PDA

View Full Version : NCAA Change the Tourney



Pages : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 [8] 9 10 11 12 13 14

Yinka Double Dare
03-28-2011, 06:22 PM
The main issues I see with Alton's concept:

1. It's expanding the length of the tournament by adding another weekend into the pre-existing format -- given the lack of interest in the current regional format (for a variety of reasons we've outlined), I just don't see that being something they'd seriously consider (who knows, but that's just my gut feeling).

2. You are asking fans to devote more time to attending pre-Frozen Four games and likewise pay to support another weekend of playoffs. Even if it's on campus sites and doesn't require travel for the home team, you are still talking about additional time/money being taken into account for everyone. How many fans are going to be interested in attending 3 straight nights in a campus site playoff series, then going again to a neutral site for regionals the following week, THEN the Frozen Four? Add in the conference tournaments the week before the NCAAs start, and the conference quarterfinals the week before that -- even in the current set-up, you can see the need for taking a bye week before the Frozen Four. His concept would add even more clutter to the pre-existing schedule...I mean, if you were to implement his concept, and keep the bye week, you're then talking about having the Frozen Four in the middle of April, when a lot of people are already into the spring time and other sports/interests.

Or look at it this way: he's made the regionals more appealing by having them at only 2 sites (something we all would prefer I believe). But that's going to be off-set by the fact that there's a whole other round of games now before that weekend. I just can't see some fans being interested in attending both sets of pre-Frozen Four NCAA playoff weekends with the FF looming ahead and all the conference playoffs right before it. And if some folks right now in a bad economy don't want to support the regionals because it's not the FF, simply adding more games into the mix (both campus-sites and a regional format as he suggests) isn't going to help any.

3. Logistically it would get less exposure on television. Right now every game is being televised and it is good exposure for the game. There's no chance of televising his proposed first round on a scale like you can now.

So ultimately, as many issues as some folks think there are with a "Super Regional" (and I concede there are logistical issues), I see even more drawbacks with adding a whole round of campus-site games before a regional round. It's good that you're not expanding/contracting the amount of teams in his format but you are extending both the length of the tournament and also the demands on the fans in terms of supporting it with their time/money. Again -- even if the current regional format isn't drawing for a number of factors we can all argue about -- I can't see them considering this given the lack of support for the current format, which only comprises one weekend as it is.

I don't know, I think folks in Grand Forks, Ann Arbor, and the like that routinely can put butts in the seats in their rink would rather have their team at home for a first round series if they earn it, and would pack the place for all two/three nights. Even teams that might not sell out probably would for such a series. If the fans aren't going to travel to the regionals in a "super regional" final 8 format because it's too far on short notice or in a stupid location, they probably weren't going to go to the current regional setup where they are often too far and/or in a stupid location.

And let's be honest, televised games from Englestad, Yost, and other such rinks with a loud, sellout crowd would look way better on TV to a casual fan than a dead crowd in, say, St Louis, which makes the casual fan think no one gives a crap. Honestly, I wouldn't even mind the round of 8 being another best-of-3 at the site of the better seed too, but the NCAA probably doesn't want to go that far. But there is definitely a reason that they have not announced regional sites beyond next year, and I think that reason is that they must be strongly considering changing the format.

Alton
03-28-2011, 06:29 PM
The main issues I see with Alton's concept:

...


These are legitimate concerns, but let me address them...

(1) The length of the tournament is not changed. Right now, it has 3 weekends--this last weekend, with the first two rounds, next weekend, with no games, and the weekend after next, with the last 2 rounds. The only change I am making is spreading out the first two rounds over two weekends.

(2) Yes and no. If the first two rounds are single-elimination, one game each weekend, the fans will not have to spend a night in a hotel as long as the sites are nearby. I think it would be cheaper for most fans, especially of the top 8 seeds, to follow their teams through the first two rounds.

