This Week in D-III Women’s Hockey:
Feb. 22, 2007

It was a good week for Plattsburgh.

The Cardinals cemented their ranking as No. 1 in the country with a 5-4 overtime win, on the road, against No. 2 Middlebury. A Shay Bywater goal just 44 seconds into overtime not only gave the Cardinals the win, but also put them on track to host NCAAs for the second consecutive year. Although the official announcement will not be made until March 4, it is hard to fathom the committee choosing any other location even if Plattsburgh were to stumble in the ECAC West tournament.

On top of the win over Middlebury, the Cardinals also received some help from out west. Last week we took a look at what the NCAA field would be if it was determined then. We discovered that Plattsburgh would likely have to play in a quarterfinal game against Elmira in almost the exact same scenario as last year. Due to the NCAA’s policy on limited travel in the early round of the tournament, the Cardinals would not have received the bye into the Frozen Four although they still would have hosted.

Fortunately for the Cardinals, and subsequently every team hoping for a Pool C spot, Lake Forest was able to tie and defeat Wisconsin-Stevens Point this past weekend. The Pointers were the last team in the field and the third team in from the west. As a result of having an odd number of western teams, Gustavus Adolphus would have received the bye into the Frozen Four. However, with the Pointers stumbling, their chances for the second Pool C bid may have been hurt. As we head into week two of D-III Bracketology we will see what the result of the weekend has brought us.

First, here are this week’s NCAA rankings. Mind you the results from the Plattsburgh win over Middlebury are not reflected here as that game took place on Tuesday night after the rankings had been released.

East

1. Plattsburgh
2. Middlebury
3. RIT
4. Elmira
5. Utica
6. Manhattanville
7. Bowdoin
8. Amherst

West

1. Gustavus Adolphus
2. Wisconsin-Superior
3. Wisconsin-River Falls
4. Wisconsin-Stevens Point
5. Lake Forest
The only changes from last week are Utica swapped positions with Manhattanville and Wisconsin-River Falls jumped ahead of the Pointers.

Now, once again for the sake of projecting the field, let’s assume that the favorites all win their conference playoffs. This means that the teams in the four conferences with automatic qualifiers are in the dance. These teams are:

ECAC East – RIT
ECAC West – Plattsburgh
MIAC – Gustavus Adolphus
NESCAC – Middlebury

Now let’s take a look at the Pool B berth. The Pool B spot goes to the top team in the NCHA since it is the only conference without an automatic bid. The top team in the NCHA according to the NCAA rankings is Wisconsin-Superior. Therefore, the Yellowjackets once again are your Pool B team.

So far, the NCAA field looks like this:

ECAC East – RIT
ECAC West – Plattsburgh
MIAC – Gustavus Adolphus
NESCAC – Middlebury
Pool B – Wis.-Superior

With two slots left in the field, all other teams who have not made the tournament will now be compared against each other. The NCAA will then determine which two will be the last teams to go to the tournament.

The last two slots are your Pool C teams which is basically every team left in the country who has not yet received a bid.

Going by the rankings, the top two eastern teams are Elmira and Utica. The western squads are once again Wisconsin-River Falls and Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Since the NCAA does not release a ranking of teams from different regions, we will use the next best tool which is the USCHO Pairwise Rankings which is used to mimic the NCAA selection criteria and is based of a set of five criteria: Winning Percentage, Quality of Wins Index, Head to Head record, Record vs. Common Opponents, and Record vs. Ranked Teams.

When these teams are placed into the PWR rankings here is what we get for a result:

Elmira beats Utica in the criteria 3-1 as they have a better Win %, QOW, and are 1-0-1 against the Pioneers this season. The Pioneers lone win is in the record versus common opponents’ category.

Elmira also defeats Wisconsin-River Falls in the criteria 2-0. They have a better Win % and QOW.

When comparing Elmira and Wis.-Stevens Point they come out even at 1-1. However, the committee is not forced to weigh the criteria equally and in this case we will do the same.

