If the season ended today, 1998 January 5

© 1998, Joe Schlobotnik (archives)

URL for this frameset: http://www.elynah.com/tbrw/tbrw.cgi?1998/pairwise.980105.shtml

Let's take a run through the NCAA Tournament selection procedure and see how the NCAAs would be set up if they were held right now. Using the results from the Division I Composite Schedule on US College Hockey Online, I've calculated the selection criteria, and here are the results of the Pairwise Comparisons among the 25 Teams Under Consideration. (BTW, USCHO has a page with the current RPI, independently calculated, although since theirs is continuously updated, it won't agree with the figures here for long.)

   Team         PWR  RPI                  Comparisons Won
 3 New Hampshire 21 .629     NDMiMm  SCPvCgWiBCCCNMPnMeNELSCrNtMDRPCkMLMT
 4 North Dakota  21 .609       MiMmYaSCPvCgWiBCCCNMPnMeNELSCrNtMDRPCkMLMT
 5 Michigan      20 .602         MmYaSCPvCgWiBCCCNMPnMeNELSCrNtMDRPCkMLMT
 6 Miami         19 .581           YaSCPvCgWiBCCCNMPnMeNELSCrNtMDRPCkMLMT
 7 Yale          19 .577   NH        SCPvCgWiBCCCNMPnMeNELSCrNtMDRPCkMLMT
 8 St Cloud      17 .578               PvCgWiBCCCNMPnMeNELSCrNtMDRPCkMLMT
 9 Providence    16 .558                 CgWiBCCCNMPnMeNELSCrNtMDRPCkMLMT
10 Colgate       15 .573                   WiBCCCNMPnMeNELSCrNtMDRPCkMLMT
11 Wisconsin     14 .565                     BCCCNMPnMeNELSCrNtMDRPCkMLMT
12 Boston Coll   13 .550                       CCNMPnMeNELSCrNtMDRPCkMLMT
13 CO College    11 .547                         NMPnMeNELSCr  MDRPCkMLMT
14 Northern Mich 10 .538                           PnMeNE  CrNtMDRPCkMLMT
15 Princeton     10 .537                             MeNELSCrNtMDRPCkMLMT
16 Maine          9 .534                               NELSCrNtMDRPCkMLMT
17 Northeastern   8 .533                                 LSCrNtMDRPCkMLMT
18 Lake Superior  8 .530                         NM        CrNtMDRPCkMLMT
19 Cornell        6 .525                                     NtMDRPCkMLMT
20 Notre Dame     6 .548                       CC              MDRPCkMLMT
21 Minn-Duluth    4 .516                                         RPCkMLMT
22 RPI            3 .509                                           CkMLMT
23 Clarkson       2 .498                                             MLMT
24 Mass-Lowell    1 .508                                               MT
25 Michigan Tech  0 .476

The PWCs are remarkably transitive; there are only three cases of a team winning an individual comparison with a team with a higher PWR, and the only one of note is Yale's PWC win over New Hampshire. (But that will turn out to be very significant.) Let's assume that the regular season titles go to the teams with the best winning percentage in their respective leagues: Michigan, Yale, St. Cloud, and BU. Filling out the field is a no-brainer: UNH, Providence, Colgate and BC from the East and Michigan State, North Dakota, Miami and Wisconsin from the West. Now to assign the byes and determine which teams get shipped out, we consider the PWCs among teams in each region:

      West                                  East

 1 Mich State    5 .589  NDMiMmSCWi    1 Boston Univ   5 .624  YaNHPvCgBC
 2 North Dakota  4 .609    MiMmSCWi    2 Yale          4 .577    NHPvCgBC
 3 Michigan      3 .602      MmSCWi    3 New Hampshire 3 .629      PvCgBC
 4 Miami         2 .581        SCWi    4 Providence    2 .558        CgBC
 5 St Cloud      1 .578          Wi    5 Colgate       1 .573          BC
 6 Wisconsin     0 .565                6 Boston Coll   0 .550

Now the PWCs are completely transitive within each region. Note that although Yale has a lower total PWR than New Hampshire (19 vs. 21), the extra teams that UNH beats in the pairwise (North Dakota, Michigan and Miami) are all Western teams, and thus have no role in determining the Eastern bye slots. (The NCAA has said that it will not award a bye to a team from a different region except under exceptional circumstances.) So the byes are given to MSU, NoDak, BU and Yale. And the numbers indicate that we should ship St. Cloud and Wisconsin to the East and Colgate and BC to the West. (Of the two regional hosts, MSU is the top seed in the tourney and thus would be in their own region anyway, and Rensselaer does not qualify for the tournament.) Now we seed within each region:

