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Teams in top 12 of PairWise on March 1 have history on their side

Below are the PairWise Rankings through Feb. 29, with notations from 13 years of data on the 16-team NCAA tournament.

1. Quinnipiac
2. North Dakota
3. St. Cloud State
4. Providence
5. Boston College
6. Michigan
7t. Denver
7t. Yale
9t. Notre Dame
9t. Boston University
11. Harvard
12. Massachusetts-Lowell
13. Omaha
14t. Penn State
– Projected cut line –
14t. Minnesota-Duluth
16t. Minnesota
16t. Michigan Tech
– Average position for outsider to make the tournament –
18. Miami
19t. Robert Morris
19t. Cornell
19t. Minnesota State
22. Northeastern
23. Clarkson
24. St. Lawrence
25t. Rensselaer
25t. Bowling Green
– Lowest any team has been ranked and still qualified –
25t. Dartmouth
28t. Air Force
28t. Union
30. Holy Cross
31. Northern Michigan
32. Bemidji State
33. Ferris State
34. Mercyhurst
35. Merrimack
36. Vermont
37t. Ohio State
37t. Western Michigan
39. New Hampshire
40t. Connecticut
40t. RIT
40t. Wisconsin
40t. Colgate
44. Michigan State
45. Army
46. Lake Superior
47. Brown
48t. Sacred Heart
48t. Massachusetts
50. Alaska-Anchorage
51t. Bentley
51t. Maine
53. Colorado College
54. Canisius
55. Alaska
56. Princeton
57. Alabama-Huntsville
58. Niagara
59. Arizona State
60. American International

As you can see, the margin for error has gotten much tighter. The average team from outside the rankings to make it only comes from the No. 17 spot. The outlier is the 2010 Michigan Wolverines squad, which was ranked 25th and then went on a rampage through the CCHA playoffs.

Since the field expanded to 16 teams in 2003, 88.1 percent of teams that have been in the field as of March 1 have eventually made the tournament. Among teams ranked 1-12 on March 1, 93 percent have qualified, with the 2007 Denver team being the only No. 2 seed to fall from the field. Of the 13 previous seasons, all 12 teams remained in the field on Selection Sunday five times. In 2006 and 2011, the top 14 teams all made the tournament. In 2006, the cut line was 14 so it was a perfect field three weeks out. In 2011, only No. 15 Dartmouth was replaced by No. 19 Western Michigan in the tournament.

All of the top seeds should historically be safe by this time. In the race to be the No. 1 overall team, the contest still favors the current No. 1 team historically, but the Nos. 2 and 3 teams have a growing chance.

Of the 13 seasons, the overall No. 1 at the end of February retained the top seed six times. The No. 2 team has taken the top seed four times, and in each of the first three seasons of the current format the No. 3 team captured the overall top seed. No other team has ever captured the overall No. 1 ranking. History says it will be a three-way race this season between Quinnipiac, North Dakota and St. Cloud State.

In 12 of the 13 seasons, the overall No. 1 in the PairWise at the start of March remained in the top three on Selection Sunday. The only team that did not is the 2012 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, who dropped from No. 1 overall to No. 7 after a loss and a tie at St. Cloud State and a double-OT loss to Denver in the WCHA semifinals. That’s very good news for Quinnipiac.

The news isn’t as good for the defending champion Providence Friars. Only five times has the No. 4 overall team on March 1 captured a No. 1 regional seed. The other eight times they have dropped into the second band. Four times they have been replaced by the No. 5 team and twice by No. 6.

The recent past has shown that teams from outside the top 10 can rise up and take a No. 1 regional seed. From 2003 to 2010, no team lower than No. 8 had ever achieved this. Then in 2011, No. 10 Miami jumped to No. 4 overall. The next year, No. 14 North Dakota captured a No. 1 regional seed. And in 2013, No. 11 Massachusetts-Lowell and No. 14 Notre Dame climbed the rankings as both won conference championships to rise to Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.

At the tail end of the rankings — with very few exceptions — a team must already be on the bubble like Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota or Michigan Tech. Only three teams have clawed their way into the tournament from No. 20 or worse at this point: the aforementioned Wolverines, the 2013 Union Dutchmen (No. 21) and the 2010 Northern Michigan Wildcats (No. 20).

Of course, this is all according to history. One of the reasons we watch the sport as passionately as we do is because we just might see something that has never happened before. Will anyone step up and be this year’s Michigan? Or will it be like 2006 and we already know who is in the field? This is why we watch.

Three weeks out, and wholesale changes could help attendance

Boston University and Yale played in the first round of the 2015 NCAA tournament and could be in line to meet again under the current PairWise Rankings (photo: Matt Eisenberg).

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 on March 20.

Those of you that are veterans of the college hockey scene know that it is all about the PairWise Rankings. This is USCHO’s numerical approach that simulates the way the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey committee chooses the teams that make the NCAA tournament.

Since USCHO began the PairWise Rankings, we have correctly identified all of the teams that have been selected to the NCAA tournament.

I am the only prognosticator to have correctly predicted the exact brackets for the NCAA tournament in four of the last five years, meaning that I have predicted how the committee thought when putting together the brackets.

This is not a be-all, end-all analysis of the bracket. I am trying to give you, the reader, an idea of what the committee might be thinking and not exactly what they are thinking.

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 — Albany, N.Y.; Northeast — Worcester, Mass.; Midwest — Cincinnati; West — St. Paul, Minn.).

• A host institution that 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: Union in Albany, Holy Cross in Worcester, Miami in Cincinnati and Minnesota in St. Paul.

• Seedings will not be switched. To avoid undesirable first-round matchups, including intraconference games (see below), teams will be moved among regionals, not reseeded.

Here are the NCAA’s guidelines on the matter, from the 2016 pre-championship manual:

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 the likelihood of a playoff-type atmosphere at each regional site. For this model, the following is a basic set of priorities:

1. Once the six automatic qualifiers and 10 at-large teams are selected, the next step is to develop four groups from the committee’s rankings of 1-16. The top four teams are 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. The next four are targeted as No. 2 seeds. The next four are No. 3 seeds and the last four are No. 4 seeds.

2. Step two is to place the home teams. Host institutions that qualify will be placed at home.

3. Step three is to fill in the bracket so that first-round conference matchups are avoided, unless it corrupts the integrity of the bracket. If five or more teams from one conference are selected to the championship, then the integrity of the bracket will be protected (i.e., maintaining the pairing process according to seed will take priority over avoidance of first-round conference matchups). To complete each regional, the committee assigns one team from each of the remaining seeded groups so there is a No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seed at each regional site.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders through all games of Feb. 23:

1 Quinnipiac
2 St. Cloud State
3 Boston College
4 North Dakota
5 Providence
6 Michigan
7 Yale
8t Denver
8t Notre Dame
8t Boston University
11 Omaha
12 Harvard
13 Massachusetts-Lowell
14 Cornell
15 Penn State
16t Minnesota
16t Miami
16t Michigan Tech
23t Robert Morris
23t Minnesota State

Current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Robert Morris
Big Ten: Minnesota
ECAC Hockey: Quinnipiac
Hockey East: Boston College
NCHC: St. Cloud State (Based on total goals tiebreaker)
WCHA: Minnesota 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 the current leader in each conference. This team is my assumed conference tournament champion after applying the tiebreakers.

