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.


  1. Paula:

    Didn’t Shawn Hunwick win the best goaltender award at the CCHA Awards Banquet also? I know they left him off of the CCHA announcement, but please give him his due.

  2. You think Miami will beat Michigan, yet Michigan is above Miami on your ballot? That would give Spock a brain hemorrhage!

    • Not at all. Ranking ballots reflect a team’s entire oeuvre over the full season; single game picks reflect a gut feeling about who will get the better of a single contest. One could pick the top team in the country to have an off night and lose to a .500 team, but that doesn’t mean the .500 team should be ranked ahead of the top seed. She explains clearly that all four teams in the tourney are solid teams, with Miami and Mich playing exceptional hockey right now, and that she wouldn’t want to pick against either of them. But when it comes down to it, you’ve got to make a gut call, and she feels that Miami has a slightly stronger drive for the title this weekend (for my part, I hope she’s wrong…). That doesn’t erase Michigan’s superior record, earning them the higher ranking.

      • Ergo, you are correct. Michigan has had a better season. I was looking at it from the point of view that with these 2 teams being so evenly matched (currently), by picking one over the other should be reflected in the ballot. I wasn’t looking at the entire season.

        Besides, it doesn’t really matter if she “adjusts” her ballot this week or next week. Either way, the correction will be made after the Wolvies go down either tonight or tomorrow.

  3. The Terry Flannagan Award is for “overcoming severe adversity” according to the story on CCHA.com.

    You should write a column bashing the CCHA for using the word adversity

    • Petovello did overcome adversity; he had to work through severe injury to get back into the game, having to overcome genuine hardship (as opposed to manufactured hardship) to play again.

      I love the Terry Flanagan Award. It honors not only young men who persevere through real adversity, but it memorializes Terry Flanagan, who lost his battle with cancer in 1991.

  4. Paula you picked against us in WMU last weekend also I’m hoping that incorrect pick happens again tonight. GO BRONCOS BEAT MICHIGAN!!!!!

  5. I think Blashill was robbed of the CCHA Coach of the year. Not knocking Jackson and the job he does with ND, but turning a program around the way he’s done with Western this season is unbelievable. I want to see them send Michigan to the consolation game tonight!

    • Agree. I think WMU had a deeper hole to climb out of this season than ND.Western returned most of the same players from a poor 2009-10, except for Balisy, Berschbach and DeKeyser. I know that if Berenson did the same thing with 10-11 freshmen, including the freshman ROTY, the argument would be.. “well.. you DO get the best players” or something along that line. Can’t say that Notre Dame’s problem was lack of talent last season, either. Blashill deserved it more even if he had a more experienced club to work with.

  6. Well, the Broncos proved you wrong once again tonight. I’ll be at the Joe tomorrow cheering for a talented, hard-working team that has long-since proved that they’re more than a “Feel-good” pick.

    That being said, I have appreciated your blog MOST of the time throughout the season. So thank you for that.

  7. Funny that you guys both picked Brown to lose against Harvard, who we’ve been really good against the past several seasons, and beat Dartmouth, who has absolutely dominated us with no exceptions since they hired Bobby Gaudet away form Brown in the ’90’s. 

  8. DU did look tired at the end of Friday night’s game. The combination of all the OT games, and the additional 2,000 foot altitude change, probably was a major reason. Saturday DU totally controlled the game until Ritt’s ill-advised major penalty. It was a good call, he will probably have to sit out Friday’s game at CC when the league reviews. SOG were 42-30 at that point, and Badgers were outplayed and appeared tired. Cowley saved the game, Gillette did look tired and sluggish both games this weekend. Time to start Cowley at CC and rest Gillette. I hope we can keep Borgstrom for two years, he is NHL-ready now. He really loves DU, a plus for him staying another year. It’s so much fun watching him play, he is like a man among boys.

      • Totally agree, much more team speed. Getting Granato was great move, he deserves a lot of credit for instilling winning attitude. He and Montgomery are still good friends from there playing days with Sharks. Very hard to play two games at altitude when you are not used to it. Until the bad penalty they really looked spent.

    • I feel the same way about UND swappping Johnson for Tomek. Johnson really hasn’t played that badly, just feel he’s getting worn down having to win games for UND so far this season. I’m puzzled at why our coaches won’t give a third round Goalie at least a game or two, unless he really has performed that badly in practice.

  9. North Dakota is looking like a pretty overvalued team right now.

    Really, who have they beaten?

    A couple wins against BSU (at home) is basically about it, along with a couple ties against the Gophers (away) and DU (home).

    Canisius? RPI? An SCSU team as decimated by graduation as they are?

    Does not look a lot like a vintage ND team.


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