Some location switches make sense for boosting attendance

Welcome to the next installment of our Bracketology, and we’ll keep bringing you a new one every week until we make our final picks before the field is announced.

If you want to skip the inner workings and get to the results of the analysis, then click here.

Here are the facts:

• Sixteen teams are selected to participate in the national tournament.

• There are four regional sites (East — Bridgeport, Conn.; Northeast — Worcester, Mass.; Midwest — Green Bay, Wis.; West — St. Paul, Minn.)

• A host institution which is invited to the tournament plays in the regional for which it is the host, and cannot be moved. There are four host institutions this year: Yale in Bridgeport, Holy Cross in Worcester, Michigan Tech in Green Bay and Minnesota in St. Paul.

• Seedings will not be switched, as opposed to years past. To avoid undesirable first-round matchups, including intra-conference games (see below), teams will be moved among regionals, not reseeded.

Here are the NCAA’s guidelines on the matter, per a meeting of the championship committee:

In setting up the tournament, the committee begins with a list of priorities to ensure a successful tournament on all fronts including competitive equity, financial success and likelihood of playoff-type atmosphere at each regional site. For the model, the following is a basic set of priorities:

• The top four teams as ranked by the committee are the four No. 1 seeds and will be placed in the bracket so that if all four teams advance to the Men’s Frozen Four, the No. 1 seed will play the No. 4 seed and the No. 2 seed will play the No. 3 seed in the semifinals.

• Host institutions that qualify will be placed at home.

• No. 1 seeds are placed as close to home as possible in order of their ranking 1-4.

• Conference matchups in first round are avoided, unless five or more teams from one conference are selected, then the integrity of the bracket will be preserved.

• Once the five automatic qualifiers and 11 at-large teams are selected, the next step is to develop four groups from the committee’s ranking of 1-16. The top four teams are the No. 1 seeds. The next four are targeted as No. 2 seeds. The next four are No. 3 seeds and the last four are No. 4 seeds. These groupings will be referred to as “bands”.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders (through all games of Feb. 21, 2012):

1 Boston College
2t Michigan
2t Massachusetts-Lowell
4 Ferris State
5 Minnesota-Duluth
6 Boston University
7 Union
8t Minnesota
8t Maine
10 Michigan State
11t Miami
11t Denver
13 Ohio State
14 North Dakota
15 Cornell
16 Merrimack
28 Air Force

Here are the current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Air Force
CCHA: Ferris State
ECAC Hockey: Union
Hockey East: Boston College
WCHA: Minnesota


• Bracketology assumes that the season has ended and there are no more games to be played. i.e., the NCAA tournament starts tomorrow.

• Because there are an uneven amount of games played inside each conference, I will be using winning percentage, not points accumulated, to determine who the current leader in each conference is. This team is my assumed conference tournament champion.

Step one

From the committee’s report, choose the 16 teams in the tournament.

We break ties in the PWR by looking at how the teams rank in the Ratings Percentage Index, and add in any current league leaders that are not currently in the top 16. The only team that is not is Air Force.

From there, we can start looking at the ties and bubbles in a more detailed fashion.

The ties and bubbles consist of Michigan and Massachusetts-Lowell at 2, Minnesota and Maine at 8, and Miami and Denver at 11.

We break all of our ties based upon the RPI.

Therefore the 16 teams in the tournament, in rank order, and adding in any conference leaders not already in the Top 16, are:

1 Boston College
2 Michigan
3 Massachusetts-Lowell
4 Ferris State
5 Minnesota-Duluth
6 Boston University
7 Union
8 Minnesota
9 Maine
10 Michigan State
11 Miami
12 Denver
13 Ohio State
14 North Dakota
15 Cornell
16 Air Force

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 seeds — Boston College, Michigan, Massachusetts-Lowell, Ferris State
No. 2 seeds — Minnesota-Duluth, Boston University, Union, Minnesota
No. 3 seeds — Maine, Michigan State, Miami, Denver
No. 4 seeds — Ohio State, North Dakota, Cornell, Air Force

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

No. 1 Boston College is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 2 Michigan is placed in the Midwest Regional in Green Bay.
No. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport.
No. 4 Ferris State is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.

Step four

Now we place the other 12 teams so as to avoid intra-conference matchups if possible.

