The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, March 12, 2021
The NCAA bracket, explained — Interview with Saroya Tinker — must-click WoHo Links
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The field is set, did the NCAA fumble the selection?
Before we get started, let me officially welcome Jessica Taylor Price to The IX.
Please welcome Jessica Price Up Your Life (I love it)!
Now, let’s do that hockey!
Last weekend, the NCAA determined the field for the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Four conference champions get an automatic bid (so no love for back-to-back NEWHA champs, the LIU Sharks). Here is a list of the 2021 Conference Champs:
Northeastern (1) – Hockey East Champion
Wisconsin(2) – WCHA Champion
Colgate (4) – ECAC Champion
Robert Morris (8) – CHA Champion
From here, an additional four teams were selected to join the field. And here is where things get complicated. Here are the at-large bids:
Ohio State (3) – WCHA
Minnesota Duluth (5) – WCHA
Boston College (6) – Hockey East
Providence (7) – Hockey East
Now, many people are not happy that neither Penn State nor Minnesota made the field, but it’s worth taking a look at what Nate Wells wrote about the 2020-21 selection process.
“As expected when playing limited non-conference games during a pandemic, selecting the eight teams will be more subjective than normal. The Pairwise is not an option, leaving an open-ended comparison for the four at-large bids and seeding. The human element will come into play.
Here are the various criteria the selection committee will be using, according to the pre-championship manual:
Strength of Schedule
Head-to-Head Results (When Available)
Results vs. Common Opponents
Eligibility and Availability of Student-Athletes
Most curious to me is the final bullet, but we’ll save that for another day. So, coming into conference tournaments, here is how USCHO ranked the DI field (through March 1):
We see that Minnesota is ranked higher than Duluth through March 1 and Penn State is right on Colgate’s heels for in the seventh spot (up from eighth the week prior). The BC Eagles slide into eighth, down two spots from the week before. Now let’s take a look at the March 8 poll:
BC actually jumped a spot despite bowing out in the Hockey East opening round. We also see Robert Morris makes the cut. Minnesota remains ahead of Minnesota Duluth, but both trailed Colgate. Penn State dropped to seventh, but remained ahead of Providence.
So, with Robert Morris, Wisconsin, Northeastern and Colgate in automatically, the highest ranked teams remaining, per USCHO, are:
If one wanted to reduce WCHA saturation, Duluth would be first out and Penn State is in. PSU was clearly the top team in the CHA (despite having trouble against Syracuse). Even if we assume Minnesota is in to balance the scales, that doesn’t explain why Hockey East got its Top 3 team into the field of eight.
Nicole Hasse offered the following explanation:
“Minnesota Duluth had a higher win percentage having played three fewer games and six fewer games against the Badgers and Buckeyes. That seems like the only situation that favors UMD … RPI, Krach and Pairwise all say Minnesota was significantly statistically better than Minnesota Duluth.
It appears the committee looked simply at win-loss record and finish in the conference and used that to justify the choice.”
When it comes to Minnesota, Arlan Martilla offered a health dose of reality worth considering:
“All of its losses were to teams seeded in the top three … Is Minnesota better than some teams selected? I think so, but that’s just an opinion and counts for less than nothing. Did Minnesota prove it belonged? I’d say that the Gophers didn’t achieve that, at least not to the extent that they proved they would be in big trouble any time they ran into Wisconsin or Ohio State.”
That said, people were definitely BIG MAD and here are some of my favorite tweets on the matter:
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This Week in Women’s Hockey
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“It’s the ultimate kick in the teeth, to be honest with you, but it won’t define this group. They were incredibly resilient this year; they showed up every day.” Minnesota head coach Brad Frost
“The NCAA Women’s Hockey Bracket Really Is Something” writes Grant Salzano.
The only good news about PSU being out is that Melissa Samoskevich can join the Connecticut Whale for the 2021 Isobel Cup Playoffs.
USA Hockey announces 46-player roster for March Development Camp.
ICYMI, #BlackRosie stickers are here. Proceeds will help my #Beijing2022 trip (more on this coming soon).
NWHL will resume 2021 season at Warrior Ice Arena.
Megan Keller & Kali Flanagan, the Dynamic Defensive Duo.
Marisa Ingemi got an answer from the league regarding why Connecticut is in and Buffalo is out. I’m not buying it! Read the thread below.
Ballers gonna ball, but make it hockey! Coyne Schofield & Roque steal the show in Chicago.
WoHo Data, ain’t it great?!?
Tweet of the Week
HK has superpowers, might be time to ask her favorite numbers and buy a hockey team 😉