Sadly OT: NCAA Hockey Tournament

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on March 20th, 2017 at 1:12 PM

Bracket released.

  • Mel Pearson gets Tech in the tournament for the 2nd time in the last 3 years.
  • OSU makes the tournament for the first time since 2009.
  • PSU won the B1G Tournament and made the NCAAs for the first time ever in only their 5th year as a program.

They have a favorable bracket, too.

Notable absences: Michigan, Boston College, Wisconsin, Quinnipiac

Midwest Regional - Cincinnati, OH
1 Denver (1) vs 4 Michigan Tech (16)
2 Union (8) vs 3 Penn State (9)

Northeast Regional - Manchester, NH
1 Minnesota (4) vs 4 Notre Dame (13)
2 UMass-Lowell (5) vs 3 Cornell (11)

East Regional - Providence, RI
1 Harvard (3) at 4 Providence (14)
2 Western Michigan (6) vs 3 Air Force (12)

West Regional - Fargo, ND
1 Minnesota-Duluth (2) vs 4 Ohio State (15)
2 Boston University (7) vs 3 North Dakota (10)

My Frozen Four picks: Denver, UMass-Lowell, Providence, Minnesota-Duluth with UMD winning their second title.



March 20th, 2017 at 1:18 PM ^

But I thought the Big Ten hockey conference was stupid and only two programs were good enough to make the ncaas? Just last year someone was claiming half the league didn't care about hockey.

Half the league made it Wisconsin was barely on the outside looking in and the two teams that didn't come close are the Michigan teams.

Wolverine Devotee

March 20th, 2017 at 3:09 PM ^

It will never be the same again. We're stuck in this sterile league unless we leave the B1G completely. Part of the fun was playing at Alaska, NMU, BG. All of those schools now in the WCHA are more than likely losing money since they don't have the big name schools coming in there for games anymore. LSSU and Alaska-Fairbanks are in big financial trouble.

Sauce Castillo

March 20th, 2017 at 3:24 PM ^

The argument about "those schools" losing revenue because Michigan isn't coming to town is a silly one.  As someone who grew up in BG and worked for the hockey program while in college I can tell you that the fan base is re-energized now that they are in the WCHA.  Yeah, in the 90's when UM or MSU came to town and BG was one of the top teams in the CCHA, the place was definitely a little more filled out, but we aren't talking about seating at a 20k arena, we are talking max 5k.  Like most schools, they are really only making sports revenue off football.


March 20th, 2017 at 3:40 PM ^

Yep. Adding ND back in is a nice step I think, but overall it feels like everyone lost out - B1G schools and small schools. Even the lucky ones who made it the NCHC have been deprived of all of their rivalries. Oh well, I guess. I did like Brian's proposal awhile ago for some sort of annual state of Michigan cup.


March 20th, 2017 at 1:36 PM ^

Wow, I don't really pay attention to the colllege hockey scene outside of the Michigan and a litte bit of the Big Ten but isnt Boston College supposed to have a loaded team with a ton of NHL talent or am I mixing that up with BU?  I thought I saw that the US Junior team that Cecconi was on had a ton of BC players.  Again, maybe I am mixing them up with BU.


Also its crazy that Penn State finished 8th in RPI and Wisconsin 18th yet Wisconsin was #2 team in Big Ten regular season and had to win the tournament essentially to get in yet Penn State seemed safely in the field.


March 20th, 2017 at 2:40 PM ^

This year’s Boston University team had SEVEN players competing in the World Juniors Tournament in December and January – six on the gold-medal-winning USA team (forwards Clayton Keller, Jordan Greenway, Kiefer Bellows and Patrick Harper, defenseman Charlie McAvoy and goalie Jake Oettinger) and one on silver-medalist Team Canada (defenseman Dante Fabbro.)  The last cut from the USA team for the WJC was BU freshman defenseman Chad Krys. That was the most players from any one college team competing in the WJC.
If you’ve read comments that some of their fans have been making on the USCHO Fan Forum, you’ll see that some of them believe that BU put together a team of young prima donnas who never quite meshed as a cohesive unit and who might have just tuned out their coach as the season wore on. LINK 
Boston University was among the youngest teams in college hockey this season, if not the youngest.  After splitting two games at Yost in November (losing 4-0 to the Wolverines and then winning 4-2) and then rising to the number one ranking in the polls in mid-January, they lost two straight to Merrimack and finished the season on a 7-6-1 run. LINK to BU Hockey Website.
BU had some injuries and suspensions along the way that also might've hurt them, but I think that they were expected to be better than a team that looks like it's going to be one and done after they head to the wood chipper in Fargo this week to face the North Dakota Fighting Waddya-Call-Ems in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. There's little chance that Police Chief Marge Gunderson from Brainerd, Minnesota will be around to help them.


March 20th, 2017 at 3:30 PM ^

Thanks for the info.  So I was mixing up BU and BC afterall.  That sucks that BU might be one and done with their tough matchup.  I think playing in Fargo might be the toughest place to play in college hockey.  It is crazy to see that BC isn't in the tournament.  Again, I don't really know all the stats but I would guess that BC had a long streak like Michigan with making the NCAA.  


