Here’s how last season’s PairWise Rankings would have looked with this season’s criteria

One of the most prominent questions from college hockey coaches and fans alike in the wake of the NCAA’s announcement of changes to the selection criteria for the national tournament has been about the real-world implications.

Would the 2013 tournament field look different if it had been selected using the new set of criteria?

In terms of which teams earned at-large bids? No.

Committee chair Jim Knowlton of Rensselaer said the Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee used a number of analyses to determine how to adjust the selection criteria, which we represent here as the PairWise Rankings.

We asked to see how last season would have looked in the 2013-14 formula, and the NCAA agreed to release that information, which we’re including below.

The field would include the same 16 teams, although six of them would have different seeds:

• Minnesota State and North Dakota would have flipped seeds, with the Mavericks a No. 2 seed and UND in the No. 3 band.

• Wisconsin and Yale would have moved into No. 3 seeds, bumping Niagara and Denver to No. 4 seeds.

The top five spots in the PairWise are identical in each algorithm.

Here’s the NCAA’s representation of the 2012-13 season in the 2013-14 criteria (sorry in advance about the formatting; I’m working on that):

Rank Team        Record  PWCs  RPI RK
 1 Quinnipiac     27- 7- 5 58- 0 | 57.06 1
 2 Minnesota     26- 8- 5 57- 1 | 56.70 2
 3 *UMass Lowell    26-10- 2 55- 3 | 56.06 3
 4 *Notre Dame     25-12- 3 55- 3 | 54.98 4
 5 Miami       24-11- 5 53- 5 | 54.89 5
 6 New Hampshire   19-11- 7 53- 5 | 54.48 6
 7 Boston College   22-11- 4 52- 6 | 54.44 7
 8 Minnesota State  24-13- 3 50- 8 | 54.28 8
 9 North Dakota    21-12- 7 49- 9 | 54.15 9
 10 *Union       21-12- 5 49- 9 | 53.89 10
 11 *Wisconsin     22-12- 7 48-10 | 53.83 12
 12 Yale        18-12- 3 46-12 | 53.63 14
 13 Niagara      23- 9- 5 45-13 | 53.86 11
 14 Denver       20-13- 5 45-13 | 53.81 13
 15 St Cloud      23-15- 1 43-15 | 53.62 15
 16 Western Michigan  19-11- 8 43-15 | 53.18 16
 17 Providence     17-14- 7 43-15 | 52.87 17
 18 Rensselaer     18-14- 5 41-17 | 52.49 18
 19 Boston University 21-16- 2 40-18 | 52.36 19
 20 Colorado College  18-19- 5 39-19 | 52.25 20
 21 Brown       16-14- 6 37-21 | 51.78 21
 22 Cornell      15-16- 3 37-21 | 51.46 22
 23 Ferris State    16-16- 5 36-22 | 51.12 23
 24 Robert Morris   20-14- 4 35-23 | 51.11 24
 25 Dartmouth     15-14- 5 35-23 | 51.05 25
 26 St Lawrence    18-16- 4 32-26 | 50.99 26
 27 Ohio State     16-17- 7 32-26 | 50.85 27
 28 Nebraska Omaha   19-18- 2 31-27 | 50.79 28
 29 Alaska       17-16- 4 31-27 | 50.64 29
 30 Michigan      18-19- 3 28-30 | 50.46 30
 31 Holy Cross     20-14- 3 28-30 | 50.06 31
 32 Northern Michigan 15-19- 4 28-30 | 50.01 32
 33 Merrimack     15-17- 6 26-32 | 49.98 33
 34 Air Force     17-13- 7 26-32 | 49.91 34
 35 Connecticut    19-14- 4 24-34 | 49.80 35
 36 Mercyhurst     19-17- 5 23-35 | 49.63 36
 37 Bowling Green   15-21- 5 23-35 | 49.39 37
 38 *Canisius      19-18- 5 21-37 | 49.19 38
 39 Colgate      14-18- 4 21-37 | 49.03 39
 40 Minnesota Duluth  14-19- 5 19-39 | 48.78 40
 41 Penn State     11-12- 0 18-40 | 48.77 41
 42 Maine       11-19- 8 16-42 | 48.43 42
 43 Lake Superior   17-21- 1 16-42 | 48.42 43
 44 Michigan Tech   13-20- 4 16-42 | 48.25 44
 45 Michigan State   14-25- 3 15-43 | 48.08 45
 46 Vermont      11-19- 6 14-44 | 48.04 46
 47 Princeton     10-16- 5 12-46 | 47.96 47
 48 RIT        15-18- 5 11-47 | 47.90 48
 49 Massachusetts   12-19- 3 11-47 | 47.90 49
 50 Clarkson      9-20- 7 9-49 | 47.29 50
 51 Harvard      10-19- 3 8-50 | 47.21 51
 52 American Int'l   12-17- 6 7-51 | 46.56 52
 53 Northeastern    9-21- 4 6-52 | 45.49 53
 54 Bentley      12-20- 3 5-53 | 45.06 54
 55 Bemidji State    6-22- 8 4-54 | 44.58 55
 56 Alaska-Anchorage  4-25- 7 3-55 | 43.56 56
 57 Army        7-22- 5 2-56 | 42.60 57
 58 Alabama-Huntsville 1-20- 1 1-57 | 38.38 58
 59 Sacred Heart    2-30- 4 0-58 | 38.18 59