Step one

From the committee’s report, choose the 16 teams in the tournament.

We break ties in the PWR by looking at the individual comparisons among the tied teams, and add in any current league leaders that are not currently in the top 16. The only teams that are not are Minnesota State, Minnesota and Robert Morris.

From there, we can start looking at the ties and bubbles in a more detailed fashion. We have a three-way tie for eighth, so we break that using the RPI.

Therefore, the 16 teams in the tournament, in rank order, are:

1 Quinnipiac
2 St. Cloud State
3 Boston College
4 North Dakota
5 Providence
6 Michigan
7 Yale
8 Denver
9 Notre Dame
10 Boston University
11 Omaha
12 Harvard
13 Massachusetts-Lowell
14 Minnesota
15 Robert Morris
16 Minnesota State

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 seeds: Quinnipiac, St. Cloud State, Boston College, North Dakota

No. 2 seeds: Providence, Michigan, Yale, Denver

No. 3 seeds: Notre Dame, Boston University, Omaha, Harvard

No. 4 seeds: Massachusetts-Lowell, Minnesota, Robert Morris, Minnesota State

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

No. 1 Quinnipiac is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 2 St. Cloud State is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.
No. 3 Boston College is placed in the East Regional in Albany.
No. 4 North Dakota is placed in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.

Step four

Now we place the other 12 teams so as to avoid intraconference 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 would be 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 Denver is placed in No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 7 Yale is placed in No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 6 Michigan is placed in No. 3 Boston College’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 5 Providence is placed in No. 4 North Dakota’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 and 15; another with 3, 6, 11 and 14; and another with 4, 5, 12 and 13.

No. 9 Notre Dame is placed in No. 8 Denver’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 10 Boston University is placed in No. 7 Yale’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 11 Omaha is placed in No. 6 Michigan’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 12 Harvard is placed in No. 5 Providence’s regional, the Midwest Regional.

No. 4 seeds

One more time, taking No. 16 vs. No. 1, No. 15 vs. No. 2, etc.

Since Minnesota is a host institution, we must place Minnesota in the West Regional.

No. 14 Minnesota is sent to No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 16 Minnesota State is sent to No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 15 Robert Morris is sent to No. 3 Boston College’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 13 Massachusetts-Lowell is sent to No. 4 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

East Regional (Albany):
15 Robert Morris vs. 3 Boston College
11 Omaha vs. 6 Michigan

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Minnesota State vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Notre Dame vs 8 Denver

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 4 North Dakota
12 Harvard vs. 5 Providence

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
10 Boston University vs. 7 Yale

Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have none this week.

We move onto attendance aspects of the bracket.

The second and third band games are where we move matchups. How do we move them? We move matchups to maintain bracket integrity as close as possible.

Thus, Providence, as the No. 5 overall seed, should be as close to that as possible. Therefore, we move Harvard vs. Providence to Albany and the bracket led by No. 3 seed Boston College.

In turn, Boston University vs. Yale moves to Worcester.

Then we move No. 8 seed Denver’s first-round game against No. 9 Notre Dame to the bracket featuring No. 2 seed St. Cloud State. And as a result we move Michigan to Cincinnati.

East Regional (Albany):
15 Robert Morris vs. 3 Boston College
12 Harvard vs. 5 Providence

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Minnesota State vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Boston University vs. 7 Yale

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 4 North Dakota
11 Omaha vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
9 Notre Dame vs 8 Denver

Once again, we have the same 16 teams in the tournament, and that’s about all we can do for this week.

See you here next week for the next Bracketology.

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

This week’s brackets

East Regional (Albany):
15 Robert Morris vs. 3 Boston College
12 Harvard vs. 5 Providence

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Minnesota State vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Boston University vs. 7 Yale

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 4 North Dakota
11 Omaha vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
9 Notre Dame vs 8 Denver

Conference breakdowns

Hockey East — 5
NCHC — 4
ECAC Hockey — 3
Big Ten — 2
WCHA — 1
Atlantic Hockey — 1

On the move

In: None

Out: None

Attendance woes?

Cincinnati is still iffy, even with North Dakota and Michigan there.

Last week’s brackets

East Regional (Albany):
15 Minnesota State vs. 4 Boston College
12 Harvard vs. 5 Providence

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Yale vs 8 Denver

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Boston University vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
9 Omaha vs. 7 Notre Dame

Four weeks out, and this is beginning to be a trend

Denver has an RPI lead of .0001 over Omaha, which moves the Pioneers into the second band and the Mavericks into the third (photo: Michelle Bishop).

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 on March 20.

Those of you that are veterans of the college hockey scene know that it is all about the PairWise Rankings. This is USCHO’s numerical approach that simulates the way the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey committee chooses the teams that make the NCAA tournament.

Since USCHO began the PairWise Rankings, we have correctly identified all of the teams that have been selected to the NCAA tournament.

I am the only prognosticator to have correctly predicted the exact brackets for the NCAA tournament in four of the last five years, meaning that I have predicted how the committee thought when putting together the brackets.

This is not a be-all, end-all analysis of the bracket. I am trying to give you, the reader, an idea of what the committee might be thinking and not exactly what they are thinking.

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 — Albany, N.Y.; Northeast — Worcester, Mass.; Midwest — Cincinnati; West — St. Paul, Minn.).

• A host institution that 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: Union in Albany, Holy Cross in Worcester, Miami in Cincinnati and Minnesota in St. Paul.

• Seedings will not be switched. To avoid undesirable first-round matchups, including intraconference games (see below), teams will be moved among regionals, not reseeded.

Here are the NCAA’s guidelines on the matter, from the 2016 pre-championship manual:

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 the likelihood of a playoff-type atmosphere at each regional site. For this model, the following is a basic set of priorities:

1. Once the six automatic qualifiers and 10 at-large teams are selected, the next step is to develop four groups from the committee’s rankings of 1-16. The top four teams are 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. The next four are targeted as No. 2 seeds. The next four are No. 3 seeds and the last four are No. 4 seeds.

2. Step two is to place the home teams. Host institutions that qualify will be placed at home.

3. Step three is to fill in the bracket so that first-round conference matchups are avoided, unless it corrupts the integrity of the bracket. If five or more teams from one conference are selected to the championship, then the integrity of the bracket will be protected (i.e., maintaining the pairing process according to seed will take priority over avoidance of first-round conference matchups). To complete each regional, the committee assigns one team from each of the remaining seeded groups so there is a No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seed at each regional site.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders through all games of Feb. 16:

1 Quinnipiac
2 St. Cloud State
3 North Dakota
4 Boston College
5 Providence
6 Michigan
7 Notre Dame
8t Denver
8t Omaha
10t Yale
10t Boston University
12 Harvard
13 Massachusetts-Lowell
14 Penn State
15 St. Lawrence
16t Minnesota
16t Rensselaer
22t Minnesota State
25 Robert Morris

Current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Robert Morris
Big Ten: Minnesota
ECAC Hockey: Quinnipiac
Hockey East: Notre Dame
NCHC: St. Cloud State (Based on total goals tiebreaker)
WCHA: Minnesota 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 the current leader in each conference. This team is my assumed conference tournament champion after applying the tiebreakers.

Step one

From the committee’s report, choose the 16 teams in the tournament.