      West                                  East

 1 Mich State (C)   1 .589  ND         1 Boston Univ (H)   1 .624  Ya
 2 North Dakota (W) 0 .609             2 Yale (E)          0 .577

 3 Michigan (C)     3 .602  MmCgBC     3 New Hampshire (H) 3 .629  SCPvWi
 4 Miami (C)        2 .581    CgBC     4 St Cloud (W)      2 .578    PvWi
 5 Colgate (E)      1 .573      BC     5 Providence (H)    1 .558      Wi
 6 Boston Coll (H)  0 .550             6 Wisconsin (W)     0 .565

So that's what the pairwise numbers tell us. Now it's time to look as what we've got in terms of conference matchups. Looking at the conference designations above, we see that there are no first-round conference matchups, but two potential intraconference games in the second round: Miami-Michigan State and Providence-BU. Simple arithmetic tells us that the only way to avoid two teams from a given conference being in the same three-team bracket is to have no more than two teams from one conference in the same regional. With two ECAC teams, four Hockey East teams, and three from each of the Western conferences in the field of twelve, that means we should ship out two Hockey East teams, one CCHA and one WCHA. So let's try sending Miami (the only CCHA team that can be moved) East in place of St. Cloud and Providence West instead of Colgate. Then we get

      West                                  East

 1 Mich State (C)   1 .589  ND         1 Boston Univ (H)   1 .624  Ya
 2 North Dakota (W) 0 .609             2 Yale (E)          0 .577

 3 Michigan (C)     3 .602  SCPvBC     3 New Hampshire (H) 3 .629  MmCgWi
 4 St Cloud (W)     2 .578    PvBC     4 Miami (C)         2 .581    CgWi
 5 Providence (H)   1 .558      BC     5 Colgate (E)       1 .573      Wi
 6 Boston Coll (H)  0 .550             6 Wisconsin (W)     0 .565

Note that if we tried to seed the six Eastern teams by their PWCs, we'd find Yale, UNH and Miami in a three-way tie with Yale beating New Hampshire, UNH beating Miami and Miami beating Yale in rock-scissors-paper fashion. The RPI would break that tie in favor of UNH, followed by Miami. However, this three-way tie is a fiction, since Miami cannot be awarded the last Eastern bye. It's a competition between Yale and New Hampshire, and the Elis win. That's why we could give them the last Eastern bye back before we started swapping teams out of their regions. (I can't say with complete certainty that this is what the committee would do, but it seems the natural outcome of the logic they used last year.)

Anyway, these seedings do indeed give a tournament with no intra-conference battles in the regionals, so let's see the brackets.

5W Providence (H)                      6E Wisconsin (W)
4W St Cloud (W)                        3E New Hampshire (H)
        1W Mich State (C)     2E Yale (E)

        2W North Dakota (W)   1E Boston Univ (H)
3W Michigan (C)                        4E Miami (C)
6W Boston Coll (H)                     5E Colgate (E)

From an attendance standpoint, they keep Colgate in upstate New York; the one futher change the committee might consider is swapping St. Cloud and Wisconsin to send the Badgers into Big Ten country. If they did that, here's how the rankings would look within each region:

      West                                  East

 1 Mich State (C)   1 .589  ND         1 Boston Univ (H)   1 .624  Ya
 2 North Dakota (W) 0 .609             2 Yale (E)          0 .577

 3 Michigan (C)     3 .602  PvWiBC     3 New Hampshire (H) 3 .629  MmSCCg
 4 Providence (H)   1 .558    WiBC     4 Miami (C)         2 .581    SCCg
 5 Wisconsin (W)    0 .565      BC     5 St Cloud (W)      2 .578      Cg
 6 Boston Coll (H)  0 .550             6 Colgate (E)       1 .573     

The East now has a potential second-round game between Yale and Colgate, so we swap Colgate and St. Cloud. Ordinarily New Hampshire and Miami would also be swapped to preserve the pairings, but that would set up a possible second-round matchup between UNH and BU, so the three and four seeds are left as is. The attendance-conscious brackets are thus:

5W Wisconsin (W)                       6E St Cloud (W)
4W Providence (H)                      3E New Hampshire (H)
        1W Mich State (C)     2E Yale (E)

        2W North Dakota (W)   1E Boston Univ (H)
3W Michigan (C)                        4E Miami (C)
6W Boston Coll (H)                     5E Colgate (E)

The Gory Details

If you want to see how each of the pairwise comparisons was determined, you can peruse these in-depth stats, all 160k of them.

Last Modified: 2019 July 24

Joe Schlobotnik / joe@amurgsval.org

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