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College Hockey:
Bracketology: March 18, 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 possible thought processes behind selecting and seeding the NCAA tournament teams.

Since this is the penultimate Bracketology before I make a final guess as to the actual field, I thought I would explain a little bit as to what we’ve done here over the past few weeks.

The main objective of this column each week is to educate the college hockey fan as to what may or may not happen in the room when the selection committee gets together.

Therefore over the past few weeks I have thrown out some scenarios which match what the committee has done in previous years and some scenarios which have not been done by the committee in past years.

But, whether a given scenario did or did not happen does not tell whether it was thought about in that room. Unless you’ve been in the room, there’s no way to know what the thought process was or how an actual bracket was made.

So what I’ve tried to do is make everyone think about what might happen, what has happened and what possibly has been discussed in that room.

In previous years a few things have shown to be a trend. For example, bracket integrity. That is, putting seeds 1, 8, 9, 16 in one regional, 2, 7, 10, 15 in another regional, 3, 6, 11, 14 in the third regional and 4, 5, 12, 13 in the fourth regional. The committee certainly has shown that to be the case.

Attendance issues have not trumped this integrity in the committee’s minds; witness moving eastern teams to the west and western teams to the east.

So we try to use the past to guide the future.

But there is one thing that holds true every year.

Each committee is different, so anything and everything could happen. And because of that, I think it’s necessary to come up with different scenarios, no matter how implausible they may be.

I basically want to prepare you, the reader, for any situation that may arise.

With that being said, let’s get to it.

Here are the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the automatic bids that are not in the top 16 (through all games of March 16, 2008):

1 Michigan
2 Miami
3 New Hampshire
4 Colorado College
5 North Dakota
6t Boston College
6t Denver
8 St. Cloud State
9t Michigan State
9t Clarkson
11 Minnesota
12 Notre Dame
13t Minnesota State
13t Wisconsin
15 Harvard
16t Princeton
16t Vermont
21t Niagara
– Air Force

Autobids:

Atlantic Hockey: Air Force
CHA: Niagara

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 not currently in the Top 16. Niagara and Air Force are the autobids from the CHA and Atlantic Hockey.

We also have to add in the ECAC autobid, which will not be Clarkson, the regular-season champion, since the Golden Knights lost to Colgate in the league quarterfinals. For the purposes of this discussion, we will use Princeton, the highest seed left in the tournament.

Let’s look at the ties, which consist of Boston College and Denver at 6, Michigan State and Clarkson at 9, and Minnesota State and Wisconsin at 13.

BC defeats Denver, Michigan State defeats Clarkson and Minnesota State defeats Wisconsin in the individual comparisons.

We add in Niagara and Air Force as autobids, and Princeton, the highest seed left in the ECAC tournament.

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

1 Michigan
2 Miami
3 New Hampshire
4 Colorado College
5 North Dakota
6 Boston College
7 Denver
8 St. Cloud State
9 Michigan State
10 Clarkson
11 Minnesota
12 Notre Dame
13 Minnesota State
14 Princeton
15 Niagara
16 Air Force

Step Two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 Seeds – Michigan, Miami, New Hampshire, Colorado College
No. 2 Seeds – North Dakota, Boston College, Denver, St. Cloud State
No. 3 Seeds – Michigan State, Clarkson, Minnesota, Notre Dame
No. 4 Seeds – Minnesota State, Princeton, Niagara, Air Force

Step Three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals. We seed Colorado College first, since it is hosting a Regional. We then 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 Michigan is placed in the Midwest Regional in Madison.
No. 2 Miami 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 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 St. Cloud is placed in No. 1 Michigan’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 7 Denver is placed in No. 2 Miami’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 6 Boston College 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 Michigan State is placed in No. 8 St. Cloud’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 10 Clarkson is placed in No. 7 Denver’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 11 Minnesota is placed in No. 6 Boston College’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 12 Notre Dame 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 Air Force is sent to No. 1 Michigan’s Regional, the Midwest Regional
No. 15 Niagara is sent to No. 2 Miami’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 14 Princeton is sent to No. 3 New Hampshire’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 13 Minnesota State is sent to No. 4 Colorado College’s Regional, the West Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional:

Minnesota State vs. Colorado College
Notre Dame vs. North Dakota

Midwest Regional:

Air Force vs. Michigan
Michigan State vs. St. Cloud State

East Regional:

Niagara vs. Miami
Clarkson vs. Denver

Northeast Regional:

Princeton vs. New Hampshire
Minnesota vs. Boston College

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have one: Minnesota State vs. Colorado College. So we switch Minnesota State with Princeton, switching the 13 and 14 seeds.

Our new brackets:

West Regional:

Princeton vs. Colorado College
Notre Dame vs. North Dakota

Midwest Regional:

Air Force vs. Michigan
Michigan State vs. St. Cloud State

East Regional:

Niagara vs. Miami
Clarkson vs. Denver

Northeast Regional:

Minnesota State vs. New Hampshire
Minnesota vs. Boston College

Well, we could move Air Force and Princeton to drive some attendance and save some costs for airfare by keeping Air Force in Colorado Springs.

But we’re screwing with bracket integrity. So we won’t do it.

Let’s step back and take a look.

Bracket integrity, it’s there.

Attendance, it’s looking pretty good.

I would say that the bracket works out very nicely this week and if it stayed like this, it would be a pretty easy job for the committee.

This is my bracket this week.

Have a great final week before the selections are announced and I’ll be back with you to give you a final projection on the tournament for this year on Saturday evening after all the games are said and done.


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