We break ties in the PWR by looking at the individual comparisons among the tied teams, and add in any current league leaders that are not currently in the top 16. The only teams that are not are Minnesota State, Minnesota and Robert Morris.

From there, we can start looking at the ties and bubbles in a more detailed fashion. We break all of our ties based upon the RPI.

Denver and Omaha are tied for eighth, while Yale and Boston University are tied for 10th. Denver has a minuscule RPI advantage over Omaha, and Yale has a wider lead over Boston University.

Therefore, the 16 teams in the tournament, in rank order, are:

1 Quinnipiac
2 St. Cloud State
3 North Dakota
4 Boston College
5 Providence
6 Michigan
7 Notre Dame
8 Denver
9 Omaha
10 Yale
11 Boston University
12 Harvard
13 Massachusetts-Lowell
14 Minnesota
15 Minnesota State
16 Robert Morris

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 seeds: Quinnipiac, St. Cloud State, North Dakota, Boston College

No. 2 seeds: Providence, Michigan, Notre Dame, Denver

No. 3 seeds: Omaha, Yale, Boston University, Harvard

No. 4 seeds: Massachusetts-Lowell, Minnesota, Minnesota State, Robert Morris

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

No. 1 Quinnipiac is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 2 St. Cloud State is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.
No. 3 North Dakota is placed in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.
No. 4 Boston College is placed in the East Regional in Albany.

Step four

Now we place the other 12 teams so as to avoid intraconference 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 would be 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 Denver is placed in No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 7 Notre Dame is placed in No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 6 Michigan is placed in No. 3 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 5 Providence is placed in No. 4 Boston College’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 3 seeds

Our bracketing system has one regional containing seeds 1, 8, 9, and 16; another with 2, 7, 10 and 15; another with 3, 6, 11 and 14; and another with 4, 5, 12 and 13.

No. 9 Omaha is placed in No. 8 Denver’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 10 Yale is placed in No. 7 Notre Dame’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 11 Boston University is placed in No. 6 Michigan’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 12 Harvard is placed in No. 5 Providence’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 4 seeds

One more time, taking No. 16 vs. No. 1, No. 15 vs. No. 2, etc.

Since Minnesota is a host institution, we must place Minnesota in the West Regional.

No. 14 Minnesota is sent to No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 16 Robert Morris is sent to No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 15 Minnesota State is sent to No. 3 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 13 Massachusetts-Lowell is sent to No. 4 Boston College’s regional, the East Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

East Regional (Albany):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 4 Boston College
12 Harvard vs. 5 Providence

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Omaha vs 8 Denver

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
15 Minnesota State vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Boston University vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
10 Yale vs. 7 Notre Dame

Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have two this week in Massachusetts-Lowell versus Boston College and Omaha versus Denver.

We can only switch Massachusetts-Lowell with Robert Morris or Minnesota State. We switch with Minnesota State in this case, trying to even out bracket integrity and protect the No. 1 overall seed.

East Regional (Albany):
15 Minnesota State vs. 4 Boston College
12 Harvard vs. 5 Providence

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Omaha vs 8 Denver

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Boston University vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
10 Yale vs. 7 Notre Dame

Then we look to swap Omaha, and we do so by either switching with Boston University or Yale. We swap with Yale for bracket integrity reasons.

East Regional (Albany):
15 Minnesota State vs. 4 Boston College
12 Harvard vs. 5 Providence

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Yale vs 8 Denver

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Boston University vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
9 Omaha vs. 7 Notre Dame

Now let’s look at more attendance aspects.

It’s the same teams as last week (and the two weeks before), and there’s not much more we can do here.

So that’s about all we can do for this week.

See you here next week for the next Bracketology.

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

This week’s brackets

East Regional (Albany):
15 Minnesota State vs. 4 Boston College
12 Harvard vs. 5 Providence

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Yale vs 8 Denver

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Boston University vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
9 Omaha vs. 7 Notre Dame

Conference breakdowns

Hockey East — 5
NCHC — 4
ECAC Hockey — 3
Big Ten — 2
WCHA — 1
Atlantic Hockey — 1

On the move

In: None

Out: None

Attendance woes?

Cincinnati is still iffy, even with North Dakota and Michigan there.

Last week’s brackets

East Regional (Albany):
14 Robert Morris vs. 4 Boston College
11 Harvard vs. 5 Providence

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
15 Minnesota State vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Yale vs 8 Boston University

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 North Dakota
12 Denver vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
16 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
9 Omaha vs. 7 Notre Dame

After the Beanpot, the top six historically have been NCAA locks

Here’s the way the PairWise Rankings looked after the Beanpot games Monday:

1. Quinnipiac
2. St. Cloud State
3. North Dakota
4. Boston College
5. Providence
6. Michigan
7. Notre Dame
8. Boston University
9. Omaha
10. Yale
11. Harvard
12. Denver
13. Massachusetts-Lowell
14t. Cornell
– projected cut line –
14t. Penn State
16. Dartmouth
17. Clarkson
18. Minnesota-Duluth
19t. Robert Morris
– average position for outsider to make tournament –
19t. Michigan Tech
21t. Minnesota
21t. Rensselaer
23t. Bowling Green
– lowest any team has ever been ranked and still qualified –
23t. Minnesota State
25t. St. Lawrence
25t. Miami
27. Northeastern
28t. Ferris State
28t. Union
30. Northern Michigan
31. Air Force
32. Holy Cross
33t. New Hampshire
33t. Vermont
35. Western Michigan
36t. Ohio State
36t. Bemidji State
38. Wisconsin
39. Mercyhurst
40t. RIT
40t. Merrimack
42t. Bentley
42t. Colgate
44t. Connecticut
44t. Alaska-Anchorage
46t. Massachusetts
46t. Michigan State
46t. Maine
49t. Colorado College
49t. Army
51. Lake Superior
52. Princeton
53t. Brown
53t. Sacred Heart
55. Canisius
56. Alaska
57. Alabama-Huntsville
58. Niagara
59. Arizona State
60. American International

The Beanpot traditionally ends the nonconference portion of the college hockey schedule. This year, there are still some key nonconference games remaining involving highly-ranked teams, starting with Miami vs. Bowling Green this Friday. The winning team sets up as this season’s potential St. Cloud State. Last season, the Huskies were ranked No. 23 in the post-Beanpot PairWise and wound up going to the NCAA regional finals. St. Cloud became the lowest-ranked team at this point of the season to eventually qualify for the tournament.

In all, 10 teams that were ranked 20th or lower have made the tournament in the 13 years since expansion to 16 teams. The window is closing, but for teams like Minnesota-Duluth and Michigan Tech, it remains open ever so slightly.

Those teams are the exception. Over 89 percent of teams that are ranked 1-12 at the end of the Beanpot remain in the tournament field. Historically, the safe zone has expanded to the top six teams in the standings. The highest-ranked team to fall from the eventual field was ranked No. 7 overall, last done by the 2013 Western Michigan Broncos. In all, over 75 percent of teams currently above the cut line (still projected at 14) have made the tournament.

Those at the very top tend to stay at the very top. In eight of the 13 seasons, the overall No. 1 team has remained the overall No. 1 team. In 12 of those seasons, it has remained a No. 1 regional seed. Only the 2012 Ferris State Bulldogs fell to a No. 2 regional seed. In 2004, not only did all four teams remain in the top four, all four teams entered the NCAA tournament with the same ranking they had after the Beanpot. In all, 73 percent of the top four teams remain in the top four.

