If the season ended today, 1998 January 19

© 1998, Joe Schlobotnik (archives)

URL for this frameset: http://www.elynah.com/tbrw/tbrw.cgi?1998/pairwise.980119.shtml

Let's have a look at how the NCAA Tournament selection procedure would play itself out using the results of games through Sunday, January 18. We (and by "we", we mean Joe and his Linux box) have calculated the selection criteria starting from the Division I Composite Schedule on US College Hockey Online, although we had to add the result of last night's Army-Mankato State game (Mankato 7, Army 2) by hand. We're also not including games involving Nebraska-Omaha, since the Mavericks, in their first varsity season, are not eligible for the NCAA tournament. This means that my Ratings Percentage Index is not quite the same as the current RPI maintained by USCHO.

This week there are 23 Teams Under Consideration, including WCHA associate member Mankato State. Here are the results of pairwise comparisons among those teams:

    Team         PWR  RPI                  Comparisons Won
 1 Michigan       21 .601   MSNH__BUCgBCWiMmYaSCNMCCNEPvLSPnOSNtCkRPCrMk
 2 Mich State     21 .596 __  NHNDBUCgBCWiMmYaSCNMCCNEPvLSPnOSNtCkRPCrMk
 3 New Hampshire  20 .632 ____  NDBUCgBCWiMmYaSCNMCCNEPvLSPnOSNtCkRPCrMk
 4 North Dakota   20 .629 Mi____  BUCgBCWiMmYaSCNMCCNEPvLSPnOSNtCkRPCrMk
 5 Boston Univ    18 .615 ________  CgBCWiMmYaSCNMCCNEPvLSPnOSNtCkRPCrMk
 6 Colgate        16 .573 __________  BC__MmYaSCNMCCNEPvLSPnOSNtCkRPCrMk
 7 Boston Coll    16 .578 ____________  WiMmYaSCNMCCNEPvLSPnOSNtCkRPCrMk
 8 Wisconsin      15 .573 __________Cg__  Mm__SCNMCCNEPvLSPnOSNtCkRPCrMk
 9 Miami          14 .563 ________________  YaSCNMCCNEPvLSPnOSNtCkRPCrMk
10 Yale           14 .558 ______________Wi__  SCNMCCNEPvLSPnOSNtCkRPCrMk
11 St Cloud       12 .547 ____________________  NMCCNEPvLSPnOSNtCkRPCrMk
12 Northern Mich  11 .547 ______________________  CCNEPvLSPnOSNtCkRPCrMk
13 CO College     10 .544 ________________________  NEPvLSPnOSNtCkRPCrMk
14 Northeastern    9 .527 __________________________  PvLSPnOSNtCkRPCrMk
15 Providence      7 .530 ____________________________  LSPnOS__CkRPCrMk
16 Lake Superior   7 .522 ______________________________  PnOSNtCkRPCrMk
17 Princeton       5 .514 ________________________________  OSNt__RPCrMk
18 Ohio State      5 .528 __________________________________  NtCkRPCrMk
19 Notre Dame      5 .530 ____________________________Pv______  CkRPCrMk
20 Clarkson        4 .518 ________________________________Pn____  RPCrMk
21 RPI             2 .493 ________________________________________  CrMk
22 Cornell         1 .519 __________________________________________  Mk
23 Mankato State   0 .449 ____________________________________________  

If Nebraska-Omaha were included, the only comparisons relevant to the tournament which would switch their outcomes are North Dakota/UNH, Colgate/Wisconsin, and Yale/Miami, and since each of those pairs of teams is in different regions, the effects will be almost non-existent. Further down, things would be majorly altered because Minnesota-Duluth would become a team under consideration, and would in fact win eight comparisons. Six other comparisons among non-qualifying teams would also be affected.

