by Mathieu Webb
Senior Writer, D3hockey.com
Another week of games are in the books and the second official release of the Pairwise Rankings from the NCAA are in.
|Hobart missed the field by one spot a week ago, but are movements in this week's Pairwise enough to get the Statesmen in this time around?
Photo: HWS Athletics/Kevin Colton
Which of course means its time for our second of four looks into Men's NCAA Bracketology, where we attempt to implement the NCAA tournament selection process to yield the most fair and equitable bracket possible.
A quick look at this week's Pairwise Rankings indicates not much has changed from last week. But a bit has, andt will it be enough to change the bracket we came up with last week? Most certainly, for a few reasons. For starters, the bracket we proposed last week was unrealistic as it was based on the entire Division I process and thus violated Division III travel restrictions, and it also turns out a pair of teams end up in the tournament field that did not a week ago.
This week we return strictly to the Division III process as published and, as it turns out, despite doing so and despite having a new group of 12 tournament teams we end up with a balanced bracket nonetheless -- physically at least, that is, as it's a bit of a different story when it comes to being balanced by seed.
So which are these new teams and what does this week's bracket look like and why? Take a read and find out as we take our second, and first legitimate, step at determining what our bracket would look like weer the season to end today.
- The 2019 Men's Division III Ice Hockey Championship will consist of 12 teams.
- Eight conference playoff champions will receive automatic qualifying bids (Pool A) to the tournament. They are: CCC, MASCAC, MIAC, NCHA, NEHC, NESCAC, SUNYAC & UCHC.
- Four teams that do not receive Pool A bids will receive at-large (Pool C) bids into the tournament. Every team that did not receive a Pool A bid is eligible for a Pool C bid.
For the purpose of Pool C selection the committee will use the Pairwise Rankings and select the four highest remaining teams. The components used to generate the Pairwise comparisons, and thus rankings, are as follows:
- The committee will release three editions of Pairwise Rankings prior to tournament selection, with the release dates being February 12, 19 and 26. A fourth will be generated on Selection Sunday (March 3) and is slated to be released to the public on March 4.
NCAA Pairwise Rankings - February 18 (Top 31 -- see the full rankings here)
|15||New England College||16-5-5|
|17||University of New England||17-6-2|
Analysis: Once again not a lot is required as these are what they are and will be our lone tool to select at-large teams and seed the tournament, though we do wonder about the effects of movements in the 7-10 spots.
- Pool A
As Bracketology assumes this would be the tournament field were the season to end today, we will use the teams leading the eight Pool A eligible conferences as our automatic qualifiers. Thus, the eight Pool A bids go to:
- Pool C:
We now must determine which teams will get at-large bids to the tournament. Usually this leads to having to make a plethora of statistical comparisons, but we already know that now we just have to identify the four highest-ranked teams in the Pairwise that are not currently projected to win a Pool A bid. So let's take a look at the top of the Pairwise to learn who the fortunate four are:
Analysis: We once again go straight to the Pairwise to find the four highest-ranked teams that are not currently projected to claim a Pool A bid. While the first three in are the same as a week ago, we now see that Hobart grabs the final spot and Adrian is the first team out -- which is the opposite of how it turned out last week.
The Pool C bids are awarded to: UW-Stevens Point, Oswego State, Norwich, Hobart
Setting the Field
Thus, our full tournament field is:
|Pool C:||UW-Stevens Point|
|Pool C:||Oswego State|
Seeding the Field
Now the field must be seeded. Using this week's Pairwise Rankings, we'll do exactly that and seed the teams 1-12 and also include their Pairwise rank in parentheses.
|1||UW-Stevens Point (1)|
|4||Oswego State (4)|
|5||St. Norbert (5)|
|6||UMass Boston (6)|
|10||Salve Regina (13)|
|12||Plymouth State (31)|
Setting the Bracket
Well, a dive into what to do with Adrian will have to wait at least another week as the Bulldogs failed to crack this week's projected field so we'll have to save our direct comparison with last week's bracket until we have a field that includes Adrian, should it again occur.
In its stead is Hobart, which claimed the final Pool C bid, and one other new face joins this week's field as Trinity is in over Wesleyan as the Bantams' sweep over the Cardinals handed them the top overall seed in the NESCAC playoffs and they are now the NESCAC's projected Pool A team.
|click to view in full screen|
So how much thought do we need to put into setting things up this week?
We have a 9-3 split in favor of the East, and with no teams from one region within 500 miles of any from the other it means any crossover play is out of the question so all three West Region teams stay together and play down to one Frozen Four representative.
That alllows us to create four groups of three and all we have to is drop all teams in by seed. Which yields a final bracket of:
9 Augsburg @ 5 St. Norbert
12 Pymouth State @ 6 UMass Boston
11 Utica @ 7 Hobart
10 Salve Regina @ 8 Trinity
Augsburg/St. Norbert @ 1 UW-Stevens Point
Salve Regina/Trinity @ 2 Geneseo
Utica/Hobart @ 3 Norwich
Plymouth State/UMass Boston @ 4 Oswego
As far as setting up the semifnals, 1 gets lined up with 4, and 2 with 3. So the winner of the Stevens Point Regional will face the winner of the Oswego Regional, while the winner of the Geneseo Regional will meet the winner of the Norwich Regional.
The good: The 9-3 split ends up yielding a symmetrical bracket, which certainly beats some of the disjointed things we've seen in recent years that are awkward looking enough they'd make a jack pine proud. So that's a win. Also, the semifinals remain set up for 1 to meet 4 and 2 to face 3, which is just the way it should be.
The bad: Not much, but it's clear by seed that the West takes it on the chin this time around. Top-seed UW-Stevens Point is lined up to face the highest-seeded quarterfinal opponent possible in five-seed St. Norbert, which is far from ideal but of course the way it goes thanks to the vacuous Division III travel restrictions we all know govern these things. So live with them we once again shall.
All in all, a pretty solid bracket. Not perfect, but it pretty much creates itself and would likely lead to few complaints should we ultimately see something similar roll down the pike on March 4. It also was one of the easiest brackets ever to arrive at, but it seems that's not so hard when the tournament field is known with 100% certainty, eh?