Large NCHC contingent posed biggest challenge for NCAA committee in making tournament bracket

Providence and Boston College both ended up in the East Regional in Providence (photo: Melissa Wade).

College hockey bracketologists had a rough go trying to predict the 2015 NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament in a year where the selection committee had a tough time achieving its goals.

According to committee member Kevin Sneddon, head coach at Vermont, six teams making the field from the NCHC made the seeding of the tournament most challenging. But he said he feels the committee did a good job of maintaining integrity of the seedings while still creating matchups in each region that should draw solid crowds.

“I don’t think we had major challenges but the fact we had six [teams] from one conference; that poses a little bit of a debate,” said Sneddon.

The guidelines for seeding the tournament call for the committee to avoid matchups between teams from the same conference in the first round. However, if a conference has more than four entries, as is the case this year with the NCHC, that guideline can be overlooked.

The committee, however, was able to seed the tournament without having NCHC teams play in the opening round.

“The committee, over time, has really tried to avoid [intra-conference matchups],” said Sneddon. “We realized we could avoid it and thought that was important.”

In three of the four regionals, local teams could provide large crowds and a great atmosphere, something that looking at the field shows the NCAA paid close attention to. Boston University and Yale will both be playing in Manchester, N.H.; Providence and Boston College both will play in the East Regional in Providence. And North Dakota, as host, will play in front of a sellout crowd in Fargo, N.D.

That does leave the Midwest Regional in South Bend, Ind., as the one region where attendance could be a major issue. Top overall seed Minnesota State will play RIT and Omaha will face Harvard in that region.

The good news for those teams, however, is that there has been a strong presale for tickets, which when combined with the fans of the four schools that will travel there should create a decent crowd and atmosphere.

That, however, wasn’t the top priority in seeding that region.

“That South Bend regional in terms of [seeding] numbers is right where it should be,” said Kristin Fasbender, associate director of championships and alliances for the NCAA and operations manager for the Division I men’s hockey championship. “Minnesota State being that No. 1 overall seed, [we] tried to make sure that they [face] the 16 [seed] and that they have the eighth and ninth seeds [in that regional] as well.”

One of the biggest challenges that the committee faced this year might have been conflicts that were created for committee members. Four of the six members — North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison, Minnesota associate AD Tom McGinnis, Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson and Yale senior associate AD Wayne Dean — all had to recuse themselves at one point in the process because their respective teams are playing in the tournament.

That left Sneddon, Fasbender and Army coach Brian Riley as the only three who could see the entire process through from start to finish.

“If a committee member had a team involved, when it came down to bracketing and making those decisions, they weren’t involved,” said Fasbender. “We don’t want anyone to feel that they have to make a decision on [which team] is coming to play them.”

This could be one of the final times that the NCAA tournament is seeded in four different regions. Committee chair Faison said last week that the committee may look at having the early games of the tournament played at campus sites, with the higher team earning the right to host. That exploration was confirmed on Sunday by Fasbender.

“[Moving to campus sites] is something the committee talks about every year in terms of attendance numbers,” said Fasbender. “The committee will continue to talk about it. Other [NCAA] sports that have predetermined regional sites are having the same conversations.”


  1. Hey Jim, how can NCHC pose challenges for the committee? After all, they are not the “SEC of college hockey conferences”.

    • Apparently, there are no tickets to be had unless you pay scalper prices. Season ticket holders had to buy tickets to the regional as part of their package. A $155 upcharge per seat means there will be a lot of unfilled but paid for seats. Does the committee want dollars or butts in seats? They need to consider carefully what is best for college hockey.

      • My brother lives in Chicago and he’s a Mankato alum so he was interested in tickets for either or both games next weekend. He looked it up and there are only “standing room” tickets available at 60 bucks a pop. The NCAA has to find a way to bring down some of these prices once we get to the national tournament.

  2. I’d like to ask the committee why Providence basically few miles from the site…shouldn’t they have to travel since they were possibly the last team in? This is the 2nd time Miami didn’t get any respect…2011 same thing!

    • You are basically arguing with yourself. You complain Miami didn’t get respect, but they face “possibly the last team in”. There will be miniscule attendance from Providence fans, much more from BC. Make up your mind, please. Paranoia is a dangerous thing.

      • I seriously doubt PC attendance will be “minuscule” in their own hometown. They will do what they can to get students into the seats. But I do agree that BC fans will be there in large numbers. Regardless, should be some great hockey to watch.

