Today the NCAA announced the field for the eight team 2012 NCAA Women's Hockey Championship, and there were plenty of surprises. As I said yesterday, Boston College was hoping to host an NCAA quarterfinal for the second year in a row despite being tied for fourth in the Pairwise Rankings but losing the individual comparison to Mercyhurst.
Based on the Pairwise Rankings and conference champion auto-bid Boston University, I was expecting a tournament of:
No. 7 St. Lawrence at No. 1 Wisconsin
No. 8 Boston University at No. 2 Cornell
No. 6 North Dakota at No. 3 Minnesota
No. 5/4 Mercyhurst vs. No. 4/5 Boston College
With a valid argument to be made for either team hosting the last game. I flipped the 7 and 8 seeds to avoid two intraconference matchups.
Instead, what we got was something entirely unexpected:
No. 5 Mercyhurst at No. 1 Wisconsin
No. 6 North Dakota at No. 2 Minnesota
No. 8 Boston University at No. 3 Cornell
No. 7 St. Lawrence at No. 4 Boston College
Note the seemingly random switching of the #2 and #3 seeds. Now, the women's committee does set the tournament different from the men's committee. Only the first four teams are seeded. And then, well, we don't really have half a clue what they decide from there. It seems to change every year.
This year it appears they really cared about was travel. There's only one flight involved in shipping Mercyhurst to Wisconsin, and only one intraconference matchup in the game between North Dakota and Minnesota. Except... the bracket I would have chosen, above, doesn't give a middle finger to bracket integrity, also has only one flight, and also only has one intraconference matchup.
Fortunately, this bracket is a big break for us. Boston College gets the rare (in any sport) opportunity to host a national tournament game. One home game, one win away from the Frozen Four. Then there is also, of course, the fact that BC gets to face a lower seeded team than we should have.
Poor Mercyhurst though. They went from having a solid argument to host a game to getting shipped out to Wisconsin to play the Badger Buzzsaw.
BC hockey fans are really in for a treat Saturday. The BC women's team hosts a national tournament game at 1pm with the winner advancing to the Frozen Four, followed by the BC men's team hopefully wrapping up their quarterfinal to get to the TD Garden at 7pm. Can you say epic doubleheader?!
An in-depth tournament preview will come later in the week. Go Eagles!