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The WCHA and the PWR

There's been a fair amount of complaining recently about the WCHA, especially since, as it stands right now, 8 WCHA teams are in the top 14 of the Pairwise Rankings.

The Blog that Yost Built took a look at the WCHA's OOC performance. He brings up a ton of evidence against the WCHA, though all of it is still anecdotal. Wouldn't it be great if there was a system that took into account *every* game and objectively measured the quality of every opponent? Oh wait, you mean there already is a system like that? Ultimately, the beef here is with the ranking system that was agreed upon before the season started, not with the WCHA itself.

Elliot Olshansky had a similar rant, saying that teams shouldn't be eligible for the tournament if they finish below .500 in conference play. I think that kind of defeats the purpose of the at-large bid. We already have autobids to make sure every conference in represented. At-large bids are there to allow the next best teams into the tournament, regardless of who they are or where they come from.

I think we can all agree that North Dakota, Michigan, New Hampshire, Colorado College, and Miami are all solid tournament teams. If those six teams had formed their own conference prior to the start of the season, one of two things would have happened: Either everyone would have finished .500, or somebody would have had a losing record. Should they be excluded from the tournament because of that? The same is true in the WCHA, though to a lesser extent. If somebody wins a game, that means somebody else has to lose, even if both teams are good hockey teams.

Elliot said he'd rather see Notre Dame, Providence, and Princeton in the tournament than Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, and Wisconsin. But what is there, other than overall record, to suggest that any of those teams belongs in the tournament more than the three WCHA teams? If you're going to take that step, why even bother with strength of schedule at all?

Overall, I think this speaks to a much bigger issue that I'll get into a lot more during the offseason. Basically, the WCHA's success hasn't happened by accident. It's the result of a lot of investment by even the smaller schools in the league, which I don't think you see universally from other leagues.