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Final Women's NCAA Tournament Bracketology: A Decision For The Committee

BC will be playing Clarkson -- how will the rest shake out?

BC Athletics

BC's incredibly disappointing loss to BU this afternoon knocked the Eagles down to #2 in the Pairwise, and removing any hope of the BC having a virtual bye to the Frozen Four by playing the lowest ranked team in the tournament, RIT.

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.

Here is the tournament field as set by the final Pairwise:

1 Minnesota
2 Boston College
3 Harvard - ECAC Champion
4 Wisconsin -- WCHA Champion
5 Boston University -- Hockey East Champion
6 Quinnipiac
7 Clarkson
8 RIT -- CHA Champion

And the resulting field:

RIT @ 1 Minnesota
Clarkson @ 2 Boston College
Quinnipiac @ 3 Harvard
Boston University @ 4 Wisconsin

We have minimized flights with this field, so at first glance, this should be what we see out of the selection committee this afternoon. But we need to die a little deeper into the BU vs. Quinnipiac comparison.

BU has a 1-0 head to head record on the Bobcats as well as a microscopic 0.0005 lead in RPI. But Quinnipiac actually wins the common opponent comparison and has a massive lead in record against Teams Under Consideration: 10-7-1 to 3-5-3.

The committee does not have a directive to avoid intraconference matchups, however they do have the ability to tinker with the Pairwise results if they deem a team to be much better than another in one category and lose by a small margin in another.

So, the committee has a decision to make: Do they keep the Pairwise as-is, or do they take the opportunity given to them to avoid all intraconference matchups in the quarterfinals?

I do think that they will swap BU and Quinnipiac. This would give you a final bracket of:

RIT @ 1 Minnesota
Clarkson @ 2 Boston College
Boston University @ 3 Harvard
Quinnipiac @ 4 Wisconsin

Which is my final prediction.

It will be one of these two brackets, and there is an argument to be made either way, but with the opportunity right in front of them to make every quarterfinal matchup between different conferences, I do think that is the direction the committee will go in.