        • Agree on great hockey, disagree on miniscule. I thought the same but Afterfurtherreview disagreed and proved to me by showing attendance figures, he was right and I was wrong. Their support is really bad, I could not believe the figures. Largest attendance for Regional at Providence in 2013 when PC was not in. This is, without a doubt, the toughest bracket. Providence has goalie who can steal games from the other 3 teams that are much better throughout.

          • Fair enough. I won’t argue that support for PC’s hockey program is minimal, since their basketball team gets more focus, attention, and much better attendance, especially on nights when both programs are playing at home (hockey playing at Schneider – a small venue with “limited” facilities – and the basketball team playing at the much-larger, booze-enabled Dunk). I would like to think this time around that PC fan support will be better given the circumstances (in Providence, students back from break, BB team out of their tourney, etc.), but I could be wrong. Whatever, but least I will be there. :)

        • Providence has the worst attendance average in Hockey East. They barely clear 2000 a night. The idea that they are going to pack the Dunk is laughable at best.

          • What about the BC fans? Will they root for Providence or Miami? They will pack the place, and are unlikely to root for a #1 seed.

          • What about BC fans? You think they’re going to stand up and cheer and hoot and holler for any team that’s not theirs? It’s going to be a raucous road environment for Miami on account of BC fans?

          • Who do they want to play (assuming they get by Denver). A number 4 overall or a number 15? I assume they will attend a game in which they are not playing, but I could be mistaken.

    • Brown is the official host of the Providence regional. What are they doing as host that is so special that Brown would deserve to automatically play there and Providence shouldn’t? Miami, a #4 seed gets to play a #15 seed instead of a #13 seed.

  3. If they’re worried about attendance they should have put Miami in South Bend.

    And I thought the only reason presales were strong was because ND included the regional in their season ticket packages. That doesn’t bode well for good attendance, contrary to your optimistic reporting here.

    • What bias? How does the computer give the NCHC league 6 teams? Why does someone ( who inputs into the computer ) think that these teams have the toughest schedules? If only 1 team from that conference makes the Frozen Four, we need to tweek how tough that league is. In the last 15 years, HE has the most champions and the most participants in the final game. FACT. North Dakota, BU and BC received better match ups than predicted this morning.

          • yeah, I know. The former WCHA did!!, (basically the NCHC that Bob Neal is complaining about) Denver, MN, UND, Colarado College

          • Wonderful. Look at the past 10, 20 or 30 years. Hockey East has been the best. Try to pick and choose one year here or the early 80’s to make your point. Make yourself happy. What recent year did the former WCHA have 6 teams in the NCAA and Zero in the FF??

          • You are a real idiot. YOU stated to go back seven years, conveniently not going back 6 more. Go back from 2000-2007 and you will have as many HE titles as your middle finger, or your IQ.

        • Can you make your facts the way you want them? Teams that are from the NCHC have won 4 since 2000. You talk about the former WCHA, but Minnesota is now a Big 10 team. Teams that are now whatever league they are in since 2000: HE has 5 Champs, NCHC 4, Big 10 has 4, and ECAC has 2; The last 2! By the way, 6 out of the last 7: FROM THE EAST !!

          • Nice cutoff, 7 years. Since you are the historian go back6 years before your self-imposed dateline. What teams have most NCAA titles? That would be Michigan, North Dakota and Denver. How many are from the “east”? Nice comparison with league in existence for 2 years (NCHC). How about comparing WCHA to HE, since Minnesota and Wisconsin won their titles under WCHA banner.

          • Listen pal, I said go back 10, 20 or 30 years. You pick 6 years before the 7 that I picked. I was wrong about one thing: in 2008 the WCHA had 6 teams in the field of 16, HE had 2. No WCHA team made the final and BC won it all. WCHA went 3-6 in the tournament and HE 4-1. The west ALWAYS gets more bids than the east and yet the last 15 years… If you want to tell me about the 80’s, 70’s and the 50’s go ahead. How does that help your arguments about now?? The real bias is that the Computer thinks that the western teams have a tougher schedule. The bottom line is that the east and west are about the same.

