College Hockey:
Bracketology: March 4, 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 first 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 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 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 is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders (through all games of March 4, 2008):

1t Michigan
1t North Dakota
3 New Hampshire
4t Colorado College
4t Miami
6 Denver
7 Clarkson
8t Michigan State
8t Boston College
8t St. Cloud State
11 Minnesota State
12 Minnesota
13t Wisconsin
13t Minn.-Duluth
15 Providence
16t Notre Dame
16t Princeton
– Bemidji State
– Army

Current conference leaders:

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

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 North Dakota and Michigan at 1, Colorado College and Miami at 4, Michigan State, Boston College and St. Cloud State at 8, and Wisconsin and Minn.-Duluth at 13.

North Dakota defeats Michigan in the head-to-head comparison, CC defeats Miami and Wisconsin defeats Minn.-Duluth.

As for the three-way tie, it’s a round-robin, so we break via the RPI.

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

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

But, we have to go back and check the criteria again.

The 2008 Championship Handbook states:

“To be considered during the at-large selection process, a team must have an overall won-lost record of .500 or better.”

Therefore we take a look and see that Minn.-Duluth is not at .500 or better and therefore cannot be selected to the tournament. So we replace Minn.-Duluth with the next team in the rankings.

The beneficiary? Providence.

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

1 North Dakota
2 Michigan
3 New Hampshire
4 Colorado College
5 Miami
6 Denver
7 Clarkson
8 Michigan State
9 Boston College
10 St. Cloud State
11 Minnesota State
12 Minnesota
13 Wisconsin
14 Providence
15 Bemidji State
16 Army

Step Two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 Seeds – North Dakota, Michigan, New Hampshire, Colorado College
No. 2 Seeds – Miami, Denver, Clarkson, Michigan State
No. 3 Seeds – Boston College, St. Cloud State, Minnesota State, Minnesota
No. 4 Seeds – Wisconsin, Providence, Bemidji State, Army

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.

We seed Colorado College first, since it is hosting a Regional.

No. 4 Colorado College is placed in the West Regional in Colorado Springs.
No. 1 North Dakota 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 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. 8 Michigan State is placed in No. 1 North Dakota’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 7 Clarkson 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 Miami 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.


No. 9 Boston College is placed in No. 8 Michigan State’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 10 St. Cloud State is placed in No. 7 Clarkson’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 11 Minnesota State is placed in No. 6 Denver’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 12 Minnesota is placed in No. 5 Miami’s Regional, the West Regional.

No. 4 Seeds

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

Here, Wisconsin is placed first since it is hosting a Regional.

No. 13 Wisconsin is placed in No. 1 North Dakota’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 16 Army is sent to Michigan’s Regional, the East Regional
No. 15 Bemidji State is sent to New Hampshi

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