You can see how last year’s PairWise and NCAA tournament actually shook out in this edition of Bracketology.

The order of teams from last year’s PairWise was:

1 Quinnipiac
2 Minnesota
3 Massachusetts-Lowell
4 Notre Dame
5 Miami
6 Boston College
7 New Hampshire
8 North Dakota
9 Denver
10 Niagara
11 Minnesota State
12 Union
13 St. Cloud State
14 Wisconsin
15 Yale
16 Canisius

Canisius, of course, was the Atlantic Hockey tournament champion and received an automatic bid.

Is the change worth much if it produces the same result in terms of deciding which teams get at-large bids? The committee wanted to be cautious about changes because of the new conference landscape and not yet knowing how that would impact things, but this could be considered overcautious.

But I guess we’ll have to let it play out and see what happens.

Television schedules taking shape; ESPN getting back into regular season coverage

An ESPN camera operator works at the 2010 Frozen Four in Detroit (photo: Jim Rosvold).

One of the great promises of Big Ten hockey was the additional national exposure the conference could bring in the form of a national television schedule.

We’ve seen the commitment made for the conference’s debut season, and it has some impressive elements.

The Big Ten and its six teams rolled out the core of their 2013-14 TV schedules on Monday and advertised some big numbers:

• At least 70 games overall.

• 34 games on either the Big Ten Network, ESPNU or ESPNews.

• 36 games on Fox Sports regional networks, with more on local channels in the home markets.

The addition of the ESPN family of networks stood out to me in that it has been a few years since we’ve seen college hockey out of Bristol before the start of the NCAA tournament.

An ESPN spokesperson said the seven Big Ten games on either ESPNU or ESPNews came as part of the network’s most recent rights extension with the conference.

We’ve heard complaints over the years that ESPN doesn’t show up on the college hockey scene until the last 15 games of the season, and while seven games isn’t a whole lot out of the 1,000 or so that get played in the regular season, it’s a start.

It has been pointed out by Andy Johnson at Bucky’s 5th Quarter that Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez once claimed BTN would show upwards of 40 games a season. Twenty-seven doesn’t quite reach that number, so I’ll be interested to hear why the actual figure didn’t reach the projected one.

For the Big Ten as a whole, will the TV schedule help in winning over those soured by the teams’ departure from the WCHA and the CCHA? Only time will tell.

With the Big Ten schedules, those for NCHC teams (the league has a deal with CBS Sports Network) and other schools that have publicized TV schedules, we have 162 games in our composite TV schedule for the 2013-14 season. There will be more to come from Hockey East, which announces its TV schedule at its media day on Sept. 24, and when NBC Sports Network reveals its plans.

Click here to see our TV schedule, and send email here to let us know of other TV schedules we can add.

