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College Hockey:
Debating the site for the overall No. 1 seed

Welcome to the next installment of our Bracketology, and we’ll keep bringing you a new one every week until we make our final picks before the field is announced.

If you want to skip the inner workings and get to the results of the analysis, then click here.

Here are the facts:

• Sixteen teams are selected to participate in the national tournament.

• There are four regional sites (East — Bridgeport, Conn.; Northeast — Worcester, Mass.; Midwest — Green Bay, Wis.; West — St. Paul, Minn.)

• 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: Yale in Bridgeport, Holy Cross in Worcester, Michigan Tech in Green Bay and Minnesota in St. Paul.

• 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 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 five automatic qualifiers and 11 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”.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders (through all games of Feb. 28, 2012):

1 Minnesota-Duluth
2 Boston College
3 Michigan
4t Ferris State
4t Boston University
4t Massachusetts-Lowell
7 Minnesota
8t Miami
8t Union
10 Maine
11t Michigan State
11t Northern Michigan
11t Denver
14t North Dakota
14t Merrimack
16 Cornell
27t Air Force

Here are the current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Air Force
CCHA: Ferris State
ECAC Hockey: Union
Hockey East: Boston College
WCHA: Minnesota

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 how the teams rank in the Ratings Percentage Index, and add in any current league leaders that are not currently in the top 16. The only team that is not is Air Force.

From there, we can start looking at the ties and bubbles in a more detailed fashion.

The ties and bubbles consist of Ferris State, Boston University and Massachusetts-Lowell at 4, Miami and Union at 8, Michigan State and Northern Michigan and Denver at 11 and North Dakota and Merrimack at 14.

We break all of our ties based upon the RPI.

Therefore the 16 teams in the tournament, in rank order, and adding in any conference leaders not already in the top 16, are:

1 Minnesota-Duluth
2 Boston College
3 Michigan
4 Ferris State
5 Boston University
6 Massachusetts-Lowell
7 Minnesota
8 Miami
9 Union
10 Maine
11 Michigan State
12 Northern Michigan
13 Denver
14 North Dakota
15 Merrimack
16 Air Force

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 seeds — Minnesota-Duluth, Boston College, Michigan, Ferris State
No. 2 seeds — Boston University, Massachusetts-Lowell, Minnesota, Miami
No. 3 seeds — Union, Maine, Michigan State, Northern Michigan
No. 4 seeds — Denver, North Dakota, Merrimack, Air Force

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in the Midwest Regional in Green Bay.
No. 2 Boston College is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 3 Michigan is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.
No. 4 Ferris State is placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport.

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.

We have to place Minnesota first as a host institution.

So therefore:

No. 2 seeds

No. 7 Minnesota is placed in No. 3 Michigan’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 8 Miami is placed in No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 6 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in No. 2 Boston College’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 5 Boston University is placed in No. 4 Ferris State’s regional, the East 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 Union is placed in No. 8 Miami’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 10 Maine is placed in No. 7 Minnesota’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 11 Michigan State is placed in No. 6 Massachuetts-Lowell’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 12 Northern Michigan is placed in No. 5 Boston University’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 4 seeds

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

No. 16 Air Force is sent to No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 15 Merrimack is sent to No. 2 Boston College’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 14 North Dakota is sent to No. 3 Michigan’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 13 Denver is sent to No. 4 Ferris State’s regional, the East Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional:
North Dakota vs. Michigan
Maine vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
Air Force vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Union vs. Miami

Northeast Regional:
Merrimack vs. Boston College
Michigan State vs. Massachusetts-Lowell

East Regional:
Denver vs. Ferris State
Northern Michigan vs. Boston University

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have Merrimack vs. Boston College.

Thus we swap Merrimack with Denver.

So our bracket is now:

West Regional:
North Dakota vs. Michigan
Maine vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
Air Force vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Union vs. Miami

Northeast Regional:
Denver vs. Boston College
Michigan State vs. Massachusetts-Lowell

East Regional:
Merrimack vs. Ferris State
Northern Michigan vs. Boston University

Is there anything else that we can do?

Let’s look at some attendance considerations vs. bracket integrity again.

In the third band we have two Eastern teams in the West and two Western teams in the East. Let’s find a way to bring them back so that we can increase some attendance.

