Tournament selections explained

By Matthew Webb
Senior Writer,

Well, the men's and women's tournament brackets have been released which means the annual stream of questions and complaints is at peak flow.

Arrington Ice Arena in Adrian, Mich. will be featuring NCAA tournament action this year...but which teams will be playing in it?
Photo: Matthew Webb

Or is it? Things have actually been pretty quiet, and that's a rather uncommon but pleasant turn of events. In fact, between the lack of chatter on Sunday night and today's post-selection talk, this might be the quietest year we can recall. It's been so quiet, in fact, that we held off 18 hours on doing this just in case anything new popped up.

And that's a good thing. But what does it tell us? Does it mean the committees executed their jobs to perfection and nailed both brackets? Does it mean an ever-increasing amount of people are growing familiar with how the selection processes actually work? Does it mean our Bracketologies were so logically unassailable that they killed all the suspense?

Ok, we're kidding to an extent on that last one, though we did drill the men's bracket perfectly and had the women's correct save for one minor unpredictable item we admitted we had to guess on.

To the first two questions, we do believe the committees executed this year's selections to near perfection and we also think a growing number of people have come to better understand the selection processes. Hopefully our Bracketologies have helped in regard to the latter -- it's why we write them -- but regardless, the real point here is that this year went about as smoothly as one could ever ask for.

Now, before we pop the champagne and unhitch the ballons and streamers from the rafters, this doesn't mean there aren't a few questions about the selections. There are, and we're going to address them the same way we always do. Though like this year's selections themselves, we anticipate this to be rather smooth sailing and is going to be our shortest edition ever.

In what is becoming an annual tradition we will again lead with the women as the construct of the women's bracket again came as little surprise and was customarily devoid of controversy.


Our bracketology nailed all four match-ups though we did flip which side of the bracket two of the quarterfinals ended up on. We projected the UW-River Falls quarterfinal to be on the same side of the bracket as the Plattsburgh quarterfinal by virtue of our belief that River Falls would be a lower seed than Middlebury. As such, we lined up what we believed to be the lowest-seeded quarterfinal with the top-seeded Cardinals, but in reality it was Middlebury/UMass Boston that landed in the same half as Plattsburgh. It was a close comparison and we directly stated we had to guess at it, but that's the reason for the minor difference between our projection and the actual bracket.

Beyond that, there isn't much other than a few minor things that were discussed in our Bracketologies, but we'll give them one more quick mention here in case anyone missed them.

Why is Adrian playing Elmira and why is it at Adrian? This match-up had to occur as Elmira is the only team in the field that is within the allowable 500-mile travel limit from Adrian. This means a quarterfinal between the Bulldogs and Soaring Eagles was inevitable regardless of their ranks or seeds, and as Adrian holds a higher regional rank, it gets to host.

Why does Plattsburgh play Amherst and not UMass Boston? Logic suggests that Plattsburgh should draw the lowest-seeded team in the field, and that logic is sound. However, sending UMass Boston to Plattsburgh would have created a quarterfinal between Middlebury and Amherst. This is not allowable as teams from the same conference cannot play each other in the first round (quarterfinals in this instance) so long as geographic proximity is maintained. Thus, Amherst and Middlebury had to be split up and the one with the lower regional rank, Amherst, got sent to Plattsburgh.


Seeing Red

Now we ramp up the intensity and move on to the men -- and onto the topic that is the source of an overwhelming majority of the comments and questions we've been getting.

Namely, why did Plattsburgh State get "snubbed"? For starters, the Cardinals didn't get snubbed. Now that we have that settled we will again walk through, as we did in our final Bracketology, the comparisons that landed St. Norbert, Williams and UW-Stevens Point the Pool C bids.

Since it was beyond obvious that St. Norbert had one of the bids locked up we'll skip right to our final table that showed just Williams, Plattsburgh and Stevens Point. And we're even going to add L25, or performance over the last 25% of the season, though recall L25 is a secondary criterion and may not have even been considered.

