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College Hockey:
Eight weeks out, and attendance again forces some changes

It’s time once again to do what we like to call Bracketology, college hockey style. It’s our weekly look at how I believe the NCAA tournament will wind up come selection time.

It’s a look into what are the possible thought processes behind selecting and seeding the NCAA tournament teams.

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 — Providence, R.I.; Northeast — Manchester, N.H.; Midwest — Toledo, Ohio; West — Grand Rapids, Mich.)

• 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: Brown in Providence, New Hampshire in Manchester, Bowling Green in Toledo and Michigan in Grand Rapids.

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 Jan. 22, 2013):

1 Quinnipiac
2 Minnesota
3 Boston College
4 New Hampshire
5 Yale
6t North Dakota
6t Massachusetts-Lowell
8 Miami
9t Dartmouth
9t Notre Dame
11 Denver
12 Western Michigan
13 Boston University
14 St. Cloud State
15 Minnesota State
16t Niagara
16t Northern Michigan

Here are the current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Niagara
CCHA: Notre Dame (by virtue of more conference wins over Western Michigan)
ECAC Hockey: Quinnipiac
Hockey East: Boston College
WCHA: St. Cloud State (by virtue of second tiebreaker, most conference wins)

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. There are none.

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

The ties and bubbles consist of North Dakota and Massachusetts-Lowell at 6 and Dartmouth and Notre Dame at 9.

We break all of our ties based upon the RPI.

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

1 Quinnipiac
2 Minnesota
3 Boston College
4 New Hampshire
5 Yale
6 North Dakota
7 Massachusetts-Lowell
8 Miami
9 Dartmouth
10 Notre Dame
11 Denver
12 Western Michigan
13 Boston University
14 St. Cloud State
15 Minnesota State
16 Niagara

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 seeds — Quinnipiac, Minnesota, Boston College, New Hampshire
No. 2 seeds — Yale, North Dakota, Massachusetts-Lowell, Miami
No. 3 seeds — Dartmouth, Notre Dame, Denver, Western Michigan
No. 4 seeds — Boston University, St. Cloud State, Minnesota State, Niagara

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

As a host, we must place New Hampshire first.

No. 4 New Hampshire is placed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester.
No. 1 Quinnipiac is placed in the East Regional in Providence.
No. 2 Minnesota is placed in the West Regional in Grand Rapids.
No. 3 Boston College is placed in the Midwest Regional in Toledo.

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 Miami is placed in No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in No. 2 Minnesota’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 6 North Dakota is placed in No. 3 Boston College’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 5 Yale is placed in No. 4 New Hampshire’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.

No. 9 Dartmouth is placed in No. 8 Miami’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 10 Notre Dame is placed in No. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 11 Denver is placed in No. 6 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 12 Western Michigan is placed in No. 5 Yale’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 Niagara is sent to No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 15 Minnesota State is sent to No. 2 Minnesota’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 14 St. Cloud State is sent to No. 3 Boston College’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 13 Boston University is sent to No. 4 New Hampshire’s regional, the Northeast Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional:
15 Minnesota State vs. 2 Minnesota
10 Notre Dame vs. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell

Midwest Regional:
14 St. Cloud State vs. 3 Boston College
11 Denver vs. 6 North Dakota

Northeast Regional:
13 Boston University vs. 4 New Hampshire
12 Western Michigan vs. 5 Yale

East Regional:
16 Niagara vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Dartmouth vs. 8 Miami

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have three in Boston University vs. New Hampshire, Denver vs. North Dakota and Minnesota State vs. Minnesota.

To avoid this, we can switch Boston University with Minnesota State to solve this in the 1 vs. 4 bracketing. And then we switch Notre Dame with Denver to solve that conflict.

