Bracketology: Jan. 30, 2007

It’s time once again to do what we like to call Bracketology — College Hockey Style. It’s our weekly look at how the NCAA tournament would wind up if the season ended today.

It’s a look into the possible thought processes behind selecting and seeding the NCAA tournament.

This is the next installment of Bracketology, and we’ll be bringing you a new one every week until we make our final picks before the field is announced.

Here are the facts:

• Sixteen teams are selected to participate in the national tournament.

• There are four regional sites (East — Rochester, N.Y., Northeast — Manchester, N.H., Midwest — Grand Rapids, Mich., West — Denver, Colo.)

• 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 three host institutions this year, New Hampshire in Manchester, Western Michigan in Grand Rapids, and Denver in Denver.

• Seedings will not be switched, as opposed to years past. 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, 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 six automatic qualifiers and 10 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.”

Additionally, the NCAA includes a bonus factor for “good” nonconference road wins and throws out “bad” wins, i.e. those wins that lower your RPI. The NCAA also will only use the Teams Under Consideration criterion if that team has played at least 10 games against TUCs.

Because of this bonus factor, we won’t even talk about our PairWise Rankings (PWR) without an added bonus. We know that the bonus is at least .003 for a quality road win, so everything we talk about will use this number already factored in.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), with the bonus and the conference leaders (through all games of January 30, 2007):

1 New Hampshire
2 Minnesota
3 St. Cloud
4 Notre Dame
5 Denver
6 Clarkson
7 Maine
8 Michigan State
9 Michigan
10t North Dakota
10t Vermont
12t Miami
12t Boston College
14 Colorado College
15 Michigan Tech
16 Boston University
17 Niagara
21 St. Lawrence
— Sacred Heart

Current conference leaders:

Atlantic Hockey: RIT (served by Sacred Heart)
CHA: Niagara
CCHA: Notre Dame
ECACHL : St. Lawrence
Hockey East : New Hampshire
WCHA: Minnesota


• The Bracketology assumes that the season has ended and there are no more games to be played. i.e., the NCAA tournament starts tomorrow.

• Because there are an uneven amount of games played inside each conference, I will be using winning percentage, not points accumulated, to determine who the current leader in each conference is. This team is my assumed conference tournament champion.

• RIT is ineligible for the NCAA tournament, therefore the next highest team in Atlantic Hockey gets the automatic bid per my criteria stated above. That team is Sacred Heart.

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. Those teams are St. Lawrence, Niagara and Sacred Heart.

From there, we can start looking at the bubble in a more detailed fashion.

The bubbles consist of North Dakota and Vermont, tied for 10th, and Miami and BC, tied for 12th.

Because Niagara, St. Lawrence and Sacred Heart will take spots 14-16; Colorado College, Michigan Tech and Boston University are left out.

Looking at the head-to-head PairWise comparisons it shows that North Dakota defeats Vermont and Miami defeats BC.

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

1 New Hampshire
2 Minnesota
3 St. Cloud
4 Notre Dame
5 Denver
6 Clarkson
7 Maine
8 Michigan State
9 Michigan
10 North Dakota
11 Vermont
12 Miami
13 Boston College
14 Niagara
15 St. Lawrence
16 Sacred Heart

Step Two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 Seeds – New Hampshire, Minnesota, St. Cloud, Notre Dame
No. 2 Seeds – Denver, Clarkson, Maine, Michigan State
No. 3 Seeds – Michigan, North Dakota, Vermont, Miami
No. 4 Seeds – Boston College, Niagara, St. Lawrence, Sacred Heart

Step Three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals..

Because of the fact that New Hampshire is hosting a regional, it is placed first. We then place the other No. 1 seeds based on proximity to the regional sites.

No. 1 New Hampshire is placed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester.
No. 2 Minnesota is placed in the Midwest Regional in Grand Rapids.
No. 3 St. Cloud is placed in the East Regional in Rochester.
No. 4 Notre Dame is placed in the West Regional in Denver.

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 are played by No. 1 v. No. 8, No. 2 v. No. 7, No. 3 v. No. 6 and No. 4 v. No. 5.

So therefore:

No. 2 Seeds

No. 5 Denver is placed in No. 4 Notre Dame’s Regional, the West Regional, since Denver is a host institution.
No. 6 Clarkson is placed in No. 3 St. Cloud’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 7 Maine is placed in No. 2 Minnesota’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 8 Michigan State is placed in No. 1 New Hampshire’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.

No. 3 Seeds

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


No. 9 Michigan is placed in No. 8 Michigan State’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 10 North Dakota is placed in No. 7 Maine’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 11 Vermont is placed in No. 6 Clarkson’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 12 Miami is placed in No. 5 Denver’s Regional, the West Regional.