(3) There's a work-around where you could get all 8 first-round games on ESPNU...here's an example of the schedule:
Friday 7:00 ET--Colorado College at #1 Yale
Friday 7:30 MT--Air Force at #7 Denver
Saturday 3:30 ET--New Hampshire at #8 Union
Saturday 6:00 ET--Rensselaer at #3 Boston College
Saturday 7:30 CT--Notre Dame at #2 North Dakota
Sunday 2:00 ET--Western Michigan at #6 Merrimack
Sunday 4:30 ET--Nebraska-Omaha at #4 Miami
Sunday 7:00 ET--Minnesota-Duluth at #5 Michigan

And the second-round games could be played as doubleheaders on Saturday (4:00 & 7:30 CT in Milwaukee) and Sunday (1:30 & 5:00 ET in Manchester). All 12 games would be on ESPNU...just like men's lacrosse, which gets all 12 of its first and second round games broadcast on ESPNU in a similar format. I'm not sure I'm completely in favor; I think of hockey as a night sport and not an afternoon one, but obviously that can be cast aside to get games on TV.

As far as Rover's concern about accommodating fans of the visiting teams in the first round, I'm all for requiring hosts to make 500-1,000 tickets available for the visiting team to purchase and sell to its own fans.

bronconick
03-28-2011, 06:33 PM
The fact that there are so many "power" teams (as you describe them) is a good thing, in my view. I see a 12-team field with 10-11 power teams as an improvement on a 16-team field with . . . 10-11 power teams.

Why?
Because those extra at-larges don't bring anything to the table. They make their fanbases happy, but their effect is a net negative.

Why?
Because a regional with 4-6 power teams is indescribably more appealing than a regional with 1-3 power teams.

You're exactly right that hoops and hockey are different. It's for that very reason that I'm not overly concerned with maximizing the number of happy-to-be-theres. To even approximate the situation in basketball, we'd have to open the hockey tournament to every D1 team.

1 seeds are 11-9 in their first round games over the last 5 tournaments. Atlantic Hockey has two first round wins (Air Force over Michigan, RIT over Denver) in that time period. Where exactly are you finding these "just glad to be here" schools?

HockeyMan2000
03-28-2011, 06:36 PM
The length of the tournament is not changed. Right now, it has 3 weekends--this last weekend, with the first two rounds, next weekend, with no games, and the weekend after next, with the last 2 rounds. The only change I am making is spreading out the first two rounds over two weekends.


I realize that, and that's exactly one of the major problems I think there is with your concept. Instead of asking fans to be involved with 2 pre-Frozen Four NCAA playoff weekends, you're asking them to be involved with 3 of them. That means both more of a commitment of their time -- since you are spreading the games out -- and also likely money as well since there's another weekend where games are actually being played (as opposed to the bye weekend where there is no commitment of their time/money; and IMO I think both fans and teams need it heading into the Frozen Four).


If the first two rounds are single-elimination, one game each weekend, the fans will not have to spend a night in a hotel as long as the sites are nearby.

If you're talking single-elimination, that's a whole other ball game...but saying fans won't have to spend a night in a hotel means you're going to have to seed and place teams primarily on geographic location. That's a whole other can of worms.

I think a better idea is finding some way of taking the 4 regional sites and moving to 2 locations. We both agree consolidating the regional sites is probably a way they will go -- making it a logistic possibility is probably the argument we ought to be having. I just can't see them expanding the length of the current tournament and doing both campus sites AND a regional round. It's one or the other, most likely, given the feeble support the current system is generating.

amherstblackbear
03-28-2011, 06:56 PM
1 seeds are 11-9 in their first round games over the last 5 tournaments. Atlantic Hockey has two first round wins (Air Force over Michigan, RIT over Denver) in that time period. Where exactly are you finding these "just glad to be here" schools?

It was Craig's phrase, not mine. It was easier to just run with it than to quibble over wording. :)

My point is that there is a finite number of teams that are both compelling and deserving. A 12-team field maximizes the proportion of entrants that meet both of those criteria. I have no problem excluding potentially compelling teams that just aren't deserving (sorry Maine, Wisconsin). Nor would I have a problem excluding a team that, frankly, isn't very compelling and is only marginally deserving. Give me the top-12. If you're not in the top 12 (out of 58) overall, and you fail to take advantage of the opportunity for an autobid, then I can't muster up any sympathy over your exclusion.