European trips give teams an early start

Hidden among the typical summertime news, we’ve actually had actual college hockey teams playing actual hockey games.

Dartmouth and Quinnipiac have both taken advantage of an NCAA rule that allows teams to make a trip to play foreign competition once every four years.

Quinnipiac went to Italy and Switzerland earlier this month for four games against European pro competition, and Dartmouth is in the middle of a trip to the same two countries for three games.

Read up on Dartmouth’s trip here and see how Quinnipiac’s excursion went here.

NCAA rules allow for such trips once every four years during a vacation period for the school. Incoming freshmen aren’t allowed, and the team is limited to 10 games, none against other American teams.

The team gets 10 days of practice before the trip, and don’t think that isn’t a valuable early start to the season.

UPDATE: Adrian coach Ron Fogarty got in touch to mention that the Bulldogs also toured Italy and Switzerland this summer. Read about that on Adrian’s site here.

A Saturday-Monday schedule for future Frozen Fours?

The specifications for sites interested in bidding on regionals and Frozen Fours from 2015 to 2018 are out, and one item jumped out to me right away.

It appears that the NCAA is considering moving the game dates for the Frozen Four from Thursday and Saturday to Saturday and Monday. That’s listed as a possible option in the bid specs, and it would give the Frozen Four a similar structure to the men’s basketball Final Four.

We’ll check with the NCAA to see how much of a possibility this is, but I wanted to put it out there. How would you feel about the national championship game being played on a Monday? Leave a comment below.

Update: I notice that the minimum capacity to host a Frozen Four is 18,000. Will that eliminate Boston from consideration? Maybe not. Capacity at TD Garden is listed as 17,565 for hockey, although Frozen Four games there in 1998 and 2004 drew crowds of over 18,000.

32 NCAA tournament events up for bid soon around college hockey

If you’re waiting to hear where the 2015 Frozen Four will be, you’re in for quite a wait.

Site selection announcements for NCAA events from 2015 to 2018 are scheduled for December, according to the web site for the coordinated, NCAA-wide bid process.

That means the 2015 regional and Frozen Four hosts will have only 15 to 16 months before players are taking the ice for those events. To me, that suggests a greater likelihood of familiar venues that season, places that have been already seen successful weekends.

More information about what the NCAA is looking for will come out June 17, when bid specifications are released. Bids are accepted from July 15 to Sept. 16.

The NCAA is advertising for four seasons of postseason sites in men’s and women’s hockey, Division I and Division III. That means there are 32 openings to be filled across NCAA hockey.

In Division I men’s hockey, some issues connected to the future of the regionals need to be addressed first.

Earlier this month, the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee heard ideas from coaches on changes to improve the regional atmosphere, but there was no consensus. The movement to return NCAA games to campus sites has its supporters but there also has been a good amount of pushback.

The 2014 men’s Frozen Four is in Philadelphia, with regionals in Bridgeport, Conn.; Worcester, Mass.; Cincinnati; and St. Paul, Minn.

While we wait to see which venues step forward as bidders, here are some of the details that the NCAA has already posted:

• The minimum venue capacity for Division I regionals is 5,000, while it is 3,500 for the women’s Frozen Four and 3,000 for the Division III men’s championship. The men’s Frozen Four also will have a minimum (it has been 15,000) but that detail isn’t part of the bid brochure.

• The men’s Frozen Four bid requires a minimum of 2,454 hotel room nights, 573 on the peak night. The women’s Frozen Four needs 682 room nights (168 at peak), while the D-III men’s championship needs 296 (85 at peak) and the D-III women’s championship needs 305 (85 at peak).

• The men’s Frozen Four is scheduled for April 9 and 11 in 2015, April 7 and 9 in 2016, April 6 and 8 in 2017 and April 5 and 7 in 2018.

• The women’s Frozen Four and the Division III championships all are scheduled for the same weekend in the four years covered by the bid process: March 20-22, 2015; March 18-20, 2016; March 17-19, 2017; and March 16-18, 2018. Women’s Frozen Four games are Friday and Sunday; D-III games are Friday and Saturday.

