Women's NCAA Bracketology: Round 2

By Ray Biggs
Managing Editor, D3hockey.com

There were no changes among the top four spots in either region when the second public NCAA regional rankings were released Tuesday, but that doesn't mean the events of the past week cannot have an impact on our latest NCAA projections.

UW-Eau Claire's arrival in the West rankings this week seemed innocent enough, but it turned out to significantly affect this week's analysis.
Photo: d3photography.com

In the last week alone Adrian pulled off a big sweep of Pool C contender Lake Forest in a battle of ranked teams in the West, Middlebury jumped into the Pool A drivers' seat by sneaking past Hamilton for the top spot in the NESCAC, and a pair of newcomers have broken into the regional rankings.

With those rankings in the public domain, and another week of games in the books, it's time once again for D3hockey.com to project the Women's NCAA Tournament field based on the published process the NCAA National Committee will be using to select and seed the NCAA tournament field.

In case you're new to this or just need a refresher on how this is going to work, we'd like to make a few quick points regarding our methodology: what will be seen here is the tournament field, as it would be set as of the time of the most recent regional rankings, per our best interpretation and implementation of the published tournament selection process.  There will be no speculation, tangent theories or conjecture. 

Our job is to walk through the NCAA tournament selection process, as it can be confusing enough in its own right -- especially to those who are new to it.  If our conclusions come to be different than the actual tournament field, the reasons why will be dealt with in our annual Tournament Selections Explained article that will follow the announcements of the selections.  Simply put, our projections will not be based on anything other than the stated selction process. If you're new to the NCAA process, we highly recommend diving into our Selection Process Primer before going any further. 

Once you've done that, or if you're familiar with the process already in your travels, it's high time to move forward as we bring you our next version of the tournament field if we were to select it as of Tuesday's ranking release.

 

The Tournament

  • The 2017 Women's Division III Ice Hockey Championship will consist of eight teams.
  • Five conference playoff champions will receive automatic qualifying bids (Pool A) to the tournament. Those conferences are the: ECAC West, MIAC, NCHA, NEHC & NESCAC.
  • One team will receive a Pool B bid to the tournament. This bid is reserved for independent teams as well as those that participate in conferences without a Pool A bid, which are the CHC and WIAC.
  • Two teams that do not receive Pool A bids, or the Pool B bid, will receive at-large (Pool C) bids into the tournament. Every team that did not receive a Pool A or B bid is eligible for a Pool C bid.
  • For the purpose of Pool C selection, as well as team comparisons for regional ranking purposes and tournament seeding, the NCAA committee will rely mainly on what it refers to as its Primary Criteria, which are as follows
                     
  • Win-lost percentage against Division III opponents (WIN)
  • Division III head-to-head results (H2H)
  • Results versus common Division III opponents (COP)
  • Results versus ranked Division III teams as established by the rankings at the time of selection.  Conference postseason contests are included (RNK)^
  • Division III strength of schedule (SOS)*

              Consisting of:
            -  2/3 Opponents' Average Winning Percentage (OWP)

            -  1/3 Opponents' Opponents' Winning Percentage (OOWP)

 

There are also three Secondary Criterion the committees may look at if they choose to, and they are as follows:

 
  • Non-Division III won-lost percentage
  • Results versus common non-Division III opponents
  • Win-loss record during the final 25 percent of the season(L25)

 

Regional Rankings

  • The NCAA regional committees will release three editions of regional rankings prior to tournament selection, with the release dates being February 14, 21 and 28. A fourth will be generated on March 5 but those are not released to the public. It's prudent to note that this differs from the language in the men's championship manual, which now states their final rankings will be released. The tournament field will be announced at 10 a.m. EST on Monday, March 6.
  • Both the East and West Region rankings will contain six teams.
  • For the sake of RNK, the NCAA considers a team ranked only if it is ranked at the time of tournament selection (in the March 5 final rankings).

NCAA Regional Rankings - February 21

EAST REGION WEST REGION
1. Plattsburgh State 1. UW-River Falls
2. Middlebury 2. Adrian
3. Norwich 3. Gustavus Adolphus
4. Elmira 4. Lake Forest
5. Endicott 5. UW-Eau Claire
6. Connecticut College 6. Augsburg



Pool Selection

  • Pool A:  As Bracketology assumes this would be the tournament field were the season to end now, we will use the teams that have claimed top seeding in the five Pool A eligible conferences as our automatic qualifiers. The only change here from last week is that Middlebury erased a narrow deficit in the NESCAC standings and overtook Hamilton. This is important, as it opens up one of the Pool C bids held by Middlebury in our last projection for a new team to jump in while the Panthers move to Pool A. With that in mind, your Pool A qualifiers are:
ECACW: Plattsburgh State
MIAC: Gustavus Adolphus
NCHA: Adrian
NEHC: Norwich
NESCAC: Middlebury

 

 

 

 

 

  • Pool B: One bid is reserved for independent teams and teams that participate in leagues that do not possess a Pool A bid. That means the CHC and the WIAC, and another high noon standoff between West No. 1 UW-River Falls, and East No. 5 Endicott. 
  ENDICOTT UW-RIVER FALLS
WIN  .8910  .9200
SOS  .4660  .5310
RNK  .0000 (0-1-0)  .6000 (3-2-0)
H2H  -  -
COP  .0000 (0-0-0)  .0000 (0-0-0)


Analysis: Endicott does pull a smidge closer to River Falls than last week because the RNK metric of the Falcons went from a perfect 1.000 down to .6000 now that UW-Eau Claire, who has beaten the Falcons twice this year, is a ranked team.

This helps Endicott a bit, but it's still nowhere near enough to overcome the advantages enjoyed in this comparison by River Falls. Endicott played only one currently ranked team in Middlebury this season and did not record a win and is still facing a significant disadvantage in SOS. Add in a relatively stagnant advantage in WIN and the Falcons still sweep this comparison.

