Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pairwhat?

NCAA scientist hard at work determining tournament seeding.

I'm sure that I'm not the only one left scratching my head trying to figure out how only three WCHA teams made it into the NCAA tournament last week, while Hockey East and the CCHA got in five and four, respectively. Does this make any sense whatsoever? The numbers confirm that the WCHA, as usual, was the best conference this season, so how in the world did western teams fare so badly in the Pairwise Rankings? How can the CCHA on the whole go 6-16-5 against the WCHA and still get more teams into the tournament? Most frustrating of all, had the NCAA used the KRACH formula (which just about everyone agrees is better than the Pairwise) to determine the tournament field, the WCHA would have had a whopping seven teams in the tournament (Minnesota, St. Cloud State, North Dakota, Denver, Wisconsin, Michigan Tech, and Colorado College).

I'm not trying to be a homer and imply that I think CC should have made the tournament, because frankly, I don't. Tournament teams don't lose opening round home playoff series. However, something is seriously wrong when such a strong conference can get jobbed so badly come selection time. I mean, does anyone really think that St. Lawrence and Miami are better than Denver? Of course, the comeback to that is that if Denver wanted to get in, they shouldn't have laid an egg against Wisconsin in their first round series. At the same time, however, when you look at Denver's season on the whole and take into account strength of schedule, there is no way in hell they should be getting passed over in favor of teams from the CCHA and ECAC.

I would hope that a travesty like this would be the straw that breaks the camels back and forces the NCAA to adopt a new way of seeding teams, but I doubt it will happen. If there's one thing that could make matters even worse for the WCHA, it's that Minnesota and North Dakota ended up in the same region, meaning that one of those two will definitely be out of the Frozen Four (I'd be surprised if they didn't play each other to determine who goes).

Notes

* How worried is the NCAA about attendance in Denver? Not only are three of the biggest name teams in the country (Minnesota, North Dakota, Michigan) being sent there, but the NCAA even managed to sneak a local team (Air Force) in there as well.

* The NCAA must have been grimacing watching DU and CC's seasons end. DU, which had been as high as 5th in the Pairwise Rankings looked like an absolute lock to make the tourney with just a few weeks left, but fell apart spectacularly down the stretch. CC, even, remained on the bubble as well right up until the end before falling short. When both teams lost their opening playoff series, there must have been some sort of panic going on. At least Air Force managed to give them some consolation.

* How happy is Maine that there's an OOC bonus involved in the Pairwise? Without it, they'd be way on the wrong side of the bubble; with it, they managed to get in. Shows once again the importance of early season non-conference wins - Maine racked up three against Minnesota and North Dakota.

4 Comments:

At 9:27 AM, Blogger dggoddard said...

The CCHA & HE are "top-heavy, bottom-heavy" leagues. This means that their good teams get to pile up victories against the weaker teams.

The WCHA has become especially balanced and loses out under the pairwise formula.

Not making excuses for CC, MT, DU or Wisconsin just stating the facts. There's nothing that can be done to tweak the numbers that won't cause more screwy results in the future.

Either you like Pairwise or you don't. I don't, most do.

 
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