The bottom line for me (and it almost appears as if there is a consensus developing) is that the current 4-team regionals are not interesting. Unless teams are playing at home. What I take from that is: whatever the marginal benefit of including teams #13-16, if that necessitates a move from 2 to 4 regionals, then the marginal cost is even greater.

Does that mean that an underdog can't win a game? Of course not. Especially in a sport like hockey, where a goalie can have the game of his life. But including a bunch of extra teams just because it's not inconceivable that they could pull off an upset doesn't make the tournament better.

I've looked at this entire discussion from one perspective: "how to make the regionals not suck so much." My feelings about that are clear, so I'll leave it at that.

Alton
03-28-2011, 06:59 PM
Yeah, we're just going to have to differ on that, HM2K. The 2 regionals of 8 teams each keeps everything that's wrong with the current system and makes a few of those things even worse--the regionals would have to last 3 days instead of 2; that's not going to encourage the fans who don't travel now, because those people just wouldn't sit in an arena for 6 hours watching hockey if their team isn't playing.

I think the only improvement that could be made to the lacrosse-style system would be to make the quarterfinal round at home sites, but I think there would be enough fan support for neutral-site quarterfinals.

AFHockeyFan
03-28-2011, 07:13 PM
"Happy to be there" is AHA.
For the record, Air Force wasn't just "happy to be there."
http://www.gazette.com/sports/ramsey-115243-cqandrew-torf.html

JW Tigers
03-28-2011, 07:25 PM
For the record, Air Force wasn't just "happy to be there."
http://www.gazette.com/sports/ramsey-115243-cqandrew-torf.html

Yeah, given the play of AFA and of course RIT of late, there is no "happy to be there". The AHA (and the CHA before folding) have proven they can play with the elite, auto-bid or not.

CLS
03-28-2011, 08:05 PM
One way a super-regional could work would be to hold them at places in which there are enough rinks of appropriate size within close enough commuting distance that the semi-finals for the two regionals could be played at different rinks. For example, one region could semi-finals at Matthews Arena in Boston, while the other regional has semi-finals at Agganis Arena at BU (and I wouldn’t have any trouble saying that if BU makes the tournament, they have to play at Matthews or if Northeastern made the tournament that they have to play at Agganis). The regional finals could be at one or the other, or even a third venue if there's one that makes sense.

Of course, there may not be too many places that this could be done. Maybe Detroit or the twin cities?

slurpees
03-28-2011, 08:16 PM
One way a super-regional could work would be to hold them at places in which there are enough rinks of appropriate size within close enough commuting distance that the semi-finals for the two regionals could be played at different rinks. For example, one region could semi-finals at Matthews Arena in Boston, while the other regional has semi-finals at Agganis Arena at BU (and I wouldn’t have any trouble saying that if BU makes the tournament, they have to play at Matthews or if Northeastern made the tournament that they have to play at Agganis). The regional finals could be at one or the other, or even a third venue if there's one that makes sense.

Of course, there may not be too many places that this could be done. Maybe Detroit or the twin cities?

But out west, where would this be the case? DU and CC and MN-St.Cloud-Mankato are the only ones I can think of, and even still, that's not exactly like playing at Matthews one night and Agganis the next. That means two different hotels, packing up, moving to another hotel after game one, I can't see it happening. I imagine the coaches would be heavily against the idea of having to travel in between two single elimination tournament games any distance that's farther than a couple of miles to the hotel.

Rover
03-28-2011, 08:37 PM
I don't see how any of this improves over the regional set up now. People need to realize that lower attendance (and I'd like to see the figures if somebody has them handy) is most likely reflective of the economy, particularly in hard hit places like Michigan. Also add bad seedings like sending BC to St. Louis this year. Going back to 12 teams is a really bad idea, I don't care how basketball does it. Getting to the tournament drums up interest. With 12 teams and 6 conferences you're most likely giving up the auto bid, so it'll be all HE, WCHA and CCHA teams. I don't think its a bad thing that an expanded tournament can allow more ECAC and AHA teams to make the tourney and make some noise. Now I'm not advocating more than 16 before somebody stuffs and props up that strawman, but unless college hockey contracts considerably the ship on the 12 team tournament has sailed.

