Weekend Rewind: Feb. 20 – Bracketology

Every conference but the MIAC wrapped up its respective regular season schedules this past weekend. RIT (ECAC West), Norwich (ECAC East), Wis.-River Falls (NCHA) and Middlebury (NESCAC) reigned surpeme as the conference regular season champions for the second straight season. Gustavus Adolphus has already clinched the MIAC as well giving us the same exact five regular season champions as last year.

The biggest surprise from this past weekend for me was seeing Gustavus Adolphus lose 5-2 to St. Olaf. The Gusties have absolutely dominated the MIAC this past decade, rarely losing a game in MIAC play and especially not giving up five goals. Not sure what happened in that one other than judging from the box score Gustavus forgot there was a third period to play as St. Olaf scored five straight goals, including four in the final frame.

Even though Gustavus already has the MIAC regular season title locked up, a loss like that could end up coming back to bite them in the NCAA selection process should GAC get upset in the MIAC Tournament.

Speaking of the NCAA Tournament, let’s see how its stacking up currently.

The first public NCAA rankings were released last week by the Committee and they went as follows:

1 Rochester Institute of Technology 19-1-1 21-1-1
2 Norwich 15-2-1 19-2-1
3 Middlebury 17-2-2 18-2-2
4 Amherst 16-4 18-4
5 Elmira 18-4-1 18-4-1
6 Plattsburgh State 17-5-2 17-5-2
7 Manhattanville 9-6-3 11-8-4
8 Bowdoin 10-7-2 11-8-3
9 Trinity (Connecticut) 12-9 12-10
1 Gustavus Adolphus 18-1-2 18-1-2
2 Wisconsin-River Falls 19-2-2 19-3-2
3 Concordia-Moorhead 11-3-3 12-4-3
4 Wisconsin-Superior 14-6-3 14-6-3
5 St. Thomas (Minnesota) 10-5-2 11-7-2
6 Lake Forest 13-7-2 13-7-2
7 St. Scholastica 11-5-5 12-6-5

Now let’s try and do a little Bracketology. We know there will be eight teams that make the NCAA Tournament this year, up one this year from seven last year.

There are five automatic bids given to each of the conference tournament champions. For argument’s sake, we’ll take the regular season champion and assume they win the conference tournament as well to see how the field is shaping up currently.

ECAC East - Norwich
NESCAC – Middlebury
MIAC – Gustavus Adolphus
NCHA – River Falls

The rest of the field will be determined by three Pool C or at-large bids which are given to the next three best teams that don’t win their conference tournament as judged by the NCAA’s primary criteria of in-region winning percentage, strength of schedule, head to head, common opponents, and record vs. NCAA ranked teams. Secondary criteria can also be used when teams are close which includes overall winning percentage and record in last 25% of your games played in the season.

The East committee and the West committee each take their three best next teams and throw them into the pot to be considered for the three at-large spots. Amherst, Elmira, and Plattsburgh would be the East’s three teams up against Concordia (Minn.), Superior and St. Thomas.

 Amherst is first compared to Concordia (Minn.)

Amherst vs Concordia (Minn.)
WIN .7955 1   .7368 0
SOS   .5595 1   .5405 0
H2H 0- 0- 0 0  0- 0- 0 0
COP  1- 0- 0 1  0- 1- 1 0
RNK 7- 4- 1 0 4- 1- 1 1 
PTS 3 1

Amherst wins the comparison handily 3-1 so the Lord Jeffs grab the first Pool C slot.

Next we compare Concordia (Minn.) to Elmira.

The comparison is:

Concordia (Minn.) vs Elmira
WIN .7368 0         .8200 1
SOS .5405 1           .5345 0
H2H 0- 0- 0 0      0- 0- 0 0
COP 0- 0- 0 0       0- 0- 0 0
RNK 4- 1- 1  1      4- 4- 1  0 
PTS 2 1
Concordia (Minn.) wins this comparison 2-1, but they are drastically trailing Elmira in winning percentage. It comes down to if Concordia (Minn.)’s advantage in record vs. ranked teams is enough to offset Elmira’s huge lead in winning percentage. I’ll say yes for now and we’ll put Concordia (Minn) into the tourament with the second Pool C.
Next we compare Wis.-Superior to Elmira for the final Pool C slot.
Elmira vs Wisconsin-Superior
WIN .8200 1    .6600 0
SOS  .5345 1      .5073 0
H2H 0- 0- 0 0   0- 0- 0 0
COP 0- 0- 0 0 0- 0- 0 0
RNK 4- 4- 1 0 5- 3- 0  1  
PTS 2 1
Elmira wins this comparison 2-1 so we move Elmira into the tournaemnt with the third and final Pool C bid.
That gives us our eight teams so now we have to determine a bracket. We have a major issue in that we have uneven teams in each region meaning we have to fly a team for the first round which the NCAA has in the past said they absolutely would not do. Having talked with some individuals this season, I am under the impression that will not be the case this year so our 5-3 split could technically work if that holds true and we won’t be forced to come up witha  4-4 split or 6-2 split to avoid a first round flight.
Assuming we can have a 5-3 split, here’s how I see the bracket turning out.
1. RIT
2. Norwich
3. Gustavus Adolphus
4. Middlebury
5. Amherst
6. River Falls
7. Concordia Minn.
8. Elmira
We can avoid intra-conference matchups which the NCAA has stressed they like to do in first round matchups by sending Concordia (Minn.) to RIT and Elmira to Norwich. Unfortunately with a 5-3 split with the teams we have, there is no way to avoidthe  intra-conference matchup with Amherst and Middlebury.
Quarterfinal matchups:
Concordia (Minn.) @ RIT
Elmira @ Norwich
River Falls @ Gustavus Adolphus
Amherst @ Middlebury
Concordia (Minn.)/RIT winner vs. River Falls/Gustavus Adolpus winner
Norwich/Elmira winner vs. Amherst/Middlebury winner
That’s the way I see it currently based off of last week’s NCAA rankings but with this week’s results included in our criteria. Things could certainly change tomorrow when the new rankings come out.