March 22, 2007 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Bracket Musings

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

It's interesting to note how some coaches still don't understand the tournament selection process. Which is fine, actually, so long as they don't complain about it. It's not necessary for a coach to understand how his team got to where it is, if all he wants to do is concentrate on winning the game. Other coaches, of course, do understand all of the nuances of the system.

So it was interesting to take note of some of the comments floating around in various publications over the past few days.

Boston College coach Jerry York noted his team having to play in New Hampshire's bracket — which is difficult because UNH is home, but also unfortunate because it sets up a potential second-round matchup against teams which recently played in their conference tournament. York speculated that, because his team is the highest No. 2 seed, it must have been kept "close to home."

Actually, York had it correct that his team is the highest No. 2 seed, but it wasn't kept close to home. It was put in Manchester because UNH is the No. 4 overall (according to the Pairwise) and BC is No. 5 — which creates the perfect 4-5 lineup that the committee looks for.

There was a time when the philosophy was the reward teams by keeping them close to home. And there was also a philosophy to avoid second-round matchups against league opponents that recently played. Neither of these things have been a factor since 2003. The committee simply looks to line up 4-5, 1-8, 2-7, 3-6.

But, as I said, York wasn't complaining about it, so there's no issue.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves was quoted as saying that the WCHA deserved more than three teams in the tournament. He said he'd have to ask the committee how in the world this could happen.

Well, it's one thing to have a gripe with the system — and there is certainly room to criticize the system and look for ways to improve it — but another to have these questions. But does Eaves truly not know why things fell the way they did, or was he taken out of context?

If coaches are upset about what happened, they are obligated to understand why it did before suggesting they will complain to the committee.

We do know that Michigan State coach Rick Comley was quoted out of context when he, supposedly, suggested that there be more subjectivity in the selection process. He noted that with more subjectivity, Wisconsin and Denver probably would have gotten into the tournament.

But Comley was not suggesting this was a good idea. After all, Comley was the chair of the committee in 1993 when it created the Pairwise system — although in a bit different form than it's applied today.

"In the end, it works," Comley said. "Different committees want more subjectivity and others don't. Whether it's right or wrong, I don't know. But I've been on it when it was totally subjective and it was chaos.

"We all worry from January on whether the system is helping us or hurting us. But in the end, it works. We missed the tournament one year with 23 wins. At Northern Michigan in my last year, we had 26 wins and didn't make it."

Comley also suggested that College Hockey America should not receive an automatic bid to the NCAAs, since it has only five teams. For this, he took some flak. But while he believes it, he said he was not intending to disparage the league or its members, and he also said he was misquoted when it portrayed that he suggested Atlantic Hockey should participate in a play-in game with the CHA.

"We never even talked about the Atlantic," Comley said. "With five teams (in the CHA), we have to help them. At the same time, there has to be a play-in game. I don't mean that in the negative way. I don't know how it would work. ... But Atlantic has depth. They're working hard at that league."

Comley suggested the CHA could exist if somehow college hockey could "re-align," something he said the sport is sorely in need of, but would never happen because schools all have their own interest at stake.

"It's an easy solution if we could ever get everyone to agree," Comley said.

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