Where would you like to see these tournaments go? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Digging through the history books after two days of the 2013 NCAA tournament

A few interesting notes have surfaced so far in the 2013 NCAA tournament. Here are some that stand out:

• For only the second time in 65 tournaments (not counting the first), and for the first time since 1958, the Frozen Four will not include a team that previously won an NCAA Division I championship. (The first tournament doesn’t count, obviously, because there was no defending champion.) Denver, Clarkson, North Dakota and Harvard took part in the four-team tournament in Minneapolis in 1958, with the Pioneers coming out on top.

• There will be two teams from ECAC Hockey in the Frozen Four for the first time in 30 years. Harvard and Providence played in the 1983 tournament in Grand Forks, N.D., before the formation of Hockey East took the Friars to that league. To find the last time two current ECAC members were in the national semifinals, you have to go back to 1980, when Cornell and Dartmouth made it in a five-team tournament.

• Jesse Root’s goal for Yale nine seconds into overtime on Friday was the fastest overtime goal in NCAA tournament history. That broke the record of 15 seconds set by Lake Superior State in a 6-5 victory over Northeastern in the 1994 West Regional first round. The Lakers won two more overtime games that year before blowing out Boston University 9-1 in the national championship game.

• Of 10,648 completed entries in College Hockey Pickem 2013, only two perfect brackets remain. You can see their brackets on the standings page.

Bracket busted yet? Only 1 percent of entries still have chance at perfection

So, how’s your bracket doing?

Sorry. Judging from the statistics we’re seeing in College Hockey Pickem 2013, that might be a sore subject.

The first game of the 2013 NCAA tournament eliminated the team predicted as the national champion on 39 percent of the brackets. Yale’s overtime win over Minnesota also took out 10,339 of 10,648 completed entries from a run at a perfect bracket.

After the wins by Yale, Massachusetts-Lowell, North Dakota and New Hampshire on Friday, there are only 112 brackets (1 percent) that have a chance to go 15-for-15.

Here’s the rundown of which teams were favored to win it all:

Minnesota: 4,117 (38.66%)
North Dakota: 1,375 (12.91%)
Boston College: 1,298 (12.19%)
Notre Dame: 715 (6.71%)
Massachusetts-Lowell: 664 (6.24%)
Quinnipiac: 620 (5.82%)
Wisconsin: 554 (5.20%)
Miami: 483 (4.54%)
Denver: 223 (2.09%)
St. Cloud State: 212 (1.99%)
New Hampshire: 202 (1.90%)
Union: 81 (0.76%)
Minnesota State: 57 (0.54%)
Canisius: 19 (0.18%)
Niagara: 14 (0.13%)
Yale: 14 (0.13%)

We asked: Are ticket prices keeping you away from the regionals?

The issue of the so-called tournament atmosphere surfaces in college hockey around this time every season as we head into NCAA regional weekend. The selection committee switches some matchups, in part, to generate more attendance and, therefore, more buzz in the buildings.

But are ticket prices holding some would-be attendees back? If you’re buying through Ticketmaster, where fees are added to the base price, a two-day adult regional ticket package costs $72.70 in Grand Rapids, $86.30 in Toledo and $87.30 in Providence and Manchester. A single-day ticket costs $42.05 in Grand Rapids, $53.85 in Toledo and $54.50 in Providence.

So we asked our Twitter followers a question:

Are ticket prices keeping you from attending regional games this weekend? Let us know, and let us know what price would get you in the door.

Here are some of the responses we got with price suggestions:

@ $25 per game seems reasonable. It's about what it costs per game for season tickets at UNH #cawlidgehawkey
Colin Thorner
@ I think $25-30 would be fair. I would defiantly consider going then
Ryan Haley
@ $45 for the weekend. You're going to have to open the wallet to attend the Frozen Four. Don't do it twice.
Joe LaCour
“@: Are ticket prices keeping you" $35-$45 should be reasonable for regionals. Reg season is $12-$18. $77 is ridiculous!!
Jim Pickens
@ $30 is the max for a game that is 50% full, especially with teams I don't care about. $50 is ridiculous even for Gophers-UND.
Kyle Shiely
@ $25 would have been nice. Paying $45 each for 2 games Saturday and $75 each for Hawks/Wings Sunday. #hockey #GoHawks #twice
Douglas Cutler
@ Over $50 with charges just to attend Sat in Prov. For $25-30, sure. But going to watch on ESPNU.

