For about six hours today, this exact blog space was occupied by a story reacting to what we thought was new legislation instituted by the NCAA men’s ice hockey committee that would require at-large teams in this year’s NCAA tournament to posses a record at or above .500.
Well, according to an email that USCHO.com received from the NCAA today, that was a misprint.
So go on with your life, Minnesota-Duluth. Your tournament life may still hang by a thread, but at least it doesn’t hang by your record.
For the record, below is the commentary that I provided when I believed that a team needed a .500 record to earn an at-large tournament bid. Knowing what we do now, I have not changed my opinion one iota on the topic:
Personally, I think this is a good move by the NCAA. Certainly, this could have been outlined more clearly by the committee, but to institute a standard that in order to qualify for an at-large bid you have to be above .500 certainly makes sense. This isn’t the first time that the .500 and above rule has been applied to the ice hockey tournament. Just a few years ago, Teams Under Consideration were actually defined as those teams with a record of .500 or better. When leagues like the MAAC (now Atlantic Hockey) and the CHA were organized, the insular schedules of member clubs created a plethora of .500 teams in each league that were, at the time, far inferior to many other clubs. Thus the definition of TUCs was changed to look at the RPI, not the overall record.
Recent tournaments, and this year’s included, saw teams hovering around .500 near the end of the season still hold solid positioning in the PWR and that’s likely what led to the committee making the “.500 rule” change this past off-season.
Certainly, this caught a lot of us in the college hockey world by surprise (mostly media types like myself and fans like you) but in the long haul I believe this is a good move to ensure the integrity of the tournament.
Like I said, I stand by all of what I wrote here. I don’t think that a team with a record below .500 belongs in the tournament unless they can prove the belong by winning their conference tournament (and yes, I do believe that winning a conference tournament proves you belong).
Maybe this is a topic to be tackled in the off-season by the committee and, if passed, would appear in print when it’s not just a typo.