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College Hockey:
An example of how the PairWise changes could affect selection

We’re at that time of the year where one thing is on everyone’s mind.

Will my team make the NCAA tournament?

Those of you who are veterans of the college hockey scene know that it is all about the PairWise Rankings. This is USCHO’s numerical approach that simulates the way the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey committee chooses the teams that make the NCAA tournament.

The criteria are tweaked every so often — often being every year lately — in order to give what the committee believes will be the best tournament.

This year the change that was made was to change the criteria relating to which teams are now considered “Teams Under Consideration,” or “TUCs.”

Prior to this year a TUC was a team that in the top 25 of the Ratings Percentage Index. This year, it was changed to include all teams that had an RPI of .5000 or above.

What does this change mean in terms of NCAA selection and the PairWise?

Basically, it means that there can possibly be more than 25 TUCs.

And how does that affect the PWR?

It means that the TUC criteria could possibly contain more games that are considered in this criteria.

Let’s give you an example of how this may impact the PWR.

Team A is currently No. 10 in the RPI. Team B is currently No. 11 in the RPI. Team C is No. 26 in the RPI. All of these teams have an RPI above .5000.

Against the top 25 of the RPI, Team A is 5-5-0. Team B is 6-5-0 against the top 25 of the RPI.

Team A is 2-0 against Team C, while Team B has not played Team C.

Neither Team A nor Team B has played any other team with an RPI over .500 after No. 26.

If you take the comparison between these two teams under last year’s rules, it might look like this:

    Team A    Team B
RPI   .5478    .5459
TUC   5-5-0 .5000 6-5-0 .5454
COp   1-0-0    1-0-0
H2H   0      1
Total  1      2

In this scenario, Team B wins the comparison between the two teams. And Team C does not play a factor at all since Team C is No. 26 in the RPI and not a TUC.

Let’s take a look at the 2011 scenario.

    Team A    Team B
RPI   .5478    .5459
TUC   7-5-0 .5833 6-5-0 .5454
COp   1-0-0    1-0-0
H2H   0      1
Total  2      1

In this scenario, Team A wins the comparison because the TUC criteria has been switched.

With the addition of the two wins against Team C, Team A now has a better TUC record than Team B, thereby switching the comparison.

So, as you can see there is a potential impact on the selection this year.

Coming this week, the first installment of Bracketology — my look at how I think the committee will place the teams after those teams are chosen.

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  • LtPowers

    It’s not all about the RPI; for some teams, it’s just about winning your conference tournament.

  • HellzCowbells

    Question: If a team that is in the back of the pairwise rankings gets beat, and subsequently drops from being PW ranked at all, does the benefit of beating a formerly “ranked” team still count for the winning team?

    • Ed Trefzger

      There’s no benefit for beating a formerly “ranked” team. That’s because these criteria are applied by the NCAA only on the day the selection committee makes the tournament selections — so there’s no history for them to consider.

      What we at USCHO do by publishing the PairWise is provide a picture of where teams stand now in relation to the criteria used by the NCAA to select and seed the field.

  • Nm156dsf

    Currently, 1/30, there are 6 TUC teams that have sub-500 record. Four of these are not in the top 25 of the RPI. Wow. I hope this situation changes and these teams either start winning a lot or fall below .500 on the RPI, because right now I do not like this change to the TUC. I’m sure it was well-intentioned but I currently do not like the result. I think it may be causing some surprises in the current PWR

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