Begin by filling in each bracket by banding groups. Remember that teams are not assigned to the regional closest to their campus sites by ranking order within the banding (unless you are a host school, in which case you must be assigned to your home regional).

If this is the case, as it was last year, then the committee should seed so that the quarterfinals are seeded such that the four regional championships are played by No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5.

We have to place Minnesota first as a host institution.

So therefore:

No. 2 seeds

No. 8 Minnesota is placed in No. 4 Ferris State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 7 Union is placed in No. 1 Boston College’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 6 Boston University is placed in No. 2 Michigan’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in No. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 3 seeds

Our bracketing system has one regional containing seeds 1, 8, 9, and 16, another with 2, 7, 10, 15, another with 3, 6, 11, 14 and another with 4, 5, 12 and 13.

No. 9 Maine is placed in No. 8 Minnesota’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 10 Michigan State is placed in No. 7 Union’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 11 Miami is placed in No. 6 Boston University’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 12 Denver is placed in No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 4 seeds

One more time, taking No. 16 vs. No. 1, No. 15 vs. No. 2, etc.

No. 16 Air Force is sent to No. 1 Boston College’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 15 Cornell is sent to No. 2 Michigan’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 14 North Dakota is sent to No. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 13 Ohio State is sent to No. 4 Ferris State’s regional, the West Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional:
Ohio State vs. Ferris State
Maine vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
Cornell vs. Michigan
Miami vs. Boston University

Northeast Regional:
Air Force vs. Boston College
Michigan State vs. Union

East Regional:
North Dakota vs. Massachusetts-Lowell
Denver vs. Minnesota-Duluth

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have Ohio State vs. Ferris State in the 1-4 seeding band.

Thus we make a quick switch of North Dakota and Ohio State.

So our bracket is now:

West Regional:
North Dakota vs. Ferris State
Maine vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
Cornell vs. Michigan
Miami vs. Boston University

Northeast Regional:
Air Force vs. Boston College
Michigan State vs. Union

East Regional:
Ohio State vs. Massachusetts-Lowell
Denver vs. Minnesota-Duluth

Now we have to break the other intra-conference matchup in Denver vs. Minnesota-Duluth.

We swap Denver with Miami.

West Regional:
North Dakota vs. Ferris State
Maine vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
Cornell vs. Michigan
Denver vs. Boston University

Northeast Regional:
Air Force vs. Boston College
Michigan State vs. Union

East Regional:
Ohio State vs. Massachusetts-Lowell
Miami vs. Minnesota-Duluth

Is there anything else that we can do?

Let’s look at some attendance considerations vs. bracket integrity again.

There is a possible swap of locations for two matchups.

We can look at swapping the Denver vs. BU matchup with Miami and UMD. This looks good on paper because Miami and UMD will bring more fans to Green Bay and moving BU to Bridgeport will bring more fans there.

So let’s do that.

West Regional:
North Dakota vs. Ferris State
Maine vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
Cornell vs. Michigan
Miami vs. Minnesota-Duluth

Northeast Regional:
Air Force vs. Boston College
Michigan State vs. Union

East Regional:
Ohio State vs. Massachusetts-Lowell
Denver vs. Boston University

How about swapping Maine with Michigan State? This will draw some attendance over to Worcester and possibly more attendance to St. Paul.

We are breaking up an 8-9 and a 7-10 matchup. These are two perfect matched games in terms of bracket integrity. But we don’t sacrifice much by just making it a 8-10 and 7-9 matchup.

So I am going to do it.

West Regional:
North Dakota vs. Ferris State
Michigan State vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
Cornell vs. Michigan
Miami vs. Minnesota-Duluth

Northeast Regional:
Air Force vs. Boston College
Maine vs. Union

East Regional:
Ohio State vs. Massachusetts-Lowell
Denver vs. Boston University

If I could find a way to bring Cornell to the East or Northeast, I would do that.

Let’s see what a bracket looks like if we do that.

West Regional:
North Dakota vs. Ferris State
Michigan State vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
Air Force vs. Michigan
Miami vs. Minnesota-Duluth

Northeast Regional:
Cornell vs. Boston College
Maine vs. Union

East Regional:
Ohio State vs. Massachusetts-Lowell
Denver vs. Boston University


West Regional:
North Dakota vs. Ferris State
Michigan State vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
Air Force vs. Michigan
Miami vs. Minnesota-Duluth

Northeast Regional:
Ohio State vs. Boston College
Maine vs. Union

East Regional:
Cornell vs. Massachusetts-Lowell
Denver vs. Boston University

The second one is actually preferred, because then we can bring more attendance into Bridgeport with three Eastern teams, rather than only two.

