Quantcast

College Hockey:
Two weeks out, and attendance, bracket integrity fall in line

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 March 5, 2013):

1 Quinnipiac
2 Minnesota
3 Miami
4t Massachusetts-Lowell
4t New Hampshire
4t Boston College
7 North Dakota
8t Minnesota State
8t Denver
10t St. Cloud State
10t Western Michigan
12 Yale
13 Niagara
14t Notre Dame
14t Rensselaer
16 Alaska

Here are the current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Niagara
CCHA: Miami
ECAC Hockey: Quinnipiac
Hockey East: Massachusetts-Lowell
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.

• Before the conference playoffs start, I’ll use winning percentage, not points accumulated, to determine who the current leader in each conference is. Once the playoffs start, I’ll use the top remaining seed. 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 Massachusetts-Lowell, New Hampshire and Boston College at 4; Minnesota State and Denver at 8; St. Cloud State and Western Michigan at 10; and Notre Dame and Rensselaer 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 Massachusetts-Lowell
5 New Hampshire
6 Boston College
7 North Dakota
8 Minnesota State
9 Denver
10 St. Cloud State
11 Western Michigan
12 Yale
13 Niagara
14 Notre Dame
15 Rensselaer
16 Alaska

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

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

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 Massachusetts-Lowell 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.

But, we must assign New Hampshire, a host school, first.

So therefore:

No. 2 seeds

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

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
15 Rensselaer vs. 2 Minnesota
10 St. Cloud State vs. 7 North Dakota

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
14 Notre Dame vs. 3 Miami
11 Western Michigan vs. 6 Boston College

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
13 Niagara vs. 4 Massachusetts-Lowell
12 Yale vs. 5 New Hampshire

East Regional (Providence):
16 Alaska vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Denver vs. 8 Minnesota State

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have St. Cloud State vs. North Dakota, Notre Dame vs. Miami and Denver vs. Minnesota State.

Let’s take care of Notre Dame vs. Miami first. What’s the best way to arrange this bracketing? Let’s go back to our method of looking at all the possible matchups between the first band and the fourth band.

We protect the overall No. 1 seed, thus we keep the matchup of Alaska vs. Quinnipiac.

And in addition, we keep the No. 1 seeds where they fall for geography. Thus, we can only move around the fourth band.

Looking at the three teams left, Niagara, Notre Dame and Rensselaer, it seems to make sense to me to send these teams to the closest geographic sites.

Thus Niagara goes to Toledo, Notre Dame to Grand Rapids and Rensselaer to Manchester. Here, the matchups become Niagara vs. Miami, Notre Dame vs. Minnesota and Rensselaer vs. Massachusetts-Lowell. That all works very nicely.

So we make that move.

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
14 Notre Dame vs. 2 Minnesota
10 St. Cloud State vs. 7 North Dakota

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

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Rensselaer vs. 4 Massachusetts-Lowell
12 Yale vs. 5 New Hampshire

East Regional (Providence):
16 Alaska vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Denver vs. 8 Minnesota State

Now it’s time to take care of the matchups in the second and third bands.

Once again we have two WCHA teams in the second band and two WCHA teams in the third band. Thus, our matchups are:

North Dakota/Minnesota State vs. Western Michigan/Yale
New Hampshire/Boston College vs. Denver/St. Cloud State

Like last week, let’s take a look at attendance issues at the same time.

We want to place Western Michigan in Grand Rapids. Thus we put Western Michigan in Grand Rapids and find bracket integrity. That means we have North Dakota vs. Western Michigan in Grand Rapids.

Next, we need to keep New Hampshire in Manchester. Thus, we also would like to keep Boston College in Providence.

If we use bracket integrity, then we have New Hampshire vs. St. Cloud State in Manchester and, in turn, Boston College vs. Denver in Providence.

That leaves us Minnesota State vs. Yale in Toledo.

