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NCAA Needs Tourny Rule Change: A Rebuttal

Brian: Usually USCHO commentary is pretty good, however we stumbled over this article yesterday that raised an eyebrow or two. The article is an interesting commentary from a Miami U student questioning why top seeded Miami was forced to play in the Northeast Regional against BC, a mere 40 miles from campus. Sour grapes? Let's break down the argument.

Step one: get rid of the 'all host teams must play at their host site' rule.

This year’s hosts were Colorado College (the #2 seed in the West) and Wisconsin (#3 seed in the Midwest). But neither of the hosts advanced. Colorado College didn’t get out of the first round, losing to Michigan State 3-1, while Wisconsin, playing in front of 9,000+ rabid Badger fans, couldn't finish off North Dakota in the regional final.

In fact, host schools haven't fared very well at all over the past few years. In trying to reach the Frozen Four, this year's host schools were 0 for 2. In 2007, the writer's very own Miami RedHawks upset Northeast #1 (and host) UNH in Manchester. In 2006? The #1 seed and host Boston University fell to BC in the regional final. You have to go back 3 years to find a case where a team playing on its home ice advanced to the 4s (Minnesota in Minneapolis).

This really comes down to a matter of dollars and (common) sense. If you shipped off home teams to other regionals, attendance figures and revenue dollars would plummet. For an NCAA tournament that struggles to get national airtime and tape delays much of the first round of the tournament, this would be a devastating trend.

Step two: Let the top seeds play as close to home as possible ... at the very least don't make them travel halfway across the country when there are two sites taking place in their backyard.

I agree with this, only where it makes sense logistically and maximizes attendance and revenue for the tournament. To play devil's advocate though, did shipping the fourth #1 seed New Hampshire out west hurt their chances to advance by pitting them against host Colorado College on their home ice? Nope. The Wildcats didn't get out of the first round, getting pasted 7-3 by the Irish.

Step three: Don't give home or close-to-home games to non-top seeded teams.

This one again hurts attendance, revenue and regional interest. They place local teams in local regionals all the time with the NCAA men's basketball tournament. If the writer wants his RedHawks to completely avoid this situation in the future, Miami U should pony up and sponsor one of the Midwest or East Regionals. Buyer beware though. You need look no further than our neighbor to the north New Hampshire to find a school that has hosted several Northeast Regionals and failed to utilize their home ice advantage to advance to the next round.

So what if the roles were reversed? What if BC had been the #1 seed in the Midwest regional in, say, Columbus, Ohio, upset in the Regional final by #2 (and host school) Miami ... would I clamor on about rule changes? Maybe a little, but probably not. I've been on the short end of the stick one too many times as an Eagles fan, i.e. 21 Frozen Four appearances, 2 titles. But the writer has to realize that this rule is in place for a reason, to help protect attendance figures, revenue dollars and local interest for a D-I college sport that about 1/3 of the country cares about.