This is the appropriate reaction to Plink-O. [wiki.com and cnn.com]
I wrote this last year. It is more or less what I will say now, but with a couple of things shifted and an update to 2018. All of the block quotes are highlights from my previous piece. Later on this week, I will have a Northeastern/overall 2018 tournament preview. Let’s begin:
What Could Have Happened in 2018:
Final Top 16 (PairWise plus Conference Tournament Winners):
1 St Cloud State
2 Notre Dame
4 Ohio State
6 Minnesota State
11 Penn State
13 Boston University
15 Michigan Tech
16 Air Force
If we’re going to do Best-of-Three matchups at home sites, the format would follow the pattern of 1v16, 2v15, 3v14, 4v13, etc. We will need to take into account: 1.) no intra-conference matchups in the Round of 16 and 2.) travel costs versus bracket integrity.
Most of it seems fine. We’ll have to switch Penn State and Minn-Duluth, but the rest of it actually looks good, with a few already-close matchups. We could have St Cloud State and Notre Dame swap timeslots so that it's not as late in South Bend, but I’m guessing the Irish would rather be on national television. Obviously, there would still be an OCTO-BOX-esque RedZone channel, as well.
[After THE JUMP: what's broken and how to fix it]
OCTOBOX FOREVER [twitter.com]
First Round Matchups with Timeslots on Friday Night Frenzy:
6:00pm: (10) Clarkson AT (7) Providence ESPN2
6:30pm: (14) Princeton AT (4) Ohio State ESPN*
7:00pm: (9) Northeastern AT (8) Michigan ESPNU
7:30pm: (13) Boston University AT (3) Cornell ESPN3*
8:00pm: (16) Air Force AT (1) St Cloud State ESPN3
8:45pm: (15) Michigan Tech AT (2) Notre Dame ESPN2
9:15pm: (12) Minnesota-Duluth AT (6) Minnesota State ESPN
9:45pm:(11) Penn State AT (5) Denver ESPNU
[*: avoids ECAC matchup]
Weekend Games 2 and 3(if necessary):
…could follow a similar path or could break into multiple windows, such as 3pm, 6pm, and 9pm. All games could still be channeled or streamed, and a RedZone could easily be implemented. Weekends provide more options for more eyeballs. If there is a concern about eight camera crews/announcing tandems, let local stations cover games and allow the national entity to tap-in. Or…let them send their own crew. Are there legal hiccups? Maybe, but this has been done repeatedly before, so it shouldn’t be a Shut-Down Obstacle.
Second Weekend: Round of 8
Let’s say the previous home teams advance– as the objective enthusiast would probably prefer.
There are now four series. This could be similarly scheduled or spread out -depending on the teams involved and times played.
-Friday could be 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, and 9pm - or 7pm, 7:30pm, 9:30pm, and 10pm. Channel and/or stream them, and have a RedZone if necessary. This would probably be lot better hockey, and there would hopefully not be as many blowouts as the first round could have.
-Saturday and Sunday could be similar. By the time the tournament reaches this point, each game will be worth focusing on, instead of the spectacle of mass hysteria.
First Round Matchups with Timeslots on Friday Night Frenzy Part 2:
6:00pm: (6) Minnesota State AT (3) Cornell ESPNU
7:00pm: (5) Denver AT (4) Ohio State ESPN
8:00pm: (7) Providence AT (2) Notre Dame ESPN2
9:00pm: (8) Michigan AT (1) St Cloud State ESPNU
This also looks awesome. Again, weekend games could be spread throughout the day, or we could do this all over again on Saturday evening. Either would work.
What about the Frozen Four?
Last year, I suggested a potential ‘Mini Tournament’ but the more I think about it, the more I like it the way that it is.
Essentially, everything about the current Frozen Four format would remain the same. Four teams, two semifinals, single elimination, a Championship Game, and a National Champion. That would be fine. It is interesting, well-attended, traditional, ‘Merican.
This might be the most popular part of college hockey. It is generally well-attended– and not just by fans of the qualified teams. I do think that there needs to be a bit of renovation to location, though.
Thanks a ton to @The_Mathlete for making these charts
What are the four best locations geographically? The left is the No Alaska, Huntsville, or Arizona State: Unweighted. The right is the Core Footprint: Unweighted. Hmm. I assume no one wants to play in the Finger Lakes, so shift the New York dot to Buffalo or Pittsburgh and slide the Michigan dot a smidge to the east and voila! Also, add a fifth spot for Denver.
Rotation among Six. The Frozen Four has been rotated all over the country, mostly settling in the Midwest/Northeast. Some of these sites have been great, others have been head-scratchers. I think that there are five great sites: Denver, Minneapolis/St Paul, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Boston. All five are known as great hockey cities, and almost all of the current DI hockey programs are located near-ish to one of these five locations. The sixth site can be random. Grow the sport. Go to Phoenix, Nashville, Anaheim, New York, or even Anchorage. Just make sure the five strongest mini-regions get to host and then go on a whim for the sixth.
Only go to Anchorage if Kentucky gets a DI program. I’ve also heard the Toronto idea floated. Maybe? Would anyone care? Isn’t there already tons of
hockey bandy up there? Anyway, I am open to this as a sixth site if the research seems to reinforce the idea. I suppose passports could be a problem, etc.
Wait For Basketball to End. I still say this is the best idea.
-First Round would take place on weekend of April 6-8th
-Second Round would be April 13th-15th
-Frozen Four would be April 19th-21st
Even if the Round Robin element was implemented, the championship game would be in late April. This would result in conflicts with MLB, NHL/NBA Playoffs, but whaddaya gonna do? There are always sports. If there are concerns about stretching out the season, add more games; non-conference series are fun. Or schedule more Bye Weeks. These are all viable options, so the April schedule shouldn’t be a problem.
Being the college sports enthusiast that I am, I wouldn’t mind seeing the latter implemented. Give hockey its own month with no inherent basketball competition. March Madness followed by April Absurdity.
Let’s just start the season later. Why do official camps/practices have to start in September? Why does the season have to start in October? Do you know what dominates the Fall? Football. Did you see Penn State’s normally packed Pegula Ice Arena right after their huge gridiron showdown against Ohio State? It was emmmmmptyyyyyyyy. And I don’t blame a single Nittany Lion fan. Let’s try NOT competing against the most popular sport in America. Start a month later, add a week of games in December– or eliminate a Bye Week- and all of a sudden there is less competition with football or head-to-head between the NCAA basketball and hockey tournaments.
It could happen.