Minnesota Duluth remains atop PairWise Rankings

27 Jan 17: The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers play against the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs in a quarterfinal game of the North Star College Cup at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN. (Jim Rosvold)
Minnesota Duluth sits No. 1 in the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll and in the Pairwise Rankings (photo: Jim Rosvold).

We’re at that time of the year where one thing is on everyone’s minds.

Will my team make the NCAA tournament? Where does it sit in the PairWise Rankings (PWR)?

Those of you that are veterans of the college hockey scene know that it is all about the PairWise Rankings. This is USCHO’s numerical approach that simulates the way the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey committee chooses the teams that make the NCAA tournament.

Since USCHO began the PairWise Rankings, we have correctly identified all of the teams that have been selected to the NCAA tournament.

Five of the last six years, I am the only prognosticator to have correctly predicted the exact brackets for the NCAA tournament, meaning that I have predicted how the committee thought when putting together the brackets.

With that in mind, it’s time once again to do what we like to call Bracketology, college hockey style. It’s our weekly look at how I believe the NCAA tournament might look like come selection time, using what we know now.

It’s a look into the possible thought processes behind selecting and seeding the NCAA tournament teams.

This is not a be-all, end-all analysis of the bracket. I am trying to give you, the reader, an idea of what the committee might be thinking and not exactly what they are thinking.

This is the next installment of Bracketology for 2017, and we’ll be bringing you a new one every week until we make our final picks before the field is announced on March 19.

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 – Providence, R.I.; Northeast – Manchester, N.H.; Midwest – Cincinnati, Ohio; West – Fargo, N.D.).

• A host institution that is invited to the tournament plays in the regional for which it is the host and cannot be moved. The host institutions this year: Brown in Providence, New Hampshire in Manchester, Miami in Cincinnati and North Dakota in Fargo.
• Seedings will not be switched. 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, from the 2015 pre-championship manual:

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 the likelihood of a playoff-type atmosphere at each regional site. For this model, the following is a basic set of priorities:

1. Once the six automatic qualifiers and 10 at-large teams are selected, the next step is to develop four groups from the committee’s rankings of 1-16. The top four teams are 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. The next four are targeted as No. 2 seeds. The next four are No. 3 seeds and the last four are No. 4 seeds.

2. Step two is to place the home teams. Host institutions that qualify will be placed at home.

3. Step three is to fill in the bracket so that first-round conference matchups are avoided, unless it corrupts the integrity of the bracket. If five or more teams from one conference are selected to the championship, then the integrity of the bracket will be protected (i.e., maintaining the pairing process according to seed will take priority over avoidance of first-round conference matchups). To complete each regional, the committee assigns one team from each of the remaining seeded groups so there is a No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seed at each regional site.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders through all games of February 7:

1 Minnesota-Duluth
2 Denver
3 Boston University
4 Minnesota
5 Harvard
6 Western Michigan
7 Union
8t Providence
8t North Dakota
8t Boston College
11 Penn State
12 Massachusetts-Lowell
13 Cornell
14 Vermont
15 Wisconsin
16 St. Cloud State
17 Air Force
24 Bemidji State

Current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Air Force
Big Ten: Minnesota (wins tiebreaker on better record vs Penn State (2-0 vs 0-0))
ECAC Hockey: Union
Hockey East: Boston College
NCHC: Minnesota-Duluth
WCHA: Bemidji State

Notes

• 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 the current leader in each conference. This team is my assumed conference tournament champion after applying the tiebreakers.

Step one

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

We break ties in the PWR by looking at the individual comparisons among the tied teams, and add in any current league leaders that are not currently in the top 16. The only teams that are not are Air Force and Bemidji State.

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

The ties and bubbles consist of none this week.

We break all of our ties based upon the RPI.

Therefore, the 16 teams in the tournament, in rank order, are:

1 Minnesota-Duluth
2 Denver
3 Boston University
4 Minnesota
5 Harvard
6 Western Michigan
7 Union
8 Providence
9 North Dakota
10 Boston College
11 Penn State
12 Massachusetts-Lowell
13 Cornell
14 Vermont
15 Air Force
16 Bemidji State

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 seeds: Minnesota-Duluth, Denver, Boston University, Minnesota

No. 2 seeds: Harvard, Western Michigan, Union, Providence

No. 3 seeds: North Dakota, Boston College, Penn State, Massachusetts-Lowell

No. 4 seeds: Cornell, Vermont, Air Force, Bemidji State

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in the West Regional in Fargo
No. 2 Denver is placed in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.
No. 3 Boston University is placed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester.
No. 4 Minnesota is placed in the East Regional in Providence.

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 would be played by No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5.

So therefore:

No. 2 seeds

No. 8 Providence is placed in No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 7 Union is placed in No. 2 Denver’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 6 Western Michigan is placed in No. 3 Boston University’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 5 Harvard is placed in No. 4 Minnesota’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 and 15; another with 3, 6, 11 and 14; and another with 4, 5, 12 and 13.

North Dakota is a host, therefore they are placed first in this pod:

No. 9 North Dakota is placed in No. 8 Providence’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 10 Boston College is placed in No. 7 Union’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 11 Penn State is placed in No. 6 Western Michigan’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 12 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in No. 5 Harvard’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 Bemidji State is sent to No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 15 Air Force is sent to No. 2 Denver’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 14 Vermont is sent to No. 3 Boston University’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 13 Cornell is sent to No. 4 Minnesota’s regional, the East Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

East Regional (Providence):
13 Cornell vs. 4 Minnesota
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
14 Vermont vs. 3 Boston University
11 Penn State vs. 6 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
15 Air Force vs. 2 Denver
10 Boston College vs. 7 Union

West Regional (Fargo):
16 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
9 North Dakota vs. 8 Providence

Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have one this week – Vermont vs. Boston University.
We can make a quick switch between Vermont and Cornell.

East Regional (Providence):
14 Vermont vs. 4 Minnesota
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
13 Cornell vs. 3 Boston University
11 Penn State vs. 6 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
15 Air Force vs. 2 Denver
10 Boston College vs. 7 Union

West Regional (Fargo):
16 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
9 North Dakota vs. 8 Providence

Now let’s look at maximizing attendance.

It looks to me like we can move a bunch of things here. For example, why can’t we just swap the entire matchups in the second and third bands to make things more geographically fit?

i.e. we put Penn State-WMU in Cincinnati. We put Lowell-Harvard in Manchester and we put BC-Union in Providence.

East Regional (Providence):
14 Vermont vs. 4 Minnesota
10 Boston College vs. 7 Union

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
13 Cornell vs. 3 Boston University
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
15 Air Force vs. 2 Denver
11 Penn State vs. 6 Western Michigan

West Regional (Fargo):
16 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
9 North Dakota vs. 8 Providence

That looks like it can work. My only wish is that I could put Providence in Providence – remember, Brown is the host there, not Providence. The only way I can do that is to put Penn State there by swapping Penn State and BC, and then swapping Providence with Union.

East Regional (Providence):
14 Vermont vs. 4 Minnesota
11 Penn State vs. 8 Providence

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
13 Cornell vs. 3 Boston University
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
15 Air Force vs. 2 Denver
10 Boston College vs. 6 Western Michigan

West Regional (Fargo):
16 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
9 North Dakota vs. 7 Union

That really screws up the bracket integrity though. Do I do it? I would have to think long and hard before I said, “No, I won’t.” But would the committee do that? How can they resist putting Providence in Providence? I am not sure.

Can we approach the bracket another way?

There is always that school of thought that you should not put the number one overall seed in the same regional as a host school. We are of course referring to the fact that UMD is currently in the same regional as North Dakota.

Let’s change it up a bit then and see what happens.

Here’s how we place the number one seeds:

UMD in Cincinnati, Denver in Providence, BU in Manchester and Minnesota in Fargo.

That means our bracket falls out like this:

East Regional (Providence):
15 Air Force vs. 2 Denver
11 Penn State vs. 7 Union

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
14 Vermont vs. 3 Boston University
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 6 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
16 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
10 Boston College vs. 8 Providence

West Regional (Fargo):
13 Cornell vs. 4 Minnesota
9 North Dakota vs. 5 Harvard

Now let’s eliminate the intra-conference matchups of Boston College vs. Providence and Vermont vs. Boston University.

Vermont is simple, we swap Vermont with Cornell.