No. 4 Seeds

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

No. 16 Sacred Heart is sent to New Hampshire’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 15 St. Lawrence is sent to Minnesota’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 14 Niagara is sent to St. Cloud’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 13 Boston College is sent to Notre Dame’s Regional, the West Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional:

Boston College vs. Notre Dame
Miami vs. Denver

Midwest Regional:

St. Lawrence vs. Minnesota
North Dakota vs. Maine

East Regional:

Niagara vs. St. Cloud
Vermont vs. Clarkson

Northeast Regional:

Sacred Heart vs. New Hampshire
Michigan vs. Michigan State

Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have one — Michigan vs. Michigan State. We swap Michigan with North Dakota.

So the tournament is now fixed.

West Regional:

Boston College vs. Notre Dame
Miami vs. Denver

Midwest Regional:

St. Lawrence vs. Minnesota
Michigan vs. Maine

East Regional:

Niagara vs. St. Cloud
Vermont vs. Clarkson

Northeast Regional:

Sacred Heart vs. New Hampshire
North Dakota vs. Michigan State

Perfect bracket, integrity-wise it’s good but for the one switch we had to make to avoid the All-CCHA matchup.

Bracketing the Frozen Four, if all four number-one seeds advance, then the top overall seed plays the No. 4 overall, and No. 2 plays No. 3. Therefore, the winners of the East and Midwest Regionals face each other in one semifinal (St. Cloud and Minnesota’s brackets), while the winners of the Northeast and West Regionals (New Hampshire and Notre Dame’s brackets) play the other semifinal.

Question Time

I’ve gotten a share of comments over the past weeks of the Bracketology and a lot of them refer to the same things over and over again.

So I will address some of the other ones.

How can you choose to put St. Lawrence into the tournament and leave out my team? My team is above them in the PWR and they are certainly a much better team! You’re a moron, your Bracketology is just stupid.

Come on. Haven’t we done this long enough? For Bracketology purposes, we take the conference leader as the assumed winner of the conference tournament, therefore, it gets the automatic bid. Thus, in this case, St. Lawrence, as the leader of the ECACHL in the standings, is the assumed conference tournament champion, thus receiving the autobid.

Therefore, SLU takes away one spot in the Top 16 at the moment.

As for your team being a better team, there are those who disagree.

As for the last sentence, there are those who do agree.

How does this dropping of games if it lowers your RPI work? There seems to be no logic to it at all. I can’t figure it out. Help!

OK, it’s actually plain and simple, or as some of our Fan Forum denizens like to call it, simple math.

There are two methods in which this might work.

1) After each day, after all the games are played, if your game resulted in a win and your RPI dropped, that game would be thrown out.


2) After each day, after all the games are played, your RPI is calculated, then you start from the top with each game. If then your RPI is lowered with a win, that game is dropped.

So which is it? It’s certainly different in the two scenarios.

The way it works is through number (2).

Let’s detail it a little more.

After Tuesday night’s two Division I games, Army-AIC and Harvard-Quinnipiac, a new RPI is generated for each team.

Using this new RPI, you go back through everyone’s schedule from the top down. If that game lowers your RPI despite the fact that you won, then that game is thrown out.

See, real simple.

And then you add the bonus.

If Team X does this and Team Y does this and Team Z does this, what happens?

I don’t know.

And that’s in all seriousness.

What interesting things should I look for in this weekend’s games? Any teams in particular to take a look at?

Aside from seeing if Team X or Team Y wins or loses, there is something that one might want to keep an eye on.

The Teams Under Consideration criterion.

Remember the rule this year: unless you have played 10 games against Teams Under Consideration, the criterion does not count in the PWR.

Let’s take a look at Notre Dame. The Irish are 7-1-1 against TUCs. In other words, that comparison does not count for the Irish right now. But if the Irish pick up one more win, they might pass St. Cloud for a higher seed.

Where does it play more of a difference? How about Quinnipiac, which has a 2-5-0 record against TUCs? Union is sitting at number 26 in the RPI right now. Quinnipiac is 3-0-0 against the Dutchmen. Dartmouth is number 28.

And then you have Lake Superior at 24 with a 2-7-0 record against TUCs and Cornell at 25 with a 1-3-1 record against TUCs.

Then you look at a team like Michigan, which has played 11 games against TUC’s, with only Michigan State and two against Lake Superior left at the present moment as TUCs. What if Lake Superior dropped out? What if Michigan Tech dropped out? What if, what if?

This is something to watch as it moves along.


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