But in this case, I can’t do it because it would mean breaking up the 1-16 matchup of BC and Air Force. That I will not do to protect the No. 1 seed.

So for this week, we leave Cornell in its place.

So that is it. My bracket for the week.

See you here next week for the next Bracketology.

Here’s a summary of everything that we have covered.

This week’s brackets

St. Paul
14 North Dakota vs. 4 Ferris State
10 Michigan State vs. 8 Minnesota

Green Bay
15 Cornell vs. 2 Michigan
11 Miami vs. 5 Minnesota-Duluth

13 Ohio State vs. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell
12 Denver vs. 6 Boston University

16 Air Force vs. 1 Boston College
9 Maine vs. 7 Union

Conference breakdowns

CCHA — 5
HEA — 4
WCHA — 4
ECAC — 2
AHA — 1

On The Move

In: Cornell, North Dakota
Out: Merrimack, Northern Michigan

Attendance woes?

I am quite comfortable.

Last week’s brackets

St. Paul
14 Minnesota vs. 1 Ferris State
11 Merrimack vs. 5 Michigan

Green Bay
13 Miami vs. 4 Minnesota-Duluth
9 Northern Michigan vs. 7 Denver

15 Ohio State vs. 3 Boston University
12 Michigan State vs. 6 Massachusetts-Lowell

16 Air Force vs. 2 Boston College
10 Union vs. 8 Maine


  1. so glad you forecast moving Maine back to the East.  As a Black Bear fan, I know all too well that nothing good ever comes when playing the Gophers at Xcel.

    •  What would you be scared of playing the Goofers on the road?  The Xcel as we all know is the SIoux’s home ice during playoffs!

      • Yeah, you Sioux fans need to learn your place, the Xcel Belongs to the Minnesotans and North Dakotans can stay where they came from!!! I didn’t see a UND sign on the ice on there and funny because the two times the frozen four has been at the Xcel it was a Minnesota team who won. 2002- Minnesota, 2011- Minnesota- Duluth

        • Also didnt see very many Minnesota fans the past few years there either… both Frozen Four and Final Five…. and Sioux were by far the “Home Crowd” including cheering on UMD to win it last year.  hope the Golden Chokers can actually make it into the post season this year :-x

          • Your avoiding the point of this conversation, you all do this. Just because theres a few Sioux fans at the National Championship game doesn’t make them the home team or anything to do with who won. Also glad to hear you guys cheered for the Dogs cause I was hopeing the Sioux would take down Michigan. 

          • I think you should find a new joke because after hearing that at least 200 other times, its getting boring to listen too. Just a suggestion and you should learn the difference between showing reality and being mad.

  2. Nope, I think you hit in on the head.  I like this weeks bracketololgy and I like the layout of the West bracket. That one would be fun to watch! I really don’t think you would have to worry about the West’s attendence at all with UofUM and UND in there.

  3. My only question is why we couldn’t send Michigan to St. Paul, for a 2/8 matchup with Minnesota, and then Ferris State to Green Bay, with UMD, Miami and North Dakota.  Quite a draw there.  Seems the 4/8 Ferris State, Minnesota matchup is really unfair to Michigan.

    • My reasoning would be that Michigan is closer to Green Bay and is a higher overall seed than Ferris St, so they get placed first and get placed closer to home.  Based on seedings it would seem unfair to Michigan, but you could also argue that getting sent further away from home and being in the same bracket as a host institution is just as unfair.  My guess would be that most Wolverine fans would want to be closer to Ann Arbor and not have a match up against UND in the first round?

      On a separate note, it would have been interesting to have Minnesota, Maine, and Michigan there because ten years ago they were 3 of the 4 Frozen Four teams that played at the X.  Only New Hampshire would be missing.

  4. I too like this week’s brackets.  It’d be fun to watch a Minnesota vs North Dakota championship to see who gets the Frozen Four entry.