East Regional (Providence):
15 Air Force vs. 2 Denver
11 Penn State vs. 7 Union

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
13 Cornell vs. 3 Boston University
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 6 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
16 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
10 Boston College vs. 8 Providence

West Regional (Fargo):
14 Vermont vs. 4 Minnesota
9 North Dakota vs. 5 Harvard

Now let’s take care of Boston College and Providence. Before we do what most people would do, swap Penn State and Boston College, let’s go back to the idea that we want to put Providence in Providence.

Let’s move the teams in the second band instead, meaning let’s move Providence to Providence and then make it geographically sound after that.

East Regional (Providence):
15 Air Force vs. 2 Denver
11 Penn State vs. 8 Providence

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
13 Cornell vs. 3 Boston University
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 7 Union

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
16 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
10 Boston College vs. 6 Western Michigan

West Regional (Fargo):
14 Vermont vs. 4 Minnesota
9 North Dakota vs. 5 Harvard

We would love to move Boston College to Providence, but we can’t in this case. So that looks like a bracket to me.

The other thing here that I think the committee will look at is that there is an ECAC team hosting in Providence. But there are zero ECAC teams in that regional at the moment. Will the committee want that?

So I am not sure which bracket is good here and which way the committee would go.

For me, for the sake of having to choose one this week, I will choose the first scenario because it preserves the bracket integrity.

See you here in a few weeks for the next Bracketology.

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

This week’s brackets

East Regional (Providence):
14 Vermont vs. 4 Minnesota
10 Boston College vs. 7 Union

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
13 Cornell vs. 3 Boston University
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
15 Air Force vs. 2 Denver
11 Penn State vs. 6 Western Michigan

West Regional (Fargo):
16 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
9 North Dakota vs. 8 Providence

Conference breakdowns

Hockey East — 5
NCHC — 4
ECAC Hockey — 3
Big Ten — 2
WCHA — 1
Atlantic Hockey – 1

Movement

In: Cornell, Air Force
Out: Wisconsin, Canisius

Last Week’s Bracket

East Regional (Providence):
16 Canisius vs. 2 Denver
11 Providence vs. 6 Union

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
14 Wisconsin vs. 3 Boston University
10 Boston College vs. 8 Harvard

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 4 Western Michigan
12 Vermont vs. 5 Penn State

West Regional (Fargo):
15 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
9 North Dakota vs. 7 Minnesota

201 COMMENTS

  1. Jayson, for current conference leaders I’m assuming you meant Wisconsin and not Penn State for the Big Ten since they are tied with Minnesota. As far as Denver is concerned, if they remain #2 in the PWR, why should they be penalized and sent out east like you have in your second scenario? Minnesota as the lowest #1 seed should be going east.

    • At least his final, I think, has DU in Cincinnati which shocked me. Please note DU as #2 should have #7 (Union) in there bracket but instead will put another NCHC team (WMU) there instead. Why not keep Union there for true bracket integrity, instead of letting them play in Providence. WMU should be in Manchester to have the 3/6 matchup. They are no where near their “requirements” state, never have been. West Regional only “pure” bracket, numbers wise.

      • WMU is the only team in the field that is driving distance from Cinci, and will save the NC$$ a flight, and you’re less likely to have a completely empty building than if the closest school in the regional is 700 miles away. That switch makes way more sense than his obsession of putting non-host Providence in Providence, when there are a half dozen other schools within a hour drive of that regional.

        • WMU does not travel well anywhere, and since when is 250 miles considered “driving distance”? According to Ray, the only MWU fan on this blog, when WMU played big series at Miami there were only about 25 fans, mostly parents and Ray and his girlfriend. This was only a 120 mile drive so what makes you think WMU fans will migrate twice that distance?

          • 250 miles is driving distance according to the NC$$. Anything under 300 miles, the teams get put on a bus instead of a flight. It’s also the basis for “a flight is a flight,” which is why Moy has Denver going out east and sending MN to Fargo in his “protect Duluth by keeping them out of Fargo” scenario (which seems very unlikely, as long as NoDak doesn’t fall to a 4 seed.)

          • Jayson chose the first option to send WMU to Manchester, guess that shoots down your driving distance theory. Also, UMD is staying in Fargo, DU in Cincinnati, and Minnesota is sent to Providence, where they should be. Just FYI, the 300 mile driving distance used to be 150 . I spaced this out until you reminded me in your reply. The NC$$ changed it so that almost every ECAC and HE team is now “qualified driving distance” from the Eastern Regional sites. It did nothing to help the B1G, WCHA, and NCHC teams, or old WCHA and CCHA.

          • First, you need to reread the article. In both situations (UMD to Fargo or UMD to Cinci) he has WMU in Cinci, when he says he picked the first option, he was talking about sending UMD to Fargo. Look at what he put for “This weeks brackets” and it’s WMU in Cinci, which is what you were complaining about. Second, the 300 mile cut-off (actually I think it’s 350) has been in place for more than a decade. A 150 mile rule would mean a flight for essentially every non-hosting western school. St. Cloud would be a Flight to Fargo, Duluth would be a flight to St. Paul, etc.

          • Jayson stated, “I will choose the first scenario since it preserves bracket integrity”. Here is the first scenario, not This Week’s Brackets.

            East Regional (Providence):
            13 Cornell vs. 4 Minnesota
            12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

            Northeast Regional (Manchester):
            14 Vermont vs. 3 Boston University
            11 Penn State vs. 6 Western Michigan

            Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
            15 Air Force vs. 2 Denver
            10 Boston College vs. 7 Union

            West Regional (Fargo):
            16 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
            9 North Dakota vs. 8 Providence

            Even though it is confusing, you need to reread and comprehend the article, not me. Maybe this will help you understand. Bracket integrity is 1/8/9/16, 2/7/10/15, 3/6/11/14, and 4/5/12/13. This “first” scenario he chose is the ONLY one that has this formula.

          • AGAIN, look near the end where he says “THIS WEEKS BRACKET.” What you’ve listed is pure bracket integrity before even dealing with the conference matchup of BU/Vermont. Why would he “choose” that, if that’s not his final bracket? When he says he chooses the first scenario, he is comparing sending UMD to Fargo or UMD to Cinci, both with end up with Western at Cinci.

          • His entire posting is really confusing…he has like 5 different things going on, which is the actual first? Either way, I just look at this weeks bracket at the end. And then after that, it doesn’t matter since everything will change again by selection time in 5 and a half weeks.

          • If you read the article, it’s not that confusing. He has two things going on: One that has UMD going to Fargo, and then a Second where he protects UMD by sending UMD to Cinci. Of course things will change, the whole point is to look at the process of what would happen if the season ended now, so people understand what will happen in March.

          • Just for clarity the point which you seem to be missing. The first thing he listed, pure bracket integrity with no adjustments for conference matchups, travel, or anything else is not a “scenario.”

            He has 2 scenarios, which factors in the rules that the NCAA follow beyond pure bracket integrity. The first is this:
            East Regional (Providence):
            14 Vermont vs. 4 Minnesota
            11 Penn State vs. 8 Providence

            Northeast Regional (Manchester):
            13 Cornell vs. 3 Boston University
            12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

            Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
            15 Air Force vs. 2 Denver
            10 Boston College vs. 6 Western Michigan

            West Regional (Fargo):
            16 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
            9 North Dakota vs. 7 Union

            His second scenario is this:

            East Regional (Providence):
            15 Air Force vs. 2 Denver
            11 Penn State vs. 8 Providence

            Northeast Regional (Manchester):
            13 Cornell vs. 3 Boston University
            12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 7 Union

            Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
            16 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
            10 Boston College vs. 6 Western Michigan

            West Regional (Fargo):
            14 Vermont vs. 4 Minnesota
            9 North Dakota vs. 5 Harvard

            He picked the 1st one because he thinks that one has better bracket integrity than the 2nd, which is why that is “This week’s bracket.’ In both cases WMU goes to Cinci.

          • Not one site in either of these scenarios you presented have any “bracket integrity”. If you are correct, why did Jayson state it “preserves bracket integrity”

          • He’s saying the first preserves integrity in comparison to the second of his 2 scenarios (which I agree with you is a dumb statement). What makes the answer obvious is he listed “This week’s bracket” as what he came up for his 1st scenario, after making adjustments for conferences and travel. If he really wanted his bracket to be pure 1/16 bracket integrity, which can’t happen because of the conference matchup in the first round, why wouldn’t he put that as “This weeks bracket?”

