If the season ended today, 2000 March 1

© 2000, Joe Schlobotnik (archives)

URL for this frameset: http://www.slack.net/~whelan/tbrw/tbrw.cgi?2000/pairwise.000301.shtml

Game results taken from US College Hockey Online's Division I composite schedule

This analysis is based on the pairwise comparisons at the time it was written. You can also go through this process interactively with the up-to-date results using the "You Are The Committee" script.

Only one weekend remains in the regular seasons of the six Division I conferences, and so the NCAA tournament picture is beginning to come into focus. We know for certain that Hockey East's Boston University and Wisconsin of the WCHA will receive berths in the tournament for winning their respective conference regular season titles. The automatic berths for the ECAC and CCHA regular season tournaments will be determined this weekend, with the bids for the tournament champions in the four established conferences to follow. To see who's currently in position for the at-large bids used to fill out of the field of 12, let's run through the tournament selection procedure using the results to date. Here are the pairwise comparisons among the 25 teams with records of .500 or better in Division I play:

Pairwise Comparisons
Rk Team PWR RPI Comparisons Won
1 Wisconsin (W) 24 .6231 BU NH Me ND SL Cg Mi Qn Ni BC MS SC Mn FS NM Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
2 Boston Univ (H) 23 .5945 NH Me ND SL Cg Mi Qn Ni BC MS SC Mn FS NM Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
3 New Hampshire (H) 21 .6003   Me ND SL   Mi Qn Ni BC MS SC Mn FS NM Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
4 Maine (H) 21 .5932     ND SL Cg Mi Qn Ni BC MS SC Mn FS NM Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
5 North Dakota (W) 20 .5944       SL Cg Mi Qn Ni BC MS SC Mn FS NM Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
6 SLawrence (E) 19 .5818         Cg Mi Qn Ni BC MS SC Mn FS NM Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
7 Colgate (E) 18 .5718   NH         Qn Ni BC MS SC Mn FS NM Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
8 Michigan (C) 17 .5800           Cg   Ni BC MS SC Mn FS NM Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
9 Quinnipiac (M) 16 .5715             Mi Ni   MS SC Mn FS NM Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
10 Niagara (A) 15 .5643                 BC MS SC Mn FS NM Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
11 Boston Coll (H) 14 .5737               Qn   MS   Mn FS NM Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
12 Mich State (C) 13 .5540                     SC Mn FS NM Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
13 SCloud (W) 13 .5383                   BC   Mn FS NM Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
14 Minnesota (W) 11 .5483                         FS NM Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
15 Ferris State (C) 9 .5365                             Mk RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
16 Northern Mich (C) 9 .5362                           FS   RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
17 MSU-Mankato (W) 9 .5280                             NM RP CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
18 RPI (E) 7 .5296                                 CC Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
19 CCollege (W) 6 .5275                                   Ck Ca Pv LS SH Io
20 Clarkson (E) 5 .5183                                     Ca Pv LS SH Io
21 Canisius (M) 4 .5166                                       Pv LS SH Io
22 Providence (H) 3 .5154                                         LS SH Io
23 Lake Superior (C) 2 .4979                                           SH Io
24 Sacred Heart (M) 1 .4857                                             Io
25 Iona (M) 0 .4814                                              

Before applying these comparisons, we need to have a look at the relative strength of the six conferences, to decide whether the selection committee might exercise their prerogative to overrrule the pairwise comparisons as they did with last year's MAAC regular season champion Quinnipiac. Here is a look at the six Division I conferences' performances against one another:

Conference Avg RPI vs HE vs WCHA vs CCHA vs ECAC vs CHA vs MAAC Leader Opp RPI
Hockey East (H) .5356 13-6 10-7 26-15-3 3-2-1 5-0 NH .5275
WCHA (W) .5144 6-13 13-12-1 10-2-1 3-1 0-0 Wi .5023
CCHA (C) .4915 7-10 12-13-1 11-10-2 1-1 0-0 Mi .4834
ECAC (E) .4904 15-26-3 2-10-1 10-11-2 8-5-1 4-0 SL .4821
CHA (A) .4867 2-3-1 1-3 1-1 5-8-1 15-5-2 Ni .4479
MAAC (M) .4498 0-5 0-0 0-0 0-4 5-15-2 Qn .4324

We see that the level of play in the MAAC is far below that of the other conferences, while College Hockey America is somewhat weaker than the other three. Since CHA frontrunners Niagara have performed poorly in the two weeks since our last analysis, they are now ranked 10th, just below Quinnipiac, according to the "raw" pairwise comparisons. It seems reasonable to conjecture that they would just miss the tournament after a slight discounting of their pairwise comparisons, while Quinnipiac would of course be an easy call to leave out. (This conclusion is also supported by looking at ranking systems which use the same input as the Ratings Percentage Index, but analyze it in a way which is not rendered inaccurate by weak schedules. For instance, Niagara is, as of March 1, 21st in the nation according to the KRACH rating system, while Quinnipiac is #42.)

