Bracketology: March 14, 2007

It’s playoff time and it’s a guessing game everywhere to see what can happen. We’re trying to take some of the guessing out of the process and to educate everyone as to what can or may not happen.

In Part I of this week’s Bracketology, we took a look at the current structure of the bracket, and at the same time we took a look at the teams on the bubble and some of the possible scenarios that can occur with them, including Denver’s fate, which can still turn on a dime and has so many different scenarios.

Let’s take a look at some situations which might be labeled in the Useless Facts category, though if you’re a fan of the team or league in question, then they certainly are Useful.

Taking a look at scenarios and outcomes with our PairWise Predictor, here are some situations that you may or may not have thought about.

And don’t forget, we’re using .003 as our bonus for quality road wins. We don’t know exactly what it is, but this is our best guess based on history.

Just The Facts

Well, here are some of the facts, repeated from the last Bracketology in case you missed it.

Teams That Can Look Forward To The Dance

A total of nine teams have punched their tickets, according to my calculations.

Those teams are Minnesota, Notre Dame, St. Cloud, New Hampshire, Clarkson, Boston College, Boston University, Michigan and Alabama-Huntsville.

Teams That Are, Or Can Be, TUCs That Must Wait Until Next Year

These teams, while they are now or can be TUCs, are done with their seasons: Colorado College, Vermont, Cornell, Nebraska-Omaha and RIT.

Teams That Must Win Their Conference Tournaments To Get In

These teams need to skate with their conference trophies this weekend in order to get in: Wisconsin, Quinnipiac, Lake Superior, Sacred Heart, Army, Connecticut and Air Force.

The Dreaded Bubble

You’ve got it, we’re now at the bubble. That place where you really don’t want to be because anything can happen. It’s even worse when you can’t do a thing about your position by your own volition.

The teams on the bubble are North Dakota, Michigan State, Massachusetts, St. Lawrence, Maine, Miami, Michigan Tech, Dartmouth and Denver.

Nine teams battling for six spots, and perhaps only three spots should Wisconsin, Lake Superior and Quinnipiac all win their tournaments.

Number One Seeds

Four number-one seeds and eight teams alive to get those number-one seeds.

Those teams are Minnesota, Notre Dame, St. Cloud, New Hampshire, Clarkson, Boston College, Boston University and North Dakota.

What’s interesting here is that North Dakota can be a number-one seed, but at the same time it can be out of the tournament.

The Number

The CCHA, Hockey East and the WCHA can all get five teams into the tournament as a maximum. The ECACHL’s maximum is three teams, while Atlantic Hockey and the CHA will only get one.

As a minimum, Hockey East will get three teams in, the WCHA three teams, the CCHA two teams and the ECACHL, the CHA and Atlantic Hockey one as a minimum.

We’re Number One! Or Are We?

Here’s an interesting situation for the current number-one in the PairWise, Minnesota. Just because you’re number-one at the moment doesn’t mean you’re safe there, or even as a one-seeded band member.

Here’s how Minnesota falls down to fifth in the PairWise.

CCHA: Notre Dame defeats Michigan for the CCHA title and Michigan State takes third place.

ECACHL: Clarkson defeats St. Lawrence for the ECACHL title and Dartmouth takes third place.

Hockey East: Boston College defeats Massachusetts for the title.

WCHA: St. Cloud defeats Wisconsin for the title and North Dakota defeats Minnesota for third place.

Atlantic Hockey: Sacred Heart defeats Connecticut.

And there you go, Minnesota is now number five overall. The good news for Gopher fans is that this is the lowest that Minnesota can go in the overall PairWise.

From Rags To Riches, Or Riches To Rags

Here’s an interesting scenario. It will make the CCHA fans downtrodden and then overjoyed, or the other way around.

We mentioned that the CCHA can have a minimum of two teams in the tournament and a maximum of five. But did you know that it only takes switching the results of four semifinal games in just two championship tournaments?

Here’s the rags story for you:

Atlantic Hockey: Sacred Heart defeats Connecticut.

Hockey East: Boston College defeats Massachusetts.

WCHA: St. Cloud defeats Wisconsin in the championship game and Minnesota defeats North Dakota for third place.

ECACHL: Dartmouth defeats St. Lawrence for the title and Clarkson defeats Quinnipiac for third place.

CCHA: Notre Dame defeats Michigan for the title and Lake Superior defeats Michigan State for third place.

In this scenario, only Notre Dame and Michigan get into the tournament.

But CCHA fans, turn those frowns upside down!

Reverse the two semifinal results in the ECACHL and CCHA and what do you get?

Keep Atlantic Hockey, Hockey East and the WCHA with the same results.

Now:

ECACHL: Clarkson defeats Quinnipiac for the championship and Dartmouth defeats St. Lawrence for third place.

CCHA: Lake Superior defeats Michigan State for the championship and Notre Dame defeats Michigan for third place.