          • Maybe its time they just make the bracket with pure integrity, where 1 vs 16, 2 vs 15, etc, regardless of intra conference match ups and all that other crap.

          • I agree. Either keep pure bracket integrity or just have NC$$ tell the truth. They will take one team from each band, and use every excuse in the book to send them to any Regional they want. Don’t give the “attendance” or “they have to fly anyway” crap, just be honest.

          • I do find it funny that they try as much as possible to keep BC close to home. Pretty sure in the last 15 years, any time they have had to fly to a regional they’ve lost in first round……committee doesn’t like that. Just like they go out of their way to make sure that if 4 teams from the same conference make the tourney, they almost always make sure that one regional doesn’t have a team from that conference in it. Wouldn’t want another all [insert conference here] frozen four….because it was sooooooooooo bad when that happened in 2005…..

          • There were Hockey East schools in all 4 regions last year. There were NCHC schools in all 4 regions the year before. It’s true that BC hasn’t had to go out west since 2011, but UND hasn’t had to go east since 2010. The difference is that every year there are 2 regionals within a short drive of Boston, while the 2 western regionals are far more spread out, being anywhere from Denver and Fargo to Toledo and Cincinnati.

          • Maybe it is time to go back to the way it used to be, two Regionals. One East and one West, send as many teams as possible closest to Regional. B1G, WCHA, NCHC to West and HE and ECAC to East site. AHA champion to closest Regional. If there are not 8 teams from each region, send the lowest remaining team(s) to the other Regional. Don’t worry about intra-conference matchups, each Regional will have 3 days, since there will be 8 rather than 6 in each Regional. Since teams will know well in advance where they will be playing, attendance should not be the issue we currently experience.

          • If you do that, you’d be making things far more unbalanced than they are now. Just two years ago, 8 of the top 10 teams heading into the tournament were from the West. Under the “closest regional” idea, #1 would have played #10 in the first round out west, While #11 would have been the 3rd highest seed out east and played #14!

          • The goal was not to have better balance, it was to limit travel costs and boost attendance. You get down to two teams from each Regional to play in FF. At FF two highest ranked play the two lowest ranked. If the two best teams are from the same conference, so be it. Do you really think the four Regionals now are not unbalanced? Attendance was higher, travel costs were much lower, fans not priced out.

          • Yes, the regionals now are balanced. They aren’t perfect, but the top 4 play the bottom 4 etc. You were complaining that as a 2 seed, Denver was being matched up with 6 seed WMU in the second round, instead of 7 seed Union. The difference between a 6 and 7 seed is not significant. Under your proposal, if the seeds worked out like they did just 2 years ago when 7 or the top 8 were out west, The 2 seed would have played the 8 seed for its first game, and then the winner of a 4/7 seed matchup in the second round. Meanwhile, The 9th seed would have played the 15 seed for its first game and the winner of the 11/14 seeds for its second game. THAT would be unbalanced. It would certainly increase attendance (although the NC$$ would still likely overprice it), but it would destroy any sense of balance.

          • It certainly is not balanced now, only pure bracket integrity would make it such. Which is more important, the fans or a semi-balanced schedule? Guess the answer is in the eye of the beholder. If things ran according to form, you would still get the top teams playing for the NC. As someone who has traveled to see their team play in Regionals (and FF) for many years, I prefer the former. If fans could pay about 1/3 to see their team play, you would greatly increase the most important part of CH, the fan base attending.

          • No, it’s just silly to say that the only way it would be balanced is if it was pure 1-16 bracket integrity, especially when the pairwise is hardly an exact science. The fact that a 2 seed might have to play a 6 seed instead of a 7 seed means its imperfect, not that it’s unbalanced. The idea you threw out isn’t even semi-balanced. Having a situation where the 9th ranked team in the country could have a far easier road to the Frozen Four than the 1st or 2nd ranked team, which is exactly what would have happened 2 years ago if your regional idea was enacted, would be the definition of unbalanced. I will say I’m impressed by the irony of you complaining about the current system being unbalanced, because 6/7 seeds get switched to play closer to home, and then advocating for a system where you could actually have the Top 8 teams in one half of the bracket and the Bottom 8 on the other, and call that “semi-balanced.”

          • What about the fans? You conveniently keep avoiding that question. You apparently don’t care that the final games in 3 of the 4 Regionals, sometimes all 4, usually have less than 1200 actual spectators. They let what little fans that do attend sit in the lower bowls in order to make it look “decent” on television. Unfortunately, TV shots pan the entire arena and viewers see what a ghost town looks like. Really looks great for college hockey. Guess we know where you stand on the “unbalanced schedule” versus having a lot of fans attending these games.

          • Keeping every west team west and east team east might increase attendance, but is it worth destroying any sort of balance or fairness to do that? Again, you started by complaining that switching 6/7 seeds to keep both fan bases closer to home was unfair. Yet, you think that potentially giving the 9th seed team an easier road to the F4 than the 1st and 2nd seeds is no big deal? If Denver as a 2 seed, missed the F4 after having to play the 8 seed and then the 4 seed in the regionals, but the 9 seed made the F4 after having to only play the 15 seed and the 11 seed, just because the 9 seed happened to be an eastern school, would you think that’s fair? Do you that’s good for the long term health of college hockey?

          • Convenient dismissal, “might increase attendance”. There is no doubt it would dramatically put more fans in the seats. I would not complain at all if DU missed FF due to your scenario. I didn’t complain when DU had to face #15 Providence in their home town in 2015. I did, however, complain that attendance for final was less than 1100 through the turnstiles. Plain fact is that any team in Regionals are capable of winning. How important is your “fairness” in seedings? In 2015, Providence was #15 in overall rankings. In 2013, Yale was #15 in overall rankings. In 2011, UMD was #11 in rankings. I am sure you are knowledgeable enough to realize what they all have in common. BC, in 2012, was the only overall #1 seed to win it all since NC$$ went to 4 Regional sites.The health of college hockey is horrible, fans can’t afford to see their teams play in Regionals. NC$$ doesn’t care how many seats are empty at Regional finals, they get their cash from sold seats. Casual fans, that only watch Regionals and FF, have great view of empty seats, is that good for CH?

          • So what you’re saying is you don’t care about balance? Then why were you complaining about switching 6/7 seeds in the first place? I’m just baffled that you can claim that anything other than perfect 1-16 is unbalanced, but then claim that there is no problem with #2 having to play #8 while #9 plays #15. Of course, in a single-elimination tournament any team can get hot and win, but that doesn’t mean the rankings are completely irrelevant. As far as your statement that switching to only regionals would dramatically increase attendance, that’s hardly a sure thing. You proved it yourself when you pointed out that even with Providence playing in Providence, only 1000 people showed up. Every year, there are 2 regionals within a short drive of Boston, and their attendance still sucks. Hell, Have you looked at conference tourney attendance lately? Fans know well in advance where their team will play, just like your proposal, and they still don’t show up. So no, it is hardly a sure thing that pure East/West regional set up would “dramatically” increase attendance. Once again, since you still have never answered this question: how can you be upset and claim it’s unfair and unbalanced that Denver might have to play #6 WMU instead of #7 Union, and yet claim you wouldn’t have a problem and it wouldn’t be unbalanced with Denver having to play #8 instead of #15 in the first round, and could have to then play the #4 team to make it to the F4.

          • First, I was talking about bracket integrity in the current four-site system, not with two-sites. You can harp on that all you want. Using my Providence example proves my point. When you have four Regionals you cut down on the amount of teams, and fans, that can attend. Second, when you state “fans know well in advance where their team will play,”, it is obvious you have never flown to see your team play in Regionals or you are just playing dumb. If you call four days “well in advance” you should probably stop there. Please tell me where Denver will play its’ Regional so I can book flight, hotel and rental car now. Without your crystal ball, I will have to wait the Sunday when the draw is announced, then do last minute travel plans to fly out that Thursday. I will have to pay the highest airline, hotel and rental car fees, the same as businessmen that have to travel at the last minute to attend a hastily called meeting. This has not only been my fate, but every other fan that cannot drive to a site. If there were only two sites I, and most others, could make plans now. We could get discounted flights, hotels and car reservations. This is why, when there were two Regionals their attendance was “dramatically” increased.

