In last year’s NCAA Women’s Hockey Committee summer meetings, there was discussion on the ever-controversial practice of setting up the women’s hockey national tournament with a primary eye towards cost-saving, rather than maintaining bracket integrity.
Per the meeting minutes:
Championship flights – quarterfinals: The committee discussed the impact on quarterfinal pairings when the bracket is determined by fewest number of flights, as opposed to the relative strength of the teams as determined by the committee during selections. The primary concern is that true bracket integrity is disrupted when flights are eliminated. The committee will assess the impact of an additional flight(s) for the championship and put forward a formal recommendation in February.
This likely came from the inevitable “#1 seeded team was forced to play the #5 seed in the quarterfinal” we’ve all expected would happen for years, but at least it was something.
The formal recommendation was indeed sent to the NCAA for review to be put in place for the 2019-2020 season. However, BC Interruption has learned that that request has been denied by the NCAA Division I Competition Oversight Committee.
We reached out to Abbey Strong, chair of the NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Committee, to check in on the status of the request, and she got back to us with the bad news:
The NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Committee did submit a request for an additional flight during the quarterfinal round to assist with bracket integrity if needed. However, the NCAA Division I Competition Oversight Committee did not approve the committee’s request because the additional flight would be an exception to the established bracketing policy, outlined in the pre-championship manual, which mandates the minimization of flights in the preliminary round.
It’s probably fair to guess that the women’s hockey committee, and community at large, will be frustrated with this response, because the pre-championship manual’s mandate of minimization of flights in the preliminary round is exactly what the committee was looking to change.
For Boston College, this may or may not end up being a good thing. With the eastern CHA conference typically needing to auto-bid its way into the NCAA tournament, more often than not they get sent to the top-ranked eastern team in the field, even if that team isn’t ranked #1. And should BC not get home ice in the quarterfinals, they are far more likely to stay closer to home than get shipped out to play the likes of Minnesota or Wisconsin in the quarterfinals.
And so, the NCAA women’s hockey tournament selection appears to be unchanged this year. Flight swill be minimized as they have in the past when setting up the quarterfinal rounds. It will be interesting to see if bigger changes are made in the next few years once the NEWHA is eligible for a tournament berth, but the committee will have to cross that bridge when they get there.