The bid here will go to the WIAC, but unlike last week, this is not where Endicott gets off the tour. The Gulls will make famed singer Maurice Williams happy by staying...just a little bit longer. So if you're an Endicott fan, keep reading because you may just like it.  

The Pool B Bid is Awarded To: UW-River Falls

 

  • Pool C:

We now must consider which teams will get the remaining two at-large bids to the tournament. That requires looking at the highest ranked teams in the regional rankings that are not projected to win Pool A, and those are:

East: Elmira, Endicott, Connecticut College

West: Lake Forest, UW-Eau Claire, Augsburg

This is where the changes beneath the surface really begin to take hold, as we will evaluate three teams for a Pool C that did not make this comparison last week. 

As always, we'll construct a table that includes WIN, SOS and RNK to see if we can draw any immediate conclusions.

  WIN SOS RNK
Elmira .7600 .5670  .1666 (0-4-2)
Endicott .8910 .4660  .0000 (0-1-0)
Conn. College .7050 .5460  .5000 (1-1-0)
Lake Forest .8200 .4590  .0000 (0-3-0)
Augsburg .7200 .4820  .5000 (2-2-0)
UW-Eau Claire .6600 .5180  .4285 (3-4-0)


Analysis:
 We begin with the outliers, as always, as we starting by seeing if there are any teams that we can confidently move directly into the tournament field. The highest ranked teams left in each region are Elmira and Lake Forest at this point, so let's get a look at who we may be able to pull in, first with the current numbers:

  ELMIRA LAKE FOREST
WIN  .7600   .8200
SOS  .5670   .4590
RNK  .1666 (0-4-2)
 .0000 (0-3-0)
H2H  -  -
COP  .0000 (0-1-0)  .0000 (0-3-0)


For reference, here are last week's numbers as they greatly illustrate how much can change in the course of a week, as well as a principle that will apply to the selection of our final Pool C team:.  

  ELMIRA (2/14) LAKE FOREST (2/14)
WIN .7390  .8910
SOS .5710  .4350
RNK .3125 (1-4-3)
 .7000 (3-1-1)
H2H  -  -
COP .0000 (0-1-0)  .0000 (0-1-0)


Our first Pool C selection went to Elmira last week and although there has been some shifting of the updated numbers (blue table) relative to last week's (red table), we believe that a tightening deficit in win percentage, grouped with a dramatic overtake by Elmira in RNK and a still-enormous SOS advantage is enough to again place the Soaring Eagles into the field. 

The swing in RNK is particularly fascinating on the Lake Forest end of the equation because of how quickly and drastically it happened. Remember, a team is only calculated into record against ranked opponents if it is ranked by the regional committees at the time of selection. With that in tow, Lake Forest had a 3-1-1 RNK last week, which was due in large part to St. Scholastica being a ranked team. The Foresters were 3-0-1 against the Saints, with their lone ranked loss coming against Adrian.

Fast forward a week, and the Saints have fallen out while Lake Forest lost twice more to Adrian, who remains ranked. The result was a complete wipeout of the Foresters previously solid 3-1-1 RNK. A lot can change in a week.

That, of course, remains quite volatile, and all RNK metrics are subject to change based on team movement in and out of the rankings each week. 

We explained this in pretty expansive detail because the results of our final comparison, and our last team in, just might surprise you. But before we do that, we need to cut some teams loose. By the pecking order created for prospective tournament bids by the regional rankings, UW-Eau Claire, Augsburg, and Connecticut College cannot get in under this scenario as they all have teams ahead of them in the regional rankings and we only have one spot left. So for that trio, it's not goodbye; rather it just might be see you later. Things can change in a flash as we have just demonstrated with Lake Forest, but we cannot stray from the stated process today. 

Getting back on course, this leaves us with the top ranked team remaining in each region for our final spot: Lake Forest and Endicott. 

  ENDICOTT LAKE FOREST 
WIN .8910  .8200
SOS .4660  .4590
RNK .0000 (0-1-0)
 .0000 (0-3-0)
H2H  -  -
COP .0000 (0-0-0)  .0000 (0-0-0)


One look at the numbers and, while it may not be by all that much, Endicott wins this comparison in surprisingly easy fashion. Lake Forest's RNK last week may have saved it here, but with that neutralized and the Gulls holding the edge in the other two items, Endicott sneaks into the field to give the Colonial Hockey Conference its first NCAA tournament bid. One can't help but wonder if UW-Eau Claire would have a much better chance in this spot...

The Pool C Bids are awarded to: Elmira, Endicott

 

Setting The Field

  • Thus, our full tournament field is:
ECACE: Norwich
ECACW: Plattsburgh
MIAC: Gustavus Adolphus
NCHA: Adrian
NESCAC: Middlebury
Pool B: UW-River Falls
Pool C: Elmira
Pool C: Endicott

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeding the Field

  • Now the field must be seeded by region.  Using this week's regional rankings, it would look something like this:

1E Plattsburgh
2E Middlebury
3E Norwich
4E Elmira
5E Endicott

1W UW-River Falls
2W Adrian
3W Gustavus Adolphus

 

 

 

 

 

Setting the Bracket

We begin by reminding you that as we place our teams, there are two considerations that have to be noted. 

1. The NCAA 500-mile preliminary round travel limit must be adhered to if possible. Mapquest, Google Maps, or your Rand McNally Atlas are not official methods of calculating the mileage between institutions. Instead, the NCAA utilizes an institution-to-institution mileage calculator, which is available online.

2. Per the NCAA Pre-Championship manual, we cannot pair teams from the same conference against one another in the quarterfinals.

In this scenario, we have the 5/3 split in favor of the East, and not a whole lot is going to change. Again, the unbalanced split between regions usually means a flight for at least one quarterfinal game with all but a small handful of inter-regional opponents being over 500 miles apart.