    Elmira vs. Wis.-Stevens Point
WIN      0.7632  1           0.6818  0
QOW      9.9048  0           9.9545  1
H2H     0- 0- 0  0          0- 0- 0  0
COP     0- 0- 0  0          0- 0- 0  0
RNK     0- 0- 0  0          0- 0- 0  0
============================================
PTS              1                   1

If you take a closer look at the number, Elmira has a Win % of 0.7632 compared to the Pointers’ 0.6818. The Soaring Eagles finish almost a whole point better than the Pointers. Now if you look at the QOW index, the Pointers stand at 9.9545 compared to Elmira’s 9.9048. Those numbers are so close that it is likely the committee will call that category a tie and award Elmira the win for the criteria.

The next comparison we will look at is Utica and Wis.-River Falls. The Pioneers beat out the Falcons 2-0 winning in Win % and QOW.

Next let’s compare the Pioneers and the Pointers. They finish in a 1-1 tie as Utica has a better Win % and the Pointers have a better QOW. Each team wins their respective category by a decent sized margin meaning the committee will likely award no points to either team.

Lastly, we will look at Wis.-Stevens Point and Wis.-River Falls. The Pointers beat out the Falcons in the criteria 2-1, winning both Win % and QOW. The Falcons lone win falls under record versus common opponents.

So, after comparing all the teams we are left with this:

Elmira – 3
Utica – 1
Wis.-Stevens Point – 1
Wis.-River Falls – 0

Since Elmira beats all three teams in the criteria they capture the first Pool C spot. The next spot comes down to Wis.-Stevens Point and Utica. Let’s take a look at their head to head comparison.

    Utica vs. Wis.-Stevens Point
WIN      0.7609  1           0.6818  0
QOW      9.5217  0           9.9545  1
H2H     0- 0- 0  0          0- 0- 0  0
COP     0- 0- 0  0          0- 0- 0  0
RNK     0- 0- 0  0          0- 0- 0  0
============================================
PTS              1                   1

As you see, Utica has a Win % of 0.0791 higher than the Pointers. Meanwhile, the Pointers have a QOW index 0.4328 higher than Utica. Using these numbers it is impossible to pick between the two teams. As an answer to this problem, let’s take a look at each team’s record versus the current ranked teams. The PWR has yet to add this statistic into its equation, but a search of each teams schedule results shows that Utica has a record of 1-4-2 against NCAA ranked opponents. Meanwhile, the Pointers have a record of 4-5-2 against ranked opponents. As a result, for the second week in a row, the Pointers hold on to the last Pool C spot.

Now, the only thing that is strange about this scenario is that this week’s NCAA rankings have Wis.-River Falls ahead of Wis.-Stevens Point. The Pointers clearly beat out the Falcons in the criteria so it is not clear to me why the Falcons are ahead of the Pointers. This is something to pay attention to next week to see if the Falcons remain ahead of the Pointers.

Once again, with all the teams, selected, our field looks like this:

East
1- Plattsburgh
2- Middlebury
3- RIT
4- Elmira

West
1- Gustavus Adolphus
2- Wis.-Superior
3- Wis.-Stevens Point

This forms these Quarterfinal match-ups:

Gustavus Adolphus – BYE
Elmira @ Plattsburgh
RIT @ Middlebury
Wis.-Stevens Point @ Wis.-Superior

Like last week, the Cardinals will not receive the bye into the Frozen Four as there are an odd number of teams in the west. However, with Plattsburgh’s recent win over Middlebury, and the distance they have put between themselves and the rest of the pack, a win in the quarterfinals would send the Frozen Four back to the Stafford Ice Arena for the second straight season.

Of course, with conference playoffs on the way, this is all going to change several times before it is over. In the end, we have the same result as last week but with the criteria so close, it is hard to predict exactly what the committee will do on March 4. The race for the last spot remains very tight and unless one of the four favorites falls in their conference tournaments, the committee will have a lot of work on their hands.

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