          • I’m not your pal by any stretch…here is your quote moron…

            ” In the last 15 years, HE has the most champions and the most participants in the final game. FACT. North Dakota, BU and BC received better match ups than predicted this morning”

          • DU_Fan is right on this one. Big 10 and NCHC and the “new” WCHA have only been formed the past two seasons (and this one isn’t done yet) so historically since its official formation in 1953, the “old” WCHA was BY FAR the most dominant college hockey conference in existence. Hockey East has a grand total of 14 national champions and the old WCHA has 37. Its gonna be a long, long time before anyone gets to 37. Plus the old WCHA placed all four teams in the Frozen Four once, and the NCHC this season has 6 out of 8 teams from the conference in the field.

          • Sounds like gimruis is trying to use REAL facts too!! Well stated….I am a MN fan who wishes I could have back the old WCHA!! How many teams in this years tourney are from the old WCHA?? 7 or 8, depending if you count UNO

          • Hey pal, why does the west ALWAYS get more bids? Guess it’s because of that “biased” Pairwise system. Someone from the west obviously snuck a virus through their firewall, and made every calculation favor teams west of the Mississippi. You really are a brain surgeon.

          • no, I don’t make up whatever I want. This is year number two for Big Ten and NCHC, therefore they each have had one season of post season action. MN only team in Championship from our discussion!! Big 10 1, ECAC 1…
            But back to your point, my original reply was to refute your own misinformation, based on the year span YOU provided.
            Please stay out EAST where you belong: FROM EVERYONE NOT IN WEST, MIDWEST, NCHC, BIG 10, WCHA, and all who use there God given brain.

        • Teams which play MORE games in a season, expecially within conf’s whose teams are strong THAT year, have the greatest oppy to up their PWR number. look at SCSU w/ approx .500 record. Yale was high after beating Harvard when H was #1 and then again #6, but as H continued to lose mid-season, Yale went down while continuing to play at about a .650 pace. Same happened to qPac somewhat. PWR CAN Similarly, BU has some cupcakes in HE and were they in NCHC, they’d have highest PWR, and BC prob be right there too. If SCSU in HE or ECAC, be #20+. It’s year to year. Until UCONN, ME, UNH, NU, etc get stronger, be tough for a HE to be #1 at END of season, and even harder for ECAC team at END of season.

      • I’ll make this as simple as I possibly can. NCHC teams had the best non conference record out of all the leagues(meaning they won more games against non conference teams than they lost). More wins=better teams right? Then they played each other more times than the teams from the other leagues. Therefore, they had a tougher schedule. Want proof?? Yale played 10 games against teams in the tournament with the highest seed being BU in the championship game. Take that out and the next highest is Harvard at 9. North Dakota played 22 games against 6 teams in the tournament. UND had 15 games against the 4th 5th 6th and 8th ranked teams. So explain to me how the NCHC doesn’t have the toughest schedule. With facts please!!

        • What do you mean “Yale played 10 games…with the highest seed being BU in the championship game?” Which championship game? Yale didn’t play BU this year. And don’t forget Harvard was #1 for a while this year, until Yale started beating them regularly in the regular season. (If you look at the Pairwise, it’s also interesting to note that Yale actually ties the common opponents measure vs BU.)

          • Sorry I meant playoffs. Only 10 of their games played this year were played against teams in the tournament. Which is why I compared against teams in the tournament. “At one point in the year” comparisons are useless. Wasn’t Bemidji State near the top early on? How about Wisconsin? I’m sure they weren’t ranked in the high 50s all year.

      • How does the computer give the NCHC 6 teams? The same way it gives the Women’s WCHA only 2.

        Last year, both Omaha and Colorado C. struggled in their nonconference games, so North Dakota needed a win in the 3rd-place game, and a Wisconsin win in the B1GHC championship game, to make the tournament.

      • How is it that you just make this garbage up. In the last 15 years (since 2000) HE has 5 titles and the old wcha had 7 during that same timeframe. ACTUAL FACT! LOOK STUFF UP BEFORE YOU RUN YOUR MOUTH.

  4. BC and Providence are only there to sell tickets. I’m a BC fan but they don’t deserve the bid this year and PC is good but there are better. This is all about selling tickets, sad.

  5. the pairwise are based on non conference game between the confrences. some teams have more non conference games than other. some teams play more games than others its not very balanced by any means.

  6. I’m not real happy with the pairings in the East and West brackets. You have 4 teams who have played each other 3 out of their last six games (North Dakota/SCSU & DU/Miami) plus DU gets BC who they played earlier in the year. Only this time DU as the higher seed has to play them closer to Boston. You think they could’ve mixed that up a little bit. It’s the same teams playing each other every weekend.


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