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College Hockey:
Bracketology: Jan. 22, 2008

It’s time once again to do what we like to call Bracketology — College Hockey Style. It’s our weekly look at how the NCAA tournament would look if the season ended today.

It’s a look into the thought processes behind selecting and seeding the NCAA tournament teams.

This is the next 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.

Here are the facts:

Sixteen teams are selected to participate in the national tournament.

There are four regional sites (East — Albany, N.Y.. Northeast — Worcester, Mass., Midwest — Madison, Wis., West — Colorado Springs, Colo.)

A host institution which is invited to the tournament plays in the regional for which it is the host, and cannot be moved. There are four host institutions this year, Rensselaer in Albany, Holy Cross in Worcester, Wisconsin in Madison and Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

Seedings will not be switched, as opposed to years past. To avoid undesirable first-round matchups, including intra-conference 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 the 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.”

The biggest change this year is the fact that in past years the NCAA included a bonus factor for “good” nonconference wins. This year, it is no more. There are no more bonus points for anything.

So it becomes pretty easy this year, doesn’t it? Take the straight PairWise Rankings (PWR) and then follow the rules and you have the tournament. It’s that easy, right?

You know better than that.

Given these facts, here are the top 16 of the current PWR, and the current conference leaders (through all games of January 21, 2007):

1 Michigan
2 Miami
3t Colorado College
3t Denver
5t North Dakota
5t New Hampshire
7 Michigan State
8t Clarkson
8t Boston College
10t Notre Dame
10t Northeastern
12 Mass.-Lowell
13 Quinnipiac
14 Massachusetts
15 St. Cloud
16t Wisconsin
16t Minnesota
16t Minn.-Duluth
– Bemidji State
– RIT

Current conference leaders:

Atlantic Hockey: RIT
CHA: Bemidji State
CCHA: Michigan
ECAC: Clarkson
Hockey East: New Hampshire
WCHA: Colorado College

Notes

Bracketology assumes that the season has ended and there are no more games to be played; i.e., the NCAA tournament starts tomorrow.

Because there are an uneven amount of games played inside each conference, I will be using winning percentage, not points accumulated, to determine who the current leader in each conference is. This team is my assumed Conference Tournament Champion.

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 current league leaders that are not currently in the Top 16. The only teams that are not listed are Bemidji State and RIT.

Let’s look at the ties, which consist of CC and Denver at 3, North Dakota and UNH at 5, Clarkson and BC at 8 and Notre Dame and Northeastern at 10.

Head-to-head we get CC, North Dakota, Clarkson and Notre Dame besting their bubbles.

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

1 Michigan
2 Miami
3 Colorado College
4 Denver
5 North Dakota
6 New Hampshire
7 Michigan State
8 Clarkson
9 Boston College
10 Notre Dame
11 Northeastern
12 Mass.-Lowell
13 Quinnipiac
14 Massachusetts
15 Bemidji State
16 RIT

Step Two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 Seeds — Michigan, Denver, Colorado College, Denver
No. 2 Seeds — North Dakota, New Hampshire, Michigan State, Clarkson
No. 3 Seeds — Boston College, Notre Dame, Northeastern, Mass.-Lowell
No. 4 Seeds — Quinnipiac, Massachusetts, Bemidji State, RIT

Step Three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals. Because of the fact that Colorado College is hosting a regional, the Tigers are placed first. We then place the other No. 1 seeds based on proximity to the regional sites.

No. 3 Colorado College is placed in the West Regional in Colorado Springs.
No. 1 Michigan is placed in the Midwest Regional in Madison.
No. 2 Miami is placed in the East Regional in Albany.
No. 4 Denver is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.

Step Four

Now we place the other 12 teams so as to avoid intra-conference 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. 8 Clarkson is placed in No. 1 Michigan’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 7 Michigan State is placed in No. 2 Miami’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 6 New Hampshire is placed in No. 3 Colorado College’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 5 North Dakota is placed in No. 4 Denver’s Regional, the Northeast 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 Boston College is placed in No. 8 Clarkson’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 10 Notre Dame is placed in No. 7 Michigan State’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 11 Northeastern is placed in No. 6 New Hampshire’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 12 Mass.-Lowell is placed in No. 5 North Dakota’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 RIT is sent to Michigan’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 15 Bemidji State is sent to Miami’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 14 Massachusetts is sent to Colorado College’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 13 Quinnipiac is sent to Denver’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional:

Massachusetts vs. Colorado College
Northeastern vs. New Hampshire

Midwest Regional:

RIT vs. Michigan
Boston College vs. Clarkson

East Regional:

Bemidji State vs. Miami
Notre Dame vs. Michigan State

Northeast Regional:

Quinnipiac vs. Denver
Mass.-Lowell vs. North Dakota

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have two of these in Notre Dame vs. Michigan State and Northeastern vs. New Hampshire. So we just switch Notre Dame and Northeastern.

So the tournament


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