Bill Bourque's Latest College Blog is Up
Bill Bourque's latest submission is now in IHC blogs. Since many of you seem unaware of how to find those blogs, here it is.
CREAM OF THE CROP
The NCRHA’s new ruling regarding Division II will benefit the sport in the long run.
By Bill Bourque
When the NCRHA announced that they were expanding the DI national tournament to 24 teams and lowering the DII national tournament to 16 teams, nobody said a word. Two months down the road and people are finally starting to notice.
Currently, according the to NCRHA website, there are 45 teams in Division I. Simply put, that means more than half of all DI teams will be heading to the national tournament this season. However, Division II, with over 70 teams, will only be sending around 20 percent of the teams.
What does this all mean? It means the NCRHA tried to make a positive change in the structure of the league and it backfired. But the real question is if it really did. I honestly don’t think it did. Sure, the NCRHA will have a watered-down Division I national tournament, but when the final 16 teams take the rink, you will get to see the cream of the crop. The single-elimination tournament will easily be one of the best ever, as the teams continue to get more talented and start to actually look the part of Division I programs.
The byproduct of getting a professional and highly organized Division I will be the super competitive, wide-open Division II tournament. Not to discredit either of Neumann’s national championships they have won (in 2005 and 2007), but to repeat this year would be an exceptional feat. With only 16 teams coming from a division that clears 70, every game will be important, and every game will be close. Winning this year will take something special that may have been missing in years past.
Additionally, with the spots for the Division II national tournament being pretty much gobbled up by the regional champions, there will only be nine at-large bids available. That boils down to less than one per region. It translates into more teams traveling outside their respective region for a chance to gain one of the precious at-large bids.
Finally, the NCRHA has a schedule were the regular season actually means something. If a team wants a spot in the national tournament, they are going to have to play near-perfect hockey all season and earn it every time they step on the rink. Long gone are the days of near .500 teams making the national stage, and in are the days of .600 teams possibly sitting at home.
The NCRHA may have intended to strengthen Division I with its structural change this past summer, but what they didn’t expect is the great success that they created in Division II. As time passes, this could possibly be on the most historically significant events since the founding of the NCRHA. Division I will continue to grow and improve year to year, but for new growth and excellence in Division II, the sky is the limit.
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