College hockey, like pro hockey, is a gate receipt league. It lives by how many people show up. Start restricting fan access and interest will drop accordingly. On the flip side sometimes extra exposure works. Over the years, schools are filling bigger arenas, TV coverage has increased, the tournament sells out NHL arenas, and fewer programs are on a death watch. Given that obvious growth in interest in the sport, lets give the regionals a little more time and make some smaller changes (and wait out the recession) before blowing the whole thing up.

slurpees
03-28-2011, 08:45 PM
I don't see how any of this improves over the regional set up now. People need to realize that lower attendance (and I'd like to see the figures if somebody has them handy) is most likely reflective of the economy, particularly in hard hit places like Michigan. Also add bad seedings like sending BC to St. Louis this year. Going back to 12 teams is a really bad idea, I don't care how basketball does it. Getting to the tournament drums up interest. With 12 teams and 6 conferences you're most likely giving up the auto bid, so it'll be all HE, WCHA and CCHA teams. I don't think its a bad thing that an expanded tournament can allow more ECAC and AHA teams to make the tourney and make some noise. Now I'm not advocating more than 16 before somebody stuffs and props up that strawman, but unless college hockey contracts considerably the ship on the 12 team tournament has sailed.

College hockey, like pro hockey, is a gate receipt league. It lives by how many people show up. Start restricting fan access and interest will drop accordingly. On the flip side sometimes extra exposure works. Over the years, schools are filling bigger arenas, TV coverage has increased, the tournament sells out NHL arenas, and fewer programs are on a death watch. Given that obvious growth in interest in the sport, lets give the regionals a little more time and make some smaller changes (and wait out the recession) before blowing the whole thing up.

Agreed on everything. Ticket prices and sales should be adjusted. Lower the prices a bit, and open up single day ticket sales far sooner than the day before the game. Stop hosting regionals in dumb places like St. Louis and Fort Wayne that are either nowhere near a college team, or that are incredibly hard to get to. The only non-college site I could see a regional having some success at would be Chicago, if there's an arena in the city or close suburbs (not the hour drive away one where the ND tournament is) that holds 8-10,000. The city is so centrally located to the western teams and easy to get to, plus the abundance of people in the area as compared to a place like STL that it might be worth a shot. The eastern sites are fine so long as they stick with Bridgeport, Worcester, Manchester, and maybe try out Hartford and Providence. Manchester and Bridgeport each had 7,500+ for all games this weekend, which is about all you can expect for regionals, and would be considered a great crowd at a regular season home game. No need to go around making sweeping changes to the tournament that would have a direct effect on the games in order to accommodate fans. At the end of the day, the most important thing is maintaining the integrity of the competition on the ice, not instituting gimmick tournament structures or travel schedules to get another 1,000 fans and have to go head to head against the Final Four weekend in the process.

amherstblackbear
03-28-2011, 09:00 PM
@Rover

In 2008 (last regionals before the market collapse and unemployment spike), the Western regionals' championship attendance was all right, but the Eastern regionals were depressing. The success on the Western side was a function of Wisconsin playing on home ice and the Western regional being held at a smaller campus rink.

Northeast (Worcester)
BC-Miami (5900)

East (Albany)
Michigan-Clarkson (4300)

Midwest (Madison)
Wisconsin-North Dakota (9800)

West (Colo Springs)
Notre Dame-MSU (5800)

Set aside the number of teams for a moment. If these numbers are normal (and I bet they are), what this tells us is that the 2nd day of a 4-team regional is basically hostage to whether a "home" team is still playing. That's what happens when there is only one game that day. Lots of people will leave. Contrast that to the 2nd day of the old super-regionals (which sent 2 teams to the Frozen Four), when attendance at Worcester was typically well north of 10,000.

We'll agree to disagree on tournament size. But maybe I can still convince you that a 4-team, 3-game regional is almost destined to fail unless it looks like that 2008 Midwestern regional.

