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College Hockey:
Bracketology: Jan. 18, 2006

It’s time once again to do what we like to call Bracketology — College Hockey Style, a weekly look at how the NCAA tournament would shake out if the season ended today, a look into the thought process behind selecting and seeding the NCAA tournament teams.

This is the first installment of Bracketology, and we’ll be bringing you a new one every week until we make our final picks before the field is announced in March.

Here are the facts:

  • Sixteen teams are selected to participate in the national tournament.
  • There are four regional sites (East – Worcester, Mass.; Northeast – Albany, N.Y.; Midwest – Green Bay, Wis.; West – Grand Forks, N.D.)
  • A host institution which is invited to the tournament plays in the regional for which it is the host, and cannot be moved.
  • Seedings will not be switched, as opposed to years past. To avoid undesirable first-round matchups, including intraconference games (see below), teams will be moved among regionals, not reseeded.

    Here are the NCAA’s guidelines on the matter, per a meeting of the Championship Committee:

    In setting up the tournament, the committee begins with a list of priorities to ensure a successful tournament on all fronts including competitive equity, financial success and likelihood of playoff-type atmosphere at each regional site. For the model, the following is a basic set of priorities:

    The top four teams as ranked by the committee are the four No. 1 seeds and will be placed in the bracket so that if all four teams advance to the Men’s Frozen Four, the No. 1 seed will play the No. 4 seed and the No. 2 seed will play the No. 3 seed in the semifinals.

    Host institutions that qualify will be placed at home.

    No. 1 seeds are placed as close to home as possible in order of their ranking 1-4.

    Conference matchups in first round are avoided, unless five or more teams from one conference are selected, then the integrity of the bracket will be preserved.

    Once the six automatic qualifiers and 10 at-large teams are selected, the next step is to develop four groups from the committee’s ranking of 1-16. The top four teams are the No. 1 seeds. The next four are targeted as No. 2 seeds. The next four are No. 3 seeds and the last four are No. 4 seeds. These groupings will be referred to as “bands”.

    Additionally, the NCAA includes a bonus factor for “good” nonconference wins. The exact amount of the bonus is kept secret, but experience in previous seasons has given us some idea as to how large it must be.

    Because of this bonus factor, we won’t even talk about the PairWise Rankings (PWR) without an added bonus. We know that the bonus is at least .003 for a quality road win, .002 for a quality neutral-site win and .001 for a quality home win. So everything that we do will reference the 3-2-1 bonus as a base.

    Given these facts, here are the top 17 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), with a 3-2-1 bonus, plus Atlantic Hockey-leading Mercyhurst and the CHA leader (since Bemidji State and Niagara are tied, we’ll just use this generic title to start) (through all games of January 18, 2006):

    1 Wisconsin
    2 Miami
    3 St. Lawrence
    4 Colorado College
    5 Minnesota
    6 Michigan State
    7 Boston College
    8t Ohio State
    8t Michigan
    10 North Dakota
    11 Harvard
    12t Nebraska-Omaha
    12t Vermont
    12t New Hampshire
    15t Northern Michigan
    15t Boston University
    15t Cornell
    – CHA
    – Mercyhurst

    Step One

    From the committee’s report, choose the 16 teams in the tournament.

    We break ties in the PWR by looking at the individual comparisons among the tied teams, and add the CHA champion and Mercyhurst.

    From there, we can start looking at the bubble in a more detailed fashion.

    The bubbles consist of Ohio State and Michigan at No. 8, and UNO, Vermont and UNH at No. 12.

    Ohio State wins the individual comparison against Michigan, giving it the No. 8 ranking. UNO wins against Vermont and UNH, and Vermont wins against UNH, making UNO 12, Vermont 13 and UNH 14.