North Dakota remains the outlier here. In 2012, the then-Fighting Sioux were ranked 16th overall at the end of the Beanpot before finishing fourth overall. In fact, they were still ranked No. 13 on March 5 before defeating St. Cloud State, Minnesota and Denver to win the WCHA Final Five.

Not to be outdone, the next season UMass-Lowell limped into the Beanpot break with consecutive losses to Maine and Merrimack and was sitting 17th in the PairWise. The River Hawks then went on a 12-1 run, won the Hockey East championship, finished No. 3 overall and went to the Frozen Four.

So history tells us it can be done. Teams like St. Cloud State, the 2010 Northern Michigan Wildcats and 2007 Massachusetts Minutemen have accomplished it, but the odds are stacked very much against teams not already projected in the field.

Five weeks out, and the field remains the same

UMass-Lowell is the last at-large team in the NCAA tournament field in this week’s Bracketology (photo: Omar Phillips).

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 on March 20.

Those of you that are veterans of the college hockey scene know that it is all about the PairWise Rankings. This is USCHO’s numerical approach that simulates the way the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey committee chooses the teams that make the NCAA tournament.

Since USCHO began the PairWise Rankings, we have correctly identified all of the teams that have been selected to the NCAA tournament.

I am the only prognosticator to have correctly predicted the exact brackets for the NCAA tournament in four of the last five years, meaning that I have predicted how the committee thought when putting together the brackets.

This is not a be-all, end-all analysis of the bracket. I am trying to give you, the reader, an idea of what the committee might be thinking and not exactly what they are thinking.

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 — Albany, N.Y.; Northeast — Worcester, Mass.; Midwest — Cincinnati; West — St. Paul, Minn.).

• A host institution that 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: Union in Albany, Holy Cross in Worcester, Miami in Cincinnati and Minnesota in St. Paul.

• Seedings will not be switched. To avoid undesirable first-round matchups, including intraconference games (see below), teams will be moved among regionals, not reseeded.

Here are the NCAA’s guidelines on the matter, from the 2016 pre-championship manual:

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 the likelihood of a playoff-type atmosphere at each regional site. For this model, the following is a basic set of priorities:

1. Once the six automatic qualifiers and 10 at-large teams are selected, the next step is to develop four groups from the committee’s rankings of 1-16. The top four teams are 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. The next four are targeted as No. 2 seeds. The next four are No. 3 seeds and the last four are No. 4 seeds.

2. Step two is to place the home teams. Host institutions that qualify will be placed at home.

3. Step three is to fill in the bracket so that first-round conference matchups are avoided, unless it corrupts the integrity of the bracket. If five or more teams from one conference are selected to the championship, then the integrity of the bracket will be protected (i.e., maintaining the pairing process according to seed will take priority over avoidance of first-round conference matchups). To complete each regional, the committee assigns one team from each of the remaining seeded groups so there is a No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seed at each regional site.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders through all games of Feb. 9:

1 Quinnipiac
2 St. Cloud State
3 North Dakota
4 Boston College
5 Providence
6 Michigan
7 Notre Dame
8 Boston University
9 Omaha
10 Yale
11 Harvard
12 Denver
13 Massachusetts-Lowell
14t Cornell
14t Penn State
16 Dartmouth
19 Robert Morris
20t Minnesota State
22t Minnesota

Current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Robert Morris
Big Ten: Minnesota (conference wins over Michigan)
ECAC Hockey: Quinnipiac
Hockey East: Notre Dame (conference wins over Boston College)
NCHC: North Dakota
WCHA: Minnesota 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 the current leader in each conference. This team is my assumed conference tournament champion after applying the tiebreakers.

Step one

From the committee’s report, choose the 16 teams in the tournament.

We break ties in the PWR by looking at the individual comparisons among the tied teams, and add in any current league leaders that are not currently in the top 16. The only teams that are not are Minnesota State, Minnesota and Robert Morris.

From there, we can start looking at the ties and bubbles in a more detailed fashion. There are none this week.

Therefore, the 16 teams in the tournament, in rank order, are:

1 Quinnipiac
2 St. Cloud State
3 North Dakota
4 Boston College
5 Providence
6 Michigan
7 Notre Dame
8 Boston University
9 Omaha
10 Yale
11 Harvard
12 Denver
13 Massachusetts-Lowell
14 Robert Morris
15 Minnesota State
16 Minnesota

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 seeds: Quinnipiac, St. Cloud State, North Dakota, Boston College

No. 2 seeds: Providence, Michigan, Notre Dame, Boston University

No. 3 seeds: Omaha, Yale, Harvard, Denver

No. 4 seeds: Massachusetts-Lowell, Robert Morris, Minnesota State, Minnesota

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

No. 1 Quinnipiac is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 2 St. Cloud State is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.
No. 3 North Dakota is placed in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.
No. 4 Boston College is placed in the East Regional in Albany.

Step four

Now we place the other 12 teams so as to avoid intraconference 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 would be 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 Boston University is placed in No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 7 Notre Dame is placed in No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 6 Michigan is placed in No. 3 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 5 Providence is placed in No. 4 Boston College’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 3 seeds

Our bracketing system has one regional containing seeds 1, 8, 9, and 16; another with 2, 7, 10 and 15; another with 3, 6, 11 and 14; and another with 4, 5, 12 and 13.

No. 9 Omaha is placed in No. 8 Boston University’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 10 Yale is placed in No. 7 Notre Dame’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 11 Harvard is placed in No. 6 Michigan’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 12 Denver is placed in No. 5 Providence’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 4 seeds

One more time, taking No. 16 vs. No. 1, No. 15 vs. No. 2, etc.

Because Minnesota is a host institution, we must place Minnesota in the West Regional.

No. 16 Minnesota is sent to No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 15 Minnesota State is sent to No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 14 Robert Morris is sent to No. 3 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 13 Massachusetts-Lowell is sent to No. 4 Boston College’s regional, the East Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

East Regional (Albany):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 4 Boston College
12 Denver vs. 5 Providence

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
15 Minnesota State vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Omaha vs 8 Boston University

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
14 Robert Morris vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Harvard vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
16 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
10 Yale vs. 7 Notre Dame

Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have one this week in Massachusetts-Lowell versus Boston College.

We can only switch Massachusetts-Lowell with Robert Morris or Minnesota State. We switch with Robert Morris in this case, trying to even out bracket integrity and protecting the No. 1 overall seed.

East Regional (Albany):
14 Robert Morris vs. 4 Boston College
12 Denver vs. 5 Providence

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
15 Minnesota State vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Omaha vs 8 Boston University

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Harvard vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
16 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
10 Yale vs. 7 Notre Dame

Now let’s look at more attendance aspects.

We can do some movement around the third band, bringing Yale and Harvard back to the East and Denver and Omaha to the West. We do this to maintain as much bracket integrity as possible.

East Regional (Albany):
14 Robert Morris vs. 4 Boston College
11 Harvard vs. 5 Providence

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
15 Minnesota State vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Yale vs 8 Boston University

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 North Dakota
12 Denver vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
16 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
9 Omaha vs. 7 Notre Dame

Now let’s look at one more thing, and again, we’ll base this from the attendance point of view.

