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College Hockey:
Four weeks out, and a lot of teams are on the move

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. 19, 2013):

1 Quinnipiac
2 Minnesota
3 Miami
4t New Hampshire
4t Boston College
6 North Dakota
7t Minnesota State
7t Western Michigan
9 St. Cloud State
10 Niagara
11 Denver
12 Yale
13 Boston University
14t Massachusetts-Lowell
14t Notre Dame
14t Union
17t Merrimack

Here are the current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Niagara
CCHA: Miami (over Western Michigan based on total goals in series)
ECAC Hockey: Quinnipiac
Hockey East: Merrimack
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. We must add in Merrimack, which at 17 is not in the top 16.

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

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

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

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

We must assign New Hampshire, a host school, 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 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 Minnesota State is placed in No. 2 Minnesota’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 6 North Dakota is placed in No. 3 Miami’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 5 Boston College 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 St. Cloud State is placed in No. 8 Western Michigan’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 10 Niagara is placed in No. 7 Minnesota State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 11 Denver is placed in No. 6 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 12 Yale is placed in No. 5 Boston College’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 Merrimack is sent to No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 15 Notre Dame is sent to No. 2 Minnesota’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 14 Massachusetts-Lowell is sent to No. 3 Miami’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 (Grand Rapids):
15 Notre Dame vs. 2 Minnesota
10 Niagara vs. 7 Minnesota State

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
14 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 Miami
11 Denver vs. 6 North Dakota

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

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

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

We can only swap Denver to play Boston College or Western Michigan, but we can’t make a Minnesota State vs. Denver matchup. So we move Denver to play BC.

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
15 Notre Dame vs. 2 Minnesota
10 Niagara vs. 7 Minnesota State

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
14 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 Miami
12 Yale vs. 6 North Dakota

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
13 Boston University vs. 4 New Hampshire
11 Denver vs. 5 Boston College

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

Now we have to swap out BU. Since there are three Hockey East teams in the fourth band, only Notre Dame can play New Hampshire.

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
13 Boston University vs. 2 Minnesota
10 Niagara vs. 7 Minnesota State

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
14 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 Miami
12 Yale vs. 6 North Dakota

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Notre Dame vs. 4 New Hampshire
11 Denver vs. 5 Boston College

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

Now the intra-conference matchups are all taken care of.

Can we make it better? Where can we get better attendance?

Western Michigan is in the east, when we want it in Grand Rapids. There’s a fix there.

Let’s swap the entire matchup of Western Michigan vs. St. Cloud State and Minnesota State vs. Niagara.

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
13 Boston University vs. 2 Minnesota
9 St. Cloud State vs. 8 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
14 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 Miami
12 Yale vs. 6 North Dakota

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Notre Dame vs. 4 New Hampshire
11 Denver vs. 5 Boston College

East Regional (Providence):
16 Merrimack vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Niagara vs. 7 Minnesota State

Is there anything else that we can do? How about swapping Niagara and Yale? Niagara is closer to Toledo than Providence as per Google Maps.

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
13 Boston University vs. 2 Minnesota
9 St. Cloud State vs. 8 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
14 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 Miami
10 Niagara vs. 6 North Dakota

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Notre Dame vs. 4 New Hampshire
11 Denver vs. 5 Boston College

East Regional (Providence):
16 Merrimack vs. 1 Quinnipiac
12 Yale vs. 7 Minnesota State

I like that from an attendance standpoint too, as well as geography.

Anything else?

How about competitive balance. We always talk about protecting the No. 1 seed, how about the No. 2 seed? We should swap Boston University and Massachusetts-Lowell because of this.

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
14 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 2 Minnesota
9 St. Cloud State vs. 8 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
13 Boston University vs. 3 Miami
10 Niagara vs. 6 North Dakota

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Notre Dame vs. 4 New Hampshire
11 Denver vs. 5 Boston College

East Regional (Providence):
16 Merrimack vs. 1 Quinnipiac
12 Yale vs. 7 Minnesota State

And I think we’re done. Toledo is a little worrisome from attendance, but the rest of the regionals look good to me.

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 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 2 Minnesota
9 St. Cloud State vs. 8 Western Michigan

Toledo
13 Boston University vs. 3 Miami
10 Niagara vs. 6 North Dakota

Manchester
15 Notre Dame vs. 4 New Hampshire
11 Denver vs. 5 Boston College

Providence
16 Merrimack vs. 1 Quinnipiac
12 Yale vs. 7 Minnesota State

Conference breakdowns

WCHA — 5
HEA — 5
CCHA — 3
ECAC — 2
AHA — 1

On the move

In: Merrimack, Massachusetts-Lowell
Out: Alaska, Dartmouth

Attendance woes?

I like it. Toledo could use a boost.

Last week’s brackets

Grand Rapids
13 Notre Dame vs. 2 Minnesota
10 Minnesota State vs. 7 Western Michigan

Toledo
14 Dartmouth vs. 3 Miami
11 Niagara vs. 6 North Dakota

Manchester
15 Alaska vs. 4 Boston College
12 Denver vs. 5 New Hampshire

Providence
16 Boston University vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Yale vs. 8 St. Cloud State

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