          • Dear lord you need to work on your reading comprehension skills. When I said “fans know well in advance where their team was playing” it was immediately after I said “Have you looked at Conference Tournament attendance lately?”. That’s where fans know well in advance where their team will play, and the tournaments still struggle to get crowds. To say that fans – who aren’t going to predetermined conference tournament sites – will “dramatically” flock to NCAA regionals (which will likely still cost much more, and won’t serve alcohol) is hardly a sure thing. And I will keep “harping” on your contradiction when it comes to bracket integrity, because it’s just silly for you to say that switching a 6/7 seed to keep those teams closer to home is unfair and unbalanced, and want to “solve” it by creating a system where you could have the best 8 teams in 1 regional and the bottom 8 teams in the other!

          • I did comprehend exactly what you wrote. I simply forgot one sentence in my reply. Conference tournaments work almost exactly the way the regionals do now. Only difference is that you do know where the conference tournament will be played but most, if not all, leagues play preliminary rounds at highest ranked school hosting. Best case, you will know on a Saturday if your team will make league conference tourney site, starting following Wednesday or Thursday. Still a short turnaround unless you want to take a chance on your team making it. With 2 regional sites, team in top 6 can pretty much make early plans.

          • So you’ve said fans don’t go to the regionals when they are in their own cities. You admit people aren’t going to conference tournaments where the sites are planned in advance (even there the top seeds in each conference should be reasonably confident they’ll make the tournament, and some conferences don’t have a prelim round and the attendance is even worse), and btw, if you have just 2 regionals, fans will have to pay for 6 games, when at most “their team” will only be in 2 games. But you are so certain that your proposal will so dramatically increase attendance that you – a person who thinks its unfair that 6 and 7 seeds might get swapped in a 4 region bracket – think that it’s perfectly fine to destroy any sense of balance and allow a situation where the bottom 8 seeds could have a dramatically easier road to the Frozen Four. Right?

          • Sure, it sounds great to do pure bracket integrity and get rid of all the other rules – until you have a Fargo regional with Denver playing 3 east coast teams, while UND gets sent out to Providence in a bracket with 3 other Western Schools – driving up costs, while driving down attendance even more than the already pathetic levels. The reality is that pairwise isn’t an exact science, there usually isn’t a huge difference between a 6 seed and an 8 seed so moving things around isn’t a huge competitive disadvantage, and there is actually a somewhat predictable pattern of how the brackets will be laid out beyond – which is the whole points of looking at the Bracketology.

          • I’m guessing there would still be “host” schools……so if it were in Fargo, my guess is UND would be host and be there, thus ensuring a sell out.

          • How? The only way that would be possible is if, for example, UND made the tourney in the 8 spot and another host school was in a 9 spot. How often has that ever happened? A lot of the time the host school doesn’t make the tourney.

          • Because if you are going to do only bracket integrity and get rid of everything else – but keep host schools, then it’s not just bracket integrity. Sure, UND is the #9 seed today and that matches up perfectly with #1 UMD, but what if UND was #14? Then you’d either have to have #1 play #14, or send #1 farther away and force they #3 team to Fargo, even if #3 should get to play closer to home – either way, that’s no longer pure bracket integrity.

          • Then cut host schools and send em where they fall. Or just have 2 super regionals like Sparky (believe it was him) said before. I think it would be great to watch 8 teams over 3 or 4 days.

          • That’s exactly what I was saying. You could focus only on bracket integrity, but you’re increasing costs and likely hurting attendance. Does Fargo still sell out if UND is playing in Providence, while 4 eastern schools are playing in Fargo? That’s the problem.

          • In a 5k seat arena….I’d say it would be pretty full. We like to watch hockey, no matter who is playing.

          • UND fans aren’t ones to purchase tickets and then not go. Although, they are smart enough to sell them to fans of other teams at a premium.

          • Why the NCAA holds a regional at Scheels Arena in Fargo that only holds 5000 is beyond me. I know the Ralph is a campus site, but are there any other venues in the Dakotas that hold more?

          • Why the NC$$ does anything it does is beyond me. The fargodome, where NDSU plays football, holds something like 18 or 19 thousand…..but they’d never let UND host a regional there cause they are a bunch of nancys. Obviously it is a football stadium, but ice could probably be put in…not sure how great that would be. Couldn’t be any worse than the FF in Detroilet a few years back. Only thing bigger than Scheels that isn’t the Ralph is the Bismarck Civic Center, which holds may 7,500, but I’ve never been in there so not sure what its like. There was talk of UND or another school hosting a regional in Sioux Falls at the Sanford Center. That seats about 10,500 for hockey and would be decently close to a lot of schools and there are plenty of places to stay and eat in Sioux Falls.
            If the NC$$ were smart, they’d just hold it at The Ralph, since it will be 85% Sioux fans anyway (if they made it) and they could line their pockets even more.

          • I find this conversation funny. Why? Well, I follow the women’s game too. The women’s D-i tournament is 8 teams. Last year, Boston College had a perfect record entering the NCAA tournament, no losses, no ties. They were seeded one. The week before the NCAA tournament, they defeated Northeastern iin the Beanpot final, in addition to the normal three games they play during the regular season, so they had played Northeastern four times. the seeds were:

            1) BC
            2) Wisconsin
            3) Minnesota
            4) Quinnipiac.

            They only seed four teams, but the 5-8 in PairWise were as follows:

            5) Clarkson
            6) Northeastern
            7) Princeton
            8) Mercyhurst

            the week before the NCAA tournament, by the way, Clarkson and Quinnipiac had played in the ECAC tournament final. What bracket did the selection committee come up with? They sent Northeastern to play BC a fifth time, and Clarkson to play Quinnipiac, Robert Morris to Wisconsin, and Princeton to Minnesota.

            One thing about the women’s tournament is that there is a mandate to try to minimize flights. Since Merychurst needed to fly anywhere, sending them to Wisconsin sort of made sense, but then the next thing to make sense would be to avoid conference matchups and send Northeastern to Minnesota and Princeton to BC. Another factoid was that Princeton got upset in the first round of its conference tournament and played poorly down the stretch. All fans figured the brackets would be BC-PC, UW-MU, Minny-Princeton, and Clarkson-Quinnipiac. But no, the NCAA blew it big time. If you are interested in reading more on it, Arlan and I discussed it in detail in our Wednesday Women column that came out after the selection. – http://www.uscho.com/2016/03/09/wednesday-women-puzzling-pairings/

          • The women’s tournament selection process is exceptionally bad. With far fewer NC games during the regular season, it’s even more important to avoid them in the playoffs if possible, but because of travel, it’s typically the opposite. I badly hope that MN, UW, and UMD can all get into the top 4 this year, to force more at least 3 NC trips, and avoid the otherwise inevitable game between MN and UMD, likely for the 6th time.

          • Duluth hasn’t been in the tournament since 2011, when they lost in the first round to Wisconsin. However, Wisconsin and Minnesota play in the semis it seems every year. The NCAA is determined to avoid an all-WCHA final, even though, with rare exceptions like last year, it’d be more interesting.

          • I’m not sure. The women play their quarterfinals on campus sites. Given how empty many of the regional sites are, I sort of think the NC$$ should go to campus sites for the men’s tournament for the round of 16 and quarters to at least try to gin up attendance.

            In terms of seeding, I think KRACH makes far more sense than PairWise. I think you have to factor in strength of schedule.

            As for the tournament, these would be my criteria.

            1) Protect the number one seed, and then the three seeds after that.
            2) You can’t play in a host regional or local regional, like Jayson is pushing for Providence, unless you are a one seed. Sending Duluth to Fargo for instance, makes no sense, given that Fargo will be packed with Hawks/Sioux fans.

            3) First priority is bracket integrity. If that means more flights, so be it.
            4) After bracket integrity, try to avoid intra-conference matchups. However, you can’t swap more than one seed place, i.e. you can’t swap 8 for 5, only 5 and 6.

            That’s all off the top of my head. I acknowledge that the NCAA has a difficult job to do sometimes with creating the tournament, but I think there are some things that can be improved for sure.

          • You spelt Sioux wrong…no need to add Hawks on there….
            So the top 4 teams would host at home? So round of 16 and then quarterfinals in the same weekend at the home arenas of the #1seeds? Wonder if scheduling conflicts would come up with that.

          • What scheduling conflicts? Can’t think of any. If the no. 1 seed lost, I suppose it might mean an empty arena for the second game, but would it be any worse than some of the sparse crowds at the current regionals?

