Field set for women’s D-I national championship

Defending Division I women’s national champion and top-seeded Wisconsin will open up defense of its crown on March 10 as the Badgers will battle CHA tournament runner-up Mercyhurst in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals on home ice.

Boston College hosts St. Lawrence, Minnesota hosts North Dakota and Cornell and Boston University will play at Cornell to make up the rest of the field.

Three conferences were awarded automatic bids for the 2012 tournament. The remaining five teams were selected at-large.

The automatic qualifying conferences and their representatives are Minnesota (WCHA), St. Lawrence (ECAC) and BU (Hockey East). Boston College, Mercyhurst, North Dakota, St. Lawrence and Wisconsin were selected as at-large teams.

The quarterfinals are scheduled for March 10, the semifinals on March 16 and the national title game for March 18 in Duluth, Minn.


  1. OK…so I’m a bit confused and with little explanation in the story maybe someone out there can assist. Wisconsin as the #1 seed should be hosting BU unless of course the selection committee just threw out any hope of bracket integrity……According to the Gopher site, the Gophers earned the #2 seed which would normally indicate they were to host #7 St. Lawrence which would then diffuse the intra conference matchup, #3 seed Cornell would host North Dakota and finally #4 BC to host Mercyhurst………….so what the heck is going on… would appear that someone is mucking around with any semblance of impartiality

    • Looking at the final PWR and at the bracket, Minnesota got the #3 seed; Cornell got the #2.  Perfect bracket integrity would’ve had #8 BU @ #1 UW; #7 SLU @ #2 CU; #6 UND @ #3 UM; and #5 MU (was MC) @ #4 BC.  On first blush, swapping the #6 and #7 (who tied in the PWR anyway) would’ve been a no-brainer to avoid intra-conference matchups. But the committee (I guess) had extreme travel constraints placed upon them.  I believe their Rules Of Engagement were to have the top 4 seeds at home, then place the next 4 to minimize travel costs.  (but that’s not what happened – see later.)  I have no idea what their “within driving distance” criterion is.  I’m interested to see if they’re flying MU to UW, or having them drive 9+ hours.  The first “obvious” pairing is UND @ UM. UND can only drive to UM in 9 but <10 hour dirve.  Here's where I wonder:  If they wanted to absolutely minimize travel, they should've sent BU to BC (ZERO travel cost) and SLU to CU, but they chose two ~6 hour bus trips instead.  This has the added "benefit" of avoiding two more intraconference matchups in the first round – but since you're sticking UND with UM, why not screw everyone in the name of minimal travel cost?

      • I appreciate your thoroughness, I can only say that I pulled the seedings off the MN website indicating MN got #2 seed even though POWER shows them as #3. Your point is well made, if you want to minimize drive time and don’t seem to care about intra conference matchups. The way I see it BU should of had to gone to Wisconsin instead of Mercyhurst, no explanation is given by the article or the committee….I know it may only be me but the brackett as anointed by the NCAA seems self serving for some teams and less then apropriate for others…the way I saw it the brackets should have been…..

        #8 Boston U  @ #1 Wisconsin
        #7 St, Lawrence @ #2 Minnesota
        #6 North Dakota @ # 3 Cornell
        #5 Mercyhurst @ #4 BC

        Keep the integrity of the tourney folks.

      • Steve, this is the exact quote from the tournament handbook: “Pairings in the quarterfinal round shall be based primarily on the teams’ geographical proximity to one another, regardless of their region, in order to avoid air travel in quarterfinal round games whenever possible. Teams’ relative strength, according to the committee’s selection criteria, shall be considered when establishing pairings if such pairings do not result in air travel that otherwise could be avoided.”

        The magic cutoff is 300 miles at which the NCAA will not reimburse for any air travel. So the NCAA does not care about minimizing distance within 300 miles, so no reason to pair BU-BC and SLU-Cornell. But the NCAA does care about keeping as many pairings with 300 miles as possible and minimizing the total air travel necessary.

        • On my understanding this is how it goes. You have the first 5 teams according to the pairwise ranked as followed: 1.UW, 2.Cornell, 3. MN, 4. BC and 5. MU. Now because the first 4 get home ice they don’t get shuffled around. After the WHEA championship the rest of the pairwise looked like this : 6. UND, 7. SLU and 8. BU. The bottom four get shuffled according to rank and distance trying to keep the eastern teams together and the western on their side. If you look at distance MU is the only team that was pretty much neutral and could go either way. You also have to count that they tried to keep the match ups between different conferences except for UND and MN due to the fact that there are 3 WCHA teams and two of them are in the top 4 (they can’t be moved). Without shifting the teams much this seems to be the best way to pair up.

          They reduced the amount/cost of travel and they kept most pairs in between different conferences which increases the chances of all 4 conferences going to the frozen 4.

          As to RMU for those asking below. The ECAC does not have an autobid due to only 4 teams in the conference. Pairwise they were far out.

          After watching all tournament games and seeing most of these teams play over the whole season, particularly the second half… I think the weakest team of all 8 is MU so it wasn’t that far off when you look at it. But if there is one thing this year has proven is that never underestimate the underdog!

        • That’s a good explanation except Canton, NY is 350 miles (including a Ferry ride across Lake Champlain) from Boston. Or 365 miles if you avoid the ferry, but that gets you a long stretch of winding Adirondack 2 lane. Given the distance, is SLU flying? If so, that flight could have been avoided by going to BU-BC and SLU-Cornell (or BU-BC, SLU-Wisc, and Cornell-Mercyhurst as the last one is under 300 miles, just barely)

    • Patm — most of us are used to following NCAA tournaments that generate revenue like men’s hockey and basketball. All other tournaments only seed 25-50% of the bracket. From the NCAA’s perspective, women’s hockey is fortunate to have 50% of the bracket seeded. In assigning quarterfinal pairings, the No. 1 constraint is to minimize the number flights — and this was done by assigning Mercyhurst to Wisconsin and North Dakota to Minnesota, and two easterns schools to two eastern schools. I have no idea how teams 5-8 were tanked: all we can infer is that SLU was ranked ahead of BU because SLU was sent to No. 4 and BU was sent to No. 3. 

      We all have been confused in the past because the NCAA didn’t actually minimize the number of flights in the bracket. In 2005 the NCAA paired teams as if the whole bracket were seeded, and in 2009 the NCAA probably could have paired Minnesota-Duluth with Minnesota to produce a 1-flight bracket but instead went with a three-flight bracket. But again, from the NCAA’s perspective, these were years were they were generous to women’s hockey. The last two years suggest the committee is no longer going to be so generous. 

      If the women’s hockey committee wants to seed the whole bracket, they have to petition a larger body of the NCAA to have their whole bracket seeded. I don’t forsee such a petition being successful any time soon, because again, there are lots of tournaments that would love to have 50% of their bracket seeded. It’s unfortunate for women’s hockey, and it really locks in a second-class status for women’s hockey relative to men’s hockey.


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