Our brackets are now:

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
14 Notre Dame vs. 2 Minnesota
11 Western Michigan vs. 7 North Dakota

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
13 Niagara vs. 3 Miami
12 Yale vs. 8 Minnesota State

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Rensselaer vs. 4 Massachusetts-Lowell
10 St. Cloud State vs. 5 New Hampshire

East Regional (Providence):
16 Alaska vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Denver vs. 6 Boston College

It’s a little jumbled, but given our rules, that’s about the best that I can do.

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
11 Western Michigan vs. 7 North Dakota

Toledo
13 Niagara vs. 3 Miami
12 Yale vs. 8 Minnesota State

Manchester
15 Rensselaer vs. 4 Massachusetts-Lowell
10 St. Cloud State vs. 5 New Hampshire

Providence
16 Alaska vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Denver vs. 6 Boston College

Conference breakdowns

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

On the move

In: Rensselaer, Alaska
Out: Dartmouth, Providence

Attendance woes?

I like it.

Last week’s brackets

Grand Rapids
14 Notre Dame vs. 2 Minnesota
10 Western Michigan vs. 5 North Dakota

Toledo
15 Yale vs. 3 Miami
11 St. Cloud State vs. 8 Niagara

Manchester
13 Dartmouth vs. 4 New Hampshire
12 Denver vs. 6 Boston College

Providence
16 Providence vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 7 Minnesota State

Tidbits

Three of the conferences are now into the playoffs. Is there any impact among the playoff games being played this weekend?

Robert Morris is the only TUC in the Atlantic Hockey playoffs that’s playing this weekend. Two losses to Sacred Heart would kill the Colonials’ RPI, perhaps knocking them out of the TUC range. Mercyhurst will not get to TUC status with two wins this weekend, but if they can move to next weekend, the Lakers may get their shot.

In the CCHA, Alaska has a lot to lose with a loss or two to Michigan State. Elimination from the CCHA tournament would pretty much doom Alaska’s at-large bid.

Northern Michigan’s series with Michigan is also important. With a .5006 RPI, two losses will drop NMU from TUC status. What’s the impact? The Wildcats are 0-2 against Notre Dame, 0-2 vs. Western Michigan, 1-2-1 vs. Alaska, 1-1 vs. Nebraska-Omaha, 2-0 vs. Wisconsin, 2-0 vs. St. Cloud State. It would affect Notre Dame, Western Michigan and Alaska negatively and Wisconsin and St. Cloud State positively. Notre Dame is 7-9-3 against TUCs so losing two wins there would be painful.

In ECAC Hockey, there are some good matchups. At .5003 in the RPI, Brown is hanging on. Advancement to the quarterfinal round may keep Brown as a TUC, benefiting teams such as Dartmouth (0-2), Rensselaer (0-1-1) and Union (0-1-1). Also, Cornell has an RPI of .5008. Having Cornell stay a TUC helps whom? Yale (0-2) for sure. Rensselaer? At 1-1, the Engineers would see Brown stay a TUC than Cornell. Union? Union would rather have the Big Red out of TUC range because it is 0-2 against Cornell. Dartmouth is 0-1-1 against Cornell. Denver is also 2-0 against Cornell, so Denver is rooting for the Big Red.

Dartmouth, without saying, must win to stay alive for a bid. St. Lawrence also must continue to win. Colgate is sitting at .4963 in the RPI, so two wins this weekend for Colgate against St. Lawrence might bring Colgate into the TUC range again.

There are no “bubble” matchups this weekend in Hockey East, but all the favored teams cannot afford a misstep.

In the WCHA, North Dakota vs. Minnesota State is a big matchup, and Wisconsin will try to move up against St. Cloud State.

The following is a self-policing forum for discussing views on this story. Comments that are derogatory, make personal attacks, are abusive, or contain profanity or racism will be removed at our discretion. USCHO.com is not responsible for comments posted by users. Please report any inappropriate or offensive comments by clicking the “Flag” link next to that comment in order to alert the moderator.

Please also keep “woofing,” taunting, and otherwise unsportsmanlike behavior to a minimum. Your posts will more than likely be deleted, and worse yet, you reflect badly on yourself, your favorite team and your conference.