However, we can avoid going over the 500 mile threshold and using a flight for a second week in a row, and we have to if we're able to according to the rules. Adrian and Elmira are within 500 miles of each other. As with last year, and last week's edition, nothing changes here and Elmira will bus to Adrian by virtue of Adrian's higher ranking. 

With those two pairing off, we think the rest of the bracket's match-ups are cut and dried. River Falls will host Gustavus Adolphus in the lone West quarterfinal, while the two all-East quarterfinals fall right into place by seed.

        Click to view full size

Our quarterfinal match-ups are:

5E Endicott at 1E Plattsburgh
4E Elmira at 2W Adrian
3E Norwich at 2E Middlebury
3W Gustavus at 1W UW-River Falls

There are no in-conference matchups, and we will again place the top regional seeds on either side of our bracket. Which means we now just have to decide on which side of the bracket to put the Adrian and Middlebury quarterfinals.

As was the case last week, we suspect Adrian is a higher-seeded team than Middlebury, though it's a very close comparison. But for now we give Adrian the edge which mean we put the "weaker" quarterfinal, Middlebury's, on the same side of the bracket as top-seeded Plattsburgh State.

We concede this eliminates the chance for two East-West semifinals, which is always a nice novelty, but seed integrity trumps all when possible, which means Adrian lands in the same half as River Falls, giving us potential semifinal match-ups of:

Plattsburgh State/Endicott v. Middlebury/Norwich

UW-River Falls/Gustavus Adolphus v. Adrian/Elmira

In the words of a famous cartoon pig you that you or your parents may have watched growing up, that's all folks. At least for now. Things can change in a hurry and one must look no further than this week's Pool C picture to see that. So hang tight as plenty more changes could be in store...

 

Thoughts?

Questions, comments, you'd like further explanation or you simply think we're nuts?  No problem, we'd love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment below, or you can always yell at us on twitter @d3hky.

 

 

~

The Road to Utica: Men's Bracketology, Take II

by Matthew Webb
Senior Writer, D3hockey.com

The second NCAA regional rankings were released on Tuesday which of course means it's time for us to take our second stab at projecting the Men's NCAA Tournament field (were the season to end today) based on the published process the NCAA National Committee should be using to select and seed the NCAA tournament.

Amherst made a four spot jump in this week's East Region rankings, but was it enough to get Amherst into the field?
Photo: Larry Radloff for d3photography.com

All was calm out West in this week's rankings though the East Region saw plenty of movement, some of which serve as exemplary illustrations of the at-times frustrating nature of this process and we're going to be sure to explain why.

Will this week's ultimate bracket differ from that of a week ago? Well, that's why we do the exercise, but here's a spoiler: with three new Pool A teams in the picture and a scrambled up set of East rankings...it most certainly is going to.

And the results aren't going to look good. For now. Qh6+!!

A reminder, as we wish to make it very clear: our goal, and our only goal, is to illustrate the process as it is published in the NCAA Men's Division III Ice Hockey Pre-Championship Manual. To do so we will implement the process based on known regional rankings and NCAA-generated statistics for the relevant teams, and we will do so to yield the bracket that we feel maximizes fairness and equity of the field while concurrently adhering to NCAA rules.  To this end, we remind ourselves of a few governing principles that we consider to be paramount:

  • Process, process, process. The published process is the only thing that matters. You might not like it and we might not like parts of it, but it is what it is. To worry about things outside of the process muddies the waters and tends to lead to more confusion amongst fans than it resolves. Learn more about the process here.
  • It has been numerous years since the tournament selection yielded an outcome that was not easily explained by the tenets of the process itself. While some, including us, may have differed with the committee's decisions at times, they nonetheless have fallen completely within the framework of the process.
  • To cross the boundary from interpretation and application to delve into the world of speculation does a disservice to everyone. There is enough of that swirling around out there this time of year and it is something we will not engage in. Our goal is to shed light on the process, not obfuscate it for the sake of our own egos.

 

The Tournament

  • The 2017 Men's Division III Ice Hockey Championship will consist of 12 teams.
  • Seven conference playoff champions will receive automatic qualifying bids (Pool A) to the tournament. These conferences are the: CCC, MASCAC, MIAC, NCHA, NEHC, NESCAC & SUNYAC.
  • One team from a conference that does not possess a Pool A bid will receive a Pool B bid. This will be awarded to an independent, ECAC West or WIAC team.
  • Four teams that do not receive Pool A bids nor the Pool B bid will receive at-large (Pool C) bids into the tournament. Every team that did not receive a Pool A or Pool B bid is eligible for a Pool C bid.
  • For the purpose of Pool C selection, as well as team comparisons for regional ranking purposes and tournament seeding, the NCAA committee will rely mainly on what it refers to as its Primary Criteria, which are as follows:

                     
  • Win-lost percentage against Division III opponents (WIN)
  • Division III head-to-head results (H2H)
  • Results versus common Division III opponents (COP)
  • Results versus ranked Division III teams as established by the rankings at the time of selection.  Conference postseason contests are included (RNK)
  • Division III strength of schedule (SOS)*

              Consisting of:
            -  2/3 Opponents' Average Winning Percentage (OWP)

            -  1/3 Opponents' Opponents' Winning Percentage (OOWP)

 

There are also three Secondary Criterion the committees may look at if they are unable to come to a determination by using only the primary criteria, and they are as follows:

 
  • Non-Division III won-lost percentage
  • Results versus common non-Division III opponents
  • Win-lost percentage during the last 25% of the season (L25)

 

Regional Rankings

  • The NCAA regional committees will release three editions of regional rankings prior to tournament selection, with the release dates being February 14, 21 and 28. A fourth will be generated on Selection Sunday (March 5) and is slated to be released to the public on March 6.
  • The East Region rankings will contain ten teams, the West Region five.
  • For the sake of RNK, the NCAA considers a team ranked only if it is ranked at the time of tournament selection (in the March 6 final rankings).