    • Interesting that you assume both teams would get past the first round.  After all, Michigan St has already beat and tied Minnesota this year and Ferris St is the current number 1 in the polls.  As a gopher fan, I’d obviously like to see my team in the regional final. I don’t care who the other team is, but it would be an amazing atmosphere to have the two rivals play for a spot in Tampa.  

  5. Adding Mich St to St Paul will help attendance?  That was a joke right?  You have UND and the MN there.  Mich St won’t even be able to get tickets

    • He has apparently never seen the “Sea of Green” that appears anywhere that UND plays. Add in Minnesota and there will be tickets being sold at 400 dollars a game if you dont get them early.

    •  Totally agree. It has to be a joke. Neither Michigan State or the number one seed Ferris State will be able to get tickets.

  6. Wow the best an AHA team can do is 28th pairwise and they still get an autobid.  Last time it was also AF and I believe they were 31st PWR.  This conference is not on par with the others because they don’t offer the scholarships.  Until they do they should lose their autobid because for this year, there are 12 more deserving teams.

    • there are 12 more deserving teams

      Those teams had their chance to play themselves into the tournament.  Even if it only happens once every five years or so I would rather see Holy Cross take out Minnesota or RIT knock off Denver than see another midpack team from the WCHA or HE. 

      • Hey BM (can I call you that ? ) , as much as it broke my heart to see that Holy Cross upset of the Gophers, I completely agree with you. It is refreshing, and I will infer from your moniker that you enjoy refreshments…….

    • This is very true….however it makes things interesting when they do win (AF over UofM, Holy Cross over UofM).  Anything can happen in hockey….the best team dosen’t always win.

        • Good enough to make it through 4 rounds of intense playoff hockey and win all of their games. Also while maintaining a top spot in the league the next year after losing talent too, I see that as one of the best teams and many people would to.

  7. Can you explain the role of the “host institution” in your next column please?  It seems funny that there seems to be only one or two “hosts” each year that make the tournament.  Instead of a specific team why not have a “league” be the host.    Pick the team with the highest seed in a league when there are several.  I know there are 5 leagues so with a rotation each one is dropped out once every 5 years.

  8. Three east teams and one AHA team in the regional??  Seems like you want BC to only play another east team…..  You were afraid to pair them up to a Mich., Denver, UND, UM-Duluth???   Why not just hand them a golden chocolate bar?

    • Because the year 2005 when it was 4 WCHA teams in the frozen four, the NCAA does not want that to happen again.  Each year a WCHA team is usually screwed to appease the east teams.

      • First, this is a bracketology column by Jayson Moy, not the final bracket from the NCAA.  Chill out. 

        More importantly, the entire conspiracy thing has got to stop.  2005 was a long time ago.  And it seems you guys find a unfairness in everything.  In 2008 they put three WCHA teams in one bracket with Princeton as a 4 seed thereby pretty much ensuring at least one team would get through.  Even though that sounds suspiciously like what you saying here I bet someone thought they were trying to limit the number of WCHA in the 2008 Frozen Four by overloading one regional – even though each of the other three regionals had one WCHA team each.

        In the end, most of these moves are for attendance.    

        • The NCAA tournament is and should not be about attendance, its about selecting the best teams in the nation to play in the tournament.

          Yes we all know how great March Madness is in basketball, but it truly is not the best 68 teams in the nation playing for the championship. 

          The underdog story is a great story and refreshing, but if your talking about attandance as an issue for College Hockey, then there should be no automatic bids and the top 16 teams should compete for the Championship. 

          Lets be honest, a team like RIT, Dartmouth, Clarkson, Air Force, may have great dedicated fans, but do not attract the number of fans  ( attandance ) that the NCAA is using as an excuse. 

          Sorry reality is teams like Maine, BC, BU, Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota, New Hampshire, bring fans ( attendance ) then the others.

          Just a thought

          • The moves for attendance are made AFTER the field is selected.  The top teams as determined by Pairwise are the ones in the field plus the AHA autobid.  You seem to think the teams in the tournament are chosen for the size of their traveling fanbase which simply isn’t the case.

          • Wrong…  You were missing the point.  I know the selection is based on Pairwise rankings. 

            If you want the argument based on attendance, then there should be NO Pairwise Rankings that the NCAA uses, and just take the top 16 attendance teams and rank them 1-16 from there.

            If your going to truly play a championship tournament then keep the integrity of the 1-16 pairwise rankings and play the tournament that way. 1 plays 16 .. 2 plays 15 and so on…..