And we couldn’t help but notice these responses, too:

@ its a joke! 45$ for single game tickets. This isn't the NHL. Not to mention a "casual" fan won't pay that let alone some real fans
Stephen Minnesota
@ bad regional choices too. All are in the EASTERN time zone. You wonder why attendance is down. Seriously, take a look around.
Stephen Minnesota
@ how about a site in a time zone that's not eastern.
Justin Lewis
@ Wow. I haven't had to buy tickets in a while. $87 is a LOT. And it's a pain to get to the point where the site tells you the prices.
Mark H. Anbinder
@ Put them in cities that are easy to get to by air. G-Rap, Toledo, Worcester, Manchester? Come ON. Dont make me rent a car AND fly in.
Adam Chappelle
@ Ohio State and their insistence on producing losing teams is keeping me away
Casey Todt
@ only want 1 game. Don't want to pay for a game I'm not into. I'll get em out front on gameday for less
@ Absolutely! $75 for Toledo/3 games. Thats equal to 5 Walleye games and at least 7 #BGSU_Hockey games. Add concessions on top of that?
Ian Hoadley
@ Nope.. Terrible locations are keeping me away!
N. Teele Schneider
@ No, the 12 hour trip is keeping me from going. But next year at the X I will be buying upper deck and sitting in all the empty lowers
Kyle Shiely
@ @ & single games in Toledo @ $45 will scare off everyone but the most ardent supporters. hope Cincinnati prices better nxt yr.
Brandon Gee
@ Midwest 2-day tickets on StubHub ON THE GLASS are below face value.
Drew Hewett

Coaches, conference titles and the national championship

Wisconsin’s win in the WCHA championship game Saturday not only put the Badgers into the NCAA tournament, it made one short list even shorter.

Badgers coach Mike Eaves won the national championship in 2006, but until last weekend he didn’t have a conference title on his coaching resume.

The only other name on the list of national championship-winning coaches without a league title was Amo Bessone, who led Michigan State to the 1966 NCAA crown but never took the Spartans or Michigan Tech to the top of their league.

(Well, unless you count Big Ten championships that Michigan State has from 1958-59, 1966-67, 1970-71, 1972-73 and 1975-76, but those were determined by the results of regular season games played between league schools while they were members of other conferences.)

Turning to this year’s NCAA tournament, there are 11 coaches looking for a first national championship, but only Minnesota State’s Mike Hastings (the only first-year college head coach in the field) doesn’t have a conference title on his resume.

Keith Allain, Yale
Norm Bazin, Massachusetts-Lowell
Rick Bennett, Union
Rico Blasi, Miami
Dave Burkholder, Niagara
Dave Hakstol, North Dakota
Mike Hastings, Minnesota State
Bob Motzko, St. Cloud State
Rand Pecknold, Quinnipiac
Dave Smith, Canisius
Dick Umile, New Hampshire

The other five coaches in the tournament have combined for 12 of the 65 national championships that have been awarded.

Boston College’s Jerry York has five (1984 with Bowling Green; 2001, 2008, 2010 and 2012 with BC); Denver’s George Gwozdecky (2004, 2005), Notre Dame’s Jeff Jackson (1992 and 1994 with Lake Superior State) and Minnesota’s Don Lucia (2002, 2003) each have two; and Wisconsin’s Eaves has one (2006).

After leagues disappear or change, how will we remember them?

Please excuse the temporary bout of morbidity I’m about to throw into one of the most exciting times in the college hockey season.

At some point or another, we all wonder how we’ll be remembered after we’re gone. Some of us would like to be known for having been kind to others. Some of us, for having made a lasting impact on our world.

