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College Hockey:
Working things out before conference championship weekend

Welcome to the next installment of our Bracketology, and this is the last one until our final predictions for the bracket late Saturday night.

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 highest remaining seeds in their conference tournaments (through all games of March 13, 2012):

1 Boston College
2 Michigan
3 Minnesota-Duluth
4t Miami
4t Boston University
6t Union
6t Ferris State
8 Minnesota
9 Massachusetts-Lowell
10 Maine
11t North Dakota
11t Denver
13 Cornell
14t Michigan State
14t Western Michigan
16 Northern Michigan
28 Air Force

Here are the highest remaining seeds in their respective tournaments:

Atlantic Hockey: Air Force
CCHA: Michigan
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.

• I will be using the top remaining seed in each conference tournament. This team is my assumed conference tournament champion and awarded the automatic bid.

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 top remaining seeds 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 Miami and Boston University at 4, Union and Ferris State at 6, North Dakota and Denver at 11, and Michigan State and Western Michigan 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 Boston College
2 Michigan
3 Minnesota-Duluth
4 Miami
5 Boston University
6 Union
7 Ferris State
8 Minnesota
9 Massachusetts-Lowell
10 Maine
11 North Dakota
12 Denver
13 Cornell
14 Michigan State
15 Western Michigan
16 Air Force

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

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

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

No. 1 Boston College is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 2 Michigan is placed in the Midwest Regional in Green Bay.
No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.
No. 4 Miami 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. 8 Minnesota is placed in No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 7 Ferris State is placed in No. 1 Boston College’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 6 Union is placed in No. 2 Michigan’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 5 Boston University is placed in No. 4 Miami’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 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in No. 8 Minnesota’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 10 Maine is placed in No. 7 Ferris State’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 11 North Dakota is placed in No. 6 Union’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 12 Denver 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 Boston College’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 15 Western Michigan is sent to No. 2 Michigan’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 14 Michigan State is sent to No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 13 Cornell is sent to No. 4 Miami’s regional, the East Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional:
Michigan State vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Massachusetts-Lowell vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
Western Michigan vs. Michigan
North Dakota vs. Union

Northeast Regional:
Air Force vs. Boston College
Maine vs. Ferris State

East Regional:
Cornell vs. Miami
Denver vs. Boston University

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have Western Michigan vs. Michigan.

We can’t switch Western Michigan with anyone else but Air Force.

We now have:

West Regional:
Michigan State vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Massachusetts-Lowell vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
Air Force vs. Michigan
North Dakota vs. Union

Northeast Regional:
Western Michigan vs. Boston College
Maine vs. Ferris State

East Regional:
Cornell vs. Miami
Denver vs. Boston University

I honestly like what I see here, but I think that I would like to make one more change: swapping Ferris State and Union.

West Regional:
Michigan State vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Massachusetts-Lowell vs. Minnesota

Midwest Regional:
Air Force vs. Michigan
North Dakota vs. Ferris State

Northeast Regional:
Western Michigan vs. Boston College
Maine vs. Union

East Regional:
Cornell vs. Miami
Denver vs. Boston University

I like that a lot better.

I am done. Pretty simple right now. One more weekend to go; let’s see what happens.

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


This week’s brackets

St. Paul
14 Michigan State vs. 3 Minnesota-Duluth
9 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 8 Minnesota

Green Bay
16 Air Force vs. 2 Michigan
11 North Dakota vs. 7 Ferris State

Bridgeport
13 Cornell vs. 4 Miami
12 Denver vs. 5 Boston University

Worcester
15 Western Michigan vs. 1 Boston College
10 Maine vs. 6 Union

Conference breakdowns

CCHA — 5
HEA — 4
WCHA — 4
ECAC — 2
AHA — 1

On the move

In: Western Michigan
Out: Merrimack

Attendance woes?

I like it!

Last week’s brackets

St. Paul
15 Merrimack vs. 4 Minnesota-Duluth
9 Miami vs. 7 Minnesota

Green Bay
13 North Dakota vs. 2 Michigan
11 Denver vs. 5 Ferris State

Bridgeport
14 Cornell vs. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell
12 Michigan State vs. 6 Boston University

Worcester
16 Air Force vs. 1 Boston College
10 Maine vs. 8 Union

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