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The Field Is Almost Set

Tomorrow is Selection Sunday, but since it is also Easter Sunday, I won't be around to post after the selection show. But with all the games now played, at least the teams that will be in the tournament look pretty clear now.

Here's how it should shake it out:

1. Michigan
2. Miami
3. North Dakota
4. New Hampshire
5. Colorado College
6. Boston College
7. Denver
8. St. Cloud
9. Michigan State
10. Clarkson
11. Minnesota
12. Wisconsin
13. Notre Dame
14. Princeton
15. Niagara
16. Air Force

Good luck figuring out where those teams go. Michigan is the top seed, but I'm guessing they travel rather than play at the Madison regional with Wisconsin in the tournament. The idea of Madison hosting the "Midwest" regional is dubious at best anyway. It's going to be tough to avoid intraconference match-ups in the first round with 6 WCHA teams in the tournament, especially since most are either 2 or 3 seeds.

Notre Dame caught a lucky break this afternoon when late in the third period, trailing by a goal, they had a shot ricochet off the goal post. Had that puck gone in and the game ended in a tie, they would have missed the tournament.

There's bound to be some controversy with Wisconsin getting into the tournament as well. There's a strong case to be made for Minnesota State getting into the tournament over Wisconsin. The Mavericks win their comparison with the Badgers. The Mavericks have a higher RPI. The Mavericks won the season series between the two teams. The Badgers didn't have a winning record this year. The only difference right now is that Mankato loses an odd comparison to Northern Michigan, ranked 23rd in the RPI. Subtract .0031 points from Northern Michigan's RPI ranking and MSU would be the ones in the tournament instead of Wisconsin.

It really sucks for Minnesota State, but as much as I hate to say it, I think it's still probably the right decision that Wisconsin gets in. We all knew there was the possibility of something like this happening. Back on March 10th, I wrote this:

So would the selection committeee go against tradition in a situation like this? I would hope not. I've always been strongly in favor of total transparency in the NCAA tournament selection process, even if there are a few bugs in the system. Head-to-head is important, and I believe it is counted as so in the Pairwise, but if a team is that much better during the regular season, one odd weekend shouldn't cancel that out.

The selection process could probably use an overhaul. I think everyone cringes at the fact that North Dakota would benefit by losing a game to Michigan Tech this weekend. But the time to make those changes should be the day after this year's field is selected, not the day before it is selected.
The system is flawed, and it sucks, and it probably didn't get things right this year. But it is the system that was in place. If the selection committee's process was to get drunk and throw darts at a dartboard, it probably wouldn't produce the best NCAA tournament field, but if that is what everyone agreed to, that's what we'd have to live with. I sincerely hope the process is reviewed and changed for the future, but it's too late to make those changes for this season.

Again, the best thing you can say about the PWR is the transparency for fans to understand how those decisions are made. If it was secretive like the NCAA basketball tournament, can you imagine the outrage if tomorrow morning, they announced that sub-.500 Wisconsin had gotten into the tournament? There'd be cries of conspiracy to make money off the Madison regional for months. At least this way, there is some mathematical basis that people can see for how the decision was made, even if the math that was used wasn't the best measure.