            Yes there are so called host institutions, but somebody has to host and if there team doesn’t end up there so be it.  Only the top 4 seeds should be assigned to there closet regional.  This no one can complain about the same sites hosting and having a home field advantage. 

            Just a thought

    • Btw I personally like UND as the 14th seed, i hope they don’t move up too much and get sent out East again, we all know how much we struggle out there! Denver could be in rough shape out there as it is so maybe a split isn’t a bad thing for us this weekend.

  9. i dont think u want nodak at a 14 seed conference tournys always seem to have an upset winner somewhere or another (ex merrimack wins hockey east) if that happens nodak woud be watchin the games at home. also im kinda jumpin the gn with how much everything changes weekly and especially in the conf tournys the amount of changes in pairwise will be wild

  10. Isn’t it too early to do this bracketology stuff? All of this would be meaningless by Saturday because PWR will shift again. 

  11. There need to be more regionals in the CCHA footprint and less in the XCel Center. Every year the CCHA gets shipped to New England or to WCHA country

    • The NCAA places tournaments at XCel because it is a great venue and attendance is dependable.  St. Paul packs them in for amatuer hockey.  In March, more than 100,000 will attend the 16 team State High School tournament.  In case you haven’t figured it out, the NCAA plays where they can turn a buck and St. Paul delivers.

    • ccha needs to make the bid like when mich had back to back years at yost i believe western had a bid in grand rapids not to long ago but jd is right xcel will pack it in and make a good buck you dont get that happening at grand rapids to often

  12. Moy will have little chance of predicting the bracket this year if he keeps ignoring the rule about…

     “Conference matchups in first round are avoided, unless five or more teams from one conference are selected, then the integrity of the bracket will be preserved.”

    I think the committee would keep the Ferris St./Ohio St. matchup.

  13. If the PWR is a good indicator of who will make the tournament, then the NCAA selection is a joke.  After, the Friday Feb. 24 games, MSU and NMU are still in at 11 and 12 in the PWR.  Look at their records against TUC.  What a joke of a system

  14. moy, i disagree with your placement of air force. if they are going to slip into the tournament, they should have the same flexibility as everyone else. there should be little statistical difference between the bottom 2,3 or 4 teams , and thus no “privledge” for the 1 over all seed. im not picking on AF, its just that the ncaa’s autobid is a bunch of garbage. like said before, there is many more deserving teams then the winner of any weak conference.

  15. Unfortunately, I think the sad reality is that ice hockey, at whatever level, is just not a “national” sport of any interest. You can bet though that the car racing tv grab for today was HUGE. Southerners in general could care less about hockey.  The only ice they know about is in their drinks.

  16. I agree that ESPN has leveraged and won. But ultimately, the NCAA made this decision. This is not about the student athletes and their fans. It’s about the NCAA bigwigs in Indianapolis who want to line their pockets.

    College hockey is a great sport to watch and can even be touted as a less violent form of the NHL since fighting is actually penalized and discouraged. I’m just glad we made plans to be in Tampa so I don’t have to be at their mercy.

  17. Plus, why is the NCAA Hockey tournament at the same time as the basketball tournament? Do you know how hard it is to find a place to watch a game at the same time the basketball games are going on? I live in Colorado Springs the home of the first 10 NCAA Hockey Championship games and i can’t go to any sports bars including Buffalo Wild Wings and not get stuck in the corner with the smallest TV with NO sound! What a joke! Yet when I do get the game turned on after missing the first half of the period other people start watching it!

  18. I wonder how much it would cost someone like NBC Sports or Fox Sports to buy out the rights for the hockey tournaments?  Given the treatment both the men’s and women’s hockey tournaments get, I would hope it was dirt cheap.

  19. We can gripe all we want but the fact is the TV networks are in the business of making money, not making us happy.    And NCAA women’s basketball and lacrosse games are going to generate higher ratings than a niche sport like college hockey.  I”ve seen some people diss college lacrosse but look at the attendance for that tournament — they get over 35,000 people for the final game (over 45,000 for the semi’s last year).      Getting our games on the main tier of ESPN is just a dream — I’m happy the games are even on the U.

        • Of course a crappy sport on ESPN or ESPN2 will generate higher ratings that anything on ESPN3 or ESPNU.  Does anyone rally think ESPN is a good network anymore?  They went in the toilet when the anchors decided they cared more about catch phrases than actual analysis.

