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College Hockey:
Six weeks out, and the decisions are in moving and protecting teams

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 Feb. 5, 2013):

1 Quinnipiac
2 Minnesota
3t Miami
3t Boston College
5 New Hampshire
6 Western Michigan
7 Yale
8 St. Cloud State
9t Niagara
9t North Dakota
11 Denver
12t Minnesota State
12t Boston University
12t Alaska
15t Dartmouth
15t Notre Dame

Here are the current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Niagara
CCHA: Miami
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 Miami and Boston College at 3, Niagara and North Dakota at 9, Minnesota State, Boston University and Alaska at 12 and Dartmouth and Notre Dame at 15.

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

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

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

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

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 Miami is placed in the Midwest Regional in Toledo.
No. 4 Boston College is placed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester.

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

We must assign New Hampshire, a host school, first.

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

The brackets as we have set them up:

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

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
14 Alaska vs. 3 Miami
11 Denver vs. 6 Western Michigan

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
13 Boston University vs. 4 Boston College
12 Minnesota State vs. 5 New Hampshire

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

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have two in Boston University vs. Boston College and Alaska vs. Miami.

To avoid this, we can switch Boston University with Alaska, 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 Yale

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
13 Boston University vs. 3 Miami
11 Denver vs. 6 Western Michigan

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
14 Alaska vs. 4 Boston College
12 Minnesota State vs. 5 New Hampshire

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

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 WMU-Denver and Yale-North Dakota.

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
15 Dartmouth vs. 2 Minnesota
11 Denver vs. 6 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
13 Boston University vs. 3 Miami
10 North Dakota vs. 7 Yale

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
14 Alaska vs. 4 Boston College
12 Minnesota State vs. 5 New Hampshire

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

Is there anything else that we can do?

There is one more switch which I would like to make: swapping Alaska and Dartmouth.

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
14 Alaska vs. 2 Minnesota
11 Denver vs. 6 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
13 Boston University vs. 3 Miami
10 North Dakota vs. 7 Yale

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Dartmouth vs. 4 Boston College
12 Minnesota State vs. 5 New Hampshire

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

I need some more attendance in Providence, but the hands are a little tied. I want to bring Yale back to Providence, but there is limited movement as there are three WCHA teams in the third seeded band, so we have to move entire matchups. And that would mean moving North Dakota out of Toledo, which would decrease the attendance in Toledo. Niagara could draw well in Toledo, though.

I could bring BU back to Providence, but I can’t do that without creating a CCHA-CCHA matchup in either of the western brackets.

So maybe the question becomes which team should I bring back, Boston University or Dartmouth?

Manchester will do OK with both Boston College and New Hampshire. Getting Dartmouth there would be nice, but would having BU in Providence make attendance better than bringing Dartmouth back east?

If we hadn’t made the Dartmouth move but instead brought BU back east, what would we have? We would have to make some switches to avoid an intraconference matchup.

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
16 Notre Dame vs. 2 Minnesota
11 Denver vs. 6 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
15 Dartmouth vs. 3 Miami
10 North Dakota vs. 7 Yale

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
14 Alaska vs. 4 Boston College
12 Minnesota State vs. 5 New Hampshire

East Regional (Providence):
13 Boston University vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Niagara vs. 8 St. Cloud State

I’m a little happier with this attendance situation. But there is one huge question here. This is not protecting the No. 1 seed, as has been the case in years past.

The committee has shown a pattern of protecting the No. 1 seed, leaving the 1-16 matchup in place.

Now, you can argue that in years past, the 16 seed was always the Atlantic Hockey autobid, thus, there was the perception that this autobid should always play the overall No. 1 seed. But this year, the 16 seed is not the AHA autobid.

So what do you do?

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I think if you’re the committee, you cannot “slight” Atlantic Hockey and make this move. You have to protect the No. 1 seed as in the past.

So we don’t go this way. We stay with this.

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
14 Alaska vs. 2 Minnesota
11 Denver vs. 6 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
13 Boston University vs. 3 Miami
10 North Dakota vs. 7 Yale

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Dartmouth vs. 4 Boston College
12 Minnesota State vs. 5 New Hampshire

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

I really wish there could be some more moves made but this is about the best I can get it while keeping in place the principles of how the bracket is created.

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 Alaska vs. 2 Minnesota
11 Denver vs. 6 Western Michigan

Toledo
13 Boston University vs. 3 Miami
10 North Dakota vs. 7 Yale

Manchester
15 Dartmouth vs. 4 Boston College
12 Minnesota State vs. 5 New Hampshire

Providence
16 Notre Dame vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Niagara vs. 8 St. Cloud State

Conference breakdowns

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

On the move

In: Minnesota State
Out: Massachusetts-Lowell

Attendance woes?