 

NCAA Regional Rankings - February 21

 EAST REGION  WEST REGION
1. Norwich 1. St. Norbert
2. Oswego State
2. UW-Stevens Point
3. Endicott
3. Adrian
4. Hobart 4. Augsburg
5. Hamilton 5. UW-Eau Claire
6. Amherst  
7. Babson  
8. Utica  
9. Trinity
 
10. SUNY Geneseo
 


Analysis: As always we try not to spend too much time on these as what's ultimately important to us is what these are and not why they are. They periodically help illustrate a component of the process that seems counterintuitive, and this week serves up a fine example.

Endicott was ranked second in the East last week and since then has done nothing but trash three league rivals by a combined score of 21-2. Not bad. However, those three games lowered the Gulls' SOS from .538 to .525. Not overly helpful if you're from Endicott. Then throw in the fact that RNK is now being taken into account and Endicott's 0-0-1 RNK doesn't do much to help it. Not so much as it's poor, but rather simply because it's such a small sample.

So what's our point here? Easy. Endicott is certainly just as good of a team now as it was seven days ago and by that reasoning there is no reason to believe it should have fallen behind Oswego State in this week's rankings if last week's determination was that it was one spot better. However, the sort of subjective judgement I just made isn't what governs this process. The numbers do. Which means win, lose or draw, there are times where the outcome of a game might not even be the aspect that most affects the selection process. In this instance, it's clear the ding Endicott took to its SOS is proving more significant than the fact it went 3-0 last week.

A blight on the process and not the committee to be sure, and we've seen it before and we'll see it again, but if that isn't frustrating I don't know what is.

 

Pool Selection


  • Pool A

As Bracketology assumes this would be the tournament field were the season to end today, we will use the teams leading the seven Pool A eligible conferences as our automatic qualifiers.  Thus, the seven Pool A bids go to:

CCC: Endicott
MASCAC: Plymouth State
MIAC: St. Thomas
NCHA: Adrian
NEHC: Norwich
NESCAC: Hamilton
SUNYAC Oswego State

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Pool B:

As only ECAC West, WIAC, and independent teams are eligible here, this should be easy enough. No independent teams are anywhere in the mix we'll compare the highest-ranked ECAC West team, Hobart, with the highest-ranked WIAC team, UW-Stevens Point:

   HOBART  STEVENS POINT
WIN  .7600  .7800
SOS  .5220  .5210
RNK  .5000 (2-2-1)
 .6426 (4-2-1)
H2H  -  -
COP  -  -


Analysis:
The outcome here is the same as last week despite the fact Hobart's numbers shifted slightly after its two wins over Elmira. The Statesmen closed the WIN gap but still trail, while their SOS took a minor hit and now sits just one thousandth of a point ahead. Stevens Point claimed this bid a week ago and to give it to Hobart this time we'd have to give it the entire comparison based on a .001 advantage in SOS. It's not happening.

For now. Plenty here can and will change by the end of the year.

The Pool B bid is awarded to: UW-Stevens Point

 

  • Pool C:

We now must consider which teams will get at-large bids to the tournament. That requires looking at the highest-ranked teams in the regional rankings that are not projected to win Pool A, and those are:

East: Hobart, Amherst, Babson, Utica

West: St. Norbert, UW-Eau Claire, Augsburg

Let's begin by constructing a table that shows each of these six teams' relative winning percentage (WIN), strength-of-schedule (SOS), and record against ranked teams (RNK). We'll eye things up and see if we can come to any obvious conclusions.

   WIN  SOS  RNK
Amherst  .6430  .5270  .7500 (4-1-1)
Hobart  .7600  .5220  .5000 (2-2-1)
Babson  .6590  .5530  .3333 (1-3-2)
Utica  .6800  .5140  .5000 (2-2-0)
St. Norbert
 .7800  .5040  1.000 (3-0-0)
UW-Eau Claire
 .7000  .5280  .0000 (0-5-0)
Augsburg  .7200  .4920  .6667 (2-1-0)


Analysis:
Three new teams, Amherst, Utica and Augsburg, enter the mix this week and let's just say we're glad this isn't Selection Sunday as this is a far tighter group than last week. As the conference playoffs are going to end up doing most of the work here for us, for now we're going to keep it simple, stupid.

Step one, as always, is to see if there's any team or teams we can peel right off the board and move directly into the field, and same as last week we think there are two we can take immediately. We again find it inconceivable that St. Norbert doesn't get in here. The Green Knights remain a number one regional seed and bring the best WIN and RNK to the table. Their SOS remains far from stellar but it's actually better than it was a week ago and will continue to improve. Bottom line is that we will continue to find it impossible that a sitting regional number one stays home.

Hobart is also easy to move in here, for a couple reasons: it's the highest-ranked East team left and has numbers that clearly beat out Augsburg and UW-Eau Claire. But what about the fact the Statesmen are 0-2 against Utica this year? Doesn't matter. Hobart is four spots higher in this week's East rankings. The committee has spoken and the Statesmen are in.

Two down, two to go.

Can we rule anybody out? Yes. Utica and UW-Eau Claire. Utica by virtue of it's regional rank as there are still two East teams ahead of it and only two open spots to fill, and Eau Claire as it simply doesn't have the numbers to stack up. The 0-5 RNK is simply too much to overcome.