What if we swapped the entire East and Northeast regionals?

Now why would we do that? Worcester would be closer to Boston and Providence for three teams. While Worcester is closer for the two teams from the New Haven area, it would be farther away for Boston University.

But would that boost attendance at all? It’s hard to say.

But as the No. 1 seed, Quinnipiac deserves to be closest to its fan base. Thus, we keep the bracket the way it is.

So that’s about all we can do for this week.

See you here next week for the next Bracketology.

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

This week’s brackets

East Regional (Albany):
14 Robert Morris vs. 4 Boston College
11 Harvard vs. 5 Providence

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
15 Minnesota State vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Yale vs 8 Boston University

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 North Dakota
12 Denver vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
16 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
9 Omaha vs. 7 Notre Dame

Conference breakdowns

Hockey East — 5
NCHC — 4
ECAC Hockey — 3
Big Ten — 2
WCHA — 1
Atlantic Hockey — 1

On the move

In: None

Out: None

Attendance woes?

Cincinnati is still iffy, even with North Dakota and Michigan there.

Last week’s brackets

East Regional (Albany):
13 Yale vs. 4 Michigan
12 Denver vs. 5 Boston College

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Omaha vs 8 Boston University

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
14 Minnesota State vs. 3 North Dakota
10 Notre Dame vs. 6 Providence

West Regional (St. Paul):
15 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
11 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 7 Harvard

PairWise history tells us what to extrapolate from the rankings at the start of February

Now that the calendar has turned to February, we can again look to another point in the history of the PairWise Rankings and how it might impact the race this season.

Here’s how the PairWise looked as of Jan. 31:

1. Quinnipiac
2. St. Cloud State
3. North Dakota
4. Michigan
5. Harvard
6. Boston College
7. Providence
8. Boston University
9. Omaha
10. Notre Dame
11. Massachusetts-Lowell
12. Denver
13. Yale
14. Rensselaer
– Projected cut line –
15t. Dartmouth
15t. Cornell
17t. Penn State
17t. Minnesota State*
19. Minnesota-Duluth
20. Minnesota
21. Robert Morris*
– Average position for outsider to make tournament –
22t. Michigan Tech
22t. Miami
24. Clarkson
25. Bowling Green
26. Union
27. St. Lawrence
– Lowest any team has ever been ranked and still qualified –
28. Northeastern
29. Holy Cross
30t. Ferris State
30t. Vermont
32. Air Force
33. Northern Michigan
34t. Western Michigan
34t. Bemidji State
36. New Hampshire
37. Ohio State
38. Mercyhurst
39t. RIT
39t. Wisconsin
41t. Merrimack
41t. Alaska-Anchorage
43t. Connecticut
43t. Princeton
45t. Massachusetts
45t. Bentley
47t. Brown
47t. Colgate
49. Maine
50. Colorado College
51t. Lake Superior
51t. Sacred Heart
53t. Alaska
53t. Army
55. Michigan State
56. Canisius
57. Alabama-Huntsville
58. Arizona State
59. American International
60. Niagara

To remind everyone: In the 13 years of the 16-team field, there have been only 23 teams that qualified for the NCAA tournament solely because of the autobid. The other 185 teams qualified because they were ranked high enough in the PairWise.

In those 13 seasons, no team that was ranked No. 1 through No. 4 at the start of February has failed to qualify. In fact, in nine of 13 seasons, the No. 1 overall team has finished No. 1 overall on Selection Sunday. In only two seasons has the No. 1 overall team failed to be a No. 1 regional seed. This is very good news for Quinnipiac. The Bobcats have a virtual lock on the No. 1 overall seed thanks to a sweep of No. 2 St Cloud State back in October. It would take some key losses for the Bobcats to lose the overall No. 1 ranking.

But the good news extends to St. Cloud State and North Dakota as well. Of the 26 teams ranked No. 2 or No. 3, 15 (57.7 percent) remained a No. 1 regional seed. The worst any team has fared is the 2012 UMass-Lowell that which dropped from No. 3 overall to No. 12. Fans in Ann Arbor can also take heart: Nine of the 13 No. 4 teams remained in the 1-4 or 5-8 bands.

2012 was an outlier year:

• New Year’s Day No. 1 Ohio State became the only top seed to miss the tournament.

• All four of the Feb. 1 PairWise top 4 failed to remain as No. 1 regional seeds: No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth fell to No. 7 overall (also the worst performance of any No. 1 team), No. 2 Boston University fell all the way to No. 9 and No. 4 Ferris State to No. 6 overall.

• No. 15 Union and No. 16 North Dakota were not even in the field as of Feb. 1 and ended up being No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.

For those in the 5-8 and 9-12 bands, the news is still positive but with some risks. Almost 80 percent of teams in both bands as of Feb. 1 have made the tournament. The highest team to fall from the tournament field was No. 5 Denver in 2007. Fifty-three of the 104 teams ranked 5-12 have remained within that range come March. Only 23 times have they failed to make the tournament.

On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest-ranked teams to still qualify for an at-large berth were in 2010, when Northern Michigan (No. 26 on Feb. 1) and Alaska (No. 27) made the tournament. Only 10 teams ranked 20 or worse have qualified, with the average being No. 21. If your team is below that line, you’ll probably need your conference automatic bid to play at the end of March.

Finally, a note about the projected cut line. What the actual cut line will be is yet to be determined. The average has been 14, but with the dissolution of the CHA it has dropped to 15 in recent seasons. This year, with no WCHA or Atlantic Hockey teams in the top 16, the cut line is projected at 14 again. This also takes into consideration that all teams in the top 14 will win their conference autobid. This includes No. 4 Michigan, which is tied with No. 20 Minnesota in the Big Ten standings. We will not know the actual cut line until all conference championships are concluded.

Six weeks out, and an intraconference first-round game can’t be avoided

Notre Dame is one of five Hockey East teams in the second or third band in this week’s Bracketology, which would guarantee a first-round intraconference matchup (photo: Jim Rosvold).

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 on March 20.

Those of you that are veterans of the college hockey scene know that it is all about the PairWise Rankings. This is USCHO’s numerical approach that simulates the way the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey committee chooses the teams that make the NCAA tournament.

Since USCHO began the PairWise Rankings, we have correctly identified all of the teams that have been selected to the NCAA tournament.

I am the only prognosticator to have correctly predicted the exact brackets for the NCAA tournament in four of the last five years, meaning that I have predicted how the committee thought when putting together the brackets.

This is not a be-all, end-all analysis of the bracket. I am trying to give you, the reader, an idea of what the committee might be thinking and not exactly what they are thinking.

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 — Albany, N.Y.; Northeast — Worcester, Mass.; Midwest — Cincinnati; West — St. Paul, Minn.).

• A host institution that 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: Union in Albany, Holy Cross in Worcester, Miami in Cincinnati and Minnesota in St. Paul.

• Seedings will not be switched. To avoid undesirable first-round matchups, including intraconference games (see below), teams will be moved among regionals, not reseeded.

Here are the NCAA’s guidelines on the matter, from the 2016 pre-championship manual:

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 the likelihood of a playoff-type atmosphere at each regional site. For this model, the following is a basic set of priorities:

1. Once the six automatic qualifiers and 10 at-large teams are selected, the next step is to develop four groups from the committee’s rankings of 1-16. The top four teams are 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. The next four are targeted as No. 2 seeds. The next four are No. 3 seeds and the last four are No. 4 seeds.

