 6
Colgate 12 12
Vermont 13 15
North Dakota 14 10
Michigan 15 16
Northeastern 16 19
Cornell 17 14
New Hampshire 18 18
Ohio State 19 20
Yale 20 22

As we should have expected, the tournament field doesn’t change much (after announcing the changes last Fall, the NCAA issued a statement noting that the tournament field wouldn’t have changed at all the previous year under the new formula).

Vermont is out at #15 while Cornell is in at #14. North Dakota fans would have been a little less worried and MSU-Mankato fans a little more, but both teams would still make the field.

But, the order is different enough to change the bracket quite a bit. My strength is statistics and rankings, not bracket-making, so I’ll walk you through a straight serpentine bracket then note the interesting aspects:

West (St Paul)
1. Minnesota vs 16. Robert Morris
8. Wisconsin vs 9. Ferris St

Northeast (Worcester)
3. Boston College vs 14. Cornell
6. Providence vs 11. Notre Dame

East (Bridgeport)
2. Union vs 15. Denver
7. St Cloud St vs 10. North Dakota

Midwest (Cincinnati)
4. Mass-Lowell vs 13. Mankato
5. Quinnipiac vs 12. Colgate

  • Problem #1 – Which #1 do you put in Cincinnati?
  • Problem #2 – Providence v Notre Dame is no good.
  • Problem #3 –  St Cloud St vs North Dakota is no good.
  • Problem #4 – Attendance at Cincinnati would be in the double digits.

We can solve #2 and #3 by swapping North Dakota and Notre Dame.

I have no idea what the committee would do about #1 and #4.

It would be nice to get Quinnipiac in Bridgeport but Union is already there and swapping St Cloud St to Cincinnati may not help Cincinnati much. A three way move could instead land Wisconsin in Cincinnati and St Cloud St in St. Paul.

Instead of just swapping UND and ND, you could also imagine a three way move that put Colgate in Worcester, Notre Dame in Bridgeport, and UND in Cincinnati.

The matchups and outlook would certainly be different (and North Dakota fans would undoubtedly be delighted for another stop in Worcester on the B.C. revenge tour).

Like I said, I’m a rankings guy, not a bracket guy, so feel free to let me know what I did wrong.

  • http://www.techhockeyguide.com TBraunTHG

    I’m more interested in knowing why Wisconsin and Ferris State drop so much and why Providence is so much better under the old PWR?

    • jimdahl

      I’ve been working on that. I was going to include it in this article, but it’s become ugly enough that it’s going to get its own.

  • Adam Wodon

    Committee would’ve put Lowell in Cincy – no choice in the matter. So you have that just fine.

    They probably would’ve had QU-North Dakota in Cincy – but it’s true, there’s few good options.

    Funny that ECAC teams thought, more than anyone, that it needed the boost of having home-road effects taken into account – yet Cornell is the one that lost out here.