That leaves Amherst, Babson and Augsburg. Augsburg getting in here would be an interesting novelty as it would create a 7-5 split, which is something we've certainly never dealt with before, but do the Auggies have a chance in this comparison? Let's take another look, and this is the full comparison as Augsburg has no H2H or COP comparisons with either:

   WIN  SOS  RNK
Amherst  .6430  .5270  .7500 (4-1-1)
Babson  .6590  .5530  .3333 (1-3-2)
Augsburg  .7200  .4920  .6667 (2-1-0)


Augsburg is certainly an interesting case here as it has the best WIN and a favorable RNK. However, it has the worst SOS of any ranked team and it's so low it brings us back to a rule that has held for nealy 20 years: no team with a SOS under .500 has gotten an at-large bid. To bolster our point here we'd explain the Castleton/UW-Superior shocker of 2011 but don't want to bore you. Long story short, if we're stuck with something like this on Selection Sunday we'll get dirty with it, but even then this is one of those situations where at some point we'd have to make an educated guess at how the committee is valuing things. In those cases, it's almost always proven a winning move to double down on SOS, and Augsburg's is just too low. Amherst and Babson are in.

The Pool C bids are awarded to: St. Norbert, Hobart, Amherst, Babson

 

Setting the Field

Thus, our full tournament field is: 

CCC: Endicott
MASCAC: Plymouth State
MIAC: St. Thomas
NCHA: Adrian
NEHC: Norwich
NESCAC: Hamilton
SUNYAC: Oswego State
Pool B: UW-Stevens Point
Pool C: St. Norbert
Pool C: Hobart
Pool C: Amherst
Pool C: Babson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeding the Field

Now the field must be seeded by region. Using this week's regional rankings (and a bit of guesswork on a tight comparison between Plymouth State and Nichols that could certainly be wrong), it would look something like this:

1E Norwich
2E Oswego State
3E Endicott
4E Hobart
5E Hamilton
6E Amherst
7E Babson
8E Plymouth State

1W St. Norbert
2W UW-Stevens Point
3W Adrian
4W St. Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting the Bracket

We again have ourselves an 8-4 split, which presents the increasingly familiar question that is probably becoming second nature to many by now: Do we go with two West Region quarterfinals, two West Region first round games, or send Adrian east and roll with one quarterfinal in the West?

We continue to think this is a pretty balanced field numerically which means we are again going to choose the middle road here as we find it the most equitable thing to do. That means one West Region quarterfinal and Adrian-Hobart-Oswego together in a quarterfinal. In this instance Adrian, by virtue of its higher regional seed, would host Hobart in a first round game with the winner traveling to Oswego State for a quarterfinal.

From there, we simply drop the remaining East teams in by seeds and we're done.

Our bracket is:

 

First Round

4W St. Thomas @ 2W UW-Stevens Point

Click to view full-size.

4E Hobart @ 3W Adrian

8E Plymouth State @ 5E Hamilton

7E Babson @ 6E Amherst

 

Quarterfinals

4W St. Thomas/2W UW-Stevens Point @ 1W St. Norbert

4E Hobart/3W Adrian @ 2E Oswego State

8E Plymouth State/5E Hamilton @ 3E Endicott

7E Amherst/6E Babson @ 1E Norwich

 

Analysis: 

As we have, in our opinion, maximized bracket integrity while adhering to travel limitations, the only question left is which teams should be lined up to face off in the semifinals? We're going to put the No. 1 regional seeds on opposite sides of the bracket, but unlike last week we are not going to set it up for possible East-West semifinals. Why? Because we believe Norwich to be the top-seeded team in the field which means it gets lined up with the lowest-seeded quarterfinal, which is Endicott's. Or does it?

This is a tough call. Doing this would put regional seeds of 1,2,2,3,4,4 on one side of the bracket and 1,3,5,6,7,8 on the other, which is rather unbalanced. True to form there is nothing in the manual that addresses this, though we know the tournament is seeded nationally in some fashion. Or at least has been in the past.

Well, this ambiguity means it's on us to figure out what to do and we peg Oswego as the next-highest seed behind Norwich and St. Norbert which means we're going to line it up with the Green Knights, however ridiculous it makes this bracket look to us. We do not believe Norwich would get slated against the higher-seeded semifinal opponent in this scenario. This could go either way, really, but whatever. It's not worth sweating over at the moment, but consider this a situation in which we attempt to implement the process in its most stated form instead of using common-sense to trample on it, no matter how enjoyable that would be.

Joking aside, the real question here is which takes priority per the process: protecting the top overall seed in the semifinals or working to obtain maximum seed integrity across the board? We...think...it's the former. Make this instance number two tonight where we're glad this isn't Selection Sunday. But hey, perhaps we'll have more on this concept next week. Perhaps.

Potential Frozen Four pairings are:

St. Thomas/UW-Stevens Point/St. Norbert v. Hobart/Adrian/Oswego State

Plymouth State/Hamilton/Endicott v. Amherst/Babson/Norwich

 

Thoughts?

Questions or comments you'd like further explanation on or you simply think we're nuts?  No problem, we'd love to hear from you.  Feel free to jump in with your own questions or ideas in the Bracketology Discussion over on the D3sports forums, comment below, or you can always yell at us on twitter @d3hky.

 

~

by Matthew Webb
Senior Writer, D3hockey.com

The second NCAA regional rankings were released on Tuesday which of course means it's time for us to take our second stab at projecting the Men's NCAA Tournament field, were the season to end today, based on the published process the NCAA National Committee should be using to select and seed the NCAA tournament.

At the beginning of the season who would have predicted Endicott would check in at No. 2 in the debut East Rankings?
Photo: Endicott Athletics

All was calm out West in this week's rankings, though the East Region saw plenty of movement, some of which serve as exemplary illustrations of the at-times frustrating nature of this process, and we're going to be sure to explain why.

Will this week's ultimate bracket differ from that of a week ago? Well, that's why we do the exercise, but here's a spoiler: with three new Pool A teams in the picture and a scrambled up set of East rankings...it most certainly is going to.

