The season ended today, 2000 March 19

© 2000, Joe Schlobotnik (archives)

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

With the completion of the conference tournaments, the NCAA's regular season has come to an end, and the selection committee is meeting to decide the seedings for the national tournament. While we wait for their decisions, let's take one last guess at how those might turn out, given the complete set of results.

First, the automatic bids; Wisconsin, Michigan, St. Lawrence, and Boston University receive invitations for winning the regular season championships of the four established conferences. Additionally, North Dakota, Michigan State, and Maine get auto bids for winning their conference tournaments. (The ECAC tournament was won by SLU, the only team to pull off the double this year.) That leaves five berths in the tournament to be filled with at-large bids, chosen on the basis of pairwise comparisons among the 26 teams who finished the season with records of .500 or better in Division I competition:

Pairwise Comparisons
Rk Team PWR RPI Comparisons Won
1 Wisconsin (W) 25 .6095 Me ND SL Ni Cg NH BC BU Qn MS Mi SC Mk RP CC Mn Ck Cr LS FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
2 Maine (H) 24 .6082 ND SL Ni Cg NH BC BU Qn MS Mi SC Mk RP CC Mn Ck Cr LS FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
3 North Dakota (W) 23 .5982   SL Ni Cg NH BC BU Qn MS Mi SC Mk RP CC Mn Ck Cr LS FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
4 SLawrence (E) 22 .5886     Ni Cg NH BC BU Qn MS Mi SC Mk RP CC Mn Ck Cr LS FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
5 Niagara (A) 20 .5723       Cg   BC BU Qn MS Mi SC Mk RP CC Mn Ck Cr LS FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
6 Colgate (E) 19 .5701         NH BC   Qn MS Mi SC Mk RP CC Mn Ck Cr LS FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
7 New Hampshire (H) 19 .5921       Ni   BC   Qn MS Mi SC Mk RP CC Mn Ck Cr LS FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
8 Boston Coll (H) 18 .5835             BU Qn MS Mi SC Mk RP CC Mn Ck Cr LS FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
9 Boston Univ (H) 18 .5830         Cg NH   Qn   Mi SC Mk RP CC Mn Ck Cr LS FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
10 Quinnipiac (M) 16 .5657                 MS Mi SC Mk RP CC Mn Ck Cr LS FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
11 Mich State (C) 16 .5631               BU   Mi SC Mk RP CC Mn Ck Cr LS FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
12 Michigan (C) 14 .5680                     SC Mk RP CC Mn Ck Cr LS FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
13 SCloud (W) 12 .5459                       Mk RP CC Mn Ck Cr   FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
14 MSU-Mankato (W) 12 .5250                         RP CC Mn Ck Cr LS FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
15 RPI (E) 11 .5427                           CC Mn Ck Cr LS FS Io SH NM Pv Ca
16 CCollege (W) 8 .5240                               Ck Cr LS FS Io SH   Pv Ca
17 Minnesota (W) 7 .5439                             CC Ck   LS FS     NM Pv Ca
18 Clarkson (E) 7 .5205                                 Cr LS   Io SH NM Pv Ca
19 Cornell (E) 6 .5099                               Mn   LS     SH NM Pv Ca
20 Lake Superior (C) 6 .4949                       SC             FS Io SH NM   Ca
21 Ferris State (C) 5 .5181                                 Ck Cr   Io     Pv Ca
22 Iona (M) 5 .4954                               Mn   Cr     SH NM   Ca
23 Sacred Heart (M) 4 .4860                               Mn       FS   NM Pv  
24 Northern Mich (C) 4 .5125                             CC         FS     Pv Ca
25 Providence (H) 3 .5078                                     LS   Io     Ca
26 Canisius (M) 1 .5068                                           SH    

As was the case last year, the members of the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference are overrated by the NCAA's criteria. The selection committee's remedy to this is to consider the overall strength of a team's conference as well; the table below shows the head-to-head performances among the various conferences, along with the average Ratings Percentage Index of the teams:

Conference Avg RPI vs HE vs WCHA vs CCHA vs CHA vs ECAC vs MAAC Leader Opp RPI
Hockey East (H) .5320 13-6 10-7 3-2-1 26-15-3 5-0 Me .5225
WCHA (W) .5136 6-13 15-12-1 3-1 10-2-1 0-0 Wi .5029
CCHA (C) .4900 7-10 12-15-1 1-2-1 11-10-2 0-0 Mi .4829
CHA (A) .4894 2-3-1 1-3 2-1-1 5-8-1 15-5-2 Ni .4479
ECAC (E) .4885 15-26-3 2-10-1 10-11-2 8-5-1 4-0 SL .4794
MAAC (M) .4534 0-5 0-0 0-0 5-15-2 0-4 Qn .4374

It's easy to see that the MAAC is considerably weaker than the other five conferences, and reasonable to expect the NCAA will leave Quinnipiac out of the field just as they did last year. This is also consistent with the results of more robust ratings systems such as KRACH, in which the Braves finished 44th out of 54 teams.