2. Step two is to place the home teams. Host institutions that qualify will be placed at home.

3. Step three is to fill in the bracket so that first-round conference matchups are avoided, unless it corrupts the integrity of the bracket. If five or more teams from one conference are selected to the championship, then the integrity of the bracket will be protected (i.e., maintaining the pairing process according to seed will take priority over avoidance of first-round conference matchups). To complete each regional, the committee assigns one team from each of the remaining seeded groups so there is a No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seed at each regional site.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders through all games of Feb. 2:

1 Quinnipiac
2 St. Cloud State
3 North Dakota
4 Michigan
5 Boston College
6 Providence
7 Harvard
8 Boston University
9 Omaha
10 Notre Dame
11 Massachusetts-Lowell
12 Denver
13 Yale
14 Rensselaer
15t Dartmouth
15t Cornell
17t Minnesota State
20 Minnesota
22t Robert Morris

Current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Robert Morris
Big Ten: Minnesota (holds conference wins tiebreaker over Michigan)
ECAC Hockey: Quinnipiac
Hockey East: Boston College
NCHC: North Dakota
WCHA: Minnesota 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 the current leader in each conference. This team is my assumed conference tournament champion after applying the tiebreakers.

Step one

From the committee’s report, choose the 16 teams in the tournament.

We break ties in the PWR by looking at the individual comparisons among the tied teams, and add in any current league leaders that are not currently in the top 16. The only teams that are not are Minnesota State, Minnesota and Robert Morris.

From there, we can start looking at the ties and bubbles in a more detailed fashion. There are none this week.

Therefore, the 16 teams in the tournament, in rank order, are:

1 Quinnipiac
2 St. Cloud State
3 North Dakota
4 Michigan
5 Boston College
6 Providence
7 Harvard
8 Boston University
9 Omaha
10 Notre Dame
11 Massachusetts-Lowell
12 Denver
13 Yale
14 Minnesota State
15 Minnesota
16 Robert Morris

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 seeds: Quinnipiac, St. Cloud State, North Dakota, Michigan

No. 2 seeds: Boston College, Providence, Harvard, Boston University

No. 3 seeds: Omaha, Notre Dame, Massachusetts-Lowell, Denver

No. 4 seeds: Yale, Minnesota State, Minnesota, Robert Morris

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

No. 1 Quinnipiac is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 2 St. Cloud State is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.
No. 3 North Dakota is placed in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.
No. 4 Michigan is placed in the East Regional in Albany.

Step four

Now we place the other 12 teams so as to avoid intraconference 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 would be 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 Boston University is placed in No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 7 Harvard is placed in No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 6 Providence is placed in No. 3 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 5 Boston College is placed in No. 4 Michigan’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 3 seeds

Our bracketing system has one regional containing seeds 1, 8, 9, and 16; another with 2, 7, 10 and 15; another with 3, 6, 11 and 14; and another with 4, 5, 12 and 13.

No. 9 Omaha is placed in No. 8 Boston University’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 10 Notre Dame is placed in No. 7 Harvard’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 11 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in No. 6 Providence’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 12 Denver is placed in No. 5 Boston College’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 4 seeds

One more time, taking No. 16 vs. No. 1, No. 15 vs. No. 2, etc.

Since Minnesota is a host institution, we must place Minnesota in the West Regional.

No. 15 Minnesota is sent to No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 16 Robert Morris is sent to No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 14 Minnesota State is sent to No. 3 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 13 Yale is sent to No. 4 Michigan’s regional, the East Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

East Regional (Albany):
13 Yale vs. 4 Michigan
12 Denver vs. 5 Boston College

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Omaha vs 8 Boston University

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
14 Minnesota State vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 6 Providence

West Regional (St. Paul):
15 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
10 Notre Dame vs. 7 Harvard

Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have one this week in Massachusetts-Lowell versus Providence.

But if you take a look at it, you can’t avoid a Hockey East-Hockey East matchup in that banding of teams!

There are three Hockey East teams in the second banding and two in the third banding, which means that you have to have an intraconference matchup somewhere along the line.

How do we determine what is that matchup? Attendance.

Cincinnati needs a little help, so I want to have Notre Dame there. It can boost attendance by a little. Thus, I just switch Notre Dame and Massachusetts-Lowell.

East Regional (Albany):
13 Yale vs. 4 Michigan
12 Denver vs. 5 Boston College

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Omaha vs 8 Boston University

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
14 Minnesota State vs. 3 North Dakota
10 Notre Dame vs. 6 Providence

West Regional (St. Paul):
15 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
11 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 7 Harvard

Now let’s look at more attendance aspects.

How can we make attendance better? Honestly, I don’t see anything.

Yes, we can put Michigan in Cincinnati and move North Dakota to Albany, but does that make much of a difference? Not really, and we can maintain some bracket integrity, too.

So that’s about all we can do for this week.

See you here next week for the next Bracketology.

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

This week’s brackets

East Regional (Albany):
13 Yale vs. 4 Michigan
12 Denver vs. 5 Boston College

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Omaha vs 8 Boston University

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
14 Minnesota State vs. 3 North Dakota
10 Notre Dame vs. 6 Providence

West Regional (St. Paul):
15 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
11 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 7 Harvard

Conference breakdowns

Hockey East — 5
NCHC — 4
ECAC Hockey — 3
Big Ten — 2
WCHA — 1
Atlantic Hockey — 1

On the move

In: None

Out: None

Attendance woes?

Cincinnati is iffy.

Last week’s brackets

East Regional (Albany):
13 Denver vs. 4 Providence
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Yale vs. 7 Boston College

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
15 Minnesota State vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Boston University vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
9 Omaha vs 8 Notre Dame

Seven weeks out, and it’s all rather straightforward

Jayson Moy theorizes that moving a Boston College-Yale first-round game from St. Paul to Worcester, and bringing Omaha and Notre Dame west, would help attendance (photo: Melissa Wade).

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 on March 20.

Those of you that are veterans of the college hockey scene know that it is all about the PairWise Rankings. This is USCHO’s numerical approach that simulates the way the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey committee chooses the teams that make the NCAA tournament.

Since USCHO began the PairWise Rankings, we have correctly identified all of the teams that have been selected to the NCAA tournament.

I am the only prognosticator to have correctly predicted the exact brackets for the NCAA tournament in four of the last five years, meaning that I have predicted how the committee thought when putting together the brackets.

This is not a be-all, end-all analysis of the bracket. I am trying to give you, the reader, an idea of what the committee might be thinking and not exactly what they are thinking.

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 — Albany, N.Y.; Northeast — Worcester, Mass.; Midwest — Cincinnati; West — St. Paul, Minn.).

• A host institution that 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: Union in Albany, Holy Cross in Worcester, Miami in Cincinnati and Minnesota in St. Paul.

• Seedings will not be switched. To avoid undesirable first-round matchups, including intraconference games (see below), teams will be moved among regionals, not reseeded.

Here are the NCAA’s guidelines on the matter, from the 2016 pre-championship manual:

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 the likelihood of a playoff-type atmosphere at each regional site. For this model, the following is a basic set of priorities:

1. Once the six automatic qualifiers and 10 at-large teams are selected, the next step is to develop four groups from the committee’s rankings of 1-16. The top four teams are 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. The next four are targeted as No. 2 seeds. The next four are No. 3 seeds and the last four are No. 4 seeds.