March 20th, 2017 at 5:20 PM ^

Boston College has missed the NCAA hockey tournament only twice since 1998 (in 2002 and in 2009 when BU had their miracle season) and they've won four national championships and had ten trips to the Frozen Four since 2000, after having won only one (1949) before winning the 2001 championship. LINK


March 20th, 2017 at 1:38 PM ^

Why do they have these deadend regionals still with the pretension of "neutral"? #3 NoDak and #4 Providence will be practically the home team yet Yost cannot host again because?? The NE and Midwest in particular should be totally devoid of any enthusiasm. Time to go back to campus sites

Why a single elimination tournament at all? When will they accept that college hockey is a niche sport?

Good luck to Western for taking the smart and hockey-driven route with a conference


March 20th, 2017 at 2:28 PM ^

the speculation is that's because we're going back to campus sites for the regionals.  That would be a good decision.

Given the 4 teams, attendance in Cincinnati is not going to be good, to say the least, this weekend.  Now imagine if that regional was on campus in Denver.  It would be electric.


March 20th, 2017 at 3:57 PM ^

I'll always argue that homesites for the 1-seeds is the only way to give the four teams that earned the seeds some semblance of a reward for their work when faced with "Barely Weighted Plinko". Some argue that it screws the 2-seeds or it makes it impossible for the little guy to which I say "meh. they earned the 1-seed". I believe that's effectively how baseball and softball manage it.

It's stupid that a team like Denver has a great year, earns the #1 overall seed, and goes to play in a four team regional in which they had to travel the furthest to get there. Totally unfair given their body of work


March 20th, 2017 at 4:08 PM ^

Sadly I don't see how next season is a possibility.  There are several layers of NCAA bureaucracy to slog through before any proposal to change a playoff format is adopted. 

The NCAA hockey committee has to recommend it, and their next meeting isn't until June or July.  The Division I Oversight Committee has to approve it, and that wouldn't be until August.  Then the Division I Council would have to approve, and that wouldn't happen before October, and you have already started the next season at that point.

There is no way they would change the format of the playoffs in the middle of a season, so look for 2019 at the earliest.  Also, the last I have heard is that the coaches don't want the change.  My reaction is that I don't care what the coaches think any more than I care what the zamboni drivers think, but unfortunately they do have a lot of political power in the sport and their determined opposition could kill the proposal.

If you ask the coaches, of course, I think they would rather play every game in an empty arena with no TV cameras.


March 20th, 2017 at 4:31 PM ^

arena management, I'd think, would aleady like to be "blocking" that weekend for hosting a possible regional --- as opposed to booking anything else.

But --- neither have they selected 2018 regional sites either.  

Who knows what they're doing.  They announced the 2017 regional sites in 2013, so the current timing does seem suspicious.


March 20th, 2017 at 4:51 PM ^

There is this from the Division I Competition Oversight Committee meeting in January 2017:

Site selection update:  Staff updated the committee on the selection process for the 2018-22 cycle, noting that sport committees currently are deliberating and preparing recommendations. The committee's administrative committee will review recommendations in early March. Final announcements are expected April 18, 2017.

So I think if we don't hear anything on April 18 about hockey regionals, that will be a sign.  But until then, I suspect this is just the committee's new M.O.:  announce 4 years worth of sites once every 4 years.


March 20th, 2017 at 2:57 PM ^

The solution is pretty simple:  go to the lacrosse format for the 16-team tournament:  first round on home ice of the top 8 teams, quarterfinal doubleheaders at neutral sites (or at home sites--that would work too) the next weekend, then the semis & finals in the same format as today.

How the lacrosse-style tournament would work:

Air Force at #1 Denver
Michigan Tech at #2 Minnesota-Duluth
Providence at #3 Harvard
North Dakota at #4 Minnesota
Ohio State at #5 Mass.-Lowell
Notre Dame at #6 Western Michigan
Cornell at #7 Boston University
Penn State at #8 Union

Only 1 team (Ohio State) would be more than 350 miles from their campus.  So instead of the NCAA paying for 11 teams to fly as they do in the current format, they will only have to pay for 1 team to fly in the first round, and a maximum of 8, and probably no more than 5, in the second round.



March 20th, 2017 at 3:10 PM ^

That lineup has me salivating. Can you imagine being at a NoDak-Minnesota, Tech-UMD, or ND-WMU game in a home arena? (Yes, I know some people did experience this back in the day.) So easily superior to neutral sites it's hard to believe they've held out this long.

While we're at it, can we get best of three for at least the first two rounds?


March 20th, 2017 at 6:39 PM ^

If they went strictly by the final PairWise Rankings that supposedly are used by the NCAA to set the tournament bracket, then first round games at home arenas this year would've been:
16-Michigan Tech at 1-Denver
15-Ohio State at 2-Minnesota-Duluth
14-Providence at 3-Harvard
13-Notre Dame at 4-Minnesota
12-Air Force at 5-UMass-Lowell
11-Cornell at 6-Western Michigan
10-North Dakota at 7-Boston University
9-Penn State at 8-Union
They could've given the home teams, as the higher seedss, some flexibility in scheduling, in order to cover the possibility that their home arenas might've been booked for another event that weekend.
They could've moved the quaterfinals to two neutral, regional sites, one in the east and one in the west where they'd play two of the quarterfinal games as a Friday doubleheader and the other two games at the other site as a Saturday doubleheader.  Then the Frozen Four could be played at a separate neutral site.
This year, other than Harvard, U Mass-Lowell, North Dakota and Providence, all of the other teams playing in the opening round will have extensive travel for their first game.  Using home arenas for the first round, they would've cut the number of traveling teams from 12 to eight.


