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College Hockey:
Bracketology: Feb. 5, 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 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 February 4, 2008):

1 Miami
2 Michigan
3t Colorado College
3t New Hampshire
5t North Dakota
5t Denver
7 Michigan State
8 Minn.-Duluth
9 Boston College
10 Minnesota State
11t Clarkson
11t Providence
13t Northeastern
13t Notre Dame
15 Wisconsin
16 Massachusetts
– Bemidji State
– Army

Current conference leaders:

Atlantic Hockey: Army
CHA: Bemidji State
CCHA: Miami
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 number of games played inside each conference, I will be using winning percentage, not points accumulated, to determine the current leader in each conference. 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 Army.

Let’s look at the ties.

The ties consist of New Hampshire and Colorado College at 3, North Dakota and Denver at 5, Clarkson and Providence at 11 and Northeastern and Notre Dame at 13.

Head-to-head we get New Hampshire, North Dakota, Clarkson and Providence besting their ties.

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

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

Step Two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

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

Step Three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals. We seed Colorado College first, since it is hosting a Regional.

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

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

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

No. 4 Seeds

One more time, taking No. 16 v. No. 1, No. 15 v. No. 2, etc.

No. 16 Army is sent to Miami’s Regional, the Midwest Regional
No. 15 Bemidji State is sent to Michigan’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 14 Notre Dame is sent to New Hampshire’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 13 Northeastern is sent to Colorado College’s Regional, the West Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional:

Northeastern vs. Colorado College
Providence vs. North Dakota

Midwest Regional:

Army vs. Miami
Boston College vs. Minn.-Duluth

East Regional:

Bemidji State vs. Michigan
Minnesota State vs. Michigan State

Northeast Regional:

Notre Dame vs. New Hampshire
Clarkson vs. Denver

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We actually don’t have any.

So the tournament is now fixed.

Or is it?

Let’s reexamine now and see if we can keep integrity and mak


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