Bracketology: Feb. 19, 2008

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 look if the season ended today.

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

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 — Albany, N.Y.. Northeast — Worcester, Mass., Midwest — Madison, Wis., West — Colorado Springs, 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 four host institutions this year, Rensselaer in Albany, Holy Cross in Worcester, Wisconsin in Madison and Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

• 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 the 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.”

The biggest change this year is the fact that in past years the NCAA included a bonus factor for “good” nonconference wins. This year, it is no more. There are no more bonus points for anything.

So it becomes pretty easy this year, doesn’t it? Take the straight PairWise Rankings (PWR) and then follow the rules and you have the tournament. It’s that easy, right?

You know better than that.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders (through all games of February 18, 2008):

1 Michigan
2t New Hampshire
2t North Dakota
4t Colorado College
4t Miami
6 Denver
7 Michigan State
8t Boston College
8t Minnesota State
8t Minn.-Duluth
11 Clarkson
12 Wisconsin
13t Notre Dame
13t St. Cloud State
15t Princeton
15t Northeastern
— Bemidji State
— Army

Current conference leaders:

Atlantic Hockey: Army
CHA: Bemidji State
CCHA: Michigan
ECAC: Clarkson
Hockey East: New Hampshire
WCHA: Colorado College


• 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.

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 listed are Bemidji State and Army.

Let’s look at the ties.

The ties consist of UNH and North Dakota at 2, CC and Miami at 4, BC, Minnesota State and UMD at 8 and Notre Dame and St. Cloud at 13.

Head-to-head we get UNH over North Dakota, CC over Miami, BC winning the round-robin based on RPI and Notre Dame over St. Cloud.

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

1 Michigan
2 New Hampshire
3 North Dakota
4 Colorado College
5 Miami
6 Denver
7 Michigan State
8 Boston College
9 Minnesota State
10 Minn.-Duluth
11 Clarkson
12 Wisconsin
13 Notre Dame
14 St. Cloud State
15 Bemidji State
16 Army

Step Two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 Seeds – Michigan, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Colorado College
No. 2 Seeds – Miami, Denver, Michigan State, Boston College
No. 3 Seeds – Minnesota State, Minn.-Duluth, Clarkson, Wisconsin
No. 4 Seeds – Notre Dame, St. Cloud, Bemidji State, Army

Step Three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals. We seed Colorado College first, since it is hosting a Regional. We then place the other No. 1 seeds based on proximity to the regional sites.

No. 4 Colorado College is placed in the West Regional in Colorado Springs.
No. 1 Michigan is placed in the Midwest Regional in Madison.
No. 2 New Hampshire is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 3 North Dakota 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 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. 8 Boston College is placed in No. 1 Michigan’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 7 Michigan State is placed in No. 2 New Hampshire’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 6 Denver is placed in No. 3 North Dakota’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 5 Miami is placed in No. 4 Colorado College’s Regional, the West 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.


Here, Wisconsin is placed first since it is hosting a Regional.

No. 12 Wisconsin is placed in No. 8 Boston College’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 9 Minnesota State is placed in No. 7 Michigan State’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 10 Minn.-Duluth is placed in No. 6 Denver’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 11 Clarkson is placed in No. 5 Miami’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 Army is sent to Michigan’s Regional, the Midwest Regional
No. 15 Bemidji State is sent to New Hampshire’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 14 St. Cloud is sent to North Dakota’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 13 Notre Dame is sent to Colorado College’s Regional, the West Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional:

Notre Dame vs. Colorado College
Clarkson vs. Miami

Midwest Regional:

Army vs. Michigan
Wisconsin vs. Boston College

East Regional:

St. Cloud vs. North Dakota
Minn.-Duluth vs. Denver

Northeast Regional:

Bemidji State vs. New Hampshire
Minnesota State. vs. Michigan State

Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have the All-WCHA Regional in Albany to contend with.

So we have to move St. Cloud. We can’t send the Huskies to Colorado Springs, since that creates another All-WCHA matchup, so we go to the next seed, which is New Hampshire. So we switch St. Cloud with Bemidji State.

Then, we have to move Minn.-Duluth. We switch the Bulldogs with the next seed, Clarkson.

And finally, one more move to create attendance, which is to switch Army with Bemidji State.

Let’s bracket again.

Midwest Regional:

15 Bemidji State vs. 1 Michigan
12 Wisconsin vs. 8 Boston College

East Regional:

16 Army vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Clarkson vs. 6 Denver

Northeast Regional:

14 St. Cloud vs. 2 New Hampshire
9 Minnesota State vs. 7 Michigan State

West Regional:

13 Notre Dame vs. 4 Colorado College
10 Minn.-Duluth vs. 5 Miami

Again, it looks like New Hampshire is getting the short end of the stick from me. But it’s not as short as going from Worcester to Madison like last week. And yes, there is precedent for this (a 2 or higher seed not getting the 15 or 16 seed). Cornell had this situation years ago when it got Minnesota State in Providence in the first round because of all the WCHA teams in the tournament.

So, it has been done before. And not because of any New Hampshire hate from me (and trust me, there is none).

So, I am happy with this week’s bracket. The attendance issue looks just fine to me as well.

We’ll be back with another analysis next week.