          • Scheduling conflicts as in we probably wouldn’t know who number 1s would be until all conference tourneys ended. Arenas wouldn’t be able to schedule other events since they wouldn’t know if they needed the arena for hockey that weekend. Probably wouldn’t be too big of a problem, just thinking.
            On campus would be nice, but some of the smaller places would suck a little if some big teams were to play there. A lot of those ECAC arenas are smaller than 3k, would NC$$ drive up the price to get the money they are used to? Scalper prices would be crazy.

          • The two problems with #1 seeds host are potential arena conflicts. Take Wisconsin – the Kohl Center is typically booked up every March weekend (which is why the women frequently had to play playoff games to a community rink pre-LaBahn) so WI either has to block off a weekend in case they are a #1 seed or try to find another venue. Second, not only do some schools have small arenas, many are also in remote places. The logistics of trying to get 4 (or 8 if you went to a Super Regional) teams to some place like Houghton or Potsdam or Fairbanks and finding hotels for all of those teams and fans with one week notice could me a nightmare.

          • Thanks, I really like your 3) and 4). Keep bracket integrity intact, and merely try to avoid intra-conference matchups limiting to one seed place. By doing this you would protect the top seeds, in ranking order. I also think KRACH could easily replace PWR, since they are both unbiased. What do you think of going back to two Regionals, to save travel costs for fans and increase attendance? It would be the same amount of Regional games (six), simply spreading each site to three days.

          • It is pretty hilarious that any of the committees can say bracket integrity and minimize travel in the same sentence and breath. It’s one or the other.

          • There is precedent for conference matchup, though they try to stay away from it. I guess I shouldn’t have taken what he actually said at face value, since obviously none of his scenarios has any bracket integrity factored in.

          • The only precedent for a conference matchup is when there are 5 teams from the same conference and even then, it’s usually avoided if at all possible. The only time I can think of it happening is when it was impossible to avoid (i.e. 3 teams ranked 1-4, and 2 ranked 13-16).

          • There are 5 teams from the same conference in this weeks brackets. I know that DU played Wisconsin in the first round when they were WCHA. I think that UMD also played Minnesota one year, same WCHA.

          • Yes, and the year DU played WI it was unavoidable. DU, CC, and SCSU were all 2 seeds while MN and WI were both 3 seeds. There was no way to avoid a WCHA matchup. That’s also the only time in the past decade there has been a conference matchup in the 1st round – MN/UMD was after the B1G/NCHC split.

          • Wmu does travel very poorly for conference games. But miami was 250 miles away, and cincinatti would only be 300. I feel there will be a lot more traveling for a more important game.

          • Ray, I know you will go to Cincinnati with your girl, but how many WMU fans will either drive over five hours, or fly for three and a half? You are one of the true fans, your home attendance is less than 2700 though. No offense, I kind of doubt that many will make the trip.

        • I agree, but you have to win four games anyway and all teams are capable in Regionals. I went down to see them play and we were fortunate in OT, which is always a crap shoot.

  2. Jayson, for current conference leaders I’m assuming you meant Wisconsin and not Penn State for the Big Ten since they are tied with Minnesota. As far as Denver is concerned, if they remain #2 in the PWR, why should they be penalized and sent out east like you have in your second scenario? Minnesota as the lowest #1 seed should be going east.

    • At least his final, I think, has DU in Cincinnati which shocked me. Please note DU as #2 should have #7 (Union) in there bracket but instead will put another NCHC team (WMU) there instead. Why not keep Union there for true bracket integrity, instead of letting them play in Providence. WMU should be in Manchester to have the 3/6 matchup. They are no where near their “requirements” state, never have been. West Regional only “pure” bracket, numbers wise.

      • WMU is the only team in the field that is driving distance from Cinci, and will save the NC$$ a flight, and you’re less likely to have a completely empty building than if the closest school in the regional is 700 miles away. That switch makes way more sense than his obsession of putting non-host Providence in Providence, when there are a half dozen other schools within a hour drive of that regional.

        • WMU does not travel well anywhere, and since when is 250 miles considered “driving distance”? According to Ray, the only MWU fan on this blog, when WMU played big series at Miami there were only about 25 fans, mostly parents and Ray and his girlfriend. This was only a 120 mile drive so what makes you think WMU fans will migrate twice that distance?

          • 250 miles is driving distance according to the NC$$. Anything under 300 miles, the teams get put on a bus instead of a flight. It’s also the basis for “a flight is a flight,” which is why Moy has Denver going out east and sending MN to Fargo in his “protect Duluth by keeping them out of Fargo” scenario (which seems very unlikely, as long as NoDak doesn’t fall to a 4 seed.)

          • Jayson chose the first option to send WMU to Manchester, guess that shoots down your driving distance theory. Also, UMD is staying in Fargo, DU in Cincinnati, and Minnesota is sent to Providence, where they should be. Just FYI, the 300 mile driving distance used to be 150 . I spaced this out until you reminded me in your reply. The NC$$ changed it so that almost every ECAC and HE team is now “qualified driving distance” from the Eastern Regional sites. It did nothing to help the B1G, WCHA, and NCHC teams, or old WCHA and CCHA.

          • First, you need to reread the article. In both situations (UMD to Fargo or UMD to Cinci) he has WMU in Cinci, when he says he picked the first option, he was talking about sending UMD to Fargo. Look at what he put for “This weeks brackets” and it’s WMU in Cinci, which is what you were complaining about. Second, the 300 mile cut-off (actually I think it’s 350) has been in place for more than a decade. A 150 mile rule would mean a flight for essentially every non-hosting western school. St. Cloud would be a Flight to Fargo, Duluth would be a flight to St. Paul, etc.

          • Jayson stated, “I will choose the first scenario since it preserves bracket integrity”. Here is the first scenario, not This Week’s Brackets.

            East Regional (Providence):
            13 Cornell vs. 4 Minnesota
            12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

            Northeast Regional (Manchester):
            14 Vermont vs. 3 Boston University
            11 Penn State vs. 6 Western Michigan

            Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
            15 Air Force vs. 2 Denver
            10 Boston College vs. 7 Union

            West Regional (Fargo):
            16 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
            9 North Dakota vs. 8 Providence

            Even though it is confusing, you need to reread and comprehend the article, not me. Maybe this will help you understand. Bracket integrity is 1/8/9/16, 2/7/10/15, 3/6/11/14, and 4/5/12/13. This “first” scenario he chose is the ONLY one that has this formula.

          • AGAIN, look near the end where he says “THIS WEEKS BRACKET.” What you’ve listed is pure bracket integrity before even dealing with the conference matchup of BU/Vermont. Why would he “choose” that, if that’s not his final bracket? When he says he chooses the first scenario, he is comparing sending UMD to Fargo or UMD to Cinci, both with end up with Western at Cinci.

          • His entire posting is really confusing…he has like 5 different things going on, which is the actual first? Either way, I just look at this weeks bracket at the end. And then after that, it doesn’t matter since everything will change again by selection time in 5 and a half weeks.

          • If you read the article, it’s not that confusing. He has two things going on: One that has UMD going to Fargo, and then a Second where he protects UMD by sending UMD to Cinci. Of course things will change, the whole point is to look at the process of what would happen if the season ended now, so people understand what will happen in March.

          • Just for clarity the point which you seem to be missing. The first thing he listed, pure bracket integrity with no adjustments for conference matchups, travel, or anything else is not a “scenario.”

            He has 2 scenarios, which factors in the rules that the NCAA follow beyond pure bracket integrity. The first is this:
            East Regional (Providence):
            14 Vermont vs. 4 Minnesota
            11 Penn State vs. 8 Providence

            Northeast Regional (Manchester):
            13 Cornell vs. 3 Boston University
            12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

            Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
            15 Air Force vs. 2 Denver
            10 Boston College vs. 6 Western Michigan

            West Regional (Fargo):
            16 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
            9 North Dakota vs. 7 Union

            His second scenario is this:

            East Regional (Providence):
            15 Air Force vs. 2 Denver
            11 Penn State vs. 8 Providence

            Northeast Regional (Manchester):
            13 Cornell vs. 3 Boston University
            12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 7 Union

            Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
            16 Bemidji State vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
            10 Boston College vs. 6 Western Michigan

            West Regional (Fargo):
            14 Vermont vs. 4 Minnesota
            9 North Dakota vs. 5 Harvard

            He picked the 1st one because he thinks that one has better bracket integrity than the 2nd, which is why that is “This week’s bracket.’ In both cases WMU goes to Cinci.

