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College Hockey:
Final Bracketology: March 20, 2010

Here is our final Bracketology of the season. The games are all finished and this is how I think the NCAA Ice Hockey Championship Committee will think when it creates this year’s NCAA tournament (revealed 11:30 a.m. Sunday, ESPN2).

If you’re new to Bracketology, click here for the background.

If you don’t want to read the details, just look to your right on the sidebar for the Final Bracket Projection.

Here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and any teams that have qualified and are not in the Top 16, meaning CHA champion Alabama-Huntsville, and Atlantic Hockey champion RIT:

1 Miami
2 Denver
3 Wisconsin
4 Boston College
5 North Dakota
6 St. Cloud State
7 Cornell
8 Bemidji State
9 Yale
10 Northern Michigan
11t New Hampshire
11t Michigan
11t Alaska
11t Vermont
15t Ferris State
15t Michigan State
25 RIT
– Alabama-Huntsville

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 RPI, and add in any autobids or current league leaders that are not currently in the top 16. The teams that are not are Alabama-Huntsville and RIT.

Looking at the head-to-head PairWise comparisons and the RPI we break all of our ties.

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

1 Miami
2 Denver
3 Wisconsin
4 Boston College
5 North Dakota
6 St. Cloud State
7 Cornell
8 Bemidji State
9 Yale
10 Northern Michigan
11 New Hampshire
12 Michigan
13 Alaska
14 Vermont
15 RIT
16 Alabama-Huntsville

Step Two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 Seeds — Miami, Denver, Wisconsin, Boston College
No. 2 Seeds — North Dakota, St. Cloud State, Cornell, Bemidji State
No. 3 Seeds — Yale, Northern Michigan, New Hampshire, Michigan
No. 4 Seeds — Alaska, Vermont, RIT, Alabama-Huntsville

Step Three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals. Following the guidelines, there are no host teams, 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 Fort Wayne, Ind.
No. 2 Denver is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul, Minn.
No. 3 Wisconsin is placed in the East Regional in Albany, N.Y.
No. 4 Boston College is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass.

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 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5.

So therefore:

No. 2 Seeds

No. 8 Bemidji State is placed in No. 1 Miami’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 7 Cornell is placed in No. 2 Denver’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 6 St. Cloud State is placed in No. 3 Wisconsin’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 5 North Dakota is placed in No. 4 Boston College’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 Yale is placed in No. 8 Bemidji State’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 10 Northern Michigan is placed in No. 7 Cornell’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 11 New Hampshire is placed in No. 6 St. Cloud’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 12 Michigan is placed in No. 5 North Dakota’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.

No. 4 Seeds

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

No. 16 Alabama-Huntsville is sent to No. 1 Miami’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 15 RIT is sent to No. 2 Denver’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 14 Vermont is sent to No. 3 Wisconsin’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 13 Alaska is sent to No. 4 Boston College’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

Northeast Regional:

Alaska vs. Boston College
Michigan vs. North Dakota

Midwest Regional:

Alabama-Huntsville vs. Miami
Yale vs. Bemidji State

East Regional:

Vermont vs. Wisconsin
New Hampshire vs. St. Cloud State

West Regional:

RIT vs. Denver
Northern Michigan vs. Cornell

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have none.

So do we like our brackets?

Pretty simple and easy isn’t it?

How about attendance wise?

The West Regional is a killer. The East Regional is a killer.

Hey let’s swap the ENTIRE Regional.

So now we have:

Northeast Regional:

Alaska vs. Boston College
Michigan vs. North Dakota

Midwest Regional:

Alabama-Huntsville vs. Miami
Yale vs. Bemidji State

West Regional:

Vermont vs. Wisconsin
New Hampshire vs. St. Cloud State

East Regional:

RIT vs. Denver
Northern Michigan vs. Cornell

Now that’s much better.

Albany looks good with Cornell and RIT. Denver had to fly anyway, so why not fly to Albany for attendance purposes? NMU gets displaced, though, but for the good of attendance, it is a nice switch.

Then in St. Paul we’ve added Wisconsin and St. Cloud. That makes the attendance go up immediately.

So are we done?

Here’s one more thing to consider. How about a swap of New Hampshire and Michigan?

Why, you ask? Well, if you put one more Hockey East school in Worcester, wouldn’t your attendance go up? Yes it would.

But would you hurt bracket integrity?

Let’s take a look.

New Hampshire and Michigan are tied at No. 11 in the PairWise, and it’s broken by RPI.

But the committee might possibly look at this tie and say that Michigan is 11 and UNH is 12 instead of the other way around.

That would give us:

Northeast Regional:

Alaska vs. Boston College
New Hampshire vs. North Dakota

Midwest Regional:

Alabama-Huntsville vs. Miami
Yale vs. Bemidji State

West Regional:

Vermont vs. Wisconsin
Michigan vs. St. Cloud State

East Regional:

RIT vs. Denver
Northern Michigan vs. Cornell

Now that’s a nice bracket for attendance in Worcester, Albany and St. Paul.

Too bad we can’t do anything with Fort Wayne.

So that’s the bracket, right?

Let’s consider one more thing here.

There is debate about how ties in the PairWise Rankings are broken. Not how to break comparisons, but how to break the ties in the rankings.

Meaning that if two teams are tied in one spot, is it broken by who wins that comparison, or who wins the RPI?

I believe it’s by RPI, thus the breaking of the tie at 11 for all of the teams shaking out that way.

But what if it were by head-to-head comparisons?

The tie at 11 would go be broken this way:

UNH beats Michigan and Vermont.

Alaska beats UNH and Vermont.

Michigan beats Alaska.

Vermont beats Michigan.

So that would rank them as Alaska, UNH, Vermont, Michigan.

Meaning that the tournament would look like this:

Northeast Regional:

Michigan vs. Boston College
New Hampshire vs. North Dakota

Midwest Regional:

Alabama-Huntsville vs. Miami
Yale vs. Bemidji State

West Regional:

Vermont vs. Wisconsin
Alaska vs. St. Cloud State

East Regional:

RIT vs. Denver
Northern Michigan vs. Cornell

Could this possibly be the way that the committee goes? Breaking the rankings by head-to-head comparison wins?

Possible, but I don’t think so.

We’re going with two switches overall in creating this tournament.

Swapping the entire Denver and Wisconsin brackets and sending the Denver bracket to Albany and the Wisconsin bracket to St. Paul.


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