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College Hockey:
Seven weeks out, and the bracket is intriguing

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. 29, 2013):

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

Here are the current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Niagara
CCHA: Western Michigan
ECAC Hockey: Quinnipiac
Hockey East: Boston College
WCHA: St. Cloud State

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 New Hampshire and Miami at 3, Yale and Boston College at 5, Boston University and Alaska at 11 and Notre Dame and Dartmouth at 14.

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

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

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

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

As a host, New Hampshire must be placed first.

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

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
15 Dartmouth vs. 2 Minnesota
10 North Dakota vs. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
13 Denver vs. 4 Miami
12 Alaska vs. 5 Yale

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
14 Notre Dame vs. 3 New Hampshire
11 Boston University vs. 6 Boston College

East Regional (Providence):
16 Niagara vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 St. Cloud State vs. 8 Western Michigan

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have one in Boston University vs. Boston College.

To avoid this, we can switch Boston University with Alaska, the team with which it is tied in the PWR.

Our brackets are now:

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
15 Dartmouth vs. 2 Minnesota
10 North Dakota vs. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
13 Denver vs. 4 Miami
11 Boston University vs. 5 Yale

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
14 Notre Dame vs. 3 New Hampshire
12 Alaska vs. 6 Boston College

East Regional (Providence):
16 Niagara vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 St. Cloud State vs. 8 Western Michigan

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

Can we make it better? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: attendance, attendance, attendance.

Where can we get better attendance?

One obvious spot is to get Western Michigan to Grand Rapids so we can draw better there.

We swap the entire matchup of SCSU vs. WMU and BU vs. Yale. In doing this we bring two Eastern teams east and two Western teams west. But that only gets WMU to Toledo. We need to get them to Grand Rapids. So we swap the entire matchups again, this time SCSU vs. WMU and North Dakota vs. Massachusetts-Lowell.

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
15 Dartmouth vs. 2 Minnesota
9 St. Cloud State vs. 8 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
13 Denver vs. 4 Miami
10 North Dakota vs. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
14 Notre Dame vs. 3 New Hampshire
12 Alaska vs. 6 Boston College

East Regional (Providence):
16 Niagara vs. 1 Quinnipiac
11 Boston University vs. 5 Yale

Is there anything else that we can do?

There is one more switch which I would like to make: swapping Notre Dame with Dartmouth. These two teams are tied in the PWR, and neither is playing the No. 1 seed. So I like this swap. It gets Dartmouth to New Hampshire and it brings Notre Dame closer to its fan base.

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
14 Notre Dame vs. 2 Minnesota
9 St. Cloud State vs. 8 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
13 Denver vs. 4 Miami
10 North Dakota vs. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Dartmouth vs. 3 New Hampshire
12 Alaska vs. 6 Boston College

East Regional (Providence):
16 Niagara vs. 1 Quinnipiac
11 Boston University vs. 5 Yale

Wow, does this bracket look so good to me.

I wish I could bring Notre Dame to Toledo, but that can’t be done.

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

Grand Rapids
14 Notre Dame vs. 2 Minnesota
9 St. Cloud State vs. 8 Western Michigan

Toledo
13 Denver vs. 4 Miami
10 North Dakota vs. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell

Manchester
15 Dartmouth vs. 3 New Hampshire
12 Alaska vs. 6 Boston College

Providence
16 Niagara vs. 1 Quinnipiac
11 Boston University vs. 5 Yale

Conference breakdowns

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

On the move

In: Alaska
Out: Minnesota State

Attendance woes?

I am OK at the present moment, though I wish Toledo was a little stronger.

Last week’s brackets

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

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

Manchester
15 Minnesota State vs. 4 New Hampshire
9 Dartmouth vs. 8 Miami

Providence
16 Niagara vs. 1 Quinnipiac
11 Denver vs. 5 Yale

Interesting …

Miami is west!

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