          • Not one site in either of these scenarios you presented have any “bracket integrity”. If you are correct, why did Jayson state it “preserves bracket integrity”

          • He’s saying the first preserves integrity in comparison to the second of his 2 scenarios (which I agree with you is a dumb statement). What makes the answer obvious is he listed “This week’s bracket” as what he came up for his 1st scenario, after making adjustments for conferences and travel. If he really wanted his bracket to be pure 1/16 bracket integrity, which can’t happen because of the conference matchup in the first round, why wouldn’t he put that as “This weeks bracket?”

          • Maybe its time they just make the bracket with pure integrity, where 1 vs 16, 2 vs 15, etc, regardless of intra conference match ups and all that other crap.

          • I agree. Either keep pure bracket integrity or just have NC$$ tell the truth. They will take one team from each band, and use every excuse in the book to send them to any Regional they want. Don’t give the “attendance” or “they have to fly anyway” crap, just be honest.

          • I do find it funny that they try as much as possible to keep BC close to home. Pretty sure in the last 15 years, any time they have had to fly to a regional they’ve lost in first round……committee doesn’t like that. Just like they go out of their way to make sure that if 4 teams from the same conference make the tourney, they almost always make sure that one regional doesn’t have a team from that conference in it. Wouldn’t want another all [insert conference here] frozen four….because it was sooooooooooo bad when that happened in 2005…..

          • There were Hockey East schools in all 4 regions last year. There were NCHC schools in all 4 regions the year before. It’s true that BC hasn’t had to go out west since 2011, but UND hasn’t had to go east since 2010. The difference is that every year there are 2 regionals within a short drive of Boston, while the 2 western regionals are far more spread out, being anywhere from Denver and Fargo to Toledo and Cincinnati.

          • Maybe it is time to go back to the way it used to be, two Regionals. One East and one West, send as many teams as possible closest to Regional. B1G, WCHA, NCHC to West and HE and ECAC to East site. AHA champion to closest Regional. If there are not 8 teams from each region, send the lowest remaining team(s) to the other Regional. Don’t worry about intra-conference matchups, each Regional will have 3 days, since there will be 8 rather than 6 in each Regional. Since teams will know well in advance where they will be playing, attendance should not be the issue we currently experience.

          • If you do that, you’d be making things far more unbalanced than they are now. Just two years ago, 8 of the top 10 teams heading into the tournament were from the West. Under the “closest regional” idea, #1 would have played #10 in the first round out west, While #11 would have been the 3rd highest seed out east and played #14!

          • The goal was not to have better balance, it was to limit travel costs and boost attendance. You get down to two teams from each Regional to play in FF. At FF two highest ranked play the two lowest ranked. If the two best teams are from the same conference, so be it. Do you really think the four Regionals now are not unbalanced? Attendance was higher, travel costs were much lower, fans not priced out.

          • Yes, the regionals now are balanced. They aren’t perfect, but the top 4 play the bottom 4 etc. You were complaining that as a 2 seed, Denver was being matched up with 6 seed WMU in the second round, instead of 7 seed Union. The difference between a 6 and 7 seed is not significant. Under your proposal, if the seeds worked out like they did just 2 years ago when 7 or the top 8 were out west, The 2 seed would have played the 8 seed for its first game, and then the winner of a 4/7 seed matchup in the second round. Meanwhile, The 9th seed would have played the 15 seed for its first game and the winner of the 11/14 seeds for its second game. THAT would be unbalanced. It would certainly increase attendance (although the NC$$ would still likely overprice it), but it would destroy any sense of balance.

          • It certainly is not balanced now, only pure bracket integrity would make it such. Which is more important, the fans or a semi-balanced schedule? Guess the answer is in the eye of the beholder. If things ran according to form, you would still get the top teams playing for the NC. As someone who has traveled to see their team play in Regionals (and FF) for many years, I prefer the former. If fans could pay about 1/3 to see their team play, you would greatly increase the most important part of CH, the fan base attending.

          • No, it’s just silly to say that the only way it would be balanced is if it was pure 1-16 bracket integrity, especially when the pairwise is hardly an exact science. The fact that a 2 seed might have to play a 6 seed instead of a 7 seed means its imperfect, not that it’s unbalanced. The idea you threw out isn’t even semi-balanced. Having a situation where the 9th ranked team in the country could have a far easier road to the Frozen Four than the 1st or 2nd ranked team, which is exactly what would have happened 2 years ago if your regional idea was enacted, would be the definition of unbalanced. I will say I’m impressed by the irony of you complaining about the current system being unbalanced, because 6/7 seeds get switched to play closer to home, and then advocating for a system where you could actually have the Top 8 teams in one half of the bracket and the Bottom 8 on the other, and call that “semi-balanced.”

          • What about the fans? You conveniently keep avoiding that question. You apparently don’t care that the final games in 3 of the 4 Regionals, sometimes all 4, usually have less than 1200 actual spectators. They let what little fans that do attend sit in the lower bowls in order to make it look “decent” on television. Unfortunately, TV shots pan the entire arena and viewers see what a ghost town looks like. Really looks great for college hockey. Guess we know where you stand on the “unbalanced schedule” versus having a lot of fans attending these games.

          • Keeping every west team west and east team east might increase attendance, but is it worth destroying any sort of balance or fairness to do that? Again, you started by complaining that switching 6/7 seeds to keep both fan bases closer to home was unfair. Yet, you think that potentially giving the 9th seed team an easier road to the F4 than the 1st and 2nd seeds is no big deal? If Denver as a 2 seed, missed the F4 after having to play the 8 seed and then the 4 seed in the regionals, but the 9 seed made the F4 after having to only play the 15 seed and the 11 seed, just because the 9 seed happened to be an eastern school, would you think that’s fair? Do you that’s good for the long term health of college hockey?

          • Convenient dismissal, “might increase attendance”. There is no doubt it would dramatically put more fans in the seats. I would not complain at all if DU missed FF due to your scenario. I didn’t complain when DU had to face #15 Providence in their home town in 2015. I did, however, complain that attendance for final was less than 1100 through the turnstiles. Plain fact is that any team in Regionals are capable of winning. How important is your “fairness” in seedings? In 2015, Providence was #15 in overall rankings. In 2013, Yale was #15 in overall rankings. In 2011, UMD was #11 in rankings. I am sure you are knowledgeable enough to realize what they all have in common. BC, in 2012, was the only overall #1 seed to win it all since NC$$ went to 4 Regional sites.The health of college hockey is horrible, fans can’t afford to see their teams play in Regionals. NC$$ doesn’t care how many seats are empty at Regional finals, they get their cash from sold seats. Casual fans, that only watch Regionals and FF, have great view of empty seats, is that good for CH?

          • So what you’re saying is you don’t care about balance? Then why were you complaining about switching 6/7 seeds in the first place? I’m just baffled that you can claim that anything other than perfect 1-16 is unbalanced, but then claim that there is no problem with #2 having to play #8 while #9 plays #15. Of course, in a single-elimination tournament any team can get hot and win, but that doesn’t mean the rankings are completely irrelevant. As far as your statement that switching to only regionals would dramatically increase attendance, that’s hardly a sure thing. You proved it yourself when you pointed out that even with Providence playing in Providence, only 1000 people showed up. Every year, there are 2 regionals within a short drive of Boston, and their attendance still sucks. Hell, Have you looked at conference tourney attendance lately? Fans know well in advance where their team will play, just like your proposal, and they still don’t show up. So no, it is hardly a sure thing that pure East/West regional set up would “dramatically” increase attendance. Once again, since you still have never answered this question: how can you be upset and claim it’s unfair and unbalanced that Denver might have to play #6 WMU instead of #7 Union, and yet claim you wouldn’t have a problem and it wouldn’t be unbalanced with Denver having to play #8 instead of #15 in the first round, and could have to then play the #4 team to make it to the F4.

