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Craig P.
03-29-2011, 02:20 AM
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.

Obviously, it's a phrase that's somewhat lacking as a descriptive, but I'm not sure what else to call them. Maybe mid-major, though I've always thought of that as more referring to the conferences like the CAA in basketball which aren't the major conferences but also tend to get themselves a second (sometimes third) bid. That's not AHA. AHA is more like the one-bid conferences, albeit one where that one bid has developed a history of being frisky.

Maybe just "non-power" as an opposite to "power", or something like that. I do think that there's an important distinction to be made between the four conferences that regularly place multiple at-large teams in the tournament and AHA, which regularly places its champion in the tournament, who would usually not qualify for an at-large selection had they not gotten their auto-bid.

Roben
03-29-2011, 07:15 AM
Not sure if this has been mentioned, but to get some more money made by filling those empty seats, they should release the tickets that haven't been sold yet a few hours before game time and sell them at a deeply discounted rate. Granted, some people may have bought them and not gone, however, doing such a thing would get people in the arena, buying food and drinks, which I'm sure gets the NC$$ some sort of money, and it puts more butts in the seats, and looks better on TV. Someone flipping through on the TV probably isn't going to stick around long for the game if they 1. dont know what it is, 2. know the importance, and 3. dont see the lower bowl filled more. They'll think it's something not too important, and will pass on it.

Same sort of thing for bouncy ball with the tickets, however, everyone knows what it is with all the coverage it gets.

CLS
03-29-2011, 07:42 AM
. . .

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

. . .
Now that's an interesting idea that I've never seen before. The first time I attended a regional was to "buy" my way into the Albany FF, and I've been to several regionals since because I had a great time at the regional (other than a dreadful hotel, but that was the hotel's fault, not Albany's). And yeah, I did like the "super-regional" format and wish that it could be repeated, but not at the expense of going back to 12.

Kepler
03-29-2011, 08:18 AM
Straight seed 1-16, play round one best of 3 at better seeds; reseed for the second round and repeat. Great for attendance, rewards teams for performance, ends the absurdity of worse seeds hosting better seeds, lessens the impact of one bad night (or one bad call).

Straight seeding would allow an east-west mix sometimes and a more road fan friendly intra-conference match-up sometimes. The criteria would be hockey-based, jettisoning all the geographic-economic garbage they factor in now.

I don't know how travel expenses are paid for now but I'd create a common pool paid into by all the D-1 programs pro-rated by their revenue.

amherstblackbear
03-29-2011, 08:24 AM
There's a proposal I can't get behind: eliminating regionals entirely *and* eliminating the one and done that makes the current tournament exciting. Maybe for the first round. Maybe. But I can't support "best of" all the way to the Frozen Four. :\

Better off, I think, to have the 2nd round in one-day Eastern and Western regionals, with 2 games each. Sure some of the fans of the losing team in game 1 will leave, but not all. And many fans of the team that wins game 1 will stick around for game 2 because (a) they've already paid for it and (b) they're curious to see who the opponent will be in the FF.

MeridianStreet
03-29-2011, 09:46 AM
The sites are spread out and economics for the fan is a factor. I am a long time Lake Superior State fan. In the early 90s, I always went to the CCHA finals at Joe Louis in Detroit. That weekend with family was expensive, so when the Lakers were in a regional the following week, I stayed home hoping for a berth in the FF. I was rewarded three straight years - 1992-1994 - and went to the FF each time. back in those days the regional were not televised and only on radio. Now with cable I can watch almost all the regional games.

The days of the cheap plane ticket are behind us. As someone else pointed out, even some of the BB venues were lightly attended. I don't see two sites working any better than four. Trying smaller (less than 10,000 seats) venues may work.

pinch
03-29-2011, 09:50 AM
Straight seed 1-16, play round one best of 3 at better seeds; reseed for the second round and repeat. Great for attendance, rewards teams for performance, ends the absurdity of worse seeds hosting better seeds, lessens the impact of one bad night (or one bad call).

Straight seeding would allow an east-west mix sometimes and a more road fan friendly intra-conference match-up sometimes. The criteria would be hockey-based, jettisoning all the geographic-economic garbage they factor in now.