We can’t bring Maine back because then we create a Hockey East-Hockey East matchup. So Maine has to stay out West.

We also can only move one of Michigan State or Northern Michigan because we can only match Minnesota up against someone, or else we create a CCHA-CCHA matchup.

So, how do we do this?

Once we move Union east, we also have to move Maine — not to one of the Eastern regionals, but to the Midwest Regional, since we have to move a CCHA team, and that CCHA team must play in the West Regional.

So, how do we stay the closest to the bracketing?

Union should play Lowell. Thus, we move Union to the Northeast Regional, we move Maine to the Midwest Regional and we move Michigan State to the West Regional.

West Regional:
North Dakota vs. Michigan
Michigan State vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
Air Force vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Maine vs. Miami

Northeast Regional:
Denver vs. Boston College
Union vs. Massachusetts-Lowell

East Regional:
Merrimack vs. Ferris State
Northern Michigan vs. Boston University

That looks like about all I can do.

So that is it. My bracket for the week.

Or is it?

A few weeks back I said that we could put Minnesota-Duluth in either Green Bay or St. Paul. The reason being that both are still a bus ride for the Bulldogs and either site would be OK to send the Bulldogs to.

So what if we seeded UMD to St. Paul instead of Green Bay?

West Regional:
Air Force vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Maine vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
North Dakota vs. Michigan
Michigan State vs. Massachusetts-Lowell

Northeast Regional:
Merrimack vs. Boston College
Union vs. Miami

East Regional:
Denver vs. Ferris State
Northern Michigan vs. Boston University

We need to take care of the Merrimack-BC matchup. We swap Merrimack with Denver.

West Regional:
Air Force vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Maine vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
North Dakota vs. Michigan
Michigan State vs. Massachusetts-Lowell

Northeast Regional:
Denver vs. Boston College
Union vs. Miami

East Regional:
Merrimack vs. Ferris State
Northern Michigan vs. Boston University

What else can we do?

We can look above at our swapping and see what else there is available to us to boost attendance. We can swap Miami and Massachusetts-Lowell. Once we do this, we have to move out Michigan State. So we swap Michigan State with Maine.

West Regional:
Air Force vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Michigan State vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
North Dakota vs. Michigan
Maine vs. Miami

Northeast Regional:
Denver vs. Boston College
Union vs. Massachusetts-Lowell

East Regional:
Merrimack vs. Ferris State
Northern Michigan vs. Boston University

So as you see, the only change that we have made here is that the Air Force-UMD matchup is swapped with the North Dakota-Michigan matchup.

So which one do we choose?

The No. 1 seed is closest to St. Paul. Thus, we choose the second one to keep the No. 1 seed as close to home as possible.

West Regional:
Air Force vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Michigan State vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
North Dakota vs. Michigan
Maine vs. Miami

Northeast Regional:
Denver vs. Boston College
Union vs. Massachusetts-Lowell

East Regional:
Merrimack vs. Ferris State
Northern Michigan vs. Boston University

See you here next week for the next Bracketology.

Here’s a summary of everything that we have covered.


This week’s brackets

St. Paul
16 Air Force vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
11 Michigan State vs. 7 Minnesota

Green Bay
14 North Dakota vs. 3 Michigan
10 Maine vs. 8 Miami

Bridgeport
15 Merrimack vs. 4 Ferris State
12 Northern Michigan vs. 5 Boston University

Worcester
13 Denver vs. 2 Boston College
9 Union vs. 6 Massachusetts-Lowell

Conference breakdowns

CCHA — 5
HEA — 5
WCHA — 4
ECAC — 1
AHA — 1

On The Move

In: Merrimack
Out: Cornell

Attendance woes?

Green Bay is a little worrisome.

Last week’s brackets

St. Paul
14 North Dakota vs. 4 Ferris State
10 Michigan State vs. 8 Minnesota

Green Bay
15 Cornell vs. 2 Michigan
11 Miami vs. 5 Minnesota-Duluth

Bridgeport
13 Ohio State vs. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell
12 Denver vs. 6 Boston University

Worcester
16 Air Force vs. 1 Boston College
9 Maine vs. 7 Union

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