College Hockey:
Bracketology: Feb. 1, 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, and a look into the thought process behind selecting and seeding the NCAA tournament teams.

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 (PWR), 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 31, 2006):

    1 Wisconsin
    2 Minnesota
    3 Miami
    4 Boston College
    5t Colorado College
    5t Boston University
    7 Michigan
    8 Nebraska-Omaha
    9 Michigan State
    10t St. Cloud State
    10t Providence
    10t Ferris State
    10t Cornell
    10t St. Lawrence
    15t Lake Superior
    15t Ohio State
    15t Harvard
    23 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, Mercyhurst and Bemidji State.

    We also have to break the tie atop the WCHA to determine if Denver is the top-seeded team in the WCHA. Looking at the WCHA tiebreakers, Minnesota is +1, Denver even and Wisconsin is -1. Therefore Minnesota is the top seed, so Denver, 20th in the PairWise, does not get included as one of the 16 teams in the tournament.

    Likewise, we determine who the CHA champion is. According to the tiebreakers, Bemidji State wins the tiebreaker over Alabama-Huntsville based upon the fewest CHA goals allowed.

    Now let’s break the PWR ties.

    Colorado College wins the comparison over Boston University due to the head-to-head comparison win.

    The logjam for 10th place will lead to one team being put out, since the team finishing in 14th will be displaced by Colgate’s autobid.

    St. Cloud wins three comparisons among the five teams. Providence wins two, as does Ferris State and Cornell. St. Lawrence wins one.

    We’ve now determined that St. Cloud is the 10th team and St. Lawrence the 14th. Now to position numbers 11 through 13.

    It’s a round-robin among the three teams with each winning one comparison. Therefore we go by the RPI.

    So the 16 teams in the tournament, in rank order, are:

    1 Wisconsin
    2 Minnesota
    3 Miami
    4 Boston College
    5 Colorado College
    6 Boston University
    7 Michigan
    8 Nebraska-Omaha
    9 Michigan State
    10 St. Cloud State
    11 Providence
    12 Ferris State
    13 Cornell
    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 – Colorado College, Boston University, Michigan, Nebraska-Omaha
    No. 3 Seeds – Michigan State, St. Cloud State, Providence, Ferris State
    No. 4 Seeds – Cornell, Colgate, Mercyhurst, Bemidji State

    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 reinforced.

    We now place the other No. 1 seeds based on proximity to the regional sites.

    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. 6 Boston University, as the host team, is placed in No. 4 Boston College’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
    No. 5 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 Nebraska-Omaha is placed in No. 1 Wisconsin’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.

    No. 3 Seeds

    No. 9 Michigan State is placed in No. 8 Nebraska-Omaha’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
    No. 10 St. Cloud State is placed in No. 7 Michigan’s Regional, the West Regional.
    No. 11 Providence is placed in No. 6 Boston University’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
    No. 12 Ferris State is placed in No. 5 Colorado College’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 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 Cornell is sent to Boston College’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.

    The brackets as we have set them up:

    West Regional:
    Bemidji State vs. Minnesota
    St. Cloud State vs. Michigan

    Midwest Regional:
    Mercyhurst vs. Wisconsin
    Michigan State vs. Nebraska-Omaha

    Northeast Regional:
    Cornell vs. Boston College
    Providence vs. Boston University

    East Regional:
    Colgate vs. Miami
    Ferris State vs. Colorado College

    Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups.

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