    • ” lacrosse games are going to generate higher ratings than a niche sport like college hockey” — lacrosse ISN’T niche?

      Also, the argument isn’t about getting the games “on the main tier of ESPN.” It’s about getting them all televised live, somewhere, where there isn’t going to be a pre-emption (for regular season mens lax, which is NOT a ratings draw) or a blackout. This sport is getting worse and worse coverage from ESPN every year. It’s a fact they don’t care about hockey and we’re seeing it over and over again (meanwhile, NBC Sports Channel is full in on hockey of all kinds). Moving the FF semi to ESPNU, moving the FF itself off ESPN, moving the selection show of all things to ESPNU — that’s all called reduced coverage…and so is ESPN3, which is no substitute for an actual HD feed.

      Connelly didn’t even go into the fact that ESPN forced a blackout of FSN North which was showing all the syndicated games on Saturday. If you didn’t live in the home region of FSN North ESPN forced them to be blacked out. Thanks guys!

      We deserve better. Being a third or fourth class citizen on ESPN’s “family of networks” and their internet feed isn’t cutting it anymore with their reduced interest.

    • What an assine comment….  Your calling Lacrosse a big time college sport and hockey a niche sport?

      That is one of the dumbest thing I have ever heard, and we are all now dumber for having read this idiotic post.

  20. don’t forget the fact that for the 1st time in history, a RSN  wasn’t available on Directv or Dish “outside its home footprint”

    All 3 Saturday FSN North games were blacked out on the sat. systems unless you lived inside their footprint. However, no such restrictions existed for the games on NESN or Altitude

    Simply awful….

  21. This article is right and it’s really sad for the NCAA and
    college hockey. Of note: while some of the games this past weekend were on
    ESPNU or ESPN3 Internet channels there was not a lot of notable programming on
    ESPN or ESPN2.  Oh and if there was, ABC
    is also an option if ESPN/Disney has a busy sports weekend.

    ESPN has gone from being “Worldwide Leader In
    Sports” to being the “Worldwide Leader in Basketball and Football.”
    Placing the blame all on ESPN is easy but someone else should share a little of
    the blame, College Hockey Inc.  The
    organization was developed a few years ago to be the marketing and promotions
    arm for College Hockey and also encourage elite players that college hockey is
    a viable route to the NHL and competitive with Major Junior Canadian Hockey,
    and also encourage growth of the sport. MY grade for CHI is an F. Schools that
    should and could be playing NCAA hockey still aren’t, Penn State is joining,
    but that’s because of their 88 million donation from an alumni and nothing to
    do with College Hockey Inc. Some schools already have NCAA-capable buildings:
    Delaware, Rhode Island, and Navy come to mind. Others such as Minn-Moorhead and
    Lindenwood have expressed interest in the past but neither has added men’s
    hockey (Lindenwood added women’s) . 
    There has also been no Western expansion of the sport and
    Alabama-Huntsville remains the only southern school.  Other than Hockey East and NBC Sports
    Network, the coverage of the sport on TV hasn’t grown significantly on a
    national level.

    • It’s because the NCAA has no idea who Union and Ferris are!
      They need time to research their logos and if they are really American citizens.

  22. I couldn’t agree with this article more, but you need to lay some blame on the NCAA also for not exploring options, rather than allowing ESPN to sign a 12 year extension, 12 years? C’mon that’s a bit much. Also I couldn’t stand the intermission reports, I noticed on more than one occassion they couldn’t even pronounce the player’s names right, to me in that professional setting this should not happen.

  23. Do you get all tired bitching about the same stuff year after year?  Yeah everyone hates ESPN and probably watches them more than any other network.   Like any of you know how to run a network…You seem to think you do…Reality: IT’S COLLEGE HOCKEY.  Niche.  Forever.  Nothing more.  I love it.  You love it.  Doesn’t mean it rates and can carry a network.  They do it the justice it deserves based on the return it gives.  Nothing more, nothing less….

  24. I just wish college hockey would be on broadcast over-the-air network television like the NHL on NBC is. I’ll watch college hockey over college basketball anyday. I hate it that the hockey National Championship game got moved off of ESPN to ESPN2.   