What will the CCHA be remembered for? What about this incarnation of the WCHA? And the NCHA?

When the CCHA Championship wraps up on Sunday, the league will essentially be gone. Yes, some of its teams will move on to the NCAA tournament wearing CCHA patches on their sweaters and, yes, the trophies will go on display sometime down the road at Bowling Green, an original member.

But this week is the last hurrah for the league, aged 42, and longtime friends of the league will be offering up their memories.

Fred Pletsch has been with the CCHA since 2001, first as director of communications, then as associate commissioner and, since 2011, as commissioner.

When I asked him this week how he’d like the league to be remembered after it’s gone, he brought up four areas.

• For being inclusive.

Pletsch offered a reminder that the league formed in 1971 because its charter members couldn’t get into the WCHA.

“Throughout its history, I think the CCHA opened up to anybody that showed interest in starting a program and committing to hockey,” Pletsch said.

• For its talent.

Beyond seven Hobey Baker Award winners, Pletsch argues that the league set the tone for high-profile college players in the mid-1980s, when Michigan State’s Craig Simpson was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft and the Spartans’ Joe Murphy went at No. 1 overall a year later.

“That had NHL people sit up and take notice,” Pletsch said. “And it was good for all the other players of the league because as the scouts went to watch the Simpsons and Murphys, they were seeing that there were a lot of other good players in the league.”

• For a pioneering spirit.

Fred Jacoby, the CCHA’s first commissioner, got the league a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Bill Beagan, who succeeded Jacoby, put together national television deals that made CCHA games available in more than 50 million homes, Pletsch said.

And Pletsch credited his predecessor, Tom Anastos, with pushing to eliminate obstruction even before the NHL’s post-lockout crackdown.

• For a sense of united purpose.

Pletsch related that at one point, Michigan and Michigan State gave up lucrative TV contracts of their own so the league could put together a deal.

“Obviously, the ultimate demise of the CCHA was the result of decisions made that were out of the control of the coaches and the administrators that are in the trenches,” he said. “There was always such a cooperative spirit in the room to do what’s best for the sport nationally.”

My experience with the CCHA has been from a distance, but I’ve always thought that, as a whole, it was an underappreciated, misunderstood entity.

It has lived in the shadow of the WCHA for a lot of its existence despite producing great players and featuring some of the game’s iconic coaches.

It has been lampooned in some parts for instituting the shootout and for denying admission to Alabama-Huntsville when the Chargers were becoming homeless. Those, however, were administrative decisions made by schools facing severe financial crunches — an element to the stories that I’m not sure ever was fully understood.

My hockey-covering career has been based in two other conferences, both of which also are undergoing major changes this offseason.

The Division III NCHA men’s league, which has produced the last three national champions, is crumbling as the Wisconsin state schools reorganize under their Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference umbrella.

St. Norbert and St. Scholastica are moving to the MCHA, and the dynamics of western D-III hockey are getting a big jolt.

I’ll remember the NCHA as featuring some pretty intense rivalries and great characters. I’m sure those rivalries will realign but the old ones were pretty good.

And while the CCHA prepares to close up shop after this weekend, the WCHA Final Five will be a farewell gathering of sorts, too.

Partisan fans that have sat next to each other for years at the Xcel Energy Center will go their separate ways next season, when the WCHA loses two schools to the Big Ten and six others to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

The five teams that were left in the CCHA after the moves to the Big Ten, NCHC and Hockey East (Notre Dame) are headed for the new-look WCHA so, again, new rivalries will form.

But for those of us who grew up watching the WCHA of Wisconsin and Minnesota, of Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota, it might be too different to recognize.

How will we remember the WCHA as it stands today? I think for me, it’ll be in the atmosphere of a Final Five. We all know that the league has its blemishes and has made us shake our heads more times than we care to count, but it sure can put on a good show.

So with the CCHA and the WCHA of today, it’s time to enjoy what little is left. Soon enough, memories are all we’ll have to go by.

How will you remember these leagues that are changing or disappearing? Leave a comment below.

North Dakota 2016 National ChampionsBNY Mellon Wealth Management