If the season ended today, 1998 January 12

© 1998, Joe Schlobotnik (archives)

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It's time for this week's look at how the NCAA Tournament selection procedure might go if the seeding were done at this moment. Once again, this is based on my calculation of the selection criteria starting with results from US College Hockey Online's Division I Composite Schedule. It's come to my attention that Nebraska-Omaha, in its first NCAA season, is not eligible for the national tournament, so I'm not counting games against UNO in any of my calculations, which means that my Ratings Percentage Index numbers will differ slightly from the current RPI calculated by USCHO, even before any more games are played. Here are the results of the pairwise comparisons among the 24 Teams Under Consideration:

   Team         PWR  RPI                  Comparisons Won
 2 North Dakota  22 .627   BUMiNHSCWiCgMmYaBCPvCCMeNMLSCrNEPnNtOSCkRPML
 3 Boston Univ   21 .617 __  MiNHSCWiCgMmYaBCPvCCMeNMLSCrNEPnNtOSCkRPML
 4 Michigan      20 .599 ____  NHSCWiCgMmYaBCPvCCMeNMLSCrNEPnNtOSCkRPML
 5 New Hampshire 19 .624 ______  SCWiCgMmYaBCPvCCMeNMLSCrNEPnNtOSCkRPML
 6 St Cloud      16 .572 ________  WiCg____BCPvCCMeNMLSCrNEPnNtOSCkRPML
 7 Wisconsin     16 .567 __________  CgMm__BCPvCCMeNMLSCrNEPnNtOSCkRPML
 8 Colgate       16 .564 ____________  MmYaBCPvCCMeNMLSCrNEPnNtOSCkRPML
 9 Miami         16 .563 ________SC____  YaBCPvCCMeNMLSCrNEPnNtOSCkRPML
10 Yale          16 .551 ________SCWi____  BCPvCCMeNMLSCrNEPnNtOSCkRPML
11 Boston Coll   13 .563 __________________  PvCCMeNMLSCrNEPnNtOSCkRPML
12 Providence    12 .550 ____________________  CCMeNMLSCrNEPnNtOSCkRPML
13 CO College    10 .536 ______________________  MeNMLSCr__PnNtOSCkRPML
14 Maine         10 .536 ________________________  NMLSCrNEPnNtOSCkRPML
15 Northern Mich  8 .534 __________________________  LSCrNE__NtOSCkRPML
16 Lake Superior  8 .525 ____________________________  CrNEPnNtOSCkRPML
17 Cornell        7 .528 ______________________________  NEPnNtOSCkRPML
18 Northeastern   7 .523 ______________________CC________  PnNtOSCkRPML
19 Princeton      6 .514 __________________________NM______  NtOSCkRPML
20 Notre Dame     4 .536 ____________________________________  OSCkRPML
21 Ohio State     3 .523 ______________________________________  CkRPML
22 Clarkson       2 .495 ________________________________________  RPML
23 RPI            1 .492 __________________________________________  ML
24 Mass-Lowell    0 .498 ____________________________________________  

Note the five-way tie among St. Cloud, Wisconsin, Colgate, Miami, and Yale, with each team winning comparisons with two of the others and losing to the remaining two. The appropriate way to resolve such a tie is with the RPI, although those five teams will not be all competing for anything at the same time. By the way, if games against UNO are included in the mix, Michigan Tech becomes the 25th TUC, and there are a few comparisons that go the other way, although the only ones of possible relevance are that St. Cloud would beat Miami and Yale in that case.