Our brackets are now:

West Regional:
13 Boston University vs. 2 Minnesota
11 Denver vs. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell

Midwest Regional:
14 St. Cloud State vs. 3 Boston College
10 Notre Dame vs. 6 North Dakota

Northeast Regional:
15 Minnesota State vs. 4 New Hampshire
12 Western Michigan vs. 5 Yale

East Regional:
16 Niagara vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Dartmouth vs. 8 Miami

We now have a bracket that does not have any intra-conference matchups.

Can we make it better? Attendance is always a concern. Where can we get better attendance?

One obvious spot is to swap out Western Michigan with Denver, so that we can draw better in Grand Rapids.

West Regional:
13 Boston University vs. 2 Minnesota
12 Western Michigan vs. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell

Midwest Regional:
14 St. Cloud State vs. 3 Boston College
10 Notre Dame vs. 6 North Dakota

Northeast Regional:
15 Minnesota State vs. 4 New Hampshire
11 Denver vs. 5 Yale

East Regional:
16 Niagara vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Dartmouth vs. 8 Miami

We can’t bring Miami back West, because we would create a CCHA-CCHA matchup.

Should we switch the 2 vs. 3 matchups in the Eastern brackets? Moving Dartmouth to Manchester would certainly boost some attendance, and then moving Yale to Providence might boost some also.

So let’s do that.

West Regional:
13 Boston University vs. 2 Minnesota
12 Western Michigan vs. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell

Midwest Regional:
14 St. Cloud State vs. 3 Boston College
10 Notre Dame vs. 6 North Dakota

Northeast Regional:
15 Minnesota State vs. 4 New Hampshire
9 Dartmouth vs. 8 Miami

East Regional:
16 Niagara vs. 1 Quinnipiac
11 Denver vs. 5 Yale

That looks good to me.

That is about all we can do with this bracket. So that is it. My bracket for the week.

See you here next week for the next Bracketology.

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

This week’s brackets

West Regional (Grand Rapids)
13 Boston University vs. 2 Minnesota
12 Western Michigan vs. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell

Midwest Regional (Toledo)
14 St. Cloud State vs. 3 Boston College
10 Notre Dame vs. 6 North Dakota

Northeast Regional (Manchester)
15 Minnesota State vs. 4 New Hampshire
9 Dartmouth vs. 8 Miami

East Regional (Providence)
16 Niagara vs. 1 Quinnipiac
11 Denver vs. 5 Yale

Conference breakdowns

WCHA — 5
HEA — 4
ECAC — 3
CCHA — 3
AHA — 1

On The Move

In: St. Cloud State
Out: Colgate

Attendance woes?

I am OK at the present moment.

Last week’s brackets

West Regional (Grand Rapids)
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 4 Minnesota
11 Western Michigan vs. 7 North Dakota

Midwest Regional (Toledo)
15 Minnesota State vs. 3 Quinnipiac
12 Dartmouth vs. 6 Notre Dame

Northeast Regional (Manchester)
16 Colgate vs. 1 New Hampshire
9 Yale vs. 8 Denver

East Regional (Providence)
14 Niagara vs. 2 Boston College
10 Miami vs. 5 Boston University

Interesting …

The teams just below .5000 in the RPI are Rensselaer, Ohio State and Minnesota-Duluth. Watch them and see how the PWR is affected if those teams move above .5000.

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  • WinterHawk2626

    Glad that Tony Hrkac is having ‘fun” playing outdoors but seriously how long can the AD at Concordia let the carnage continue? Nice that home town boy has turnned coach, but has little to show for the 5 years behind the bench. I seriously think its time to move on to new leadership before the wheels fall off this program completely if it has not happened all ready. So Tony, hows the recruiting going lately? Any top players agree to play for a team with only a handful of wins in the past half decade? The real tragedy here would be to see the Concordia program collapse and leave the MCHA because the Athletic Department at Concordia continues to hold out hope that a losing coach will create miracles and drive for a championship in the next 30 years.
    I say its time to move on to an entirely new coaching staff and a new attitude. I welcome any comments to the contrary!

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