  25. Is there really a difference that the final is on ESPN2 instead of NBC Sports Network? The biggest difference is that NBC SN doesn’t have multiple stations. And though I am a huge fan of college hockey, one must note that NBC SN ratings are actually down since they switched from Versus and have had a very hockey friendly schedule.

    Is hockey a priority for ESPN? No? Is Barry Melrose awful? Yes. But the hockey tourney is but a small piece of ESPNs NCAA package. It won’t be separated from the rest of the package. The NCAA negotiated the deal that put it on ESPN2 and ESPN U. They and ESPN have the numbers to show what the audience has been. If college hockey merited a bigger platform, it would have gotten it.

  26. Last year’s Notre Dame-UNH game wasn’t half empty, but wasn’t completely full either.  I think part of the attendance problem is they make you buy tickets for all three games at a regional at once.  I have a hard time forking over $160 for two tickets and would much prefer a single game sale.

    Also, the only reason Hockey East got NBC Sports to take on the playoffs is because Notre Dame is coming in 2013, and NBC is pretty much the Notre Dame Broadcasting Company.

  27. because of this espn screwed up mess — the western/nodak game was blacked out on FSN in my area in southern indiana! Because the local CW affiliate in Kzoo bought the game, it made the FSN feed subject to blackout, but I live 3 hours from Kzoo!  I had to get in my car and drive into MIchigan and find a local bar to watch…

  28. Sorry folks, but College Hockey will never draw the audience to put it on a major Network. The NCAA is about Basketball and Football. Everything else is an after thought. When Hockey is played at Colleges and University’s in all 50 states, then it might make a major network.

  29. Look at the crap the NHL got for dropping ESPN and going to Versus. I agree ESPN is now trying to bury hockey all together since CBS and NBC are trying to build their brand on NHL and college hockey . But the NCAA is blind to counter programming, and a 12 year contract sounded good at the time. We just have to live with trying to build an audience on the other networks and force ESPN to acknowledge us. 

  30. Unfortunately for many NCAA sports, ESPN is dictating game times.  The NCAA needs to determine what is more important, the number of fans attending the events, thus creating a great environment for the student-athletes or the number of people watching on tv.

  31. Agreed.  ESPN is a joke when it comes to hockey.  I have written to ESPN many times over the last few years expressing my displeasure of their coverage.  They do some nice things such as all the games being available on ESPN3 so I can watch many at one time, but i am lucky to get ESPN3.  Not every cable provider pays the fees to get that service.  Aside from that, the applauds to ESPN stop.  The selection show gets a 30 minute slot on ESPNU with Barry Melrose as their “expert” and no surprise he picks BC and whatever ECAC team to be in the final every year.  Please get another “expert”.  Now the games are getting bumped from prime time and still get terrible commentary from people that obviously do not know the teams or players.  ESPN, please let another network cover this event.  It’s obvious NBCSports is committed to hockey and they would hopefully do a better job.  Can college hockey leave the NCAA therefor removing ESPN’s stranglehold?  That would be even better.  Better yet still, the Sioux could continue to be the Sioux.

  32. I went to the game in Worcester witohut my two daugthers, 14 and 12, because the game was too late for a school night.  Game didn’t end until almost 10:40.  Ridiculous.

  33. Was suprised to come home on Sat night and find out the Gopher game wasn’t being televised live. Recorded it on sunday 24 hours after it happened. Also ESPNU, the 90’s called and they want their technology back. Couldn’t believe I was watching the NCAA tournament in low def. 

  34. Do I dare mention the D3 Frozen Four have been webcasts the last two years (won by the team I shoot for, St. Norbert College in De Pere a stones throw from obscure Green Bay aka Titletown USA) after a stint a CBS College Sports . . . just looking out for the little guys.

  35. All networks need to make money, but doing it with quality coverage does not seem to be ESPN’s goal.  As for the Lacrosse coverage delaying D-1 tournament hockey, they did it last year too.  But if Lacrosse is a big draw, 35,000 said one post, good for them, but do they put the finals in Tampa?  What percentage of those Lacrosse fans drove 10 hours or had to get on a plane to get there?  Maybe those fans were more local.  Hell, if the Lacrosse finals were near my backyard, I’d go. 

    Note to ESPN if they continue to carry this tournament, enlist some help from the local broadcasters who been with the team(s) all year.  They’ll help you get the facts & trivia right (E.g. Brett Hull never played for North Dakota, etc.).  Believe me, they’ll add some color.

