D-III Bracketology, Take II

The Crystal Ball got as little clearer thanks to last week’s results. The ECAC East was, ahem, interesting, with three of the top four seeds going down. That means someone other than Norwich (that would be New England College) will host the semifinals and final for the first time ever. The ECAC West also saw the top two seeds go under, as well regular season champ St. Olaf in the MIAC.

To reset, we know the criteria used by the NCAA Division III Men’s Committee to select and seed the teams, but not the weighting used in their evaluation. You can see what an equal weighting would look like using USCHO East, West and combined Pairwise Comparisons.

Each of the past three Tuesdays, the NCAA has produced rankings based on the process it will use to select the Division III field.

There are 11 teams invited: 6 Pool A teams, 1 Pool B Team, and 4 Pool C teams. Pool A consists of the six teams that will win playoff championships in leagues with an automatic qualifier: ECAC East, ECAC Northeast, NCHA, NESCAC, MIAC, and SUNYAC. A Pool B slot is reserved for an independent team or team from a conference that does not have an AQ: ECAC West and MCHA. Pool C bids will be handed out to the highest remaining teams according to the NCAA rankings.

Here’s my guess as to where the teams still in the running stand:

A lock: Plattsburgh, UW-Superior – These teams can at most lose one more game, and are comfortably ahead in the key criteria. They’re in no matter what happens from here on out.

Bet On It: UW-Stout, Amherst, Hobart – Hobart was elevated for its win over Manhattanville and Elmira smacked down for its loss to Neumann, more so that I thought it would. I thought based on the criteria that Elmira had Pool B wrapped up, but it now looks (based on the NCAA rankings) that Hobart will claim Pool B if it wins the ECAC West title on Saturday over Neumann. I think that Stout and Amherst can each survive a loss and still get a Pool C bid. They can both of course win their way in.

Good Chance: St. Scholastica, Middlebury, Elmira – CSS should be in, unless there’s an 8-3 split. Middlebury can win its way in, otherwise it has to hope that Amherst, Plattsburgh and Hobart all win. Could Elmira and Hobart flip-flop for Pool B if Hobart loses? It would be close.

On the Bubble: Neumann, St. Norbert, Manhattanville – It’s anyone’s guess (except the committee’s ) how high Neumann would jump with a win at Hobart. St. Norbert would get the nod in the event of a 6-5 split. Manhattanville has a remote chance should the top seeds win and there’s an 8-3 split.

On the Outside: Wait till next year: Norwich, St. Olaf.

Must Win Their AQ: Oswego, Williams, Trinity, New England, Nichols, Curry, Wentworth, Nichols, Fitchburg State, UMass-Boston, Babson, Skidmore, Hamline, Gustavus Adolphus.

OK, so let’s take a shot at a possible bracket, assuming the team in first wins its respective league:

ECAC East: New England

ECAC Northeast: Nichols

MIAC: Gustavus Adolphus

NCHA: UW-Superior

NESCAC: Amherst

SUNYAC: Plattsburgh

Right now, Hobart gets pool B. Who gets the four Pool C bids? Right now the pool consists of: St. Scholastica, UW-Stout, Middlebury, Elmira, St. Norbert, Manhattanville. Things get really interesting if Neumann beats Hobart. They could jump into the mix. If Oswego doesn’t win the SUNYAC, I think the loss drops the Lakers out of Pool C contention.

Now, the big question, which will help determine the Pool C teams: Will we have a 6-5 split with two play-in games in the East and one in the West, or a 7-4 split and give only the top East seed a bye (all play-in games in the East). You could also do a 7-4 split and fly a team in the first and second rounds. This would probably be fairer, but who thinks the NCAA will do that? On the other hand, is it fair to give St. Norbert a spot in the quarterfinals but make Amherst or whoever is the #2 eastern seed play-in? people out West are nodding their heads – they’ve been doing that for the past few seasons.

An 8-3 split would leave either UW-Stout or St. Scholastica out in favor of Manhattanville. The Valiants lose in all criteria to CSS, but stack up more favorably with UW-Stout in the criteria, so I suppose a loss by the Blue Devils could open the door.

    If it’s 6-5:

First Round (March 11)

Gustavus at St. Norbert

New England at Hobart

Nichols at Middlebury

Quarterfinals (March 14):

St. Olaf/St. Norbert at UW-Superior

St. Scholastica at UW-Stout

Nichols/Middlebury at Plattsburgh

New England/Hobart at Amherst

    If it’s 7-4 with a play-in game in the West:

First Round (March 11)

Gustavus Adolphus at Hobart

Nichols at Elmira

New England at Middlebury

Quarterfinals (March 14):

Gustavus/Hobart at Plattsburgh

Nichols/Elmira at UW-Stout

New England/Middlebury at Amherst

UW-Stout at UW-Superior

    If it’s 7-4 without a play-in game in the West:

First Round (March 11):

New England at Amherst

Nichols at Hobart

Elmira at Middlebury

Quarterfinals (March 14):

Elmira/Middlebury at Plattsburgh

Nichols/Hobart at New England/Amherst

St. Norbert at UW-Superior

St. Scholastica at UW-Stout

And, just because you never know:

    8-3 Split:

First Round (March 11)

Gustavus at UW-Stout

Nichols at Elmira

New England at Manhattanville

Quarterfinals (March 14):

New England.Manhattanville at Plattsburgh

Gustavus/UW-Stout at UW-Superior

Nichols/Elmira at Amherst

Middlebury at Hobart

We’ll be doing one more of these after the playoffs have ended and before the NCAA makes its picks.