I don't know how travel expenses are paid for now but I'd create a common pool paid into by all the D-1 programs pro-rated by their revenue.

Agree..

Jim
03-29-2011, 10:18 AM
I'm not a fan of the best of 3 format for the NCAA Tournament, but if you were insistent on it,I'd make everyone play in it. With 18 teams, there is no reason to have byes. It would be different with 12 obvioulsy, but there aren't 12 and without serious contraction it won't go back to 12. I'd prefer 2 8 team regionals, one in the East, one in the West with teams seeded mainly by Region. Yu could also go to a pod system similar to the NCAA basketball tournament, where you make a major effort ot have teams play nearby even if they are technically seed in another Region. Personnally I'd prefer a more East-West type setup at the expense of seeding, because I personally think that in hockey more than many other sports there is a regional rivalry. In any case if you had 4 games on Friday and 2 on Saturday I think that woujld be both interesting and intense, and as Patman says, something of a celebration of the sport. I'dkeep the games in "hockey" regions, New England, New York Michigan, Minnesota Wisconsin maybe Columbus in Ohio rahter than trying to play in "new" areas and I'd try to focus on smaller arenas with capacities in the 8500-12000 range rather than the 15,000-20,000 beheamoths.

I actually think that one mistake that many people make, and the NCAA makes it itself, is trying ot copy the basketball model for every other sport.

pgb-ohio
03-29-2011, 11:35 AM
I think it's helpful to show what exactly I am talking about when I recommend a format that is the same as the men's Division I lacrosse tournament. The lacrosse tournament's general structure is exactly the same as hockey--16 teams over 3 weeks with 4 teams at the final site--so a transition to their format would be essentially painless, with no need to reschedule the regular season or the already-booked frozen fours.

The priorities in the first round--(1) Seeds 1-8 host seeds 9-16, (2) avoid intraconference matchups, (3) minimize flights, (4) bracket integrity. If this is adapted for hockey, it could be single-elimination like the other 3 rounds, or it could be best-of-3. Let's say it's single-elimination.

FIRST ROUND
Colorado College at #1 Yale
Notre Dame at #2 North Dakota
Rensselaer at #3 Boston College
Nebraska-Omaha at #4 Miami
Minnesota-Duluth at #5 Michigan
Western Michigan at #6 Merrimack
Air Force at #7 Denver
New Hampshire at #8 Union

The quarterfinals in men's lacrosse are held at sites determined before the start of the season, one doubleheader in each region. Let's say that this year, they are in Milwaukee and Manchester. The quarterfinals are paired by straight seeding, assuming the highest seeds advance. The matchups must be 1-8, 2-7, 3-6, 4-5.

QUARTERFINALS

East Quarterfinals at Manchester, NH
#3 Boston College/Rensselaer winner v #6 Merrimack/Western Michigan winner
#1 Yale/Colorado College winner v #8 Union/New Hampshire winner

West Quarterfinals at Milwaukee, WI
#2 North Dakota/Notre Dame winner v #7 Denver/Air Force winner
#4 Miami/Nebraska-Omaha winner v #5 Michigan/Minnesota-Duluth winner

The frozen four will be paired as usual, bracketing the teams so that #1 plays #4 if they advance, and #2 plays #3.

So...what would attendance be like? Even if the first round is single-elimination, I would conservatively expect 44,000 fans, which is the total attendance for the fourth-largest crowd in each arena this season. The second round would draw, conservatively, 13,000 fans, for a total of 57,000 fans in 10 sessions for the first two rounds. This year's regionals drew about 46,000 fans in 8 sessions. I think the lacrosse system is a net gain.

What about travel? Under this year's system, 11 teams had to fly to their regional sites. Under the men's lacrosse system, 5 teams would have to fly in the first round and, assuming the higher seeds win, 3 teams would be flying to their second-round game, for a total of 8 flights for the first 2 rounds.

The men's lacrosse system will draw more fans, will reduce travel and hotel costs, and make more money than the current system is making, all without having to cut the tournament down to 12.Great thread. Lots of fine thinking on all sides of the question. After some reflection, I've come to the conclusion that Alton's proposal is the best.