    • Good Point…..An additional point is the Lacrosse Champ weekend is at an outdoor venue. Look at all of the Hockey outdoor games in the last 10 years. These are not NCAA Tourney games…..Reg season only. 2012 Frozen Fenway drew 40K for Umass/UVM and Maine/UNH. Now most of that was from Maine and UNH but the true point is look at what happens with an outdoor event. I have been to both Frozen Four and Lacrosse Final Fours many times. They are both great events but if you put the Lax Champ in Dallas I assure you there would not be 35K people there.

      I also back your point about hiring local broadcasters / writers / producers…etc. They know how to sell the sport and actually have facts to make points. Melrose is a clown.  

      ESPN has been good to College Hockey in many ways but they have treated it as a secondary sport way too often. In 1995 I was at UMAINE. Maine and Michigan were headed to a 3rd overtime in the Semi’s of the Frozen Four. ESPN 2 went to its regular scheduled broadcast after the 2nd OT. It was Senior Men’s Tennis. We lost our minds bc ESPN did not even let the audience know it was going to leave the game. A few students were following the game on radio and it slowly got around campus that Maine had won early in 3rd OT. This an old example but it points out that the ESPN coverage has been lacking for many years.The game winning goal was the #1 play on the SportsCenter countdown that night with an apology to College Hockey Fans….

      Love the Johnny Cash and UND remix name.

  36. You nailed it!!! The only other thing that I would add is I’m not sold that the NCAA execs want to see college hockey succeed financially. Point is look how much better the conference tourneys are run (venue location, game times, attendance) compared to the NCAA tourney is. Frozen Four in Tampa? NCAA’s crusade to do away with the Fighting Sioux nickname & logo despite the support of local tribes people. Clearly both ESPN & the NCAA could use some free market competition to better their product, vs. being the only entity for a decade without a competitor.

  37. Call your cable providers and complain.  Hate to say it, but I think college hockey is just not a big time sport for the broadcasters.  I’ve been to the lax finals, they pack an NFL stadium.  You’d never see that for college hockey. 

  38. Great article JC…hit several nails on the head, as have many of the “commenters” in follow-up. Our beloved sport of college hockey really is a niche-world, but that world is growing, with D1 and D3 players (men and women) now hailing from far many more places than the old traditional Minny/Mich/Mass hotbeds of days goneby. 
    ESPN should realize this, and build the sport up through true “professionally produced” coverage, in every way!

    They should realize the games are going to be followed by a passionate fan-base, who know where most of the kids come from, where the feeding grounds are, what the makeups of leagues are, and yes, even some of the histories involved, from both recent and distant past! 

    Much of the coverage is insulting to anyone who watchred even 4 or 5 games this past season, never mind the true college hockey community! (Barry M treats us to more and more phony garbage talk every year – he is so transparent in his false-knowledge and fake buddy-buddyness, it makes me want to throw up!)

    And the in-between-periods stuff is completely unacceptable…Anson Carter was a great player, and knows college hockey because he played, but so have hundreds and hundreds of other ex-players…give me a guy who has a passion for the tournament and a passion for the game, can talk easily about all the teams and the years they have had, and puts things in more historical perspective…and a little analysis and criticism does not hurt either!
    And I do not need a host who is a young “studio-typecast upstart” from the mothership who cannot pronounce names and knows little about college hockey apparently…think he can name 4 teams from the CCHA and the ECAC and the Atlantic??? I doubt it!

    Regionals is such a great weekend, but having to suffer through the nature of the coverage and the lack of interest on the part ESPN certainly affects how it is viewed.

    Congrats to the Frozen Four teams…hope it is a great tournament in Tampa and a fitting conclusion to another great year for our sport!  (…and hope ESPN doesn’t screw up too badly in covering the weekend…!) 

    • Sacred Heart scored as many goals last night then the total both predicted for the weekend. Now I feel terrible the phantom interference call aided in our tie last Friday. Either ND had a letdown, or you are 100% correct on how far overrated the Irish are.

        • They probably aren’t deserving of a top 5 ranking in the country, but I think they are a good enough to be a nationally-ranked team. They got heavily outplayed statistically by Denver the previous weekend even though they got a tie out of one game.


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