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College Hockey:
Just days out, and there’s quite a pack on the bubble

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.

This will be the last Bracketology until we make our final prediction as to what the bracket will look like on Sunday.

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 tournament’s highest remaining seed (through all games of March 19, 2013):

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

Here are the current conference highest remaining seeds:

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.

• I will be using the highest remaining seed of each conference’s tournament as 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 highest remaining conference seeds 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 and North Dakota at 6, Notre Dame, Minnesota State and Niagara at 9, and the huge logjam at 16.

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 Yale
6 Massachusetts-Lowell
7 North Dakota
8 New Hampshire
9 Notre Dame
10 Minnesota State
11 Niagara
12 St. Cloud State
13 Denver
14 Western Michigan
15 Union
16 Wisconsin

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

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

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 it is a host school, in which case it must be assigned to its 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. 8 New Hampshire is placed in No. 4 Boston College’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 7 North Dakota is placed in No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 6 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in No. 2 Minnesota’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 5 Yale 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 Notre Dame is placed in No. 8 New Hampshire’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 10 Minnesota State is placed in No. 7 North Dakota’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 11 Niagara is placed in No. 6 Massachusetts-Lowell’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 12 St. Cloud State 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 Wisconsin is sent to No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 15 Union is sent to No. 2 Minnesota’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 14 Western Michigan is sent to No. 3 Miami’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 13 Denver 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 Union vs. 2 Minnesota
11 Niagara vs. 6 Massachusetts-Lowell

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
14 Western Michigan vs. 3 Miami
12 St. Cloud State vs. 5 Yale

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
13 Denver vs. 4 Boston College
9 Notre Dame vs. 8 New Hampshire

East Regional (Providence):
16 Wisconsin vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Minnesota State vs. 7 North Dakota

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have Western Michigan vs. Miami and Minnesota State vs. North Dakota.

Let’s take care of Western Michigan vs. Miami first.

We would like to see Western Michigan in Grand Rapids. We can do that. We would like to see Union in Manchester. We can do that.

So let’s swap, pushing Denver to Toledo to allow the move.

West Regional (Grand Rapids):
14 Western Michigan vs. 2 Minnesota
11 Niagara vs. 6 Massachusetts-Lowell

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
13 Denver vs. 3 Miami
12 St. Cloud State vs. 5 Yale

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Union vs. 4 Boston College
9 Notre Dame vs. 8 New Hampshire

East Regional (Providence):
16 Wisconsin vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Minnesota State vs. 7 North Dakota

Now we move onto Minnesota State vs. North Dakota.

I have some things to play with here, except that I can’t move New Hampshire.

How about a straight swap of North Dakota and Massachusetts-Lowell?

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

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
13 Denver vs. 3 Miami
12 St. Cloud State vs. 5 Yale

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Union vs. 4 Boston College
9 Notre Dame vs. 8 New Hampshire

East Regional (Providence):
16 Wisconsin vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Minnesota State vs. 6 Massachusetts-Lowell

That solves the intra-conference matchup.

Now let’s move onto attendance.

Notre Dame to Grand Rapids would be nice. Yale coming east would be nice, but that can’t happen.

But we can swap Notre Dame with Niagara.

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

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
13 Denver vs. 3 Miami
12 St. Cloud State vs. 5 Yale

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Union vs. 4 Boston College
11 Niagara vs. 8 New Hampshire

East Regional (Providence):
16 Wisconsin vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Minnesota State vs. 6 Massachusetts-Lowell

How about we make one more change: swap Minnesota State and Niagara.

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

Midwest Regional (Toledo):
13 Denver vs. 3 Miami
12 St. Cloud State vs. 5 Yale

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Union vs. 4 Boston College
10 Minnesota State vs. 8 New Hampshire

East Regional (Providence):
16 Wisconsin vs. 1 Quinnipiac
11 Niagara vs. 6 Massachusetts-Lowell

That looks good to me. So that is it. My bracket for the week.

See you here over the weekend for the final Bracketology.

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

This week’s brackets

Grand Rapids
14 Western Michigan vs. 2 Minnesota
9 Notre Dame vs. 7 North Dakota

Toledo
13 Denver vs. 3 Miami
12 St. Cloud State vs. 5 Yale

Manchester
15 Union vs. 4 Boston College
10 Minnesota State vs. 8 New Hampshire

Providence
16 Wisconsin vs. 1 Quinnipiac
11 Niagara vs. 6 Massachusetts-Lowell

Conference breakdowns

WCHA — 6
ECAC — 3
CCHA — 3
HEA — 3
AHA — 1

On the move

In: Wisconsin
Out: Rensselaer

Attendance woes?

I like it.

Last week’s brackets

Grand Rapids
16 Union vs. 2 Minnesota
10 Western Michigan vs. 6 Denver

Toledo
13 Niagara vs. 3 Miami
11 Yale vs. 5 North Dakota

Manchester
14 Rensselaer vs. 4 Massachusetts-Lowell
9 Minnesota State vs. 8 New Hampshire

Providence
15 Notre Dame vs. 1 Quinnipiac
12 St. Cloud State vs. 7 Boston College

What I believe

Here’s the quick take on what I believe as we head into conference championship weekend. More to come as this week progresses.

Win to get in (7): These are teams that must win the tournament to get in. Even one win can’t help these teams.

Mercyhurst, Canisius, Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio State, Colorado College, Brown

On the bubble and playing (9): Teams that are on the bubble, that may or may not make it in depending on results of its games or other games. Of course, a tournament championship gets these teams in.

Yale, Notre Dame, Minnesota State, Niagara, St. Cloud State, Union, Wisconsin, Providence, Boston University

On the bubble and waiting (5): Teams that are on the bubble, that may or may not make it, but are depending on results from other games as it is not playing.

Denver, Western Michigan, Rensselaer, Alaska, Robert Morris

Teams that are in (7): Teams will be in the NCAA tournament regardless of this weekend’s results.

Quinnipiac, Minnesota, Miami, Boston College, Massachusetts-Lowell, North Dakota, New Hampshire

So to summarize, I believe that there are seven bids already taken. That means that there are nine spots left for 21 teams.

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