The field for the NCAA Division I men’s tournament was announced Sunday morning, with the WCHA receiving an unprecedented three of the four No. 1 seeds among the 2005 selections.
Hockey East regular-season and tournament champion Boston College was awarded the overall top seed in the tournament, with WCHA teams occupying the remaining No. 1 seeds. Denver, the WCHA tournament champion and co-winner of the regular season, was seeded second overall. Colorado College, which shared the WCHA regular-season title, was third, and Minnesota was fourth.
The WCHA earned a total of five bids, with North Dakota and Wisconsin joining the three teams listed above. This marks the third straight year — each season since the NCAA tournament expanded to 16 teams — that the WCHA has had five teams selected.
Hockey East received four selections, with Boston University, Maine and New Hampshire accompanying BC. The ECACHL got three teams, its most since 1998, with regular-season and tournament champion Cornell, as well as Harvard and Colgate, selected. Two CCHA teams earned bids — down from 2004′s record-tying five — with regular-season and tournament champion Michigan as well as Ohio State making the field.
Rounding out the bids were Atlantic Hockey tournament champion Mercyhurst and CHA tournament champion Bemidji State.
For the ninth straight year, the complete tournament field was correctly predicted by USCHO.com’s PairWise Rankings (PWR). This season, the principal departure from the selection criteria as represented by the PWR was the choice of Denver over Colorado College as the overall No. 2 seed.
The Pioneers beat the Tigers 1-0 Saturday for the WCHA tournament championship, but finished behind CC in the overall PWR, and also lost the direct comparison to CC, losing all of the comparison criteria except for head-to-head play.
Selection committee chairman Wayne Dean said on ESPN2 that the committee let the DU-CC season series, which Denver won three games to two including the WCHA title game, determine the two teams’ ordering for the NCAA tournament.
“We looked at all the criteria and all the tools that we had and it was basically a dead heat,” said Dean. “And we looked at head-to-head competition, and with Denver winning a [WCHA] championship. So we decided to settle it on the ice. That’s something that the committee has the right to do. We tried to get it right and we felt that was the best decision.”
The selection of Minnesota over Cornell as the last No. 1 seed matched the PWR’s listing of the selection criteria, despite the Big Red’s first-place finish in the ECACHL.
“We certainly look at any two schools that are side-by-side,” said Dean. “Everybody looks at it and everybody votes and that’s the way it comes out.”
This weekend, No. 1 seed BC will face No. 4 Mercyhurst at the East Regional in Worcester, Mass., and No. 2 North Dakota takes on No. 3 Boston University. The Northeast Regional, in Amherst, Mass., has No. 1 Denver versus No. 4 Bemidji State, and No. 2 New Hampshire against No. 3 Harvard.
Westward, the Midwest Regional, which takes place in Grand Rapids, Mich., features No. 1 Colorado College against No. 4 Colgate, and No. 2 Michigan versus No. 3 Wisconsin. The West Regional, to be played in Minneapolis, includes No. 1 Minnesota against No. 4 Maine, and No. 2 Cornell versus No. 3 Ohio State.