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College Hockey:
Bracketology: Final

The games are all done, it’s time to see what we think the NCAA tournament brackets will be when they are announced at 2:30pm ET on Sunday.

Here are the top 16 in the final PairWise Rankings (PWR), with the bonus and autobid teams not in the Top 16:

1 Minnesota
2 Notre Dame
3 Clarkson
4 New Hampshire
5 Boston College
6 St. Cloud
7 Boston University
8t Michigan
8t Michigan State
10 North Dakota
11t Massachusetts
11t St. Lawrence
11t Maine
14 Miami
15t Wisconsin
15t Denver
– Air Force
– Alabama-Huntsville

Autobids awarded to:

Atlantic Hockey: Air Force
CHA: Alabama-Huntsville
CCHA: Notre Dame
ECACHL: Clarkson
Hockey East: Boston College
WCHA:Minnesota

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 in any autobids that are not currently in the Top 16. Those teams are Air Force and Alabama-Huntsville.

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

The ties consist of Michigan and Michigan State at 8 and Massachusetts, St. Lawrence and Maine at 11. The bubble at 15 is moot because Air Force and Alabama-Huntsville have claimed the 15th and 16th seeds in the tournament.

Looking at the individual comparisons, Michigan defeats Michigan State and Massachusetts wins the comparison with both SLU and Maine, while SLU wins the comparison with Maine.

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

1 Minnesota
2 Notre Dame
3 Clarkson
4 New Hampshire
5 Boston College
6 St. Cloud
7 Boston University
8 Michigan
9 Michigan State
10 North Dakota
11 Massachusetts
12 St. Lawrence
13 Maine
14 Miami
15 Air Force
16 Alabama-Huntsville

Step Two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 Seeds – Minnesota, Notre Dame, Clarkson, New Hampshire
No. 2 Seeds – Boston College, St. Cloud, Boston University, Michigan
No. 3 Seeds – Michigan State, North Dakota, Massachusetts, St. Lawrence
No. 4 Seeds – Maine, Miami, Air Force, Alabama-Huntsville

Step Three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals. Because New Hampshire is hosting a regional, the Wildcats are placed first. Following the guidelines, we then place the other No. 1 seeds based on proximity to the regional sites.

No. 4 New Hampshire is placed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester.
No. 1 Minnesota is placed in the West Regional in Denver.
No. 2 Notre Dame is placed in the Midwest Regional in Grand Rapids.
No. 3 Clarkson is placed in the East Regional in Rochester.

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 Boston College is placed in No. 4 New Hampshire’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 6 St. Cloud is placed in No. 3 Clarkson’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 7 Boston University is placed in No. 2 Notre Dame’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 8 Michigan is placed in No. 1 Minnesota’s Regional, the West 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.

Therefore:

No. 9 Michigan State is placed in No. 8 Michigan’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 10 North Dakota is placed in No. 7 Boston University’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 11 Massachusetts is placed in No. 6 St. Cloud’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 12 St. Lawrence is placed in No. 5 Boston College’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 Alabama-Huntsville is sent to Minnesota’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 15 Air Force is sent to Notre Dame’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 14 Miami is sent to Clarkson’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 13 Maine is sent to New Hampshire’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional:

Alabama-Huntsville vs. Minnesota
Michigan State vs. Michigan

Midwest Regional:

Air Force vs. Notre Dame
North Dakota vs. Boston University

East Regional:

Miami vs. Clarkson
Massachusetts vs. St. Cloud

Northeast Regional:

Maine vs. New Hampshire
St. Lawrence vs. Boston College

Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have two of them.

We have to move Michigan State, which we will do by switching North Dakota with the Spartans.

Then we have to move Maine, which we will do by switching it with Miami.

So the tournament is now fixed.

West Regional:

Alabama-Huntsville vs. Minnesota
North Dakota vs. Michigan

Midwest Regional:

Air Force vs. Notre Dame
Michigan State vs. Boston University

East Regional:

Maine vs. Clarkson
Massachusetts vs. St. Cloud

Northeast Regional:

Miami vs. New Hampshire
St. Lawrence vs. Boston College

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 (Notre Dame and Clarkson’s brackets), while the winners of the West and Northeast Regionals (Minnesota and New Hampshire’s brackets) play the other semifinal.

Concerns?

So are there any concerns? One major one is why fly Minnesota to Denver as the number-one overall seed, instead of putting the Gophers in Grand Rapids, which is nearer geographically.

Let’s take a look at the two regionals.

In Denver we have placed Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota and Alabama-Huntsville, while in Grand Rapids we currently have Notre Dame, Boston University, Michigan State and Air Force.

If we switched the two regionals, which would be the case if you put Minnesota in Grand Rapids and Notre Dame in Denver to start with, you would have attendance problems.

With no WCHA teams in Denver, the attendance concern becomes very real, although of course Michigan in Grand Rapids makes everything okay.

But with the Minnesota pairings in Denver and the Notre Dame pairings in Grand Rapids, we avoid attendance concerns.

Now just one more tweak for me, I think.

Air Force and Alabama-Huntsville, in my opinion, can be considered interchangeable because neither is in the Top 25 as a Team Under Consideration. Therefore, I’m going to keep Air Force in Denver and only fly one team, rather than two.

So I will make the change and switch Alabama-Huntsville and Air Force.

West Regional:

Air Force vs. Minnesota
North Dakota vs. Michigan

Midwest Regional:

Alabama-Huntsville vs. Notre Dame
Michigan State vs. Boston University

East Regional:

Maine vs. Clarkson
Massachusetts vs. St. Cloud

Northeast Regional:

Miami vs. New Hampshire
St. Lawrence vs. Boston College

And that’s my bracket prognostication for this year.

Let’s see what happens on Selection Sunday.


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