A reminder, as we wish to make it very clear: our goal, and only goal, is to illustrate the process as it is published in the NCAA Men's Division III Ice Hockey Pre-Championship Manual. To do so we will implement the process based on known regional rankings and NCAA-generated statistics for the relevant teams, and we will do so to yield the bracket that we feel maximizes fairness and equity of the field while concurrently adhering to NCAA rules.  To this end, we remind ourselves of a few governing principles that we consider to be paramount:

  • Process, process, process. The published process is the only thing that matters. You might not like it and we might not like parts of it, but it is what it is. To worry about things outside of the process muddies the waters and tends to lead to more confusion amongst fans than it resolves. Learn more about the process here.
  • It has been numerous years since the tournament selection yielded an outcome that was not easily explained by the tenets of the process itself. While some, including us, may have differed with the committee's decisions at times, they nonetheless have fallen completely within the framework of the process.
  • To cross the boundary from interpretation and application to delve into the world of speculation does a disservice to everyone. There is enough of that swirling around out there this time of year and it is something we will not engage in. Our goal is to shed light on the process, not obfuscate it for the sake of our own egos.

 

The Tournament

  • The 2017 Men's Division III Ice Hockey Championship will consist of 12 teams.
  • Seven conference playoff champions will receive automatic qualifying bids (Pool A) to the tournament. These conferences are the: CCC, MASCAC, MIAC, NCHA, NEHC, NESCAC & SUNYAC.
  • One team from a conference that does not possess a Pool A bid will receive a Pool B bid. This will be awarded to an independent, ECAC West or WIAC team.
  • Four teams that do not receive Pool A bids nor the Pool B bid will receive at-large (Pool C) bids into the tournament. Every team that did not receive a Pool A or Pool B bid is eligible for a Pool C bid.
  • For the purpose of Pool C selection, as well as team comparisons for regional ranking purposes and tournament seeding, the NCAA committee will rely mainly on what it refers to as its Primary Criteria, which are as follows:

                     
  • Win-lost percentage against Division III opponents (WIN)
  • Division III head-to-head results (H2H)
  • Results versus common Division III opponents (COP)
  • Results versus ranked Division III teams as established by the rankings at the time of selection.  Conference postseason contests are included (RNK)
  • Division III strength of schedule (SOS)*

              Consisting of:
            -  2/3 Opponents' Average Winning Percentage (OWP)

            -  1/3 Opponents' Opponents' Winning Percentage (OOWP)

 

There are also three Secondary Criterion the committees may look at if they are unable to come to a determination by using only the primary criteria, and they are as follows:

 
  • Non-Division III won-lost percentage
  • Results versus common non-Division III opponents
  • Win-lost percentage during the last 25% of the season (L25)

 

Regional Rankings

  • The NCAA regional committees will release three editions of regional rankings prior to tournament selection, with the release dates being February 14, 21 and 28. A fourth will be generated on Selection Sunday (March 5) and is slated to be released to the public on March 6.
  • The East Region rankings will contain ten teams, the West Region five.
  • For the sake of RNK, the NCAA considers a team ranked only if it is ranked at the time of tournament selection (in the March 6 final rankings).

 

NCAA Regional Rankings - February 14

EAST REGION WEST REGION
1. Norwich 1. St. Norbert
2. Oswego State
2. UW-Stevens Point
3. Endicott
3. Adrian
4. Hobart 4. Augsburg
5. Hamilton 5. UW-Eau Claire
6. Amherst  
7. Babson  
8. Utica  
9. Trinity
 
10. SUNY Geneseo
 


Analysis: As always we try not to spend too much time on these as what's ultimately important to us is what these are and not why they are, they nonetheless help illustrate a component of the process that seems counterintuitive, and this week serves up a fine example.

Endicott was ranked second in the East last week and since then has done nothing but trash three league rivals by a combined score of 21-2. Not bad. However, those three games lowered the Gulls' SOS from .538 to .525. Not overly helpful if you're from Endicott. Then throw in the fact that RNK is now being taken into accountvand Endicott's 0-0-1 RNK doesn't do much to help it. Not so much as it's poor, but rather simply because it's such a small sample.

So what's our point here? Easy. Endicott is certainly just as good of a team now as it was seven days ago, and by that metric there is no reason to believe it should have fallen behind Oswego State in this week's rankings if last week's determination was that it was one spot better. However, the sort of subjective judgement I just made isn't what governs this process. The numbers do. Which means win, lose or draw, there are times where the outcome of a game might not even be the aspect of the game that most affects the selection process. In this instance, it's clear the ding Endicott took to its SOS is proving more significant than the fact it went 3-0 last week.

A blight on the process and not the committee to be sure, and we've seen it before and we'll see it again, but if that isn't frustrating I don't know what is.

 

Pool Selection


  • Pool A

As Bracketology assumes this would be the tournament field were the season to end today, we will use the teams leading the seven Pool A eligible conferences as our automatic qualifiers.  Thus, the seven Pool A bids go to:

CCC: Endicott
MASCAC: Plymouth State
MIAC: St. Thomas
NCHA: Adrian
NEHC: Norwich
NESCAC: Hamilton
SUNYAC Oswego State

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Pool B:

As only ECAC West, WIAC, and independent teams are eligible here, this should be easy enough. No independent teams are anywhere in the mix we'll compare the highest-ranked ECAC West team, Hobart, with the highest-ranked WIAC team, UW-Stevens Point:

  HOBART STEVENS POINT
WIN  .7600  .7800
SOS  .5220  .5210
RNK  .5000 (2-2-1)
 .6426 (4-2-1)
H2H  -  -
COP  -  -


Analysis:
The outcome here is the same as last week despite the fact Hobart's numbers shifted slightly after its two wins over Elmira. The Statesmen closed the WIN gap here but still trail, while their SOS took a minor hit and now sits just one thousandth of a point ahead. Stevens Point claimed this bid a week ago and to give it to Hobart this time we'd have to give it the entire comparison based on a .001 advantage in SOS. It's not happening.

