…and the NCAA selection committee is meeting as I write this final version of Bracketlology. We’ll be doing an analysis of the picks once they are announced, but for now the waiting game is on.
If you’re just joining us, 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.
So after an exciting weekend of championship games, here’s where we stand:
Pool A: UW-Stout, Gustavus Adolphus, Plattsburgh, Amherst, Babson, Nichols.
Pool B: Neumann spoiled Hobart’s party by winning the ECAC West title with 4.3 seconds to play last night. Hobart was ahead of Neumann and Elmira in the last NCAA rankings, and would have locked up Pool B with a win. Now, it’s anybody’s guess. If you go straight by the numbers, it’s Elmira by a nose over Hobart and handily of Neumann. While the ECAC West has never had an AQ, the champ has never been left home, provided it was a D-III team. This could get interesting.
Pool C: Here’s who has a realistic chance: Elmira, Hobart, Neumann, UW-Superior, St. Scholastica, St. Norbert, Middlebury. Superior is in for sure. St. Scholastica gets in unless the West gets only three teams. Middlebury was picked higher than Elmira and Neumann in the last NCAA ranking, and went 1-1 since then while Elmira was idle and Neumann won its game. If you go by the criteria straight up, Hobart and Elmira beat Middlebury and Middlebury tops Neumann.
Now, the big question, which will help determine the Pool C teams: Will we have a 6-5, 7-4, or 8-3 split? Here are the ramifications of each:
6-5: St. Nobert gets in, and two of the following teams: Middlebury Elmira, Neumann, Hobart. Two quarterfinals each in the East and West guarantee two Western teams in the Frozen Four.
7-4: The only way this works is to fly teams in the first and quarterfinal round, or have all three play-in games in the East, making six of the seven East teams (i.e, everyone but Plattsburgh) play a first round game and giving four West teams a pass to the quarterfinals. In the first scenario, St. Scholastica gets in as well as three of the four: Middlebury, Hobart, Elmira, Neumann.
8-3: This leaves St. Scholastica out, and puts Middlebury and all three ECAC West teams in.
A 7-4 split would make the most sense if you were truly picking by top at-large teams. But I don’t see making the #2 East team play-in (although they’ve been doing to to the West for years). I’m also thinking they’re not flying teams in every round. 8-3 would be an injustice.
That leaves 6-5. St. Norbert matches up almost even with Elmira and ahead of Neumann and Middlebury, and loses in the criteria to Hobart. If SNC gets in I think they take Hobart too and leave Elmira, Middlebury and Neumann at home. Hobart was ahead of Elmira in the final rankings, so it comes down to how much the loss last night hurts them.
I miss the old days when this process was more transparent. We’ve been back to the smoke-filled room for the past two seasons, which means the outcome is anyone’s guess. We’ll know in a few hours.