College Hockey News did a nice job of covering the tournament field selection all day, so I'd recommend checking out there site for some good reading. Particularly fascinating to me was their interview with Steve Cady
, in which Cady really tried to hammer home the point of how little flexibility the committee actually has in the process. Cady basically summed things up with this quote, "We can not put any common sense into it. We've got handcuffs." It's amazing how the quest for the complete and total logic of numbers has led to system that sometimes can look so darn illogical.
I figured I'd tack on a few thoughts of my own.
1. Thankfully the committee got it right by putting Ohio State into the field over Minnesota and Wisconsin. Ultimately, the backlash of a move like that would have heavily outweighed the benefit, especially after what happened last year. I also think moving things around to get Duluth in the West Regional helped take the string out of things. Steve Cady mentioned getting a Minnesota team into that regional was a priority--for the "atmosphere" of course, because I'm sure they were more concerned about the half of the tickets that are already sold, as opposed to the half that aren't.
Anyway, the past two years have provided the absolute extreme opportunities for other factors--greed this year, logic last year--to supercede the math and the committee didn't take either. For better or worse, we can count on the system we've got.
2. The decision that stuck out as the poorest to me--and all told, if this is the worst, things weren't all that bad this year--was Boston University having to play Ohio State in the first round as opposed to Bemidji State. I understand the reasoning for why it was done, and I understand that the committee is handcuffed by all of their rules, but it makes way more sense to switch Miami and Princeton, than it does to switch Ohio State and Bemidji. Again, I understand they want to protect their bands of seeds, but if somebody has to get screwed over, doesn't it make sense to screw over the team that finished 12th overall, as opposed to the team that finished first overall.
The stuff about last change that Cady mentioned doesn't really apply with a 3/4 switch. Princeton will have the last change in their first game regardless. There's a chance they could get last change in the second game if both the three and four seed won, but that seems like a lame reason to force the best team to play a team 24 spots higher in the RPI in their first game.
3. The good news is that no PWR outliers had any effect on this year's tournament field. If anything, they ended up making things closer than they maybe needed to be.
Ohio State(14th best RPI) lost a comparison to St. Cloud(22nd RPI), because their sizable RPI advantage was wiped out by about a one-game difference in TUC record, and St. Cloud's 5-1-0 record against common opponents as opposed to Ohio State's 3-1-0 record. If OSU had missed the tournament because they lost that comparison ,they would have had a very legitimate gripe.
Same goes the other way with Minnesota(20th best RPI) winning their comparison against Vermont(7th best RPI). That's a huge gap over a 34-game season, but Minnesota had a three-game advantage in TUC, and won the common opponents category thanks to a whopping 2-0-1 record.