The mock conference championships, and with them automatic berths, are given out to the current leaders according to winning percentage, which are North Dakota in the WCHA, Michigan in the CCHA, Yale in the ECAC and New Hampshire in Hockey East. Looking at the comparisons, we again see eight other teams defeating the remaining 15, so the at-large qualifiers are BU, Colgate and Yale in the East and Michigan State, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Miami, St. Cloud and Northern Michigan in the West. Now we see that there's an imbalance: seven Western teams are in the tournament and only five from the East. The lowest-ranked Western team is moved to the East before swapping, and this is clearly NMU, who lose comparisons with the other six qualifying Western teams. Now we look at the comparisons within the two regions to determine byes and seeding:

      West                                  East

1 North Dakota 4 .629   Mi__WiMmSC | 1 New Hampshire 5 .632 BUCgBCYaNM
2 Michigan     4 .601 __  MSWiMmSC | 2 Boston Univ   4 .615   CgBCYaNM
3 Mich State   4 .596 ND__  WiMmSC | 3 Colgate       3 .573 __  BCYaNM
4 Wisconsin    2 .573 ______  MmSC | 4 Boston Coll   2 .578 ____  YaNM
5 Miami        1 .563 ________  SC | 5 Yale          1 .558 ______  NM
6 St Cloud     0 .547 __________   | 6 Northern Mich 0 .547 ________

In the East, UNH and BU clearly get the byes (unless Yale wins the ECAC tournament and claims the automatic bye). In the West, UND, Michigan and MSU are all even on comparisons, but NoDak and Michigan claim the two byes on the basis of their better Ratings Percentage Index. (Note that this is true even though Michigan State has a higher PWR than North Dakota.) Based on the numbers alone, we would ship Miami and SCSU East and Yale and NMU West (yes we know that Northern Michigan just got shipped back into their own region, while Miami and St. Cloud, who beat them in the pairwise, went East; it's not logical, but it's the way it's done) to give

      West                                  East

1 North Dakota (W)  1 .629 Mi     | 1 New Hampshire (H) 1 .632 BU
2 Michigan (C)      0 .601        | 2 Boston Univ (H)   0 .615 

3 Mich State (C)    3 .596 YaWiNM | 3 Colgate (E)       3 .573 BCMmSC
4 Yale (E)          2 .558   WiNM | 4 Boston Coll (H)   2 .578   MmSC
5 Wisconsin (W)     1 .573 __  NM | 5 Miami (C)         1 .563 __  SC 
6 Northern Mich (C) 0 .547 ____   | 6 St Cloud (W)      0 .547 ____  

We've got some problems with the pairings implied here, like the all-CCHA bracket in the West Regional, plus possible second-round matchups between Wisconsin and North Dakota of the WCHA and New Hampshire and BC of Hockey East. Now, unless we send three "true" Western teams to the East, it's impossible to have no potential intraconference games in the West. However, we can eliminate the Hockey East matchup in the East by shipping out Boston College instead of Yale. This would give us

      West                                  East

1 North Dakota (W)  1 .629 Mi     | 1 New Hampshire (H) 1 .632 BU
2 Michigan (C)      0 .601        | 2 Boston Univ (H)   0 .615 

3 Mich State (C)    3 .596 BCWiNM | 3 Colgate (E)       3 .573 MmYaSC
4 Boston Coll (H)   2 .578   WiNM | 4 Miami (C)         1 .563   YaSC 
5 Wisconsin (W)     1 .573 __  NM | 5 Yale (E)          2 .558 __  SC
6 Northern Mich (C) 0 .547 ____   | 6 St Cloud (W)      0 .547 ____  

Now we've still got the same mess in the West. The best we could hope for is no first-round pairings and one second-round one. We could achieve this by switching Wisconsin and Northern Michigan, but then the potential second-round pairing is between the second and third seeds. The committee was faced with a similar situation with Minnesota last year, and determined that the best option was to give them the fourth seed. (This was also considered preferable to sending the team in question--here Michigan State--to the East regional.) With MSU in the fourth seed and NMU in the sixth (to avoid playing State in the first round), the only place to put Wisconsin is in the third seed, giving brackets that look like this (note that this is the only place where including UNO in the calculations would change the tournament; Yale would be the high seed for the 4/5 game instead of Miami):