The question of Niagara and the CHA is a little trickier; clearly the Purple Eagles benefit from playing Air Force, a weak team with a deceptively high winning percentage, four times in the regular season and once in the playoffs. If those four wins were replaced with wins (at the beginning of the season so as not to dominate the "record in last 16 games criterion) over the last-place teams in the four established conferences, Niagara would drop from their present position of fifth to thirteenth (so twelfth, leaving out Quinnipiac) in the pairwise rankings. With the actual results, Niagara are the 18th team in the nation in terms of KRACH and #16 in terms of the KRACH-modified pairwise rankings. So, while it's anyone's guess what the committee to decide, a reasonable move would be to grant Niagara an at-large bid, but override their pairwise comparisons in the seeding process.

In that case, the first four at-large bids would go to New Hampshire, Niagara, Colgate, and Boston College. Skipping over Quinnipiac, St. Cloud State wins comparisons with all the other teams under consideration except Lake Superior State, so the Huskies would get the final at-large bid. (Next in line for a bid if Niagara were also left out would be Minnesota State-Mankato, meaning that the question will come down to Niagara or a fourth WCHA team.)

To organize the regions, we have three teams from the WCHA, two from the CCHA, one from College Hockey America, two from the ECAC, and four from Hockey East. The easiest way to achieve a starting point of six Western and six Eastern teams is simply to consider Niagara as coming from the West. Given that we plan to override the comparisons and consider them the low seed, they would end up starting as an honorary Western team even if we nominally called them Easterners in the first place. Thus the regions are:

West East
Wisconsin (W) 5 .609 ND MS Mi SC Ni 1 Maine (H) 5 .608 SL BU Cg NH BC
North Dakota (W) 4 .598 MS Mi SC Ni 2 SLawrence (E) 4 .589 BU Cg NH BC
Mich State (C) 2 .563   Mi SC   3 Boston Univ (H) 2 .583   Cg NH  
Michigan (C) 1 .568     SC   4 Colgate (E) 2 .570     NH BC
SCloud (W) 0 .546         5 New Hampshire (H) 1 .592       BC
Niagara (A) 3 .572   MS Mi SC 6 Boston Coll (H) 1 .584   BU    

Next comes the awarding of first-round byes. St. Lawrence receives one automatically for winning their both the regular season and the playoffs of the ECAC; the others are awarded on the basis of pairwise comparisons to Maine in the East and Wisconsin and North Dakota in the West.

Now we switch two Eastern teams to the the West regional, and two Westerners into the East. Looking at the pairwise comparisons, we see that UNH and BC are the two lowest-ranked teams in the East, while SCSU is at the bottom of the West, along with Niagara, provided that the committee overrides their pairwise comparisons on the grounds of conference strength. This gives the following teams in the two regionals:

West East
Wisconsin (W) 1 .609 ND 1 Maine (H) 1 .608 SL
North Dakota (W) 0 .598 2 SLawrence (E) 0 .589
New Hampshire (H) 3 .592 BC MS Mi 3 Boston Univ (H) 2 .583   Cg SC
Boston Coll (H) 2 .584 MS Mi 4 Colgate (E) 1 .570     SC
Mich State (C) 1 .563   Mi 5 SCloud (W) 0 .546      
Michigan (C) 0 .568     6 Niagara (A) 3 .572 BU Cg SC

The natural seedings (making Niagara a sixth seed based on the weakness of their conference schedule) give the following tournament brackets:

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

These contain no possible intraconference matchups in the regionals, so the only reason to arrange the teams differently would be to increase the expected attendance at the regionals. However, with Minnesota's WCHA rivals Wisconsin and North Dakota, plus Big Ten rivals Michigan and Michigan State, in the West Regional, attendance in Minneapolis should not be a problem. Likewise, both Colgate and SLU are ECAC teams who should do reasonably well, attendance-wise, in Albany, especially with a couple of Hockey East schools and Niagara also in that regional.

Of course, there are various judgment calls to be made along the way, notably the treatment of Niagara. As for the committee's actual decisions, all will become clear by 2pm (EST) this afternoon.

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 /

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