Had an interesting thought while taking in some of this weekend's NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament regional action. After another year of poor Regional attendance, lots of talk about ways of improving the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Regional format. Could the answer come from college baseball?
What if the men's ice hockey tournament Regional round took on the same format as the NCAA baseball regional format?
The baseball regional round is a four team, double elimination format hosted by the top seed in each region. The regionals start on Friday, pairing the 1 seed up against the 4 and the 2 against the 3. The winners of those two games advance to the 1-0 game, while the losers face each other in an elimination game.
The winner of that first elimination game then faces the loser of the 1-0 game, and the winner of that game plays the team sitting at 2-0. If the 2-0 team loses to the 2-1 team, a final game is played to determine which team advances to the Super Regionals.
Under this setup, the Regional round would be expanded by at least three and max four games. However, if the games were played starting on Thursday night on the campus of the 1 seed, you could imagine a schedule that looks like this:
No. 1 seed vs. No. 4 seed
No. 2 seed vs. No. 3 seed
1-0 game: 1/4 Winner vs. 2/3 Winner
Elimination game: 1/4 Loser vs. 2/3 Loser
1-0 Game Loser vs. Elimination game Winner
Saturday game winner vs. 2-0 team
Monday (if necessary)
2-1 Elimination game
The NCAA has used the a best-of-three quarterfinals series format in the past, but has never used the double elimination format. This year, the Northeast Regional might have looked something like this:
(1) Boston College vs. (4) Air Force - BC 2-0
(2) Minnesota-Duluth vs. (3) Maine - UMD 5-2
(1) Boston College vs. (2) Minnesota-Duluth - BC 4-0
(3) Maine vs. (4) Air Force
(2) Minnesota-Duluth vs. 3/4 Winner
(1) Boston College vs. 2/3/4 Winner
(1) Boston College vs. 2/3/4 Winner (if necessary)
Since you'd have the Regional round on campus, seems to provide a bit more flexibility as to playing up to four more games on campus. But would attendance improve for the opening round without the current win-or-go-home format?
A few other questions: Would a move to a double-elimination format give more of an advantage to the top ranked teams? What about moving the Regional round to campus sites? Would teams like Ferris State and Union still make this year's Frozen Four, or would a double-elimination format prevent traditional powers like Michigan and North Dakota from flaming out of the Regional rounds?