I'll try not repeat points that have already been made, but would like to offer some comments in support of Alton:

1. Home Ice Home ice during NCAA play isn't a problem per se. But UNEARNED Home Ice is a major problem. Under both the current system and the six team regional format, a team can barely qualify for the tournament, yet enjoy home ice advantage. Alton's system eliminates this problem by having the top 8 teams earn their home ice. For me, that's a major selling point.

2. March Madness The elephant in the room is the NCAA Hoops tourney. People have made some mention of this, but it needs to be said directly. Casual fans won't be attending our regionals anytime in the foreseeable future. They'll be home watching hoops. In addition, March is a time when a plethora of high school championships are decided. Take that into account and you realize you're competing with a herd of elephants. We've got to put these games where the hard-core fans want them. The casual fan isn't coming.

3. Ticket Sales The first round games on campus sites will sell very well. I'm really going to show my age with the next reference, but here goes. I attended the 1979 Minnesota/BG game at Williams Arena that opened that year's NCAA tournament. (Yes, it was Williams Arena for many years before it became "Old Mariucci.") The place was packed; the atmosphere was great. It was everything an early round NCAA game should be. The fact it was one game, winner-take-all format helped, IMHO. Everyone who was interested had to make it to that one special game. Bottom Line: If a great on-campus crowd for the first round was possible "back in the day," it's certainly possible now.

4. Building Conflicts Single games for the first round will also help with building conflicts. Potential teams need only hold open Friday, Saturday OR Sunday. The other two days can be booked with other events.

5. Fan Travel I'm not bothered by the fact that relatively few fans of the #9 through #16 teams would travel to the first round games. The same people aren't traveling under the current format.

6. The Second Round A double-header at each of two neutral sites is a nice compromise. Provided the neutral sites are in hockey hotbeds, and each double-header has its own day, decent crowds are at least a possibility. This is especially true in the East, where large numbers could see "the whole show" without needing overnight lodging. TV coverage would undoubtedly be available for both venues. Viewers at home would be served their hockey in manageable portions: Two games on Saturday, two games on Sunday.

7. Cash Considerations Reading multiple Alton posts together, I'm comfortable believing that his format is cost and revenue neutral -- at the very least. In any event, the Frozen Four is the cash cow. As long as the regionals more or less break even, we should be fine.

8. Future Prospects Granted, there's less upside potential if smaller facilities are used in the early rounds. But if we ever get to the point where unacceptable numbers are being turned away from the first two rounds, we can change things up again. My guess is that Alton's format would prove to be satisfactory for many years to come.

chickod
03-29-2011, 11:42 AM
I'm not a fan of the best of 3 format for the NCAA Tournament, but if you were insistent on it,I'd make everyone play in it. With 18 teams, there is no reason to have byes. It would be different with 12 obvioulsy, but there aren't 12 and without serious contraction it won't go back to 12. I'd prefer 2 8 team regionals, one in the East, one in the West with teams seeded mainly by Region. Yu could also go to a pod system similar to the NCAA basketball tournament, where you make a major effort ot have teams play nearby even if they are technically seed in another Region. Personnally I'd prefer a more East-West type setup at the expense of seeding, because I personally think that in hockey more than many other sports there is a regional rivalry. In any case if you had 4 games on Friday and 2 on Saturday I think that woujld be both interesting and intense, and as Patman says, something of a celebration of the sport. I'dkeep the games in "hockey" regions, New England, New York Michigan, Minnesota Wisconsin maybe Columbus in Ohio rahter than trying to play in "new" areas and I'd try to focus on smaller arenas with capacities in the 8500-12000 range rather than the 15,000-20,000 beheamoths.

I actually think that one mistake that many people make, and the NCAA makes it itself, is trying ot copy the basketball model for every other sport.

Again, agree completely...


The criteria would be hockey-based, jettisoning all the geographic-economic garbage they factor in now.

No! No! No! It's not "garbage." Unless, of course, you are a millionaire. If you want PEOPLE in the seats, then PEOPLE have to buy the plane tickets and pay to stay in the hotels. Maybe YOU have the money, but most of us don't. The seedings NEED TO incorporate the regional considerations.

