People. I think we can all agree that if the field for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament goes up every year, to the extent that one day every Division I team in the country will get a berth, the women’s hockey tournament might be allowed 10 or even (gasp!) 12 teams. But don’t count on it. Also, note that I am not taking into account the Pairwise rankings when I talk about where teams should be seeded.
1. Wisconsin will face Mercyhurst, who’ve got a metric ton of offensive talent, but in my opinion should not necessarily make an 8-team field. This is not solely about the CHA loss, but rather a pattern throughout the season that included once again low-ish RPI, ties and losses to teams they should be blowing out. I would have given Northeastern this berth. I’m also not 100% convinced that the Badgers were the top seed, although they were top two for sure so not that big a deal.
2. Minnesota will face North Dakota. Poor North Dakota. Reward for perhaps the best season in program history, against surely the toughest competition: an in-conference date with the Gophers. Although last year we were complaining about the Gophers having to travel to Hockey East territory, so clearly there is no pleasing us.
3. Cornell vs. BU. 4. BC versus St. Lawrence. I was about to say this grouping seemed fairly arbitrary to me, given that BU is 3-1 against BC. And then I looked at BU’s actual record, and it was kind of shabby. There was a stretch there of 8 losses in 10 games. So the automatic bid truly saved them. Further reason for Northeastern to be irritated about the ‘Hurst situation. Also, BC versus St. Lawrence is an intriguing match-up.
With regard to the Kazmaier finalists, I’m proud to say my system correctly predicted 8 of the 10. Natalie Spooner ended up getting in, probably based on some notion of leadership in a struggling program. Laura Fortino got a token defender bid, and since I think defense is underrated in awards season that’s fine by me. The thing that puzzles me is that Brooke Ammerman didn’t even make the first cut, and was only third-team WCHA. Her coach had a really tough choice in the nominating process given Wisconsin’s depth. But she scored 30+ goals and is sitting third in the country in scoring. She’s a senior. She’s an assistant captain. I sometimes miss things that seem obvious to people who are closer to programs. Is there some aspect that I’m overlooking? Or is it simply that Knight is the captain and Decker’s numbers were better?
Onward to the NCAAs!