March 20th, 2017 at 7:07 PM ^

Hockey and basketball are unique in NCAA men's sports in that the tournament is seeded from top to bottom.  There is absolutely no reason that hockey needs to be seeded from 1 to 16, especially if they adopt this format.

I was using the lacrosse format, where the teams ranked #1 to #8 are seeded, but the teams ranked #9 to #16 are all thrown into the same pool of unseeded teams.  At that point, they seed the first round so that they generate the fewest number of flights ("flight" is NCAA-speak for "trip of 350 miles or more"--the NCAA has to pay for the plane flight at that point, rather than only paying for a chartered bus).  So the lacrosse tournament gets shuffled around so that, to the extent possible, the top 8 teams host the nearest #9-#16 teams as long as they are in different conferences.


March 21st, 2017 at 12:20 AM ^

But would you also use the "travel rule" to possibly shuffle the quarterfinal round?  For example, if, using your format, all the higher seeded teams won, would you then move Harvard to an Eastern Regional and Western Michigan to a Western Regional, putting three of the top four seeds in the Western Regional?

Or would you just eliminate the regionals and have the four highest-seeded opening-round wnners play at home rinks, and then have the winners of that round move on to the Frozen Four.


March 21st, 2017 at 9:22 AM ^

I keep going back to the lacrosse example.  Not necessarily because I think it is perfect, but because I think that since the NCAA already uses that format in one sport, they would be more willing to use the exact same format in another sport.

In lacrosse, for whatever reason, they seed the tournament without any flipping at all among the top 8.  So if Cornell is #1 and Denver is #8, then Cornell and Denver meet in the quarterfinals (if they both win).  So no flipping there, and more teams end up travelling for the quartrerfinals than would need to if they could flip the #5 to #8 seeds for regionalization.  I don't have a strong preference either way.  I do acknowledge that the QF matchups this year wouldn't lend themselves to strong regional interest--they would all be inter-regional matchups.

I much prefer brackets to re-seeding.  Brackets seem more fair to me.  That way, if a team is under-seeded and upsets the #2 team in the nation in the first round, they don't get "rewarded" with a game against the #1 team in the second round.

As far as I can tell, there are 3 NCAA D-I sports with 16 teams, and they all seed differently:

* Men's hockey--4 bands of 4 teams each (1 to 4, 5 to 8, 9 to 12, 13 to 16).  Teams can flip around in their own band but can't be moved out of their band.  Four regionals at pre-determined sites.

* Men's lacrosse--top 8 teams seeded 1 to 8, other 8 teams unseeded.  Unseeded teams can end up anywhere (based on travel considerations) but top 8 locked into their bracket spot.  Eight first round games at the top 8, 4 quarterfinals at 2 pre-determined sites.  (Lacrosse is technically an 18-team tournament, but I think we can ignore the 2 play-in games).

* Field hockey--top 4 teams seeded 1 to 4, other 12 teams unseeded.  Unseeded teams can end up anywhere (based on travel considerations) but top 4 locked into their bracket spot.  Four regionals hosted by the 4 seeds.

All 3 sports have a ban on first-round matchups between 2 teams in the same conference, but no restriction at all on intraconference matchups after the first round.

Of those three, I think the lacrosse format would work best for hockey.  Hockey already has a 3-weekend tournament, they just have a bye in the middle weekend.  The lacrosse format would both reduce expenses and increase revenue for the NCAA (whether they go to best-of-3 or keep it single elimination), and would increase TV viewership by having the games played in front of large, enthusiastic crowds--one of the biggest factors in TV viewership is that people won't watch sporting events played in empty arenas/stadiums.



March 20th, 2017 at 2:31 PM ^

I guess they're the closest of the 4 teams to Cincinnati, but it's still 430 miles.  Matching up 1 vs 16 and 8 vs 9 is exactly as it should be in a "perfectly fair" bracket.

I'll give the committee some credit here --- there was some speculation they'd send Denver to Fargo (which would have been totally unfair, playing in UND's home state) and instead slot the #2/#15 game in Cincinnati to get a few extra $$$ from home-state Buckeye fans.  They didn't do that.  The bracket basically holds true to the seeds, outside of them swapping #11 and #12


March 20th, 2017 at 2:38 PM ^

My older brother, a Western Mich grad, sent me, an AFA grad, a text the other day talking smack about the upcoming showdown.  

I don't think I'll ever have been more into college hockey than I will be this year.


March 20th, 2017 at 3:02 PM ^

I'm hoping the silence on the Red front is that everyone's waiting for the NCAAs to end so they can hire Mel (or perhaps another of the coaches in the tourney).