For now. Plenty here can and will change by the end of the year.

The Pool B bid is awarded to: UW-Stevens Point

 

  • Pool C:

We now must consider which teams will get at-large bids to the tournament. That requires looking at the highest ranked teams in the regional rankings that are not projected to win Pool A, and those are:

East: Endicott, Hobart, Babson, Hamilton

West: St. Norbert, UW-Eau Claire

Let's begin by constructing a table that shows each of these six teams' relative winning percentage (WIN), strength-of-schedule (SOS), and record against ranked teams (RNK). We'll eye things up and see if we can come to any obvious conclusions.

  WIN SOS RNK
Amherst  .6430  .5270  .7500 (4-1-1)
Hobart  .7600  .5220  .5000 (2-2-1)
Babson  .6590  .5530  .3333 (1-3-2)
Utica  .6800  .5140  .5000 (2-2-0)
St. Norbert
 .7800  .5040  1.000 (3-0-0)
UW-Eau Claire
 .7000  .5280  .0000 (0-5-0)
Augsburg  .7200  .4920  .6667 (2-1-0)


Analysis:
Before going too crazy with analysis, do you see a potential problem here? We do. Namely, we've got four bids up for grabs and only two ranked West Region teams remaining as Adrian, Augsburg and UW-Stevens Point are already in the field. So what happens if we start handing out bids and end up with bids remaining but no West teams left? Well, that's not going to happen this time, but if it should at some point...well, we know the answer but we'll worry about that if/when we need to.

As always, we try to streamline this analysis by taking a quick look at the numbers to see if there's any team(s) we can confidently move directly into the tournament field. So are there any?

Well, we actually think there are four and we can wrap this up in a hurry, but let's start with just two. St. Norbert and Endicott are getting in.

St. Norbert is the top-ranked team in the West in this week's regional rankings, has the best WIN of the group and is perfect in RNK. Yes the Green Knights have the weakest SOS of this group, but in this instance we don't believe it matters as, simply put, the committee has spoken and the number one team in a region isn't going to sit at home. A note to keep an eye on for future weeks: St. Norbert holds the edge in a COP comparison with Hobart.

Endicott. Really? Endicott? You bet Endicott. The Gulls have the second-highest WIN, the second-highest SOS, and sure their RNK is a bit thin, but that tie came on the road at Norwich, which just happens to be the No. 1 team in the East Rankings. Trying to spin Endicott into a spot where it is not in the top four of this group is an impossible task for us, plus it has the highest regional rank of all teams not yet into the field. Welcome to your first NCAA tournament, Gulls.

Now, we've got four teams vying for two spots. Let's try our other shortcut and see if there is any team we can simply discount. There is, and it's UW-Eau Claire. Of the four remaining teams the Blugolds have just the third-best WIN and their 0-5 in RNK is a veritable anchor. The solid SOS isn't enough to save them.

And we're down to three Eastern teams for the final two bids: Hobart, Babson and Hamilton. Thankfully, the East committee has already done the work for us on this one. Hamilton is the lowest ranked of the three in this week's regional rankings so unfortunately for the Continentals, while they've got our favorite nickname in Division III (for real), their tremendous season comes to an end just short of the NCAAs.

The Pool C bids are awarded to: St. Norbert, Endicott, Hobart, Babson

 

Setting the Field

Thus, our full tournament field is: 

CCC: Nichols
MASCAC: Plymouth State
MIAC: Augsburg
NCHA: Adrian
NEHC: Norwich
NESCAC: Williams
SUNYAC: Oswego State
Pool B: UW-Stevens Point
Pool C: St. Norbert
Pool C: Endicott
Pool C: Hobart
Pool C: Babson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeding the Field

Now the field must be seeded by region. Using this week's regional rankings (and a bit of guesswork on a tight comparison between Plymouth State and Nichols that could certainly be wrong), it would look something like this:

1E Norwich
2E Endicott
3E Oswego State
4E Hobart
5E Babson
6E Williams
7E Plymouth State
8E Nichols

1W St. Norbert
2W UW-Stevens Point
3W Adrian
4W Augsburg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting the Bracket

A few months ago we saw someone purport that a 12-team bracket would be "impossible" to manage, and we laughed. Why? Because it's an absurd contention for one, but more importantly because it's no harder to manage than an 11-team one is and we all managed to deal with that bit of asymmetry for years.

So we've got ourselves an 8-4 split, which presents the exact same question the 7-4 split of the past few years has. Namely, do we go with two West Region quarterfinals, two West Region first round games, or send Adrian east and roll with one quarterfinal in the West?

Considering the West's numbers aren't as dominant as they have been past few years but also are far from weak, we like the middle road here as we feel it maintaints the best seed integrity we can while adhering to NCAA travel restrictions. Most conveniently, Hobart and Oswego State are both within allowable travel range for Adrian, so what if we set up an Adrian-Hobart-Oswego quarterfinal triad? We like it, and so does the NCAA because this is exactly what it did with the actual bracket in 2015.

Going by regional rank, this slots Hobart at Adrian in the first round with the winner going to Oswego for a quarterfinal. The West quarterfinal thus becomes elementary as, once again going by regional rank, we get Augsburg at UW-Stevens Point in the first round with the winner going to St. Norbert for a quarterfinal.

From there, we simply drop the remaining East teams in by seeds and we're done.

Our bracket is:

 

First Round

4W Augsburg @ 2W UW-Stevens Point

Click to view full-size.

