In a previous post -- Looking at the NCAA pairings, do they make sense? -- we looked at how the NCAA selection committee did in matching up teams in the first round of the NCAAs. Not too bad, it seemed like to me.
But what about putting regions together? That's another, different question.
Quinnipiac, the No. 1 seed, does indeed play the No. 16 seed, Canisius, the surprise Atlantic Hockey champion. The No. 8 and 9 seeds should be in the East Regional with the Bobcats, too.
But, nope, they are not.
Instead, it is Boston College, the No. 6 seed and defending national champion, and No. 12 Union, a Frozen Four team last season. No doubt, that's done for geography. Four teams from the East are together in Providence, R.I.
So where are the No. 8 and 9 seeds?
The No. 8 seed is North Dakota, which stays as West as possible, in the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich. And the No. 9 team is Denver, another WCHA team, so they can't meet in the first round. They were split up, the Pioneers were sent to Manchester, N.H., the Northeast Region.
Putting BC in same region as Quinnipiac puts a big obstacle in thew way of the No. 1 seed.
So let's look to the West. To see how that region comes together. The Gophers are the No. 2 seed overall and draw the No. 15 seed Yale. So that's all good.
But instead of the No. 7 seed being in the Gophers' region, which would be New Hampshire, the Gophers have No. 8 UND.
A lower seed but, in reality, a tougher opponent. It's a rivalry game. And anything can happen. Remember a year ago, UND beat the Gophers 6-3 in the WCHA semifinals, but the Gophers beat North Dakota 5-2 in the West Regional final to advance to the Frozen Four.
They could be playing again for a trip to Pittsburgh, site of the FF this year.
UMass-Lowell is the third overall seed, and the top seed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H. The River Hawks should have the No. 6 and 11 seeds in their region. Instead they have No. 7 and 9 seeds, New Hampshire and Denver. Maybe a little tougher.
And finally, in the Midwest Regional in Toledo, Ohio, No. 4 Notre Dame plays No. 13 St. Cloud State in the first game. And No. 5 Miami plays No. 11 Minnesota State Mankato. That almost follows the perfect seeding script, except Miami should be playing No. 12 Union. But the Dutchmen are staying East.
There you have it. The committee did some tinkering. If it strictly went by the numbers and let teams plays against conference opponents, here is how the regional pairings would have looked like:
East, Providence, R.I.
No. 1 Quinnipiac vs. No. 16 Canisius ... Yup
No. 8 North Dakota vs. No. 9 Denver ... Nope
West, Grand Rapids, Mich.
No. 2 Gophers vs. No. 15 Yale ... Yup
No. 7 New Hampshire vs. No. 10 Niagara ... Nope
Northeastern, Manchester, N.H.
No. 3 UMass-Lowell vs. No. 14 Wisconsin ... Yup
No. 6 Boston College vs. No. 11 Minnesota State Mankato ... Nope
Midwest, Toledo, Ohio
No. 4 Notre Dame vs. No. 13 St. Cloud State ... Yup
No. 5 Miami vs. No. 12 Union ... Nope
Looking at that, clear things up a bit. The committee went strictly by the book with the top four seeds, splitting them up and giving them the opponent the numbers say they should have. Then the tinkering began.