If the season ended today, 2000 March 6

© 2000, Joe Schlobotnik (archives)

URL for this frameset: http://www.slack.net/~whelan/tbrw/tbrw.cgi?2000/pairwise.000306.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.

The regular seasons of the six Division I leagues have come to an end, and with two weeks of conference playoffs remaining, we now know several things about the seeding of the NCAA tournament for certain. Wisconsin, Michigan, St. Lawrence and Boston University will all take part, as regular season champions of their respective conferences. Army, Brown, Union, UMass-Lowell, Fairfield, American International, Alaska-Fairbanks, and Ohio State have all finished their seasons with losing records and will not be considered for the tournament. Holy Cross and Connecticut each have up to three games to play in the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference playoffs, but since even three wins will leave either team below .500, they cannot be considered for the tournament. Michigan Tech, Yale, Dartmouth, Western Michigan, Bowling Green, Miami, Nebraska-Omaha, UMass-Amherst, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Merrimack, and Northeastern are all far enough below .500 that they can only become teams under consideration by winning the relevant conference tournament, thereby gaining an automatic berth. Air Force currently has a record of 9-9-1, exactly at .500, but they can only become a team under consideration if they play one more Division I game to reach the minimum of 20. This means they have to defeat Findlay in the College Hockey America play-in game and thereby face Niagara in the semifinals. They then of course have to win this game to avoid falling below .500.

Up to four more bids will be given to the winners of the four major conference tournaments, and the remaining four to eight at-large bids will be given on the basis of pairwise comparisons among the teams under consideration. Here are how those comparisons look at the moment for the 26 teams who have a non-losing record in 20 or more Division I games:

Pairwise Comparisons
Rk Team PWR RPI Comparisons Won
1 Wisconsin (W) 25 .6191 Me NH ND SL Cg BU Qn Mi Ni BC SC MS Mk CC FS RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
2 Maine (H) 23 .5943   ND SL Cg BU Qn Mi Ni BC SC MS Mk CC FS RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
3 New Hampshire (H) 22 .5967 Me ND SL     Qn Mi Ni BC SC MS Mk CC FS RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
4 North Dakota (W) 22 .5958     SL Cg BU Qn Mi Ni BC SC MS Mk CC FS RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
5 SLawrence (E) 21 .5836       Cg BU Qn Mi Ni BC SC MS Mk CC FS RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
6 Colgate (E) 19 .5705   NH     BU     Ni BC SC MS Mk CC FS RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
7 Boston Univ (H) 18 .5876   NH       Qn Mi   BC   MS Mk CC FS RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
8 Quinnipiac (M) 18 .5732         Cg   Mi Ni   SC MS Mk CC FS RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
9 Michigan (C) 17 .5720         Cg     Ni   SC MS Mk CC FS RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
10 Niagara (A) 17 .5676           BU     BC SC MS Mk CC FS RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
11 Boston Coll (H) 16 .5791             Qn Mi     MS Mk CC FS RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
12 SCloud (W) 15 .5507           BU       BC   Mk CC FS RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
13 Mich State (C) 14 .5526                     SC Mk CC FS RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
14 MSU-Mankato (W) 11 .5256                         CC   RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
15 CCollege (W) 11 .5362                           FS RP Ck Mn LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
16 Ferris State (C) 8 .5291                         Mk   RP Ck       NM Pv Ca Cr Io
17 RPI (E) 8 .5347                               Ck   LS SH NM Pv Ca Cr Io
18 Clarkson (E) 7 .5207                                 Mn LS SH   Pv Ca Cr Io
19 Minnesota (W) 6 .5390                             FS RP   LS   NM Pv Ca    
20 Lake Superior (C) 5 .5117                             FS       SH NM     Cr Io
21 Sacred Heart (M) 5 .4962                             FS     Mn   NM Pv     Io
22 Northern Mich (C) 4 .5234                                 Ck       Pv Ca   Io
23 Providence (H) 4 .5150                                     LS     Ca Cr Io
24 Canisius (M) 4 .5128                                     LS SH     Cr Io
25 Cornell (E) 4 .5005                                   Mn   SH NM     Io
26 Iona (M) 1 .4820                                   Mn            

Also to be taken into consideration is the relative strengths of the various conferences, to allow for cases like last season where Quinnipiac's weak schedule allowed them to win many pairwise comparisons. Looking at a table of conferences' performance agaisnt one another and the average Ratings Percentage Index within each conference:

Conference Avg RPI vs HE vs WCHA vs CCHA vs CHA vs ECAC vs MAAC Leader Opp RPI
Hockey East (H) .5345 13-6 10-7 3-2-1 26-15-3 5-0 NH .5268
WCHA (W) .5155 6-13 15-12-1 3-1 10-2-1 0-0 Wi .5040
CCHA (C) .4905 7-10 12-15-1 1-2-1 11-10-2 0-0 Mi .4831
CHA (A) .4904 2-3-1 1-3 2-1-1 5-8-1 15-5-2 Ni .4517
ECAC (E) .4902 15-26-3 2-10-1 10-11-2 8-5-1 4-0 SL .4817
MAAC (M) .4531 0-5 0-0 0-0 5-15-2 0-4 Qn .4360

It's easy to see that the MAAC is once again a step below the other conferences, and so that Quinnipiac will almost certainly be left out again this year. It's a little tougher to judge College Hockey America; the average RPI of the three Division I teams is just below the average of those of the 12 clubs in each of the ECAC and CCHA. However, most of that is due to Niagara's own RPI; their two Division I conference opponents have a considerally lower average RPI. With Niagara relatively close to the tournament cutoff, it's reasonable to think that a slight discounting of their pairwise comparisons would also lead to their omission from the tournament field. This analysis is also in line with more weak-schedule-proof rating systems such as KRACH, in which Niagara is 19th in the nation and Quinnipiac 43rd (out of 54).

Excluding Niagara and the various MAAC teams, seven teams in addition to the four conference regular season champions win pairwise comparisons with everyone else: Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Colgate, Boston College, St. Cloud and Michigan State. If the tournament were seeded today, the remaining at-large berth would go to one of the following teams:

MSU-Mankato (W) 8 .526 CC   Mn RP Ck LS NM Pv Cr
CCollege (W) 8 .536   FS Mn RP Ck LS NM Pv Cr
Ferris State (C) 6 .529 Mk     RP Ck   NM Pv Cr
Minnesota (W) 5 .539     FS RP   LS NM Pv  
RPI (E) 5 .535         Ck LS NM Pv Cr
Clarkson (E) 4 .521       Mn   LS   Pv Cr
Lake Superior (C) 3 .512     FS       NM   Cr
Northern Mich (C) 2 .523           Ck   Pv  
Providence (H) 2 .515             LS   Cr
Cornell (E) 2 .500       Mn       NM  

Mankato State and Colorado College both win comparisons with all but one of the other potential entrants, and Mankato wins the individual comparison with CC, so it looks like the Mavericks would get the final at-large bid in this scenario. (The only way they would not would be if the committee looked at Mankato, CC and Ferris State together; with one comparison win a piece the tie would be resolved by the Ratings Percentage Index, with CC having the highest RPI of the bunch. However, there seems to be little reason to include Ferris State and not, for example, Minnesota, in the final analysis.) This gives us the following field of 12:

West East
Wisconsin (W) 5 .619 ND Mi MS SC Mk 1 Maine (H) 4 .594   SL Cg BU BC
North Dakota (W) 4 .596 Mi MS SC Mk 2 New Hampshire (H) 3 .597 Me SL     BC
Michigan (C) 3 .572   MS SC Mk 3 SLawrence (E) 3 .584     Cg BU BC
Mich State (C) 2 .553     SC Mk 4 Colgate (E) 3 .570   NH   BU BC
SCloud (W) 1 .551       Mk 5 Boston Univ (H) 2 .588   NH     BC
MSU-Mankato (W) 0 .526         6 Boston Coll (H) 0 .579          

The two best teams in each region according to pairwise comparisons normally receive first-round byes in the NCAA regionals. In the West this is Wisconsin and North Dakota. In the East, things are a little more complicated, but Maine and New Hampshire seem to end up with the two byes no matter how they're reckoned (either by giving one to Maine and chosing New Hampshire above SLU and Colgate based on ratings percentage index or by focussing on comparisons among those four teams, in which case Maine and UNH both win two comparisons to SLU and Colgate's one each). Note that if any of the regular season champions from the major conferences also win their conference tournaments, they will receive automatic byes, which means that Michigan, SLU, or BU could change things dramatically.

Next we swap two Western teams for two Eastern teams, and at the moment the pairwise comparisons make things easy by telling us to swap the third and fourth teams from the WCHA and Hockey East, giving the following regionals:

West East
Wisconsin (W) 1 .619 ND 1 New Hampshire (H) 1 .597 Me
North Dakota (W) 0 .596 2 Maine (H) 0 .594
Boston Univ (H) 3 .588 BC Mi MS 3 SLawrence (E) 3 .584 Cg SC Mk
Boston Coll (H) 2 .579 Mi MS 4 Colgate (E) 2 .570 SC Mk
Michigan (C) 1 .572   MS 5 SCloud (W) 1 .551   Mk
Mich State (C) 0 .553     6 MSU-Mankato (W) 0 .526    

The natural seedings produce no intraconference games in the regionals at all, so the brackets are a slam-dunk:

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

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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