Farce Poobah
03-28-2011, 09:01 PM
Here's a couple of other suggestions.

First, don't play all the games at the same time. The current setup makes it impossible for the dedicated hardcore fan to actually see the entire tournament, which leads to the "I will just watch my boys" factor. Changing schedules just a little would make it possible for these fans to NOT have to choose between watching "my boys" or a regional that's within a couple hours' drive. (Couple years ago, regional at Mariucci and the Sioux playing at the same time elsewhere ... I chose to watch the Sioux ... loss of ticket sales for NC$$.)

So, for example: 4 games Saturday to kick off the regionals (1030, 200, 530, 900 EDT), 4 games Sunday, 2 Finals Monday (530 and 900 EDT), 2 Finals Tuesday. (Or if we are sticking with 6 games Saturday, then let's not put semifinal games up against regional finals!) Another alternative would be 4 games Friday, 4 games Saturday, 4 regional finals Sunday.

(Note: the day-between is standard for NCAA basketball, and I think hockey should have it likewise. I realize back-to-back just helped my squad beat Denver, but I don't like fatigue from a prior game becoming a determining factor in games this important.

A second benefit of this is more time between conference tournaments and NCAA .... may make the conference tournaments more meaningful.

Second, consider giving "priority points" to regional attendees. Go the Regional and get priority points toward your Frozen Four tickets. And vice versa.

Third, all the conferences need to get together and submit combined hosting bids ... the primary benefit of this is to keep the top-seeded conference team near home. Catering to fans of the top seeds, who are the most enthusiastic and likely to attend, is a surefire way to sell tickets. (IF there's a way to give students a break on prices, that doesn't open up some crazy resale loophole, even better.)

Fourth, seat "fan sections" in prime TV viewing spaces, not the traditional "dump them in the corners" routine. At least make it look interesting on TV.

Rover
03-28-2011, 09:26 PM
amherstblackbear,

I'm more in a wait and see mode on the regionals. Farce posted some sensible tweaks that I'd like to try before taking more drastic action. I think a few other non-economy things haven't helped either. First is BC fatigue in the East. Even talking to their fans they're taking the regionals for granted, while teams like UNH are expecting to crap out. Teams like Maine and BU who could draw well in the East regionals haven't been regular participants unfortunately, and Merrimac or any ECAC team can't be expected to make up that difference. Second and maybe more important is TV coverage. Really at this point in the East you can probably just catch the game from the comfort of your own home. In this regard I think they do need to drop ticket prices considerably, because fans now have an alternative to seeing the game live. This is a problem with most spectator sports, and I'm not sure what the answer is.

But I do share your concern. St. Louis was a big mistake but hopefully they'll learn from it, just like the NCAA's learned not to put the FF in Cincinnatti ever again!

Patman
03-28-2011, 09:38 PM
Agreed on everything. Ticket prices and sales should be adjusted. Lower the prices a bit, and open up single day ticket sales far sooner than the day before the game. Stop hosting regionals in dumb places like St. Louis and Fort Wayne that are either nowhere near a college team, or that are incredibly hard to get to. The only non-college site I could see a regional having some success at would be Chicago, if there's an arena in the city or close suburbs (not the hour drive away one where the ND tournament is) that holds 8-10,000. The city is so centrally located to the western teams and easy to get to, plus the abundance of people in the area as compared to a place like STL that it might be worth a shot. The eastern sites are fine so long as they stick with Bridgeport, Worcester, Manchester, and maybe try out Hartford and Providence. Manchester and Bridgeport each had 7,500+ for all games this weekend, which is about all you can expect for regionals, and would be considered a great crowd at a regular season home game. No need to go around making sweeping changes to the tournament that would have a direct effect on the games in order to accommodate fans. At the end of the day, the most important thing is maintaining the integrity of the competition on the ice, not instituting gimmick tournament structures or travel schedules to get another 1,000 fans and have to go head to head against the Final Four weekend in the process.

one of the bigger problems for the sport is that it does make money that's needed to fund all the other tournaments in the NCAA... if you cut the prices (it was $30 for 4 games in 1993) then the fans will come and it will build up the sport.... but it would probably take away from the overall $$$. I think in this case I can see a matter of priorities... $$$ is necessary to fund the tournaments.

