Notre Dame still alive for an at-large berth in the NCAAs
Fourth-year Notre Dame head hockey coach Dave Poulin will serve as a guest analyst for the NCAA Hockey Championship Selection Show, which will be shown live by ESPN2 and ESPNews on Sunday, March 21, at 12:30 p.m.
Poulin will be joined by ESPN studio host John Buccigross during the 30-minute show, which will reveal the 12-team field, the top four seeds and the four first-round matchups.
Satellite coordinates for ESPNews are: galaxy 9, transponder 21 vertical,
downlink frequency 4120, 123 degrees west.
The six-team East Regional will be held on Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27, at the Centrum Centre in Worcester, Mass., with games times set for 5:00 and 8:30 p.m. each night. The West Regional will be held at the Dane County Coliseum in Madison, Wis., with game times set for 2:00 and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday the 27th and 3:00 and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday the 28th
Two teams in each region will receive first-round byes before facing the winners of the first-round games. The two winners of the second-day action from each regional then will advance to the NCAA semi-finals (a.k.a "The Frozen Four"), which will be held April 1 at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, Calif. (the championship game will be April 3).
The nation's four major Division I conferences have two automatic bids to the NCAAs. Those conferences include the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, Hockey East and the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The remaining four "at-large" teams for the NCAA Championship will be chosen based on the following criteria, with each category counting as one point when comparing teams against one another:
(1) Ratings percentage index (RPI), measuring won-loss record and strength of schedule.
(2) Head-to-head competition.
(3) Results against common opponents.
(4) Results during the final 16 games.
(5) Results against teams under consideration for the NCAAs (with .500-plus record).
Note: RPI also will serve as the tiebreaker when comparing teams with the above criteria.
Conference automatic berths will be awarded to the regular-season champions and the tournament champions. If a conference has the same team win both the regular-season and tournament titles, the second automatic berth will be awarded to that conference's team that ranks highest based on the above five criteria.
Despite Notre Dame's poor showing over the final 16 games (5-8-3) and a loss to Northern Michigan in the first round of the CCHA Tournament, the Irish remain among the top teams under consideration for one of the four at-large spots in the NCAAs. Notre Dame's chances are boosted by its overall season series versus NMU (2-2-2) and Michigan (1-1-1), a fourth-place finish in the regular-season CCHA standings and a solid 5-8-5 mark versus teams under consideration for the NCAAs (including a win over North Dakota and a tie at Boston College).
The Irish also own a 53.75 mark in the RPI rankings (as of March 17), with other tournament hopefuls owning the following RPI: Denver (55.76), Michigan (55.70), St. Lawrence (55.50), Northern Michigan (53.91), Ohio State (53.43), Princeton (53.38), Rensselaer (53.29), Providence (51.32) and Minnesota (50.66).
Shifting within the RPI is likely during the final days of conference tournaments (March 18-20), with the WCHA and ECAC also playing a third-place "consolation game". The RPI factors in a team's winning percentage, its opponent's winning percentage and its opponents' opponents' winning percentage (site, importance of game, and time of year have no bearing on the RPI). Thus, tournament titles by North Dakota and BC could help boost the RPI of the idle Irish while losses by other schools (such as Princeton and Minnesota) could decrease the RPI of Notre Dame's fellow NCAA hopefuls.
As with the NCAA basketball tournament, an extreme upset winner (i.e. Providence or Minnesota) in any of the conference tournaments would essentially take away one of the at-large berths.