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Archive for November 5, 2017

Nov. 5, 2017 — Field hockey’s answer to “Red Zone”

My apartment has an abundance of flat-screen monitors, mainly thanks to strategic shopping on the secondary market. I use one with my main TV provider, one with an internet-based TV system, and a third attached to my laptop.

With this setup, I was able to watch three field hockey games at once during Championship Sunday, when a number of Division I conferences selected their Automatic Qualifiers for the NCAA Tournament.

Throughout the day, there were three things to bear in mind. First, which four teams would be the top seeds, and, therefore, host regional tournaments next weekend? Three of the top teams were obvious: undefeated Connecticut, B1G Ten champion Michigan, and a Duke team which vascilated between No. 2 and No. 3 for most of this season.

The problem: North Carolina. The Tar Heels have been in the top three all season, but have had to play their home matches at Duke this year as a new hockey-specific stadium is being readied for next fall. As what’s happened on many occasions over the last 20 years, Carolina was likely going to be a top-four seed, but playing on the road.

When you look at the various NCAA sports which have had campus sites for first- and second-round contests, it seems to me that only field hockey has had a nearly annual situation where a top-four seed is obligated to play on the road.

A second thing to bear in mind today: would the ACC and B1G Ten take all eight of the At-Large bids? As the Ratings Percentage Index and other tiebreaking calculations kept updating on FieldHockeyCorner.com, the answer was, seemingly, “yes.” More than one of the conferences I thought might have earned their way into two-bid conference status fell by the wayside as the top-ranked team in RPI would win the tournament.

Once the action ended, the tournament committee had six hours to make their decisions. And, like many of you, I thought that the bubble burst for Boston College. The Eagles may have belonged to the nation’s premier field hockey conference, but B.C. finished 0-7 in the ACC, and finished the season on a three-game losing streak.

The tournament starts Tuesday with four conference champions playing down to two in order to win their way into the quarterfinals.

Should be interesting.

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