For several years, USCHO has published Pairwise Rankings (PWR), a statistical method to approximate the criteria used to select teams for the Division I NCAA men’s tournament. USCHO has also featured a PWR for men’s D-III hockey, based on the D-I methodology.
Though it is interesting as a comparision tool, applying the D-I criteria to Division III does not correctly reflect the selection process used by the D-III committee.
With the selection of teams for the tournament approaching, USCHO debuts a new PWR for men’s D-III which more accurately reflects the criteria used by the NCAA Division III committee to select teams for at-large bids.
The NCAA Division III men’s ice hockey championship manual specifies that at-large teams shall be selected by (1) winning percentage, head-to-head record, and record against common opponents, (2) strength of schedule, and (3) record against other teams already in the tournament.
These comparisons are made only within region. In the East, only games between Division III teams in the ECAC East, ECAC Northeast, ECAC West, NESCAC, and SUNYAC, as well as against independent Scranton are considered. In the West, only games between D-III teams in the MCHA, MIAC, and NCHA are considered.
Games against the six Division II teams participating in the eight predominately D-III conferences are not included, nor are any games against Division I teams. Exhibition games against non-NCAA teams, including Canadian colleges and universities, the U.S. National Development Team, and club programs are also not included.
The PWR compares only those teams at or above .500, judging them first by three criteria: winning percentage, head-to-head record, and record against common opponents. Strength of schedule — the winning percentage of opponents not counting games against that opponent — is used by the PWR as a tie-breaker if two teams are equal after the first three comparisons.
While the PWR includes the same criteria as the selection committee, the NCAA does not specify how each shall be weighted, leaving the committee a fair amount leeway in its application of those criteria.
However, the East Region and West Region comparisons used in calculating the PWR are virtually identical to those used by for choosing at-large bids, providing fans an insight into the NCAA committee’s decision-making process.
For more on the new men’s D-III PWR, see this detailed explanation in the USCHO FAQ section.