If Quinnipiac and Niagara are excluded, the remaining 12 members of the top 14 above (including the two conference regular season winners) win all their comparisons with the rest of the Teams Under Consideration, so the choice of the tournament field is obvious:

West East
Wisconsin (W) 5 .623 ND Mi MS SC Mn 1 Boston Univ (H) 5 .595 NH Me SL Cg BC
North Dakota (W) 4 .594 Mi MS SC Mn 2 New Hampshire (H) 3 .600 Me SL   BC
Michigan (C) 3 .580   MS SC Mn 3 Maine (H) 3 .593   SL Cg BC
Mich State (C) 2 .554     SC Mn 4 SLawrence (E) 2 .582     Cg BC
SCloud (W) 1 .538       Mn 5 Colgate (E) 2 .572 NH     BC
Minnesota (W) 0 .548         6 Boston Coll (H) 0 .574        

First-round byes in the NCAA regionals are assigned to the top two teams in each region; in the West this is Wisconsin and North Dakota, while in the East Boston University gets the #1 seed, and while New Hampshire and Maine both win pairwise comparisons with three of the other five Eastern teams, UNH wins the head-to-head comparison, so they're the choice for the final bye. (Note that any team winning the regular season and playoff title in an established conference gets an automatic first-round bye; as the comparisons stand now, that would be a major incentive for whoever wins the ECAC and CCHA regular season to win their conference tournament as well.)

The next step is to send two Eastern teams to the West Regional in Minneapolis and two Western teams to the East Regional in Albany. Based on pairwise comparisons, the two lowest-ranked teams in the West are St. Cloud and Minnesota, while in the East they are Colgate and Boston College. However, Minnesota is the host of the West regional, as so must stay there; the next lowest-ranked team is Michigan State, so SCSU and MSU would almost certainly be sent to Albany. In the East, things are somewhat more complicated. With two Hockey East teams receiving the byes, a possible second-round intraconference matchup can only be avoided by sending the other two HE entrants to the other regional. This would, however, mean keeping Colgate East at Maine's expense, going against the pairwise comparisons. Another consideration in these cases is often attendance; Colgate is much closer to the regional site of Albany, but Maine has a large fan base. Another consideration would be whether Maine and New Hampshire had met in the Hockey East playoffs; in past years the committee has been more willing to set up intraconference games if they did not occur in the relevant conference tournament. For the sake of argument, let's say the committee decides to ship Maine and keep both ECAC teams in the East. That makes the "natural" seedings for the two regionals

West East
Wisconsin (W) 1 .623 ND 1 Boston Univ (H) 1 .595 NH
North Dakota (W) 0 .594 2 New Hampshire (H) 0 .600
Maine (H) 3 .593 Mi BC Mn 3 SLawrence (E) 3 .582 Cg MS SC
Michigan (C) 2 .580 BC Mn 4 Colgate (E) 2 .572 MS SC
Boston Coll (H) 1 .574   Mn 5 Mich State (C) 1 .554   SC
Minnesota (W) 0 .548     6 SCloud (W) 0 .538    

With these seedings, there are no intraconference games in the first round, and one (Minnesota vs North Dakota) in the second round. That matchup is unavoidable, however, since two WCHA teams qualify for first-round byes and a third is hosting the regional. So that makes the projected seedings

5W Boston Coll (H)                 6E SCloud (W)      
4W Michigan (C)                    3E SLawrence (E)   
     1W Wisconsin (W)    --+--2E New Hampshire (H) 
     2W North Dakota (W) --+--1E Boston Univ (H)   
3W Maine (H)                       4E Colgate (E)       
6W Minnesota (W)                   5E Mich State (C)   

The Gory Details

If you want to have a look at why each pairwise comparison turned out the way it did, you can click on the individual comparisons in the table at the top of this article for a breakdown of criteria.

Last Modified: 2012 March 25

Joe Schlobotnik / joe@amurgsval.org

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