Caustic Undertow
03-29-2011, 12:18 PM
One major factor in issues with regionals that nobody (surprisingly!) has mentioned is the significant difference culturally and geographically between the Eastern teams and the "Western" teams. Regionals work in places like Worcester because dozens (!) of teams are within a reasonable drive of it. Many of the teams may individually have smaller fanbases than, say, North Dakota, but many more of those fans have a realistic chance to attend. Green Bay is within a couple of hours of precisely one school with a realistic chance of making the tournament. The occasional region in Colorado is dependent on one of the three Colorado schools. A regional Minneapolis is at least centrally located, but even then it relies heavily on the presence of the Gophers to succeed.

This makes the current regional system "regionally imbalanced." It is much easier to find a fairly located Eastern regional than a Western one. This year many people suggested that it was "about time" BC had to leave its own area for a regional. Indeed, when BC is out east it may be in New Hampshire or Connecticut or Massachusetts, but it is still reasonably close to home. On the other hand, Michigan has played Western regionals in Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Fort Wayne... and St. Louis, Grand Forks, and Denver--places that are at least as far from Ann Arbor as any Eastern regional.

This is not some committee bias or NCAA carelessness. This is the reality of the sport. This is why HEA teams regularly play two different teams in a weekend, while WCHA teams without fail play two game series in one location. And again, I believe that if fairness is a concern, home-ice first and second rounds eliminates this issue.

Handyman
03-29-2011, 12:26 PM
If they went to the Best of Three that would seriously dent my enjoyment of the tournament and would most likely mean there would be no RITs or BSUs making Frozen Fours. The more games you play the less likely of an upset. That may have been awesome back in the day but even if/when the Gophers turn it around and become a power again (meaning this system would benefit them) I would never want to see it. Teams lose on bad calls all the time, in the end it evens itself out. Win or go home is the only way that makes it fair.

And it is even worse if you combine best of 3 at top seeds home...I can feel the yawn growing already.

Caustic Undertow
03-29-2011, 12:27 PM
Also, let me echo something Alton said early for some of the thread latecomers who have developed the fact-free opinion that everything the NCAA does to hockey is driven by money without concern for the sport:

The current and future NCAA tournament arrangements are not determined by non-hockey people in smoke-filled rooms in Indianapolis who only care about basketball. They are determined by the hockey competition committee, which is made up of the people involved with our hockey teams. Your coaches are the ones making these decisions. As Alton said, the amount of money at stake for regionals is a drop in the bucket, and furthermore the individual locations set their own prices. The FF does indeed make money, but nobody complains about it--it works pretty well.

The format of the NCAA tournament, its selection process (the completely objective PWR is totally unique to hockey, the most transparent NCAA tournament selection process in the organization), and its locations will be determined by college hockey people. People who have a huge stake in its success, since their income is dependent on the success of the sport. I may not agree with some of their choices, but I cannot question their motives.

Caustic Undertow
03-29-2011, 12:29 PM
If they went to the Best of Three that would seriously dent my enjoyment of the tournament and would most likely mean there would be no RITs or BSUs making Frozen Fours. The more games you play the less likely of an upset. That may have been awesome back in the day but even if/when the Gophers turn it around and become a power again (meaning this system would benefit them) I would never want to see it. Teams lose on bad calls all the time, in the end it evens itself out. Win or go home is the only way that makes it fair.

And it is even worse if you combine best of 3 at top seeds home...I can feel the yawn growing already.

This is a valid source of debate, one that we haven't really had yet. I think there are upsides and downsides for both formats.

Rover
03-29-2011, 12:35 PM
I'll reiterate that this is a well thought out proposal, just one I'd keep in my back pocket for now. It seems the West needs a better rotation of sites to hold the games. I wonder if it would be possible to find a Chicago based site (but not the United Center which is too large) as well as a Minny site and have it there every year or alternate with Colorado every so often (which in truth would be dependent on CC/Denver making it, or both, but nothing is going to be perfect).

One other thing I've realized from this discussion is that the next time BU makes the regionals and they're placed in a New England site I need to get my butt over there. I confess I've been lacking in that regard for awhile now.:o

Handyman
03-29-2011, 12:37 PM
I get why people like best of 3, I especially get why the NCAA would like it but it seems like a major step backwards if you ask me, a desperate ploy to make sure the "right teams" make it so the NCAA maximizes viewers and ticket sales. That is great for them but I guarantee I will tune out. Maybe I am alone on that, but even though my team is the loser in the biggest upset the tourny has seen (at least to that point) I like that. My team should not be rewarded with a second chance just because they had a great season. They won awards for the season they had, the Tourny is separate, they lost they should go home.

