The NCAA is once again talking about restricting travel during the NCAA tournament of most sports, thanks to concerns over the economy. The last time it did this was in the aftermath of 9/11, forcing the hockey tournament to take travel into consideration in ways that caused unbalanced brackets. While seemingly with pure intent, the restrictions really did nothing to limit travel as a whole, and instead just messed with the brackets unnecessarily, and the whole thing was scrapped the next year.
This time around, it’s because of the economy and not terrorism concerns. But again, the hockey community is hoping to convince the NCAA it’s unneccessary. So reports that this will affect hockey are a bit premature. It’s only gone past one phase of NCAA legislation and still needs to be approved at the January convention. Before then, hockey commissioners are hoping to do some lobbying, and I have high hopes they will be successful.
The hockey tournament makes money, unlike many of the other NCAA sports, so it has that on its side. And with only 16 teams in it, it leaves very little wiggle room when creating brackets. This risks some really unbalanced brackets, something hockey doesn’t want since it’s been so religious about sticking to a Pairwise-strict bracket integrity even since going to the 16-team field in 2003.
So breathe easy for now, and hope the lobbyists can make some headway.