Quantcast
Column

College Hockey:
Bracketology: Jan. 25, 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 (Northeast – Worcester, Mass.; East – 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 is the top 17 of the current PairWise Rankings, with a 3-2-1 bonus, plus Colgate, Mercyhurst and Bemidji State (the current leaders in the ECACHL, Atlantic Hockey and CHA)(through all games of January 24, 2006):

    1 Wisconsin
    2 Minnesota
    3 Miami
    4 Boston College
    5t Ferris State
    5t Colorado College
    7t Michigan
    7t Michigan State
    7t Cornell
    10 Harvard
    11 North Dakota
    12 St. Lawrence
    13 Nebraska-Omaha
    14t Ohio State
    14t New Hampshire
    16 Northern Michigan
    17 Boston University
    26 Colgate
    – Bemidji State
    – 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 Colgate, Bemidji State and Mercyhurst.

    Let’s break the ties. Ferris State wins the comparison with Colorado College, therefore taking the No. 5 seed. We have a three-way tie between Michigan, Michigan State and Cornell, so we go to the RPI to break this tie, and it winds up Michigan, Michigan State and then Cornell.

    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 Minnesota
    3 Miami
    4 Boston College
    5 Ferris State
    6 Colorado College
    7 Michigan
    8 Michigan State
    9 Cornell
    10 Harvard
    11 North Dakota
    12 St. Lawrence
    13 Nebraska-Omaha
    14 Colgate
    15 Bemidji State
    16 Mercyhurst

    Step Two

    Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

    No. 1 Seeds – Wisconsin, Minnesota, Miami, Boston College
    No. 2 Seeds – Ferris State, Colorado College, Michigan, Michigan State
    No. 3 Seeds – Cornell, Harvard, North Dakota, St. Lawrence
    No. 4 Seeds – Nebraska-Omaha, Colgate, Bemidji State, 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 Minnesota is placed in the West Regional in Grand Forks.
    No. 3 Miami is placed in the East Regional in Albany.
    No. 4 Boston College is placed in the Northeast 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 Ferris State is placed in No. 4 Boston College’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
    No. 6 Colorado College is placed in No. 3 Miami’s Regional, the East Regional.
    No. 7 Michigan is placed in No. 2 Minnesota’s Regional, the West Regional.
    No. 8 Michigan 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. 11 North Dakota is placed in the West Regional with No. 2 Minnesota and No. 7 Michigan.
    No. 9 Cornell is placed in No. 8 Michigan State’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
    No. 10 Harvard is placed in No. 6 Colorado College’s Regional, the East Regional.
    No. 12 St. Lawrence is placed in No. 5 Ferris State’s Regional, the Northeast 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 Bemidji State is sent to Minnesota’s Regional, the West Regional.
    No. 14 Colgate is sent to Miami’s Regional, the East Regional.
    No. 13 Nebraska-Omaha is sent to Boston College’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.

    The brackets as we have set them up:

    West Regional:

    Bemidji State vs. Minnesota
    North Dakota vs. Michigan

    Midwest Regional:

    Mercyhurst vs. Wisconsin
    Cornell vs. Michigan State

    Northeast Regional:

    Nebraska-Omaha vs. Boston College
    St. Lawrence vs. Ferris State

    East Regional:

    Colgate vs. Miami
    Harvard vs. Colorado College

    Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have none. It has worked out perfectly.

    So the tournament is now fixed. Is there anything else that I would like to change? Nothing at all.

    Bracketing the Frozen Four, if all four number-one seeds advance, then the top overall seed plays the No. 4 overall, and No. 2 plays No. 3. Therefore, the winners of the Midwest and East Regionals face each other in one semifinal (Wisconsin and Boston College’s brackets), while the winners of the Northeast and West Regionals (Miami and Minnesota’s brackets) play the other semifinal.

    But…

    Bonus Time

    We know there is a bonus component to the criteria, the NCAA’s tweak to the system which rewards “good” nonconference wins. We’ve determined that it is at least .003 for a good road win, .002 for a good neutral win and .001 for a good home win.

    We also know that it’s not as high as .005 for a good road win, .003 for a good neutral win and .001 for a good home win.

    So let’s find a medium here. Let’s take .004 for a good road win, .0025 for a good neutral win and .001 for a good home win.

    Does anything change? A few things do.

    Colorado College wins an extra comparison, making the Tigers No. 5 and pushing Ferris State back one notch. Harvard now switches places with Cornell. Otherwise, everything else is the same. All 16 teams from before remain in the field.

    Our new ranking:

    1 Wisconsin
    2 Minnesota
    3 Miami
    4 Boston College
    5 Colorado College
    6 Ferris State
    7 Michigan
    8 Michigan State
    9 Harvard
    10 Cornell
    11 North Dakota
    12 St. Lawrence
    13 Nebraska-Omaha
    14 Colgate
    15 Bemidji State
    16 Mercyhurst

    So, our new brackets have a few changes.

    West Regional:

    Bemidji State vs. Minnesota
    North Dakota vs. Michigan

    Midwest Regional:

    Mercyhurst vs. Wisconsin
    Harvard vs. Michigan State

    Northeast Regional:

    Nebraska-Omaha vs. Boston College
    St. Lawrence vs. Colorado College

    East Regional:

    Colgate vs. Miami
    Cornell vs. Ferris State

    We have no intraconference matchups, so we’re set here.

    Wow, an easy week. I guarantee you it won’t be any easier after next week.


  • The following is a self-policing forum for discussing views on this story. Comments that are derogatory, make personal attacks, are abusive, or contain profanity or racism will be removed at our discretion. USCHO.com is not responsible for comments posted by users. Please report any inappropriate or offensive comments by clicking the “Flag” link next to that comment in order to alert the moderator.

    Please also keep “woofing,” taunting, and otherwise unsportsmanlike behavior to a minimum. Your posts will more than likely be deleted, and worse yet, you reflect badly on yourself, your favorite team and your conference.