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College Hockey:
Bracketology: Jan. 29, 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 what are the possible thought processes behind selecting and seeding the NCAA tournament teams.

This is another 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 28, 2008):

1 Miami
2 Michigan
3 Denver
4 New Hampshire
5 Colorado College
6 North Dakota
7 Michigan State
8t Clarkson
8t Notre Dame
10 Boston College
11 Providence
12 Minn.-Duluth
13t Northeastern
13t Wisconsin
15 Mass.-Lowell
16 Massachusetts
– 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 not listed are Bemidji State and RIT.

Let’s look at the ties, which consist of Notre Dame and Clarkson at eight and Northeastern and Wisconsin at 13.

Head-to-head we get Notre Dame and Northeastern besting their bubbles.

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

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

Step Two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 Seeds – Miami, Michigan, Denver, New Hampshire
No. 2 Seeds – Colorado College, North Dakota, Michigan State, Notre Dame
No. 3 Seeds – Clarkson, Boston College, Providence, Minn.-Duluth
No. 4 Seeds – Northeastern, Wisconsin, Bemidji State, RIT

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.

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

No. 1 Miami is placed in the Midwest Regional in Madison.
No. 2 Michigan is placed in the East Regional in Albany.
No. 3 Denver is then placed in the West Regional in Colorado Springs.
No. 4 New Hampshire 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

Because Colorado College is hosting a regional, it is placed first.

No. 5 Colorado College is placed in No. 3 Denver’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 8 Notre Dame is placed in No. 1 Miami’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 7 Michigan State is placed in No. 2 Michigan’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 6 North Dakota is placed in No. 4 New Hampshire’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 Clarkson is placed in No. 8 Notre Dame’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 10 Boston College is placed in No. 7 Michigan State’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 11 Providence is placed in No. 5 Colorado College’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 12 Minn.-Duluth is placed in No. 6 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.

Since Wisconsin is hosting a regional, it must be placed first.

No. 14 Wisconsin is sent to Miami’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 16 RIT is sent to Michigan’s Regional, the East Regional
No. 15 Bemidji State is sent to Denver’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 13 Northeastern is sent to New Hampshire’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional:

Bemidji State vs. Denver
Providence vs. Colorado College

Midwest Regional:

Wisconsin vs. Miami
Clarkson vs. Notre Dame

East Regional:

RIT vs. Michigan
Boston College vs. Michigan State

Northeast Regional:

Northeastern vs. New Hampshire
Minn.-Duluth vs. North Dakota

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have the two in the Northeast Regional in Northeastern vs. New Hampshire and Minn.-Duluth vs.


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