Now’s the time of year when I usually break out the D-III version of Bracketology. Unfortunately, it’s going to have to wait a little longer this year.
The NCAA revised its selection criteria this year, moving away from the (frankly) goofy point system to assess a team’s strength of schedule. The new process is closer to the Division I Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), which uses the winning percentage of a team’s opponents and its opponents’ winning percentage to compute a strength of schedule.
The problem is that unlike Division I, the weighting of these percentages have not been made public. Until then, we’re just guessing if we do a Pairwise, which is the basis of Bracketology.
The NCAA selection committee, chaired by Steve Nelson at UW-Superior, met yesterday and put together their first rankings. This will be a dry run and the results will not be made public. The first public rankings will be published on Tuesday, February 19, a day after the selection committee meets again on the 18th. They’ll meet every Monday and publish rankings for the rest of the season, with the NCAA field announced the evening of Sunday, March 9.
When the first rankings come out, we’ll reverse engineer them to come up with the formula.
One school anxious to see how it will turn out is Adrian, which has played an amazing first season of varsity hockey. The Bulldogs are currently 20-3 a record mark for a new programs.
“We have the best first season ever,” said Adrian coach Ron Fogarty, who’s obviously done his homework. “St. Scholastica went 19-3 in their first year in 1972-73 and Union also had 19 wins their first season.”
The Bulldogs have a good shot at running the table with only Concordia (WI) standing in their way. The Falcons, another first year program, have had almost a mirror-image season, at only 2-21.
Fogarty called on his Division I coaching and recruiting experience (he’s been an assistant at Bowling Green, Clarkson and Colgate) in putting together a team comprised almost entirely of freshman with a single junior -Wayne State transfer Adam Krug who has a whopping 59 points so far to lead the team.
“We wanted to win right way,” said Fogarty. “I saw early on with games at Potsdam and Neumann that we would be able to hold our own.”
Contrary to rumors, the Bulldogs are indeed eligible for the Division III NCAA tournament.
“Since Adrian is an established Division III school, new sports there require no waiting period,” said Fogarty. “If you move up from DiviIOn I to Division I like RIT, or from junior to a four year school like Morrisville, there’s a waiting period. But since we’re already a Division III school, we’re eligible for post-season right away.”
The MCHA has applied for but does not have an automatic qualifier for its champion, but if the Bulldogs can run the table, they’ll be 26-3 come selection time…and there’s the rub.
Based on the weighting the NCAA decides to give to the opponents and opponents’ opponents in the strength of schedule, models we’ve run at USCHO could still show the Bulldogs on the outside looking in. The MCHA has some weak teams, and that could hurt Adrian.
“I hope the give a lot of consideration to our record, and the fact that we did the best job we could getting games” said Fogarty.
Potsdam, Neumann and Geneseo were all non-region games, and that will only come into play if things are very close and the s
election committee goes deep into the criteria.
“We’ll try to play the toughest schedule we can, but it’s hard with the interlocking agreement between the MIAC and NCHA,” said Fogarty. “I’d like to see the MCHA involved in that scheduling arrangement as well.”
There’s also been talk that Adrian’s ultimate goal is Division I, once the moratorium on new D-I programs is lifted.
“Right now we’re concentrating on being in Division III and winning a championship,” said Fogarty. “We haven’t even had a full season and people are asking us about the CHA. Right now we have given no thought to that. We’re happy where we are and haven’t accomplished anything (in Division III) yet.”