          • First, I was talking about bracket integrity in the current four-site system, not with two-sites. You can harp on that all you want. Using my Providence example proves my point. When you have four Regionals you cut down on the amount of teams, and fans, that can attend. Second, when you state “fans know well in advance where their team will play,”, it is obvious you have never flown to see your team play in Regionals or you are just playing dumb. If you call four days “well in advance” you should probably stop there. Please tell me where Denver will play its’ Regional so I can book flight, hotel and rental car now. Without your crystal ball, I will have to wait the Sunday when the draw is announced, then do last minute travel plans to fly out that Thursday. I will have to pay the highest airline, hotel and rental car fees, the same as businessmen that have to travel at the last minute to attend a hastily called meeting. This has not only been my fate, but every other fan that cannot drive to a site. If there were only two sites I, and most others, could make plans now. We could get discounted flights, hotels and car reservations. This is why, when there were two Regionals their attendance was “dramatically” increased.

          • Dear lord you need to work on your reading comprehension skills. When I said “fans know well in advance where their team was playing” it was immediately after I said “Have you looked at Conference Tournament attendance lately?”. That’s where fans know well in advance where their team will play, and the tournaments still struggle to get crowds. To say that fans – who aren’t going to predetermined conference tournament sites – will “dramatically” flock to NCAA regionals (which will likely still cost much more, and won’t serve alcohol) is hardly a sure thing. And I will keep “harping” on your contradiction when it comes to bracket integrity, because it’s just silly for you to say that switching a 6/7 seed to keep those teams closer to home is unfair and unbalanced, and want to “solve” it by creating a system where you could have the best 8 teams in 1 regional and the bottom 8 teams in the other!

          • I did comprehend exactly what you wrote. I simply forgot one sentence in my reply. Conference tournaments work almost exactly the way the regionals do now. Only difference is that you do know where the conference tournament will be played but most, if not all, leagues play preliminary rounds at highest ranked school hosting. Best case, you will know on a Saturday if your team will make league conference tourney site, starting following Wednesday or Thursday. Still a short turnaround unless you want to take a chance on your team making it. With 2 regional sites, team in top 6 can pretty much make early plans.

          • So you’ve said fans don’t go to the regionals when they are in their own cities. You admit people aren’t going to conference tournaments where the sites are planned in advance (even there the top seeds in each conference should be reasonably confident they’ll make the tournament, and some conferences don’t have a prelim round and the attendance is even worse), and btw, if you have just 2 regionals, fans will have to pay for 6 games, when at most “their team” will only be in 2 games. But you are so certain that your proposal will so dramatically increase attendance that you – a person who thinks its unfair that 6 and 7 seeds might get swapped in a 4 region bracket – think that it’s perfectly fine to destroy any sense of balance and allow a situation where the bottom 8 seeds could have a dramatically easier road to the Frozen Four. Right?

          • Dear lord you need to work on your reading comprehension skills. When I said “fans know well in advance where their team was playing” it was immediately after I said “Have you looked at Conference Tournament attendance lately?”. That’s where fans know well in advance where their team will play, and the tournaments still struggle to get crowds. To say that fans – who aren’t going to predetermined conference tournament sites – will “dramatically” flock to NCAA regionals (which will likely still cost much more, and won’t serve alcohol) is hardly a sure thing. But again, nice attempt to steer the conversation away from the fact that you started this entire conversation by complaining that it was unfair that a 2 seed might have to play the 6 seed instead of the 7 seed because of travel, and now your solution is to say it would be perfectly fine for the top 8 teams to be in one regional and the bottom 8 in another, because of travel.

          • Sure, it sounds great to do pure bracket integrity and get rid of all the other rules – until you have a Fargo regional with Denver playing 3 east coast teams, while UND gets sent out to Providence in a bracket with 3 other Western Schools – driving up costs, while driving down attendance even more than the already pathetic levels. The reality is that pairwise isn’t an exact science, there usually isn’t a huge difference between a 6 seed and an 8 seed so moving things around isn’t a huge competitive disadvantage, and there is actually a somewhat predictable pattern of how the brackets will be laid out beyond – which is the whole points of looking at the Bracketology.

          • I’m guessing there would still be “host” schools……so if it were in Fargo, my guess is UND would be host and be there, thus ensuring a sell out.

          • How? The only way that would be possible is if, for example, UND made the tourney in the 8 spot and another host school was in a 9 spot. How often has that ever happened? A lot of the time the host school doesn’t make the tourney.

          • Because if you are going to do only bracket integrity and get rid of everything else – but keep host schools, then it’s not just bracket integrity. Sure, UND is the #9 seed today and that matches up perfectly with #1 UMD, but what if UND was #14? Then you’d either have to have #1 play #14, or send #1 farther away and force they #3 team to Fargo, even if #3 should get to play closer to home – either way, that’s no longer pure bracket integrity.

          • Then cut host schools and send em where they fall. Or just have 2 super regionals like Sparky (believe it was him) said before. I think it would be great to watch 8 teams over 3 or 4 days.

          • That’s exactly what I was saying. You could focus only on bracket integrity, but you’re increasing costs and likely hurting attendance. Does Fargo still sell out if UND is playing in Providence, while 4 eastern schools are playing in Fargo? That’s the problem.

          • In a 5k seat arena….I’d say it would be pretty full. We like to watch hockey, no matter who is playing.

          • UND fans aren’t ones to purchase tickets and then not go. Although, they are smart enough to sell them to fans of other teams at a premium.

          • Why the NCAA holds a regional at Scheels Arena in Fargo that only holds 5000 is beyond me. I know the Ralph is a campus site, but are there any other venues in the Dakotas that hold more?

          • Why the NC$$ does anything it does is beyond me. The fargodome, where NDSU plays football, holds something like 18 or 19 thousand…..but they’d never let UND host a regional there cause they are a bunch of nancys. Obviously it is a football stadium, but ice could probably be put in…not sure how great that would be. Couldn’t be any worse than the FF in Detroilet a few years back. Only thing bigger than Scheels that isn’t the Ralph is the Bismarck Civic Center, which holds may 7,500, but I’ve never been in there so not sure what its like. There was talk of UND or another school hosting a regional in Sioux Falls at the Sanford Center. That seats about 10,500 for hockey and would be decently close to a lot of schools and there are plenty of places to stay and eat in Sioux Falls.
            If the NC$$ were smart, they’d just hold it at The Ralph, since it will be 85% Sioux fans anyway (if they made it) and they could line their pockets even more.

          • I find this conversation funny. Why? Well, I follow the women’s game too. The women’s D-i tournament is 8 teams. Last year, Boston College had a perfect record entering the NCAA tournament, no losses, no ties. They were seeded one. The week before the NCAA tournament, they defeated Northeastern iin the Beanpot final, in addition to the normal three games they play during the regular season, so they had played Northeastern four times. the seeds were:

            1) BC
            2) Wisconsin
            3) Minnesota
            4) Quinnipiac.

            They only seed four teams, but the 5-8 in PairWise were as follows:

            5) Clarkson
            6) Northeastern
            7) Princeton
            8) Mercyhurst

            the week before the NCAA tournament, by the way, Clarkson and Quinnipiac had played in the ECAC tournament final. What bracket did the selection committee come up with? They sent Northeastern to play BC a fifth time, and Clarkson to play Quinnipiac, Robert Morris to Wisconsin, and Princeton to Minnesota.

            One thing about the women’s tournament is that there is a mandate to try to minimize flights. Since Merychurst needed to fly anywhere, sending them to Wisconsin sort of made sense, but then the next thing to make sense would be to avoid conference matchups and send Northeastern to Minnesota and Princeton to BC. Another factoid was that Princeton got upset in the first round of its conference tournament and played poorly down the stretch. All fans figured the brackets would be BC-PC, UW-MU, Minny-Princeton, and Clarkson-Quinnipiac. But no, the NCAA blew it big time. If you are interested in reading more on it, Arlan and I discussed it in detail in our Wednesday Women column that came out after the selection. – http://www.uscho.com/2016/03/09/wednesday-women-puzzling-pairings/

          • The women’s tournament selection process is exceptionally bad. With far fewer NC games during the regular season, it’s even more important to avoid them in the playoffs if possible, but because of travel, it’s typically the opposite. I badly hope that MN, UW, and UMD can all get into the top 4 this year, to force more at least 3 NC trips, and avoid the otherwise inevitable game between MN and UMD, likely for the 6th time.

          • Duluth hasn’t been in the tournament since 2011, when they lost in the first round to Wisconsin. However, Wisconsin and Minnesota play in the semis it seems every year. The NCAA is determined to avoid an all-WCHA final, even though, with rare exceptions like last year, it’d be more interesting.

          • I’m not sure. The women play their quarterfinals on campus sites. Given how empty many of the regional sites are, I sort of think the NC$$ should go to campus sites for the men’s tournament for the round of 16 and quarters to at least try to gin up attendance.

