The bracket was announced tonight and as predicted, it fell this way:
West Regional (Grand Rapids, Mich.):
15 Yale vs. 2 Minnesota
10 Niagara vs. 8 North Dakota
Midwest Regional (Toledo, Ohio):
13 St. Cloud State vs. 4 Notre Dame
11 Minnesota State vs. 5 Miami
East Regional (Providence, R.I.):
16 Canisius vs. 1 Quinnipiac
12 Union vs. 6 Boston College
Northeast Regional (Manchester, N.H.):
14 Wisconsin vs. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell
9 Denver vs. 7 New Hampshire
It was really quite simple, actually. Once you establish that you will move teams based on championship atmosphere, you have to continue that trend.
So it was most likely decided that Boston College would play Union, a matchup that could happen, and that it was most likely decided that the best place for that matchup would be in Providence.
Once that happened, everything else fell into line.
I couldn’t see the committee leaving the East Regional with a matchup of North Dakota-Niagara. Nor could I see a matchup of Boston College-Minnesota State in the West Regional. So I think that the committee had to realize that BC and Union would boost atmosphere and attendance in the East Regional, while North Dakota and Minnesota State would do that for the West and Midwest regionals.
Let me address one issue again that everyone talks about every year: the five-team conference rule.
There are six WCHA teams this year and readers keep asking, why don’t we invoke the five-team conference rule and have intraconference games?
I have always thought, and precedence guides me, that if you can avoid intraconference games in the first round, no matter how many teams from that one conference are in the tournament, then you bracket to avoid it. The only time when you have an intraconference game in the regional semifinals is when you cannot avoid it at all.
Enjoy the games next weekend and see you next year for more Bracketology!