Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Field Is Almost Set

Tomorrow is Selection Sunday, but since it is also Easter Sunday, I won't be around to post after the selection show. But with all the games now played, at least the teams that will be in the tournament look pretty clear now.

Here's how it should shake it out:

1. Michigan
2. Miami
3. North Dakota
4. New Hampshire
5. Colorado College
6. Boston College
7. Denver
8. St. Cloud
9. Michigan State
10. Clarkson
11. Minnesota
12. Wisconsin
13. Notre Dame
14. Princeton
15. Niagara
16. Air Force

Good luck figuring out where those teams go. Michigan is the top seed, but I'm guessing they travel rather than play at the Madison regional with Wisconsin in the tournament. The idea of Madison hosting the "Midwest" regional is dubious at best anyway. It's going to be tough to avoid intraconference match-ups in the first round with 6 WCHA teams in the tournament, especially since most are either 2 or 3 seeds.

Notre Dame caught a lucky break this afternoon when late in the third period, trailing by a goal, they had a shot ricochet off the goal post. Had that puck gone in and the game ended in a tie, they would have missed the tournament.

There's bound to be some controversy with Wisconsin getting into the tournament as well. There's a strong case to be made for Minnesota State getting into the tournament over Wisconsin. The Mavericks win their comparison with the Badgers. The Mavericks have a higher RPI. The Mavericks won the season series between the two teams. The Badgers didn't have a winning record this year. The only difference right now is that Mankato loses an odd comparison to Northern Michigan, ranked 23rd in the RPI. Subtract .0031 points from Northern Michigan's RPI ranking and MSU would be the ones in the tournament instead of Wisconsin.

It really sucks for Minnesota State, but as much as I hate to say it, I think it's still probably the right decision that Wisconsin gets in. We all knew there was the possibility of something like this happening. Back on March 10th, I wrote this:

So would the selection committeee go against tradition in a situation like this? I would hope not. I've always been strongly in favor of total transparency in the NCAA tournament selection process, even if there are a few bugs in the system. Head-to-head is important, and I believe it is counted as so in the Pairwise, but if a team is that much better during the regular season, one odd weekend shouldn't cancel that out.

The selection process could probably use an overhaul. I think everyone cringes at the fact that North Dakota would benefit by losing a game to Michigan Tech this weekend. But the time to make those changes should be the day after this year's field is selected, not the day before it is selected.
The system is flawed, and it sucks, and it probably didn't get things right this year. But it is the system that was in place. If the selection committee's process was to get drunk and throw darts at a dartboard, it probably wouldn't produce the best NCAA tournament field, but if that is what everyone agreed to, that's what we'd have to live with. I sincerely hope the process is reviewed and changed for the future, but it's too late to make those changes for this season.

Again, the best thing you can say about the PWR is the transparency for fans to understand how those decisions are made. If it was secretive like the NCAA basketball tournament, can you imagine the outrage if tomorrow morning, they announced that sub-.500 Wisconsin had gotten into the tournament? There'd be cries of conspiracy to make money off the Madison regional for months. At least this way, there is some mathematical basis that people can see for how the decision was made, even if the math that was used wasn't the best measure.


Kevin said...

I'm pretty sure they're going to leave Wisconsin in. The only thing that somewhat bothers me is the fact that Wisconsin is hosting a regional. I'm sure there are going to be lots of people wondering if the committee would make the bubble switch if it were regional-hosting Wisconsin on the outside looking in.

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin should not get into the tournment. Something is wrong with the system when a below .500 team gets in and also is able to play at home. The pairwise needs to look at records too. Minnesota State and who plays them in the region got SCREWED. Come on Wisconsin fans make your case... This should be good (excuses).

Anonymous said...

It is ablolutley rediculous that Mankato didn't get in. College hockey, student athletes, amatures, and the only reason that Wisconsin is getting in is so someone makes more money. What an outrage, If it were a closer race between these two teams than it was I wouldn't have such a problem, but MSU-Mankato was clearly the better team THIS year and is being bent over and taking it right in the ass on this one. BRUTAL!

Anonymous said...

Maturi is on the selection committee and notice how his squad is not placed in a region with 3 WCHA teams?? If the Gophs get through BC, they have to love their chances to get to the Frozen Four. Hmmmmmmm???

....and Mankato State again gives up a home game against Minny and plays it at the Xcel Center next November against MN to get the gate....I realize it's part of a MN WCHA Classic, but seriously...

Anonymous said...

I am a CC fan, but Minnesota State got what they deserved. Maybe they should schedule some decent out of conference opponents next time other than Alabama-Huntsville, Bemidji, Yale, and Neb.Omaha. Mankato record is inflated. I'm willing to bet Badgers would also go 8-0 in those games and thus giving them a better record than Mankato.

Kevin said...

I'm pretty sure Mankato playing Bemidji, UNO, and UAH are yearly agreements (not sure about Yale). Most teams in the WCHA play Bemidji once just to help out Bemidji, since they don't have much of a conference to fill up their schedule. UNO and MSU came up with a rivalry of sorts because they're both nicknamed the Mavericks, so they play for the "Maverick Cup". Plus UNO has done decent the two years before this (last year finishing 5th outside of U of M/MSU/Miami/ND, two years ago tying for 4th in the CCHA and making the tournament), and they were apparently good enough to beat Mankato twice. As for the UAH series, that's more historical, since the two teams were rivals back when they were both in Div II.

Anonymous said...

anon at 5:11, stop crying.

Wisconsin got in because of the PWR, not because they are hosting a regional. If the committee goes against the PWR it would be a first for the Men, and I don't think that is something they want to do. As Chris says, they have a clear system and at the end of the season the top 13 teams in the PWR made it along w/ 3 at large from smaller conferences.

It would be simple for them to add the provision that at large can't be given to a team w/ a sub .500 record, but its not in place. I'm sure it will be for next season.

As a Wisconsin fan, I have no excuses, I point to what is out there, right to the PWR, its cut and dry. I figured the season was over, like every other Badger fan, but we are happy for another chance.

Anonymous said...

Last year, Alabama-Huntsville made the tournament and they were six games under .500. Now, they won their conference playoffs but if you say under .500 teams shouldn't be able to make the tourney would that include playoff champions? If you say playoff champions get an automatic invite regardless if they are under .500 why would you exclude a team that would normally get in by a pre-determined mathematical formula?

Anonymous said...

I believe Wisconsin is in because they are hosting. No way should Wisconsin be in over Minn State.

Anonymous said...

Minnesota State finished 4th in WCHA, had a strong record against strong teams, - stats and rankings were positive - is there something I am missing? They should be in the first round - how about a recount (are there dangling chads ?)