Bracketology, Pre-Conference Finals Edition, 3/3/07

It may seem counterintuitive that Boston College jumped Minnesota-Duluth in the Pairwise Rankings for the No. 7 spot after BC lost to a Providence and UMD lost to Minnesota, given that Minnesota is a higher-ranked team than Providence. But UMD’s lead over BC was really an aberration — a result of an advantage in Records vs. Last 16 games that was going to hold only if UMD won the WCHA. This is why I said last week that BC really controlled its destiny for the No. 7 spot.

To see what happened, look at the final comparison between the two teams. And note that while UMD leads BC in USCHO’s calculation of the RPI, the NCAA calculation will drop three BC games against Vermont, giving BC even a slight edge even there, and a 3-0 comparison win.

    Boston College vs Minnesota-Duluth

RPI      0.5648  0           0.5662  1

L16    12- 4- 0  0         11- 3- 2  0

TUC    10- 9- 2  1          7- 9- 3  0

H2H              0                   0

COP     1- 0- 0  1          0- 2- 0  0


PTS              2                   1

So with three conference finals left to be played, what’s at stake?

Wisconsin vs. Mercyhurst — Wisconsin is No. 1 with a WCHA tournament win. Otherwise Mercyhurst is No. 1.

Dartmouth vs. UNH vs. St. Lawrence — If UNH wins Hockey East and Dartmouth loses the ECACHL, UNH is No. 3. If St. Lawrence wins the ECACHL, and UNH loses Hockey East, St. Lawrence is No. 4. Otherwise the teams stay put, No. 3 Dartmouth, No. 4 UNH, No. 5 St. Lawrence.

Harvard is locked at No. 6, Boston College at No. 7, and Minnesota-Duluth at No. 8 in the rankings.

If either Providence or Minnesota win their conference tournaments, UMD is out. If both win, BC and UMD are out.

Here is the current bracket projection:

BC at (1) Wisconsin


Harvard at Dartmouth

UMD at (2) Mercyhurst

I’ve written a lot about the tradeoffs between preserving bracket integrity and avoiding intraconference matchups, in particular the Harvard-Dartmouth ECACHL quarterfinal. Now that BC, UMD, and Harvard all lost their conference semifinals, Harvard has a considerable gap in the criteria between itself and the other two schools, so it would be tough to justify a swap. Yes, the Harvard-BC comparison is appears to be close at 3-2, but Harvard has a wide advantage in three of the criteria. BC has a narrow advantage in Last 16, and the BC head-to-head win went to triple overtime. A swap depends mainly on how much the committee really values avoiding an intraconference matchup between Harvard and Dartmouth teams that have not played since January, but that’s a subjective decision that’s tough to predict.

On the other hand, BC-UMD are really close, and Wisconsin-Mercyhurst are really close, so I think the NCAA would have no problem swapping teams to avoid a UMD-Wisconsin matchup.

Regarding other scenarios, if Providence wins, and Minnesota does not, then the Friars would visit the No. 1 seed, and BC would go to the No. 2 seed. If Minnesota wins, and Providence does not, then Minnesota would go to Mercyhurst, BC would go to Wisconsin. If Minnesota and Providence win, Minnesota would go to Mercyhurst, and Providence would go to Wisconsin.

I’ll conclude by mentioning one other potential swap that I had not previously considered — if Minnesota win the WCHA, the committee could feel justified in swapping the Gophers higher than the PWR would suggest, and send them to Dartmouth, while sending Harvard to the No. 2 seed and BC or Providence to the No. 1 seed. From my point of view, that is a fairer swap than UMD for Harvard, or BC for Harvard — you would have only conference tournament finalists among the top six bracket positions. But again, such swapping is entirely subjective and tough to predict.

That’s all for now. I’ll check back in after the conference finals are over.


  1. Nice sweep for PSU.

    Hoping this early success translates to conference play.

    Big test against Lowell next weekend, time to lace up the big boy skates!

  2. Does anybody know what happened to Tucker Poolman? I don’t think he’s playing as well as he played earlier this season. I think that’s one of the reasons North Dekota lost last weekend.


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