2. Step two is to place the home teams. Host institutions that qualify will be placed at home.

3. Step three is to fill in the bracket so that first-round conference matchups are avoided, unless it corrupts the integrity of the bracket. If five or more teams from one conference are selected to the championship, then the integrity of the bracket will be protected (i.e., maintaining the pairing process according to seed will take priority over avoidance of first-round conference matchups). To complete each regional, the committee assigns one team from each of the remaining seeded groups so there is a No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seed at each regional site.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders through all games of Jan. 19:

1 Quinnipiac
2 St. Cloud State
3 North Dakota
4 Providence
5 Harvard
6 Michigan
7 Boston College
8 Notre Dame
9 Omaha
10 Yale
11 Boston University
12 Massachusetts-Lowell
13 Denver
14 Cornell
15t Minnesota
15t Penn State
21t Minnesota State
23t Robert Morris

Current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Robert Morris
Big Ten: Minnesota
ECAC Hockey: Quinnipiac
Hockey East: Notre Dame
NCHC: North Dakota
WCHA: Minnesota 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 the current leader in each conference. This team is my assumed conference tournament champion after applying the tiebreakers.

Step one

From the committee’s report, choose the 16 teams in the tournament.

We break ties in the PWR by looking at the individual comparisons among the tied teams, and add in any current league leaders that are not currently in the top 16. The only teams that are not are Minnesota State and Robert Morris.

From there, we can start looking at the ties and bubbles in a more detailed fashion, but there are none among those in the field.

Therefore, the 16 teams in the tournament, in rank order, are:

1 Quinnipiac
2 St. Cloud State
3 North Dakota
4 Providence
5 Harvard
6 Michigan
7 Boston College
8 Notre Dame
9 Omaha
10 Yale
11 Boston University
12 Massachusetts-Lowell
13 Denver
14 Minnesota
15 Minnesota State
16 Robert Morris

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 seeds: Quinnipiac, St. Cloud State, North Dakota, Providence

No. 2 seeds: Harvard. Michigan, Boston College, Notre Dame

No. 3 seeds: Omaha, Yale, Boston University, Massachusetts-Lowell

No. 4 seeds: Denver, Minnesota, Minnesota State, Robert Morris

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

No. 1 Quinnipiac is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 2 St. Cloud State is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.
No. 3 North Dakota is placed in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.
No. 4 Providence is placed in the East Regional in Albany.

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 would be 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 Notre Dame is placed in No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 7 Boston College is placed in No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 6 Michigan is placed in No. 3 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 5 Harvard is placed in No. 4 Providence’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 3 seeds

Our bracketing system has one regional containing seeds 1, 8, 9, and 16; another with 2, 7, 10 and 15; another with 3, 6, 11 and 14; and another with 4, 5, 12 and 13.

No. 9 Omaha is placed in No. 8 Notre Dame’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 10 Yale is placed in No. 7 Boston College’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 11 Boston University is placed in No. 6 Michigan’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 12 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in No. 5 Harvard’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 4 seeds

One more time, taking No. 16 vs. No. 1, No. 15 vs. No. 2, etc.

Since Minnesota is a host institution, we must place Minnesota in the West Regional.

No. 14 Minnesota is sent to No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 16 Robert Morris is sent to No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 15 Minnesota State is sent to No. 3 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 13 Denver is sent to No. 4 Providence’s regional, the East Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

East Regional (Albany):
13 Denver vs. 4 Providence
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Omaha vs 8 Notre Dame

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
15 Minnesota State vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Boston University vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
10 Yale vs. 7 Boston College

Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have none this week.

We now head to our favorite topic — attendance.

Don’t kid yourselves, folks: Attendance is a huge part of where teams go.

How can we make attendance better?

I see at least one thing we can do. We swap the Yale-Boston College game and the Omaha-Notre Dame game to bring those teams closer to their regions.

East Regional (Albany):
13 Denver vs. 4 Providence
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Yale vs. 7 Boston College

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
15 Minnesota State vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Boston University vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
9 Omaha vs 8 Notre Dame

Is there anything else we can do? I would love to have both Michigan and Notre Dame in Cincinnati, but that can’t happen because they’re both No. 2 seeds.

So that’s about all we can do for this week.

See you here next week for the next Bracketology.

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

This week’s brackets

East Regional (Albany):
13 Denver vs. 4 Providence
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Yale vs. 7 Boston College

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
15 Minnesota State vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Boston University vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
9 Omaha vs 8 Notre Dame

Conference breakdowns

Hockey East — 5
NCHC — 4
ECAC Hockey — 3
Big Ten — 2
WCHA — 1
Atlantic Hockey — 1

On the move

In: Denver, Minnesota

Out: Cornell, Penn State

Attendance woes?

Cincinnati is iffy.

Last week’s brackets

East Regional (Albany):
14 Penn State vs. 4 Providence
9 Boston College vs 8 Cornell

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Holy Cross vs. 1 Quinnipiac
12 Boston University vs. 6 Harvard

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 North Dakota
10 Notre Dame vs. 7 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
15 Minnesota State vs. 2 St. Cloud State
11 Yale vs. 5 Omaha

Eight weeks out, and attendance dictates some movement

A Notre Dame-Michigan first-round matchup could attract more fans in Cincinnati than St. Paul (photo: Jim Rosvold).

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 on March 20.

Those of you that are veterans of the college hockey scene know that it is all about the PairWise Rankings. This is USCHO’s numerical approach that simulates the way the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey committee chooses the teams that make the NCAA tournament.

Since USCHO began the PairWise Rankings, we have correctly identified all of the teams that have been selected to the NCAA tournament.

I am the only prognosticator to have correctly predicted the exact brackets for the NCAA tournament in four of the last five years, meaning that I have predicted how the committee thought when putting together the brackets.

This is not a be-all, end-all analysis of the bracket. I am trying to give you, the reader, an idea of what the committee might be thinking and not exactly what they are thinking.

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 — Albany, N.Y.; Northeast — Worcester, Mass.; Midwest — Cincinnati; West — St. Paul, Minn.).

• A host institution that 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: Union in Albany (This was confirmed this week, as ECAC Hockey was the host but had to choose either Union or Rensselaer to host), Holy Cross in Worcester, Miami in Cincinnati and Minnesota in St. Paul.

• Seedings will not be switched. To avoid undesirable first-round matchups, including intraconference games (see below), teams will be moved among regionals, not reseeded.

Here are the NCAA’s guidelines on the matter, from the 2016 pre-championship manual:

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 the likelihood of a playoff-type atmosphere at each regional site. For this model, the following is a basic set of priorities:

1. Once the six automatic qualifiers and 10 at-large teams are selected, the next step is to develop four groups from the committee’s rankings of 1-16. The top four teams are 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. The next four are targeted as No. 2 seeds. The next four are No. 3 seeds and the last four are No. 4 seeds.

