The last two series for the UND women have received a lot of hype — Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The next regular season series, however, will be the biggest of the year.
UND will travel to Clarkson on Dec. 6-7 for its final two nonconference games of the season and the implications will be huge.
For starters, the Pairwise system used to select the women’s field is highly flawed and everyone knows it, whether they are willing to admit it publicly or not.
There is very, very little crossover between conferences, especially when it comes to the WCHA. So the “common opponent” part of the Pairwise is determined by a very small sample size.
Last year, UND split with Clarkson in a two-game series and ended up holding its breath until the selection show to find out whether it was in the tournament or not.
Had UND swept that series, there would have been no drama. It would have easily been in. Had UND gotten swept in that series, there also would have been no drama. UND would have had no shot at the NCAAs.
This year, the series against the Golden Knights will once again be a major factor in determining: A, whether UND gets in the tournament and/or B, UND’s seed for the NCAA tournament.
Clarkson will be one of the top teams in the ECAC, especially with Canadian stars Jamie Lee Rattray and Erin Ambrose, who could have been centralized with the Olympic team but were not.
Some of you may be asking why the Pairwise formula isn’t fixed if everyone knows that it is flawed. That’s easy: There are a lot of teams out East benefiting from it, and they are trying to make sure no changes are made.
Last year, a Wisconsin team that was probably one of the top four in the country, was left out of the NCAA tournament completely. And UND and Minnesota, possibly the two best teams in the nation, were seeded 1 and 8 and had to play each other first round (Minnesota, hardly rewarded for going undefeated in the regular season, almost lost that game, too).
Sure, the WCHA coaches can complain all they want about the system, and a Pairwise expert, who resides in the East, can even make a presentation to the Committee on why the system doesn’t work (which did happen), but there are more schools out East and they will band together to try to make sure nothing changes.
And because of that, get ready for a crucial series between UND and Clarkson in a week and a half. A lot is riding on it.