4E Hobart @ 3W Adrian

8E Nichols @ 5E Babson

7E Plymouth State @ 6E Williams

 

Quarterfinals

4W Augsburg/2W UW-Stevens Point @ 1W St. Norbert

8E Nichols/5E Babson @ 2E Endicott

4E Hobart/3W Adrian @ 3E Oswego State

7E Plymouth State/6E Williams @ 1E Norwich

 

 

Analysis: 

As we have, in our opinion, maximized bracket integrity while adhering to travel limitations, the only question left is which teams should be lined up to face off in the semifinals? We're going to put the No. 1 regional seeds on opposite sides of the bracket and also set up the potential for East-West semifinals (which our regular readers will know we have a habit of doing). To do otherwise we'd have to guess at national seeds, and things are pretty tight so for now we're just going to use common sense and go with the E-W semifinals:

Augsburg/UW-Stevens Point/St. Norbert v. Nichols/Babson/Endicott
Hobart/Adrian/Oswego State v. Plymouth State/Williams/Norwich

Not the results you were hoping for? Have no fear as events over the course of the next few weeks will render this first edition of Bracketology useless, but as things stand now this is the NCAA tournament yielded by our best attempt to fairly and objectively apply the published NCAA tournament selection process.

 

Thoughts?

Questions or comments you'd like further explanation on or you simply think we're nuts?  No problem, we'd love to hear from you.  Feel free to jump in with your own questions or ideas in the Bracketology Discussion over on the D3sports forums, comment below, or you can always yell at us on twitter @d3hky.

 

~

ACHA's Hockey Coaches Care holds Jersey Raffle

Courtesy of the American Hockey Coaches' Association

Naples, FL-Starting now, members of the greater amateur hockey community will come together to raise funds for Hockey Coaches Care by raffling off a 2016 Ryder Cup Hockey Jersey. This raffle will be a unique opportunity to highlight how we can work together to build a stronger hockey community while bringing a heightened awareness of the many people HCC assists and raising funds to support HCC’s important mission.

The Ryder Cup Jersey Raffle builds on the focus of Hockey Coaches Care, an organization that aids hockey coaches and athletes (retired and active), their family members, and other dedicated individuals of the amateur hockey community that have fallen on a particular hardship. Hockey Coaches Care has provided monetary support for the rehabilitation of critically-injured student-athletes, as well as donations to families facing large medical bills due to serious illness. Mary Gosek, wife of Coach Edward Gosek at SUNY Oswego, is just one example of the individuals that HCC touches with your help!

Here's Mary's story:

"Almost 5 years ago, during what was supposed to be a standard hysterectomy, I found myself diagnosed with Stage 3C Ovarian Cancer. Besides the 8-week healing process from a debulking procedure, we were faced with many, many bills, and one large bill that insurance companies were consistently rejecting.

 

The most important of these bills would allow doctors to test my tumor and determine which course of treatment would be the most effective for my particular stage and type of cancer. A cancer with so many options for treatment and an average survival rate of 3 years did not give us much time to decide on the best path.

 

With two children in college at the time, we decided to apply for a grant through HCC to see if they could help us cover this test. Hockey Coaches Care paid for the entire test! This is not just a testament to the caring individuals at Hockey Coaches Care, but also proves that Hockey is a family. A family that I am proud to be a part of. I am now reaching my 5-year milestone, and I am so thankful to all the hockey community for their support, care, prayers and love!

 

Possibilities start with Hockey Coaches Care."

 

Beginning now and continuing through April 7th at 11:59pm EST, all supporters can visit www.gvgb.co/RyderJerseyRaffle to make tax-deductible donations to Hockey Coaches Care. Another really great way to help is to become a fundraiser on GiveGab for the cause! You can set a fundraising goal as an individual or a team, and reach out to your own families and friends in support of Hockey Coaches Care. All donations made will go directly to community members in need.

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    Former UW-Stevens Point player, coach, Wil Nichol named Director of Player Development of Las Vegas NHL Franchise LAS VEGAS -- Former UW-Stevens Point player, captain and head coach Wil Nichol has been named Director of Player Development for the NHL's newly awarded Las Vegas franchise, it was announced on Thursday.
  • Read full article
    July 25, 2016
    Former Gustavus Coach Roberts dies at 83 Former Gustavus Adolphus coach Don Roberts, who won over 500 games in over 30 years at his alma mater, died Sunday.
  • Read full article
    July 21, 2016
    OT proposal halted by Rules Committee, Helmet rule expansion approved A proposition by the NCAA rules committee to change to a 4-on-4 overtime format has been taken off the table, and rules regarding helmet usage have been expanded.
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[archive]
Friday, Feb. 24: All times Eastern
M:
8:30 PM
UW-River Falls at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
M:
8:00 PM
UW-Superior at UW-Stevens Point
Video Live Stats Audio
W:
7:00 PM
Marian at Adrian
Video Live Stats
W:
8:05 PM
UW-Superior at UW-River Falls
Video Live Stats
W:
8:00 PM
St. Scholastica at Lake Forest
Video Live Stats
W:
8:00 PM
Hamline at St. Thomas
Live Stats
W:
3:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
Thursday, Feb. 23: All times Eastern
M:
Final
Concordia-Moorhead 3, at Hamline 2
Box Score Recap
W:
Final
at Utica 5, Oswego State 3
Box Score
W:
Final
at Buffalo State 4, SUNY Potsdam 0
Box Score Recap
Friday, Feb. 24: All times Eastern
M:
8:30 PM
UW-River Falls at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
M:
8:00 PM
UW-Superior at UW-Stevens Point
Video Live Stats Audio
Friday, Feb. 24: All times Eastern
W:
7:00 PM
Marian at Adrian
Video Live Stats
W:
8:05 PM
UW-Superior at UW-River Falls
Video Live Stats
W:
8:00 PM
St. Scholastica at Lake Forest
Video Live Stats
Thursday, Feb. 23: All times Eastern
W:
Final
at Utica 5, Oswego State 3
Box Score