5W Boston Coll (H)                     6E St Cloud (W)
4W Mich State (C)                      3E Colgate (E)
        1W North Dakota (W)  2E Boston Univ (H)

        2W Michigan (C)      1E New Hampshire (H)
3W Wisconsin (W)                       4E Miami (C)
6W Northern Mich (C)                   5E Yale (E)

Okay, so now we've got only one possible second-round matchup, and that only if NMU upsets Wisconsin. BC is in the unfortunate position of having to play Michigan State while Wisconsin, whom they beat in the pairwise comparisons, get the much easier draw of Northern Michigan. Perhaps the most elegant way around this is to send two CCHA teams East and bring St. Cloud back to the West. This gives us:

      West                                  East

1 North Dakota (W)  1 .629 Mi     | 1 New Hampshire (H) 1 .632 BU
2 Michigan (C)      0 .601        | 2 Boston Univ (H)   0 .615 

3 Mich State (C)    3 .596 BCWiSC | 3 Colgate (E)       3 .573 MmYaNM
4 Boston Coll (H)   2 .578   MmSC | 4 Miami (C)         1 .563   YaNM 
5 Wisconsin (W)     1 .573 __  SC | 5 Yale (E)          2 .558 __  NM
6 St Cloud (W)      0 .547 ____   | 6 Northern Mich (C) 0 .547 ____  

Now things aren't too bad in the West. We switch MSU and BC to avoid the Michigan-Michigan State game. This means we should also switch Wisconsin and St. Cloud to maintain the initial pairings, giving brackets of

5W St Cloud (W)                        6E Northern Mich (C)
4W Mich State (C)                      3E Colgate (E)
        1W North Dakota (W)  2E Boston Univ (H)

        2W Michigan (C)      1E New Hampshire (H)
3W Boston Coll (H)                      4E Miami (C)
6W Wisconsin (W)                        5E Yale (E)

In addition to conference matchups, the NCAA can overrule the pairwise numbers on the basis of attendance considerations. Clearly, Michigan State and Wisconsin will bring a lot of fans to Ann Arbor. Northern Michigan might be preferable to St. Cloud on these grounds, were it not for the all-out mess caused by the presence of a third CCHA team in the regional. It's a good guess that Boston College would be considered a better draw in the East (Albany, NY in this case) than Yale. Given that the pairwise comparisons said to send Yale out West anyway, another possibility is that the committee would go with regions of

      West                                  East

1 North Dakota (W)  1 .629 Mi     | 1 New Hampshire (H) 1 .632 BU
2 Michigan (C)      0 .601        | 2 Boston Univ (H)   0 .615 

3 Mich State (C)    3 .596 YaWiSC | 3 Colgate (E)       3 .573 BCMmNM
4 Yale (E)          2 .558   WiSC | 4 Boston Coll (H)   2 .578   MmNM
5 Wisconsin (W)     1 .573 __  SC | 5 Miami (C)         1 .563 __  NM 
6 St Cloud (W)      0 .547 ____   | 6 Northern Mich (C) 0 .547 ____   

leading, by the same process, to the brackets

5W St Cloud (W)                        6E Northern Mich (C)
4W Mich State (C)                      3E Colgate (E)
        1W North Dakota (W)  2E Boston Univ (H)

        2W Michigan (C)      1E New Hampshire (H)
3W Yale (E)                      4E Miami (C)
6W Wisconsin (W)                        5E Boston Coll (H)

Note that whether or not Yale wins the ECAC tournament in this scenario would mean the difference between getting a bye and having to play out West!

The Gory Details

In case you're really curious, or have even worse time-management priorities than we do, here is the in-depth rundown on the individual comparisons with Nebraska-Omaha and without.

Last Modified: 2019 July 24

Joe Schlobotnik / joe@amurgsval.org

HTML 4.0 compliant CSS2 compliant