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

Last 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

Interesting …

Niagara is so high in the PWR right now because of its RPI and that the Teams Under Consideration criteria is not in play with Niagara, with only four games played against TUCs at the moment.

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  • Malburj1

    Welcome to the DAWG POUND!!!!!! GO FERRIS!!!!!!

  • Buster Bronco

    Paula,

    What conference(s) will you blog for in fall 2013?

    What becomes of CCHA assets, like ccha.com and the conference trophy, following next season?

    Congratulations Ferris State.  They jumped from #6 in last weeks polls to #1 this week.  Western will have to twice knock-off the #1 team in the nation to win the CCHA regular season now.  The Friday Ferris game at WMU will be on FOX Sports Detroit.

    • Broncobri79

      Ditto on the congrats to Ferris. It’s nice to see the proverbial “little” guy lead one of the toughest conferences in the nation this late in the season. I don’t intend any disrespect whatsoever in that comment either. A lot times, in the CCHA especially with its diverse mix of schools, everybody gets caught up in talking about the larger schools. FSU and WMU have battling for the confernce lead for about 3 weeks now, and all anybody could talk about was U of M. I really thought the NCHC should have given more consideration to giving invites to FSU, NMU, or LSSU. The Broncos will probably need to win out in the regular season now to catch the Bulldogs.

      • Anonymous

        Western probably would need to run the table here and as great as that would be, I just hope we can finish in the top four to host a playoff series at Lawson. Unless I missed something in my research, the last time the Broncos swept a team on the road was October of last season at Mercyhurst and the last time we swept a CCHA team on the road (and I’m counting two regulation/OT wins, not any SO wins) was at Lake State in March of the 2005-06 season. This trip to to Taffy Abel definitely has me concerned, hopefully all the teams below us can beat-up on one another these next two weekends.

    • http://twitter.com/DanKorn Dan Korn

      I would expect Paula to get the Big Ten beat.  She’s based in Columbus, after all.

      The CCHA trophy should be frozen in carbonite.  Or maybe they should just call the 9-team conference which will have five current CCHA members the CCHA instead of the WCHA, and call the 8-team conference with 6 current WCHA members the WCHA instead of the NCHC.

  • Bigspartan

    Congrats to the BULLDOGS!

    Way to get it done down the stretch!
    Bob Daniels is Coach of the Year (unless they somehow give it to Red again)

    Small school, small facility, small budget…..who cares?
    Finish strong Bulldogs!

    • Anonymous

      Agreed, FSU has earned their place at the top and a full congratulations goes their way.  You would think Daniels would be an obvious choice for Coach of the Year, but then again Blashill should’ve have been picked last year and they gave it to Jackson.

      • Ferris95

        Completely agree!!  Blashill should have received the Coach of the Year.  He turned that program around in 1 year, unbelieveable!  Being an Ferris Alum, of course my obvious pick would be Bob Daniels, but we’ll see how things shake out these final 2 weeks of the regular season.  Should be an exciting last week of hockey with a home and home series against those tough Bronco’s.

  • Captain Hindsight

    Can some please explain to me how Michigan is ranked 5th in the country?

  • Guest

    They are ranked 5th because they are the hottest CCHA team behind Ferris. Michigan has only lost 2 games since Christmas while the rest of the CCHA (again, save Ferris) has been consistently playing .500 hockey. Polls are pretty much about what you’ve been doing lately, so losing for a while and then getting hot at the end of the year is going to bag you more credit than splitting every weekend.

    In terms of Pairwise, that’s probably got everything to do with the fact that we’ve split with good teams but have a winning record against the top teams we’ve played. We swept Ferris at the beginning of the season, and have a win over BC. If we can sweep Northern this weekend, that’ll make a winning record against the next CCHA team in the rankings, and we have a winning record against the next two CCHA teams in the Pairwise as well (2-1-1 with Miami, 3-1-1 with MSU).

    I would also like to point out that the scheduling this year is the exception, not the rule. Michigan generally schedules a HE team every year and normally has the College Hockey Showcase as well. Wisconsin decided they didn’t want to do the Showcase since the BTHC is on its way, and I’m not really sure why we didn’t play a HE team at the start of the season (which kind of makes me sad, since we have been @ BU, @ BU, and @ UNH the last three years and I would have liked to finally see one of them come to Yost during undergrad).

  • Sfitz88

    Paula, don’t know if it is still the record, but there was a GLI Final at the Joe in the 80sor early 90s that I was at, MSU and Munn South in it’s heyday, vs. MTU and I am pretty sure it was over 21,000.  Place was absolutely jammed and, of course, wild.   Was a great scene.   

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