With the Division III women’s season over, it’s time to take a look at who will make the NCAA Tournament and who won’t. Let’s call it Bracketology, Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Style.
Russell Jaslow went through all the iterations Thursday in his preview article, but now that the games are done with, has anything changed?
The answer: not really. With seven slots open, six of them are easy to pick and one of them is difficult.
There are four Pool A slots delivered to automatic qualifiers. There was only one mild upset in this category as Middlebury downed previously-unbeaten Bowdoin to take the NESCAC crown and the corresponding automatic bid. Elmira, Manhattanville and St. Thomas are also in.
So your Pool A slots are:
ECAC East — Manhattanville
ECAC West — Elmira
MIAC — St. Thomas
NESCAC — Middlebury
The Pool B situation, likewise, has not changed, Wisconsin-River Falls holds on and should be selected as the Pool B team in the tournament.
Now on to Pool C.
Bowdoin makes the tournament, so there’s only one slot left. As Russell said, six easy picks, one difficult one. So who gets the last slot?
There are three teams that are close in the selection criteria — Plattsburgh, Rensselaer and Williams. Our job is to decide which one gets in.
Let’s refer to the Division III Women’s Championship Handbook.
“The committee will select three at-large teams based on conference and regional competition using the following primary selection criteria:
1. Winning Percentage
2. Head to head results
3. Results against common opponents
4. Strength of schedule as determined by in region opponent’s winning percentage, and
5. Results against teams already in the tournament.
Note: The committee will review all criteria and each will have an equal weight. A team may have an excellent winning percentage; however, the strength of schedule and results against teams in the tournament must also be examined.”
We’ll use the PairWise way of thinking between Plattsburgh, Rensselaer and Williams, comparing each team among the five criteria and giving each criterion win one point. The most points wins a head-to-head comparison.
Comparing Plattsburgh with Rensselaer, there are no common opponents and the schools have not played head-to-head. Rensselaer has the better winning percentage, but Plattsburgh’s opponents’ winning percentage is higher. So we’re tied 1-1 in criteria. Applying the fifth criterion, results against teams in the tournament, Rensselaer is 0-3, Plattsburgh is 0-4. Another push.
Plattsburgh vs. Williams: Plattsburgh has a better winning percentage and won the head-to-head game. Two points for Plattsburgh. Williams, though, has a better record against common opponents and a stronger schedule. Two points for Williams. Against teams already in the tournament, Plattsburgh is 0-4 while Williams is 1-3-2. Williams wins 3-2 in comparisons against Plattsburgh.
Williams vs. Rensselaer: Rensselaer has a better winning percentage and the two have not faced each other this year. Against common opponents, neither has a win. Williams has a better strength of schedule, so we’re tied at 1-1 now. Against teams already in the tournament, Williams is 1-3-2, Rensselaer 0-3. So Williams also wins the comparison with Rensselaer.
So looking at the trio, Williams beats Plattsburgh and Rensselaer in the criteria, and we therefore predict that Williams is the second Pool C team.
That gives a seven-team field of Manhattanville, Elmira, St. Thomas, Middlebury, Wisconsin River-Falls, Bowdoin and Williams.
Now, how do we seed them. Most importantly, who gets the bye?
The top two teams in the PairWise are Elmira and Manhattanville. Using the same procedure as above, it’s Elmira that wins the comparison between the two teams and so Elmira gets the bye.
Now to set the three quarterfinal matchups.
Considering regional aspects, St. Thomas will play at Wisconsin-River Falls.
Manhattanville is the top-rated of the four teams left, and should therefore play the bottom team — Williams, which just got in. That sends the Ephs to Playland Ice Casino.
Our other matchup is now Middlebury and Bowdoin, a rematch of the NESCAC championship and of last year’s first round NCAA game. To set the venue, Bowdoin wins the comparison, so we have Middlebury at Bowdoin once again.
With the games in hand, Elmira gets the bye and should play the winner of the 4-5 game, Middlebury at Bowdoin.
The final brackets:
Williams at Manhattanville
St. Thomas at Wisconsin-River Falls
The winners meet in one national semifinal.
Middlebury at Bowdoin, with the winner to face Elmira in the other national semifinal.
That’s bracketology, Division III women’s ice hockey style.