To start the dry run, we hand out automatic bids to the regular season "champions", in this case the leaders St. Cloud, Michigan, Yale and BU. The at-large bids clearly go to Michigan State, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Miami from the West and UNH, Colgate, BC and Providence from the East; those teams win pairwise comparisons with every other team under consideration. To determine the byes and the placement of teams within regions, let's look at the comparisons among the eastern and western teams:

      West                                  East

1 Mich State    5 .592 NDMiSCWiMm | 1 Boston Univ   5 .617 NHCgYaBCPv
2 North Dakota  4 .627   MiSCWiMm | 2 New Hampshire 4 .624   CgYaBCPv
3 Michigan      3 .599 __  SCWiMm | 3 Colgate       3 .564 __  YaBCPv
4 St Cloud      1 .572 ____  Wi__ | 4 Yale          2 .551 ____  BCPv
5 Wisconsin     1 .567 ______  Mm | 5 Boston Coll   1 .563 ______  Pv
6 Miami         1 .563 ____SC__   | 6 Providence    0 .550 ________  

The byes would go to Michigan State, North Dakota, BU and New Hampshire. Note that of these four, only BU is a regular season champion in our game of make-believe, so Michigan, SCSU, or Yale could "steal" a bye with a win in the conference tournament. Now to place teams in regions. Rensselaer, the Eastern host, is not in the tournament, Michigan, the host of the West Regional, has to stay in the West, but the numbers point in that direction anyway. BC and Providence, as the two lowest Eastern Seeds, are to be shipped out West. The bottom three teams in the West are all even in the pairwise comparisons, so going by the numbers, St. Cloud should stay West because they have the highest RPI of the three. (Although I suspect that the committee would opt to keep Wisconsin instead for attendance reasons; see below.) Note that if the games with UNO were included, St. Cloud would beat Miami in the pairwise, and their claim to stay West would just be more clear-cut. Now to seed the two regionals:

      West                                  East

1 Mich State (C)   1 .592 ND     | 1 Boston Univ (H)   1 .617 NH
2 North Dakota (W) 0 .627        | 2 New Hampshire (H) 0 .624   

3 Michigan (C)     3 .599 SCBCPv | 3 Wisconsin (W)     2 .567   CgMm__
4 St Cloud (W)     2 .572   BCPv | 4 Colgate (E)       2 .564 __  MmYa
5 Boston Coll (H)  1 .563 __  Pv | 5 Miami (C)         1 .563 ____  Ya   
6 Providence (H)   0 .550 ____   | 6 Yale (E)          1 .551 Wi____

In the West, everything is straightforward; in the East, Wisconsin and Colgate each win two comparisons, with the Badgers earning the 3 seed by virtue of their pairwise comparison with the Red Raiders. Likewise, Miami claims the 5-seed from Yale on similar grounds. These seedings turn out to give tournament brackets with no first- or second-round matchups between teams in the same conference. Here they are:

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

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

The one problem with these brackets, from the NCAA standpoint, is that Wisconsin would bring more fans to the Western regional in Michigan than would SCSU, so the committee would probably swap the two teams, giving us:

      West                                  East

1 Mich State (C)   1 .592 ND     | 1 Boston Univ (H)   1 .617 NH
2 North Dakota (W) 0 .627        | 2 New Hampshire (H) 0 .624   

3 Michigan (C)     3 .599 WiBCPv | 3 Colgate (E)       2 .564   MmYa__
4 Wisconsin (W)    2 .567   BCPv | 4 Miami (C)         2 .563 __  YaSC
5 Boston Coll (H)  1 .563 __  Pv | 5 Yale (E)          1 .551 ____  SC
6 Providence (H)   0 .550 ____   | 6 St Cloud (W)      1 .572 Cg____

Again, there is no problem seeding the West, and in the East, the two two-team ties can be broken using the individual comparisons. (Note in particular that although SCSU has a higher PWR than Yale, the Bulldogs are seeded higher because they win the comparison with the Huskies. Again, we have a bracket with no potential intraconference matchups in the regionals, and the potential Big Ten battle between Wisconsin and Michigan State should bring the fans to Ann Arbor:

5W Boston Coll (H)                     6E St Cloud (W)
4W Wisconsin (W)                       3E Colgate (E)
        1W Mich State (C)     2E New Hampshire (H)

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

Finally, let's just note that if we throw the UNO games back in, St. Cloud wins the comparisons with Miami and Yale, and thus jumps to the head of the class:

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

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

The Gory Details

For those of you with strong constitutions, we present the 160k in-depth rundown on the individual comparisons both with and without Nebraska-Omaha.

Last Modified: 2019 July 24

Joe Schlobotnik / joe@amurgsval.org

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