What a weekend!
After all the pomp and circumstance about parity in women’s hockey this season, all of the #1 seeds won their conference championships. Funny how that works.
In addition to winning the Hockey East title, the Eagles needed quite a few things to fall their way in order to climb up to 4th place in the Pairwise and earn home ice for the quarterfinals. Amazingly, all those things happened.
Let’s take a look at how the NCAA tournament bracket should look at tonight’s selection show at 9pm ET.
Here is the selection criteria as set forth in the women's hockey handbook:
The Women’s Ice Hockey Committee will seed the selected participants as follows:
1. The top four teams according to the selection criteria will be seeded 1-4 at the time of the selection call. The remaining four teams will be placed in the bracket based on relative strength as long as these pairings do not result in additional flights. These teams will not be reseeded and the committee will not change the bracket once the tournament has begun.
2. Assuming it meets the committee’s hosting criteria, the highest seeded team will be given the opportunity to host the quarterfinal game.
Pairings in the quarterfinal round shall be based primarily on the teams’ geographical proximity to one another, regardless of their region, in order to avoid air travel in quarterfinal-round games whenever possible. Teams’ relative strength, according to the committee’s selection criteria, shall be considered when establishing pairings if such pairings do not result in air travel that otherwise could be avoided. The NCAA Division I Competition Oversight Committee shall have the authority to modify its working principles related to the championship site assignment on a case-by-case basis.
There are a few key differences between the men's hockey criteria and the women's hockey criteria. In the men's tournament, the selection committee primarily avoids intraconference first round matchups and tries to improve attendance, and the 16 teams are seeded 1-16.
Women's hockey only seeds the top 4 of 8 teams, and the primary consideration is minimizing the number of flights, with bracket integrity the secondary consideration.
Here are the autobids, given to the tournament champions from each conference:
WHEA: Boston College
CHA: Robert Morris
Now we'll fill in the rest of the top eight using the Pairwise Rankings, seeding only the top 4 teams:
1) Wisconsin — WCHA Champion
2) Clarkson — ECAC Champion
4) Boston College — WHEA Champion
Robert Morris — CHA Champion
Straight bracket integrity gives us the following:
Robert Morris @ (1) Wisconsin
Cornell @ (2) Clarkson
Minnesota @ (3) Minnesota-Duluth
St. Lawrence @ (4) Boston College
That’s about as good as it gets for the committee. We have only one flight — Robert Morris, who has to fly no matter who they play, going to Wisconsin — and bracket integrity is maintained.
This is the bracket we expect at tonight’s selection show at 9pm ET on NCAA.com.
Now, the committee could surprise everyone and change things around to save a little money, like they did last year, but that’s unlikely. The only change that would even be considered is sending Cornell to BC and St. Lawrence to Clarkson, which would allow the NCAA to cheap out on not having to pay for hotel rooms for St. Lawrence. The Saints are only 11 miles from Clarkson.
But, that would be a wild change, even more so than last year. It would be stunning if they did that.
We’ll have full coverage from the selection show tonight at 9pm ET! You can follow along and watch the video yourself here.