    Breaking ties in the PWR using head-to-head comparisons among the tied teams, the 16 teams in the tournament, in rank order, are:

    1 Wisconsin
    2 Miami
    3 St. Lawrence
    4 Colorado College
    5 Minnesota
    6 Michigan State
    7 Boston College
    8 Ohio State
    9 Michigan
    10 North Dakota
    11 Harvard
    12 Nebraska-Omaha
    13 Vermont
    14 New Hampshire
    15 CHA
    16 Mercyhurst

    Step Two

    Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

    No. 1 Seeds – Wisconsin, Miami, St. Lawrence, Colorado College
    No. 2 Seeds – Minnesota, Michigan State, Boston College, Ohio State
    No. 3 Seeds – Michigan, North Dakota, Harvard, Nebraska-Omaha
    No. 4 Seeds – Vermont, New Hampshire, CHA, Mercyhurst

    Step Three

    Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals. Following the guidelines, there are no host teams in this grouping, so that rule does not need to be enforced.

    No. 1 Wisconsin is placed in the Midwest Regional in Green Bay.
    No. 2 Miami is placed in the West Regional in Grand Forks.
    No. 3 St. Lawrence is placed in the Northeast Regional in Albany.
    No. 4 Colorado College is placed in the East Regional in Worcester.

    Step Four

    Now we place the other 12 teams so as to avoid intraconference matchups if possible.

    Begin by filling in each bracket by banding groups. Remember that teams are not assigned to the regional closest to their campus sites by ranking order within the banding (unless you are a host school, in which case you must be assigned to your home regional).

    If this is the case, as it was last year, then the committee should seed so that the quarterfinals are seeded such that the four regional championships are played by No. 1 v. No. 8, No. 2 v. No. 7, No. 3 v. No. 6 and No. 4 v. No. 5.

    So therefore:

    No. 2 Seeds

    No. 5 Minnesota is placed in No. 4 Colorado College’s Regional, the East Regional.
    No. 6 Michigan State is placed in No. 3 St. Lawrence’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
    No. 7 Boston College is placed in No. 2 Miami’s Regional, the West Regional.
    No. 8 Ohio State is placed in No. 1 Wisconsin’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.

    No. 3 Seeds

    Our bracketing system has one Regional containing seeds 1, 8, 9, and 16, another with 2, 7, 10, 15, another with 3, 6, 11, 14 and another with 4, 5, 12 and 13.

    But we do have one host school, so we have to place North Dakota first.

    Therefore:

    No. 10 North Dakota is placed in the West Regional with No. 2 Miami and No. 7 Boston College.
    No. 9 Michigan is placed in No. 8 Ohio State’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
    No. 11 Harvard is placed in No. 6 Michigan State’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
    No. 12 Nebraska-Omaha is placed in No. 5 Minnesota’s Regional, the East Regional.

    No. 4 Seeds

    One more time, taking No. 16 v. No. 1, No. 15 v. No. 2, etc.

    No. 16 Mercyhurst is sent to Wisconsin’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
    No. 15 The CHA champion is sent to Miami’s Regional, the West Regional.
    No. 14 Vermont is sent to St. Lawrence’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
    No. 13 New Hampshire is sent to Colorado College’s Regional, the East Regional.

    The brackets as we have set them up:

    West Regional:

    CHA Champion vs. Miami
    North Dakota vs. Boston College

    Midwest Regional:

    Mercyhurst vs. Wisconsin
    Michigan vs. Ohio State

    East Regional:

    Nebraska-Omaha vs. Minnesota
    New Hampshire vs. Colorado College

    Northeast Regional:

    Harvard vs. Michigan State
    Vermont vs. St. Lawrence

    Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have one in the first round — Michigan vs. Ohio State.

    So we have to move one of the two teams. We can’t switch Michigan at all because it would create an intraconference matchup if you switched with UNO or Harvard, and North Dakota can’t be moved. So we have to move Ohio State.

    The easiest thing to do is switch Boston College with Ohio State. So we’ll do that.

    So it looks like we are all finished with our brackets, and the tournament is now fixed.

    West Regional:

    CHA Champion vs. Miami
    North


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