The NCAA hockey tournament's bracket was revealed Sunday, and one ridiculous rule gave precedent to a No. 4 seed and displaced a pair of No. 1 seeds, including defending national champion Boston College.
The 16-team field is comprised of five conference champions and 11 at-large teams, which are determined by an objective mathematical formula, but the brackets are compiled by a selection committee.
It's not perfect, and with the smaller field, it can be easy to find faults with the seeding process. But the committee was handcuffed by a senseless rule that screwed over two teams that should have an advantage due to their priority seeding.
The rule indicates that two teams from the same conference can't play one another in the first round, unless that conference has at least five teams in the NCAA tournament. So, start with that in mind, and see where it goes from there.
New Hampshire is hosting the Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H., which meant the Wildcats were locked into that quadrant if they made the NCAA tournament. That wasn't much of a problem for UNH, but their 4-5-2 record since Feb. 11 caused them to fall to a No. 4 seed in the bracket.
Then there's Boston College, which was a no-doubt No. 1 seed (and the third overall seed in the tournament) after sweeping the Hockey East regular-season and postseason championships. The Eagles, who have won two of the last three national titles, have been one of the most consistently dominant teams in the country this season, and they should have been slotted in Manchester to give them a geographical advantage, both in terms of the team's travel schedule and the fan base's accessibility to the rink. (And if you look at the men's basketball bracket, it's obvious that the NCAA places a major priority on the top seeds' geographical advantage for those exact financial reasons.)
Yet, BC couldn't go to Manchester because the fourth-seeded Wildcats were already locked in there. And Yale was the tournament's No. 1 overall seed, so it was placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn.
The other two regionals are in St. Louis and Green Bay. North Dakota, the tournament's No. 2 overall seed, was sent to Green Bay, which put Boston College in St. Louis. Miami, the fourth No. 1 seed, was left for Manchester.
This also puts Miami at a disadvantage because it's got to play UNH in a pseudo-home game for the Wildcats. And again, it all starts with the rule that prohibits two conference teams from meeting in the first round.
It's a senseless rule that has hardly come into play before, but Sunday's events showed that it can sabotage an entire bracket. After all, there's no reason whatsoever that a No. 4 seed can greatly alter the fate of two No. 1s.
Do you think the NCAA should get rid of the rule that prohibits two teams from the same conference squaring off in the first round? Leave your thoughts below.
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