            In terms of seeding, I think KRACH makes far more sense than PairWise. I think you have to factor in strength of schedule.

            As for the tournament, these would be my criteria.

            1) Protect the number one seed, and then the three seeds after that.
            2) You can’t play in a host regional or local regional, like Jayson is pushing for Providence, unless you are a one seed. Sending Duluth to Fargo for instance, makes no sense, given that Fargo will be packed with Hawks/Sioux fans.

            3) First priority is bracket integrity. If that means more flights, so be it.
            4) After bracket integrity, try to avoid intra-conference matchups. However, you can’t swap more than one seed place, i.e. you can’t swap 8 for 5, only 5 and 6.

            That’s all off the top of my head. I acknowledge that the NCAA has a difficult job to do sometimes with creating the tournament, but I think there are some things that can be improved for sure.

          • You spelt Sioux wrong…no need to add Hawks on there….
            So the top 4 teams would host at home? So round of 16 and then quarterfinals in the same weekend at the home arenas of the #1seeds? Wonder if scheduling conflicts would come up with that.

          • What scheduling conflicts? Can’t think of any. If the no. 1 seed lost, I suppose it might mean an empty arena for the second game, but would it be any worse than some of the sparse crowds at the current regionals?

          • Scheduling conflicts as in we probably wouldn’t know who number 1s would be until all conference tourneys ended. Arenas wouldn’t be able to schedule other events since they wouldn’t know if they needed the arena for hockey that weekend. Probably wouldn’t be too big of a problem, just thinking.
            On campus would be nice, but some of the smaller places would suck a little if some big teams were to play there. A lot of those ECAC arenas are smaller than 3k, would NC$$ drive up the price to get the money they are used to? Scalper prices would be crazy.

          • The two problems with #1 seeds host are potential arena conflicts. Take Wisconsin – the Kohl Center is typically booked up every March weekend (which is why the women frequently had to play playoff games to a community rink pre-LaBahn) so WI either has to block off a weekend in case they are a #1 seed or try to find another venue. Second, not only do some schools have small arenas, many are also in remote places. The logistics of trying to get 4 (or 8 if you went to a Super Regional) teams to some place like Houghton or Potsdam or Fairbanks and finding hotels for all of those teams and fans with one week notice could me a nightmare.

          • Thanks, I really like your 3) and 4). Keep bracket integrity intact, and merely try to avoid intra-conference matchups limiting to one seed place. By doing this you would protect the top seeds, in ranking order. I also think KRACH could easily replace PWR, since they are both unbiased. What do you think of going back to two Regionals, to save travel costs for fans and increase attendance? It would be the same amount of Regional games (six), simply spreading each site to three days.

          • It is pretty hilarious that any of the committees can say bracket integrity and minimize travel in the same sentence and breath. It’s one or the other.

          • There is precedent for conference matchup, though they try to stay away from it. I guess I shouldn’t have taken what he actually said at face value, since obviously none of his scenarios has any bracket integrity factored in.

          • The only precedent for a conference matchup is when there are 5 teams from the same conference and even then, it’s usually avoided if at all possible. The only time I can think of it happening is when it was impossible to avoid (i.e. 3 teams ranked 1-4, and 2 ranked 13-16).

          • There are 5 teams from the same conference in this weeks brackets. I know that DU played Wisconsin in the first round when they were WCHA. I think that UMD also played Minnesota one year, same WCHA.

          • Yes, and the year DU played WI it was unavoidable. DU, CC, and SCSU were all 2 seeds while MN and WI were both 3 seeds. There was no way to avoid a WCHA matchup. That’s also the only time in the past decade there has been a conference matchup in the 1st round – MN/UMD was after the B1G/NCHC split.

          • Wmu does travel very poorly for conference games. But miami was 250 miles away, and cincinatti would only be 300. I feel there will be a lot more traveling for a more important game.

          • Ray, I know you will go to Cincinnati with your girl, but how many WMU fans will either drive over five hours, or fly for three and a half? You are one of the true fans, your home attendance is less than 2700 though. No offense, I kind of doubt that many will make the trip.

      • I don’t know about you but I don’t like the potential of playing Air Force in the first round. DU always struggles against them at Cadet Arena and I witnessed first hand that they were very lucky to get out of there with a win this year.

        • I agree, but you have to win four games anyway and all teams are capable in Regionals. I went down to see them play and we were fortunate in OT, which is always a crap shoot.

  3. Thanks for the arty, Jason. One tweak to the bracks would be a huge improvement, and it’s coming – wisconson in the Fargo bracket, South Dakota out of the dance. Yessir, this is what everyone wants too happen!!! #ONWISCONSON

  4. Thanks for the arty, Jason. One tweak to the bracks would be a huge improvement, and it’s coming – wisconson in the Fargo bracket, South Dakota out of the dance. Yessir, this is what everyone wants too happen!!! #ONWISCONSON

    • Vermont is in because Penn State has not played Wisconsin yet. The Gophers own a better record vs the 3rd place team in the Big. Step 4 in the tie breaking procedures. All this means nothing right now anyways. I think Wisconsin will end up in just by winning enough games down the stretch for an at large spot.

      • “Current conference leaders based on winning percentage”
        Current B1G leader after tie-breakers is WI just like last week. Vermont out.

        Edit: From last weeks Boi article. “Wisconsin (wins tiebreaker on better record vs Ohio State)”

        • Not sure why I care to argue but. Step 1) Greater number of Big Ten Reg season wins (Tied). Step 2) Reg Season winning percentage against each other (Tied) Step 3) Fewest losses in conference (tied.) Step 4) winning percentage vs highest ranked Big Ten team in conference that would be Penn State and MN is 2-0 which is better then 0-0. (MN). Last week both teams were tied vs Penn State at 0-0 so the tie breaker went to fourth place Ohio State where WI owns that tie breaker. So Vermont in and Wisconsin out this week.

          • Me too. My comment about not caring to argue was not towards you it was towards the pointlessness of the brackets right now. However, it is fun to look at and see what might happen.

          • Imma take my puck and go home for the day; coffee isn’t working, have been bombarded with calls since 6:30 and owe Jayson an apology.

    • Vermont is in because Penn State has not played Wisconsin yet. The Gophers own a better record vs the 3rd place team in the Big. Step 4 in the tie breaking procedures. All this means nothing right now anyways. I think Wisconsin will end up in just by winning enough games down the stretch for an at large spot.

      • “Current conference leaders based on winning percentage”
        Current B1G leader after tie-breakers is WI just like last week. Vermont out.

        Edit: From last weeks Boi article. “Wisconsin (wins tiebreaker on better record vs Ohio State)”

        • Not sure why I care to argue but. Step 1) Greater number of Big Ten Reg season wins (Tied). Step 2) Reg Season winning percentage against each other (Tied) Step 3) Fewest losses in conference (tied.) Step 4) winning percentage vs highest ranked Big Ten team in conference that would be Penn State and MN is 2-0 which is better then 0-0. (MN). Last week both teams were tied vs Penn State at 0-0 so the tie breaker went to fourth place Ohio State where WI owns that tie breaker. So Vermont in and Wisconsin out this week.

          • Me too. My comment about not caring to argue was not towards you it was towards the pointlessness of the brackets right now. However, it is fun to look at and see what might happen.

          • Imma take my puck and go home for the day; coffee isn’t working, have been bombarded with calls since 6:30 and owe Jayson an apology.

  5. JAYSON, don’t know if I am the only one confused by this article. Which scenario do you prefer? If I am wrong, according to others, why did you state, “to preserve bracket integrity”? The only scenario that does that is the very first one.

    • He probably should have said it’s the one that “best preserves bracket integrity” out of the three he offered. The very first one is already out due to the intra-conference matchups.

  6. JAYSON, don’t know if I am the only one confused by this article. Which scenario do you prefer? If I am wrong, according to others, why did you state, “to preserve bracket integrity”? The only scenario that does that is the very first one.

    • He probably should have said it’s the one that “best preserves bracket integrity” out of the three he offered. The very first one is already out due to the intra-conference matchups.

  7. Yeah, there’s no way the NCAA is going to do all of that just to get Minnesota against North Dakota in a regional that is already sold out.

  8. Yeah, there’s no way the NCAA is going to do all of that just to get Minnesota against North Dakota in a regional that is already sold out.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here