NCAA proposes tweak to common opponents criteria for tournament selection

A proposed change to the formula that selects the at-large teams for the NCAA Division I men’s hockey tournament could lessen the advantage given for beating common opponents multiple times.

The tweak that the Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee is forwarding to the Division I Championships/Sport Management Cabinet involves the calculation of the results versus common opponents component of the selection criteria.

If approved, the criteria will be scored by adding the winning percentages against individual opponents. In the past, teams were compared by their overall record against common opponents. (See sidebar for example.)

The change would mean that a team that has a 5-0 record against a common opponent gets the same amount of points as a team with a 1-0 record against the same opponent.

Conversely, going 0-1 against a team would mean the same as going 0-5, decreasing the negative impact on a team’s score.

The results against common opponents is one of four criteria by which teams under consideration for the NCAA tournament (those with a Ratings Percentage Index of .500 or better) are compared to all other teams under consideration. The others are head-to-head competition, record against teams under consideration if both teams have played at least 10 such games and the RPI.

USCHO and other media outlets compile those results as the PairWise Rankings. (See USCHO’s PairWise Rankings explanation for more details.)

The Division I Championships/Sport Management Cabinet is set to act on the proposal Sept. 14.