So all we did was reverse the results of the four semifinals in the ECACHL and CCHA tournaments and then kept the winners the same for Saturday. And what do we have now?

Five CCHA teams in the tournament because it keeps Miami and Michigan State in the tournament and Lake Superior gets the automatic bid.

Four games, two vastly different results.

We Lost, But We’re In?

In Part I of Bracketology we chronicled how Michigan Tech can still be left out of the tournament with two wins at the Final Five.

But did you know that Tech can also get invited to the tournament with a loss in the play-in game?

It seems illogical, doesn’t it, that Tech can be left out of the tournament with two wins at the Final Five, but can make it with a loss in the first game that it plays?

Here’s what has to happen:

CCHA: Michigan defeats Notre Dame for the title and Lake Superior wins third place.

ECACHL: Clarkson defeats Quinnipiac for the title and Dartmouth defeats St. Lawrence for third.

Hockey East: Boston University downs Massachusetts.

Atlantic Hockey: Sacred Heart defeats Army.

WCHA: Minnesota defeats St. Cloud for the championship and North Dakota defeats Wisconsin for third place.

This is exactly what I was talking about with Michigan Tech and Dartmouth in Part I, how the scenarios for them getting an at-large berth range from winning games to actually losing games.

It Is Hockey, After All

And that is why the tie is a great thing. Or is it? How about a situation where almost every team in the Top 14 is tied with at least one other team?

CCHA: Notre Dame defeats Michigan for the title and Lake Superior wins the third-place game.

ECACHL: Clarkson defeats Quinnipiac for the title and St. Lawrence wins the third-place game.

Hockey East: Boston College defeats Massachusetts.

WCHA: North Dakota defeats Michigan Tech for the title and Minnesota takes third place.

Atlantic Hockey: Connecticut defeats Sacred Heart.

You get Notre Dame standing alone in first and North Dakota stands alone in seventh. Other than that, you have ties for second (a three-way tie), fifth, eighth (another three-way tie), 11th and 13th.

How About Ties That Matter?

Here’s a situation where a three-way tie results in two teams being put out of the number-one seeded band.

CCHA: Notre Dame defeats Michigan for the title and Lake Superior wins the third-place game.

ECACHL: Quinnipiac defeats Clarkson for the title and St. Lawrence wins the third-place game.

Hockey East: Boston University defeats Massachusetts.

WCHA: North Dakota defeats Michigan Tech for the title and Minnesota takes third place.

Atlantic Hockey: Connecticut defeats Sacred Heart.

Clarkson winds up winning the three-way tiebreaker for fourth place with New Hampshire and Boston University.

We Want To Be Number One

How about a great battle for the number-one overall seed?

We can create a three-way tie for that position between Minnesota, Notre Dame and Boston College.

CCHA: Lake Superior defeats Michigan for the title and Michigan State is third.

ECACHL: St. Lawrence wins the title over Dartmouth and Quinnipiac takes third.

Hockey East: Boston College defeats Massachusetts.

WCHA: Wisconsin wins the title over North Dakota and Minnesota takes third.

Atlantic Hockey: Sacred Heart defeats Army.

You get a three-way tie, and a round-robin, so you have to break by RPI. Minnesota, you’re number one.

Above The Bubble, But Gone

When you’re on the bubble, sometimes you just want to get to the 13th or 14th ranking.

In this case, you’re plumb out of luck if you do.

Not only are you out of luck if you’ve finished 13th or 14th, but also if you’ve finished 12th. Ouch, that hurts.

CCHA: Lake Superior defeats Michigan for the title and Michigan State is third.

ECACHL: Quinnipiac defeats Clarkson for the title and St. Lawrence is third.

Hockey East: Massachusetts defeats Boston College.

WCHA: Wisconsin defeats St. Cloud for the title and North Dakota defeats Minnesota for third.

Atlantic Hockey: Army defeats Air Force.

In this case, after breaking the ties, your highest autobid is Massachusetts at 10. Fellow autobids Wisconsin at 15 and Lake Superior at 16 are in, but then you have Quinnipiac, Army and Alabama-Huntsville knocking out St. Lawrence (12th), Maine (13) and Miami (14).

That’s a tough one for St. Lawrence.

What Do You Have?

I wish I could play around with the Predictor all day, but I can’t, as work calls.

But what do you have?

Show me some interesting stuff — but make sure you use .003 for the RPI bonus, or it doesn’t count.

• For example, I know there can be a five-way tie for 10th place. Can you get there?

• Can you get both Michigan Tech and Dartmouth into the tournament at the same time without either one winning its conference tournament title?

• Hockey East can end up with just three teams in the NCAAs. Can you make it happen?

And of course, if you can contradict some of my statements in these last two Bracketology articles, please tell me so I can correct myself. I’m by no means the expert, nor the know-it-all, and I don’t profess to be.

So, if you’ve got something interesting, email me at [email protected] and we’ll see what you’ve got.

In the meantime, don’t get fired because you’ve been playing with the Predictor all day at work, and enjoy the games!

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