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College Hockey:
Our final prediction for the 2012 NCAA tournament

Let’s put the bracket prediction down first, and then we’ll explain how we got there after that.

My predicted NCAA tournament bracket is as follows:

West Regional (St. Paul, Minn.):
14 Western Michigan vs. 4 North Dakota
9 Boston University vs. 8 Minnesota

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wis.):
13 Cornell vs. 2 Michigan
11 Denver vs. 6 Ferris State

East Regional (Bridgeport, Conn.):
15 Michigan State vs. 3 Union
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Miami

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Mass.):
16 Air Force vs. 1 Boston College
10 Maine vs. 7 Minnesota-Duluth

How did we get there?

Here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the other autobids that are not in the top 16:

1 Boston College
2 Michigan
3 Union
4 North Dakota
5 Miami
6 Ferris State
7 Minnesota-Duluth
8 Minnesota
9t Boston University
9t Maine
11 Denver
12t Massachusetts-Lowell
12t Cornell
14 Western Michigan
15t Michigan State
15t Northern Michigan
15t Merrimack
22t Air Force

Autobids:

Atlantic Hockey: Air Force
CCHA: Western Michigan
ECAC Hockey: Union
Hockey East: Boston College
WCHA: North Dakota

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 any autobids not in the top 16 of the PairWise. The only team that is not is Air Force.

We break all of our ties based upon the RPI.

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

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

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

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

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

We now place the other No. 1 seeds based on proximity to the regional sites.

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 Union is placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport.
No. 4 North Dakota is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.

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.

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 the host institution first, so we place Minnesota first in St. Paul.

So therefore:

No. 2 seeds

No. 8 Minnesota is placed in No. 4 North Dakota’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in No. 1 Boston College’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 6 Ferris State is placed in No. 2 Michigan’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 5 Miami is placed in No. 3 Union’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.

Therefore:

No. 9 Boston University is placed in No. 8 Minnesota’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 10 Maine is placed in No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 11 Denver is placed in No. 6 Ferris State’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 12 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in No. 5 Miami’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 Michigan State is sent to No. 2 Michigan’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 14 Western Michigan is sent to No. 3 Union’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 13 Cornell is sent to No. 4 North Dakota’s regional, the West Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional (St. Paul):
13 Cornell vs. 4 North Dakota
9 Boston University vs. 8 Minnesota

Midwest Regional (Green Bay):
15 Michigan State vs. 2 Michigan
11 Denver vs. 6 Ferris State

East Regional (Bridgeport):
14 Western Michigan vs. 3 Union
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Miami

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Air Force vs. 1 Boston College
10 Maine vs. 7 Minnesota-Duluth

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have one, Michigan State vs. Michigan. We swap Michigan State with Cornell.

West Regional (St. Paul):
15 Michigan State vs. 4 North Dakota
9 Boston University vs. 8 Minnesota

Midwest Regional (Green Bay):
13 Cornell vs. 2 Michigan
11 Denver vs. 6 Ferris State

East Regional (Bridgeport):
14 Western Michigan vs. 3 Union
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Miami

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Air Force vs. 1 Boston College
10 Maine vs. 7 Minnesota-Duluth

Looks about right, doesn’t it? Let’s look at bracket integrity.

Within each regional, it is pretty shot. We don’t have the perfect matchup because of where Minnesota fell, but that’s OK. We try to maintain the best semblance of what we have in the first-round games.

This means that we try to align 1 vs. 16, 7 vs. 10, etc.

I see where we can swap Michigan State and Western Michigan to have a bracket with truer integrity.

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Western Michigan vs. 4 North Dakota
9 Boston University vs. 8 Minnesota

Midwest Regional (Green Bay):
13 Cornell vs. 2 Michigan
11 Denver vs. 6 Ferris State

East Regional (Bridgeport):
15 Michigan State vs. 3 Union
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Miami

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Air Force vs. 1 Boston College
10 Maine vs. 7 Minnesota-Duluth

After that switch, I think the bracket integrity within the first-round games look good to me.

Now let’s look at attendance issues.

Green Bay looks a little iffy at the moment. It would be great to get Minnesota-Duluth there. Can we do that?

If we do switch Minnesota-Duluth there, that means we have to move Denver out. And the only place Denver can go is East. With four Western teams in the second-seeded band, you create a regional in the East with three Western teams and one Eastern team.

So basically you swap one attendance issue for another. So we leave Minnesota-Duluth where it is.

How about trying to get North Dakota to Green Bay? That only means that you swap the Michigan-Cornell matchup with the North Dakota-Western Michigan matchup. At the same time, you create a potential 2-8 in St. Paul and potential 4-6 in Green Bay. Not a bad proposition.

Michigan is flying either way, but North Dakota would fly to Green Bay and bus to St. Paul.

Let’s see what it would look like on paper.

West Regional (St. Paul):
13 Cornell vs. 2 Michigan
9 Boston University vs. 8 Minnesota

Midwest Regional (Green Bay):
14 Western Michigan vs. 4 North Dakota
11 Denver vs. 6 Ferris State

East Regional (Bridgeport):
15 Michigan State vs. 3 Union
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Miami

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Air Force vs. 1 Boston College
10 Maine vs. 7 Minnesota-Duluth

I’ll wait on making this decision.

One other consideration would be to swap Boston University with Massachusetts-Lowell. The only consideration here would be attendance and the notion of “deservedness” to stay closer to home.

BU did make the Hockey East final four, whereas Massachusetts-Lowell did not.

But this messes up our nice bracket integrity in the 2-3 seeded band, so I don’t think I’ll do that.

So we’re back to the North Dakota and Michigan swapping issue.

It’s not a matter of keeping one team closer, as both teams would be going farther away. If we wanted to keep North Dakota closer, we could also make the argument that North Dakota won its tournament whereas Michigan did not.

So it’s purely an attendance issue.

In the end, I can’t see it breaking that way.

So the final projected bracket is:

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Western Michigan vs. 4 North Dakota
9 Boston University vs. 8 Minnesota

Midwest Regional (Green Bay):
13 Cornell vs. 2 Michigan
11 Denver vs. 6 Ferris State

East Regional (Bridgeport):
15 Michigan State vs. 3 Union
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Miami

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Air Force vs. 1 Boston College
10 Maine vs. 7 Minnesota-Duluth

We’ll see what the committee comes out with on Sunday.

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  • dave

    what???? UNE is sickkkkkk