WIN  .7600  .7960  .7860
SOS  .5310  .5250  .5380
RNK  .600 (3-2-0)  .4167 (2-3-1)
 .5000 (3-3-1)
H2H  1-0 v. Plattsburgh
 0-1 v. Williams

 0-1-0 w/Stevens Point
 4-1-0 w/Plattsburgh

 3-2-1 w/Williams  1-1 w/Williams
L25  .7857 (5-1-1)  .7143 (4-1-2)  .7857 (5-1-1)

But let's analyze things a little differently this time. Instead of looking at this and attempting a comprehensive approach to pick two, let's just go full double-barreled on behalf of Plattsburgh to see if we can get it into the field.

This means we need to look for places where Plattsburgh holds an edge and then try to sell the heck out out of them. The Cardinals hold a very small advantage in WIN over Williams and Stevens Point, so we're off to a good start, but then where else can we find anything to help? The answer is very clear, and it's that we can't. Plattsburgh loses SOS to both, loses RNK to both, lost H2H to Williams, loses COP to Williams, and loses L25 to both. Of ten total comparisons on the chart the Cardinals win just two, and by very small margins at that. Based on the data there is simply no way to justify pushing Plattsburgh past either of the other two and that's obviously the same conclusion the committee came to.

Told you they didn't get "snubbed."

Now, this is unfortunate as we're of the belief Plattsburgh is certainly one of the top eleven teams in the nation and could have contended for a title, but this isn't the first time we've seen a team of this caliber left out and it won't be the last. A few years ago it was Hobart, then it was UW-Eau Claire, now it's Plattsburgh. Frustrating yes, an injustice no.

If anything, this is another prime illustration of how fickle these things can be. Back on January 16, Plattsburgh lost 3-2 in overtime to Williams despite outshooting the Ephs by an almost comical 45-10 margin. If Plattsburgh would have won that game it would hold an even larger WIN advantage on Williams and would also have RNK and H2H advantages over the Ephs. The Cardinals win that game....they're likely in. The pay window matters.

Home Sweet Arrington

A rather intriguing subtlety unveiled itself during the Men's Selection Show, and it occured when the Adrian/UW-Stevens Point quarterfinal was unveiled and no host was specified. We actually didn't catch it ourselves until about ten minutes after the fact, but when the official paperwork was sent out the location was indeed listed as "TBD."

But why?

Because the Adrian women are also in the NCAA tournament and could potentially host the Women's Frozen Four at Arrington Ice Arena, home to Adrian's men's and women's teams. The women's championship and third place games are scheduled for Saturday, March 19, which directly conflicts with the men's quarterfinal. This is identical to what happened at Plattsburgh a year ago when the women hosted the finals and the men's quarterfinal game ended up at Trinity despite the fact the Cardinals were a higher seed and originally slated to host.

Now, what if Adrian arranges to have the men's game played at another rink somewhere relatively close to Adrian? Per all published rules and precedent, short of a few nuanced exceptions that do not exist in this instance, it can't happen. Namely because Adrian would have had to account for this contigency in its original men's quarterfinal hosting bid, which it did not. Otherwise, a NCAA tournament game hosted by Adrian must be played at the same location in which the Bulldogs played the majority of its home games.

This is actually very similar to what we saw happen to Hamline in 2011, and we remember it fondly as it turned our eight mile drive into a 140 mile drive. The Pipers were supposed to host their opening round game against UW-Superior but the ice in Warner Coliseum had already been removed. Hamline did arrange another rink to play in but it was a non-starter for the NCAA and the game was moved to Wessman Arena in Superior.

And that sums it up: short of forthcoming unexpected developments, if Adrian hosts the Women's Frozen Four the men's game will be in Stevens Point, with Adrian being the home team in terms of game protocol, line changes, etc.


Why was our Men's Bracketology wrong?

It wasn't.


No contests today.
No contests today.
No contests today.