Generally though, the prices the NCAA set for these things are outright nuts... to the point where you need local teams in place in order to do well for attendance.

You know, I haven't yet been to a four team regional... but the six team ones seemed to be like a celebration more than anything else with all those schools plus the local fans... that's my experience from 93, 97, 99, 01, 02, and 03 in worcester (not sure on all my dates)... yes, i get it, everybody here thinks the centrum is a hole... whatever. The 6 team regionals always had some excitement and they filled the building very well. Would be nice to get that back at some point.

amherstblackbear
03-28-2011, 09:52 PM
You and me both, Patman.

I'll take a superregional at Worcester over a miniregional at some sparkling new rink every day of the week. Those things were just plain fun. And it *was*like a mini Frozen Four experience, seeing people (and hockey sweaters) from all over.

HockeyMan2000
03-28-2011, 11:20 PM
Patman and Amherstblackbear -- I'm with you guys entirely on what the regionals USED to be like. I stopped going when they expanded to 4 sites as well. IMO two sites is more of a draw to both casual fans (more games, more of an event) and the hard-core types like us. If you're going to make the pre-Frozen Four NCAA games fun you need to pack as much excitement and value into the event as possible. Spreading out the regionals, taking a game away from what you saw before (in the 2 site regional format you saw half the field advance to the Frozen Four; now only a quarter of the field), and yet charging the same (or higher!) for tickets as the NCAA did when they expanded to 4 sites detracted from the event's overall value. It's the main reason I stopped going in fact.

That said, I think if they're going to stick with the current system they have to be smarter about the locations (axe St. Louis and anywhere else like it) and probably start seeding teams with less "bracket integrity" in mind (a farce anyway when host schools, often undeservedly, get to stay home) and more of a reliance on keeping teams more in their respective regions (within reason). The 2-site, 12-team format had so much more excitement associated with it, as it was mostly regional teams with a couple of the best teams from the "other side" (East/West) coming in to battle in a hostile environment...and the atmosphere was so much more than most of these 4 site regionals has been able to generate.

I likewise agree with Amherstblackbear entirely on the general issues involved with a 3-game, 4-site regional format. The second day is going to always be entirely held hostage by the teams playing in it. Folks will go home who lost the first day and unless you have a local team in the second, attendance is going to be mediocre typically or worse.

One way or another, it needs to be fixed, and I'm betting it will.

Craig P.
03-29-2011, 02:10 AM
The fact that there are so many "power" teams (as you describe them) is a good thing, in my view. I see a 12-team field with 10-11 power teams as an improvement on a 16-team field with . . . 10-11 power teams.

Why?
Because those extra at-larges don't bring anything to the table. They make their fanbases happy, but their effect is a net negative.

Why?
Because a regional with 4-6 power teams is indescribably more appealing than a regional with 1-3 power teams.

You're exactly right that hoops and hockey are different. It's for that very reason that I'm not overly concerned with maximizing the number of happy-to-be-theres. To even approximate the situation in basketball, we'd have to open the hockey tournament to every D1 team.

I guess we've reached the point of irreconcileable differences, then. I will not consider less than about 1/3 "power" to at-large bids to be acceptable, and this is an argument that I was making back when the tournament was still only 12 teams. That 1/3 ratio is about the ratio in basketball, it's about the ratio in hockey now, and I think it's about the sweet spot balancing quality of teams in the tournament and accessibility.

Craig P.
03-29-2011, 02:15 AM
who are the non power teams , Only ecac and aha teams? Was UNH not a power team due to being a #4 seed this year?

No, only AHA. AHA teams are not, absent an exceptional season, playing for an at-large bid. They need to not only win almost all of their conference games, but also have an excellent out of conference record as well.

In contrast, pretty much any team in the other four conferences can get a very good shot at an at-large bid by finishing in the top three with a solid out-of-conference record.

The ECAC has flirted a little with the power/non-power line, but they're pretty solid this season with the #1 overall seed, a #2 seed, and three teams overall in the tournament.