I guarantee you go to best of 3 at home sites and the divide between the "Power" and "Non-Power" schools will grow exponentially.

First round home games I can deal with, best of 3 is archaic and just continues to reward a team for a good regular season. Would Michigan ever lose a series at Yost? Would UND lose a series at REA? I think we know the answer to those questions.

edit: I know I said NCAA and make it sound like they are the driving force, that isnt how I meant it.

moose97
03-29-2011, 12:59 PM
I'll reiterate that this is a well thought out proposal, just one I'd keep in my back pocket for now. It seems the West needs a better rotation of sites to hold the games. I wonder if it would be possible to find a Chicago based site (but not the United Center which is too large) as well as a Minny site and have it there every year or alternate with Colorado every so often (which in truth would be dependent on CC/Denver making it, or both, but nothing is going to be perfect).

There are actually a lot of rinks in and around Chicago that would work:

1) Allstate Arena (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allstate_Arena) (Rosemount Horizon) - 16,600 seats
2) Sears Center (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sears_Centre) - 11,000 seats *
3) Chicago Pavilion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UIC_Pavilion) (UIC) - 7000 seats
4) Ice Edge Arena (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edge_Ice_Arena) - 3000 seats **

I think the problem in Minnesota now is that all the big rinks besides the X are college rinks, and the NCAA doesn't want to go to campus venues. They could go to some of the nicer high school rinks in the twin cities, but is that what you really want?

What about Fargo?

5000 seats

http://www.scheelsarena.com/

* hosts Shillelagh Tourney (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shillelagh_Tournament)
** home of Chicago Steel of USHL (http://www.chicagosteelhockeyteam.com/)

Jim
03-29-2011, 01:03 PM
I get why people like best of 3, I especially get why the NCAA would like it but it seems like a major step backwards if you ask me, a desperate ploy to make sure the "right teams" make it so the NCAA maximizes viewers and ticket sales. That is great for them but I guarantee I will tune out. Maybe I am alone on that, but even though my team is the loser in the biggest upset the tourny has seen (at least to that point) I like that. My team should not be rewarded with a second chance just because they had a great season. They won awards for the season they had, the Tourny is separate, they lost they should go home.

I guarantee you go to best of 3 at home sites and the divide between the "Power" and "Non-Power" schools will grow exponentially.

First round home games I can deal with, best of 3 is archaic and just continues to reward a team for a good regular season. Would Michigan ever lose a series at Yost? Would UND lose a series at REA? I think we know the answer to those questions.

edit: I know I said NCAA and make it sound like they are the driving force, that isnt how I meant it.

I completely agree with you on this. Once you make the tournament, within some kind of boundary everyone should be equal. Best of 3 at the home of the higher seed is just protection for the higher seeds, it seems to me. For me, part of the fun of the tournament is that if you play well you can win. If you come out of the AHA maybe you need to play almost a perfect game, but teams have done that, or come close. Going to a best of 3 just takes that element away most of the time. I like the idea that once you're there, everyone starts at 0-0, and you have to keep the 0 in the loss column to keep playing.

amherstblackbear
03-29-2011, 01:07 PM
@Moose

I think there's something to this. There's no doubt that geography presents a challenge for organizing a Western Regional. Other than giving up and going with campus sites, you can at least tilt the deck in your favor by picking a location that's easy to travel to, not terribly expensive to travel to, and attractive.

Chicago isn't hard to get to, and it's definitely an attraction in its own right.

billmich88888
03-29-2011, 01:08 PM
But adding another weekend of NCAA playoff games isn't really a step backwards. It's going to be demanding even more in terms of time/monetary commitment on the part of fans than even the current system.

I think the bottom line is if you want to do campus sites, then do them. If you want to do regionals, then do that. You can't have it both ways. There's not going to be enough overall fan interest IMO to do both as he's proposing.

i was addressing the fact that there might not be a blanket television coverage like there is now (counting espn3.com as coverage)