So yesterday was Selection Sunday for the women's NCAA tournament, and it turns out there was a pretty big surprise. Clarkson was not in the field, even though the PWR said they should have been in.
USCHO's David De Remer has a little more explanation. Basically, Clarkson had a better RPI, TUC record, and Common Opponent record than Dartmouth, but Dartmouth was 1-0-1 on the season against Clarkson, and the committee decided to award that last spot to Dartmouth.
First off, I think this decision sucks for Clarkson. But it also raises the question of whether this could happen with the men's tournament. Even though the PWR has correctly predicted the tournament for however many years, it's not the exact formula the committee uses, and they could make some changes.
There's actually a possibility of a similar situation happening on the men's side. There's still plenty of hockey left to play, but it could end up that St. Cloud and Minnesota State fight it out for one of the tournament's last at-large spots. St. Cloud wins that comparison 3-to-2, but Minnesota State won both meetings between the teams this season. The situation is muddied even more because if Michigan Tech drops just three spots in the RPI, Minnesota State would take a 3-2 lead in that comparison.
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.