2. Step two is to place the home teams. Host institutions that qualify will be placed at home.

3. Step three is to fill in the bracket so that first-round conference matchups are avoided, unless it corrupts the integrity of the bracket. If five or more teams from one conference are selected to the championship, then the integrity of the bracket will be protected (i.e., maintaining the pairing process according to seed will take priority over avoidance of first-round conference matchups). To complete each regional, the committee assigns one team from each of the remaining seeded groups so there is a No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seed at each regional site.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders through all games of Jan. 19:

1 Quinnipiac
2 St. Cloud State
3 North Dakota
4 Providence
5 Omaha
6 Harvard
7 Michigan
8 Cornell
9 Boston College
10 Notre Dame
11 Yale
12 Boston University
13 Massachusetts-Lowell
14 Denver
15 Penn State
16t Minnesota
16t Minnesota-Duluth
19t Minnesota State
23t Holy Cross

Current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Holy Cross
Big Ten: Penn State
ECAC Hockey: Quinnipiac
Hockey East: Notre Dame
NCHC: North Dakota
WCHA: Minnesota 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 the current leader in each conference. This team is my assumed conference tournament champion after applying the tiebreakers.

Step one

From the committee’s report, choose the 16 teams in the tournament.

We break ties in the PWR by looking at the individual comparisons among the tied teams, and add in any current league leaders that are not currently in the top 16. The only teams that are not are Minnesota State and Holy Cross.

From there, we can start looking at the ties and bubbles in a more detailed fashion, but there are none that factor in this week.

Therefore, the 16 teams in the tournament, in rank order, are:

1 Quinnipiac
2 St. Cloud State
3 North Dakota
4 Providence
5 Omaha
6 Harvard
7 Michigan
8 Cornell
9 Boston College
10 Notre Dame
11 Yale
12 Boston University
13 Massachusetts-Lowell
14 Penn State
15 Minnesota State
16 Holy Cross

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 seeds: Quinnipiac, St. Cloud State, North Dakota, Providence

No. 2 seeds: Omaha, Harvard, Michigan, Cornell

No. 3 seeds: Boston College, Notre Dame, Yale, Boston University

No. 4 seeds: Massachusetts-Lowell, Penn State, Minnesota State, Holy Cross

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

No. 1 Quinnipiac is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 2 St. Cloud State is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.
No. 3 North Dakota is placed in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.
No. 4 Providence is placed in the East Regional in Albany.

Last week, I started with Quinnipiac going to Albany. This week, I have them going to Worcester for a number of reasons. Proximity is first; last week was a “What If?” The other reason is that if we jump ahead to the 16 seed, it is Holy Cross, which has to be in Worcester. And the No. 1 seed should get the No. 16 seed in the first round unless there is a lot going on with the bracket. Therefore, this week, we have Quinnipiac in Worcester.

Step four

Now we place the other 12 teams so as to avoid intraconference 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 would be 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 Cornell is placed in No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 7 Michigan is placed in No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 6 Harvard is placed in No. 3 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 5 Omaha is placed in No. 4 Providence’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 3 seeds

Our bracketing system has one regional containing seeds 1, 8, 9, and 16; another with 2, 7, 10 and 15; another with 3, 6, 11 and 14; and another with 4, 5, 12 and 13.

No. 9 Boston College is placed in No. 8 Cornell’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 10 Notre Dame is placed in No. 7 Michigan’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 11 Yale is placed in No. 6 Harvard’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 12 Boston University is placed in No. 5 Omaha’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 4 seeds

One more time, taking No. 16 vs. No. 1, No. 15 vs. No. 2, etc.

Since Holy Cross is a host institution, it must be placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.

No. 16 Holy Cross is sent to No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 15 Minnesota State is sent to No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 14 Penn State is sent to No. 3 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 13 Massachusetts-Lowell is sent to No. 4 Providence’s regional, the East Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

East Regional (Albany):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 4 Providence
12 Boston University vs. 5 Omaha

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Holy Cross vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Boston College vs 8 Cornell

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
14 Penn State vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Yale vs. 6 Harvard

West Regional (St. Paul):
15 Minnesota State vs. 2 St. Cloud State
10 Notre Dame vs. 7 Michigan

Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have two, so let’s solve them.

We have Yale vs. Harvard and Massachusetts-Lowell vs. Providence.

Let’s look at Massachusetts-Lowell vs. Providence. We can switch Lowell with either Penn State or Minnesota State.

Now, it has to be Penn State, right? Because why would you take Minnesota State out of Minnesota for attendance purposes? Logic says to keep the Mavericks in St. Paul.

So we swap Lowell with Penn State.

East Regional (Albany):
14 Penn State vs. 4 Providence
12 Boston University vs. 5 Omaha

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Holy Cross vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Boston College vs 8 Cornell

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Yale vs. 6 Harvard

West Regional (St. Paul):
15 Minnesota State vs. 2 St. Cloud State
10 Notre Dame vs. 7 Michigan

Now we look at Yale and Harvard.

If we move Yale, we can swap with either Boston University or Boston College.

But do we want to do that? How about switching out Harvard with Omaha instead?

East Regional (Albany):
14 Penn State vs. 4 Providence
12 Boston University vs. 6 Harvard

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Holy Cross vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Boston College vs 8 Cornell

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Yale vs. 5 Omaha

West Regional (St. Paul):
15 Minnesota State vs. 2 St. Cloud State
10 Notre Dame vs. 7 Michigan

Now we’re looking OK.

Now let’s look at attendance.

Don’t kid yourselves, folks: Attendance is a huge part of where teams go.

How can we make attendance better? I can see movement on all fronts.

What do I mean by that? Wouldn’t you think Notre Dame vs. Michigan would draw better in Cincinnati than in St. Paul?

Wouldn’t you think Boston University vs. Harvard would draw better in Worcester than in Albany?

That’s the kind of thinking that will happen.

So let’s do it. We’ll move matchups to different locations.

East Regional (Albany):
14 Penn State vs. 4 Providence
9 Boston College vs 8 Cornell

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Holy Cross vs. 1 Quinnipiac
12 Boston University vs. 6 Harvard

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 North Dakota
10 Notre Dame vs. 7 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
15 Minnesota State vs. 2 St. Cloud State
11 Yale vs. 5 Omaha

Cincinnati could be hurting a bit on the attendance front, but it is sure better now than it was with the previous matchups.

I think this is about all we can do this week.

So that is it. My bracket for the week.

But remember: There are so many changes between now and the actual bracket announcement.

See you here next week for the next Bracketology.

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

This week’s brackets

East Regional (Albany):
14 Penn State vs. 4 Providence
9 Boston College vs 8 Cornell

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Holy Cross vs. 1 Quinnipiac
12 Boston University vs. 6 Harvard

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 North Dakota
10 Notre Dame vs. 7 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
15 Minnesota State vs. 2 St. Cloud State
11 Yale vs. 5 Omaha

Conference breakdowns

Hockey East — 5
ECAC Hockey — 4
NCHC — 3
Big Ten — 2
WCHA — 1
Atlantic Hockey — 1

On the move

In: Penn State

Out: Denver

Attendance woes?

Cincinnati could be iffy.

Last week’s brackets

East Regional (Albany):
14 Denver vs. 4 Harvard
10 Boston College vs. 5 Cornell

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Holy Cross vs. 1 Quinnipiac
12 Yale vs. 8 Boston University

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 St. Cloud State
9 Michigan vs. 6 Providence

West Regional (St. Paul):
15 Minnesota State vs. 2 North Dakota
11 Notre Dame vs. 7 Omaha

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