Bracketology: Feb. 26, 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.

We’ll be bringing you a new Bracketology 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 25, 2008):

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

Current conference leaders:

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


• 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 number 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.

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 not listed are Bemidji State and Army.

Let’s look at the ties, which consist of Michigan State, Boston College and Minnesota State at 7, Minn.-Duluth and Notre Dame at 12 and Wisconsin and Minnesota at 14.

Michigan State beats both BC and Minnesota State, and then BC beats Minnesota State in the individual comparisons. Minn.-Duluth beats Notre Dame in the individual comparison and Wisconsin defeats Minnesota in the individual comparison.

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

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

Step Two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 Seeds – Michigan, New Hampshire, Colorado College, North Dakota
No. 2 Seeds – Miami, Denver, Michigan State, Boston College
No. 3 Seeds – Minnesota State, St. Cloud State, Clarkson, Minn.-Duluth
No. 4 Seeds – Notre Dame, Wisconsin, 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. 3 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. 4 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 Colorado College’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 5 Miami is placed in No. 4 North Dakota’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, 15, another with 3, 6, 11, 14 and another with 4, 5, 12 and 13.


No. 9 Minnesota State is placed in No. 8 Boston College’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 10 St. Cloud State is placed in No. 7 Michigan State’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 11 Clarkson is placed in No. 6 Denver’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 12 Minn.-Duluth is placed in No. 5 Miami’s Regional, the East Regional.

No. 4 Seeds

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

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

No. 14 Wisconsin is placed in No. 1 Michigan’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 16 Army is sent to New Hampshire’s Regional, the Northeast Regional
No. 15 Bemidji State is sent to Colorado College’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 13 Notre Dame is sent to North Dakota’s Regional, the East Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional:

Bemidji State vs. Colorado College
Clarkson vs. Denver

Midwest Regional:

Wisconsin vs. Michigan
Minnesota State vs. Boston College

East Regional:

Notre Dame vs. North Dakota
Minn.-Duluth vs. Miami

Northeast Regional:

Bemidji State vs. New Hampshire
St. Cloud State. vs. Michigan State

Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. Despite seven WCHA teams, somehow we don’t have a single one. But looking around, I once again find some things that I do not like at all with this bracket.

Our overall number-one seed gets a host team higher than a 15 or 16 seed. And attendance in Albany is awful-looking.

What to do?

How about we make one simple switch at the beginning and then rebracket?

Let’s put the overall number-one seed in Albany, instead of Madison, knowing that the first seed in Madison will get a host institution.

Let’s bracket again.

Midwest Regional
14 Wisconsin vs. 4 North Dakota
12 Minn.-Duluth vs. 5 Miami

East Regional
16 Army vs. 1 Michigan
9 Minnesota State vs. 8 Boston College

Northeast Regional
15 Bemidji State vs. 2 New Hampshire
10 St. Cloud State vs. 7 Michigan State

West Regional
13 Notre Dame vs. 3 Colorado College
11 Clarkson vs. 6 Denver

Let’s look a little more in-depth. We do have one intraconference matchup here in Wisconsin versus North Dakota in Madison.

But again, given that there are seven WCHA teams in the tournament, can I live with this matchup?

Looking at the big picture, what are the pros to this bracket?

• The lowest number-one seed gets the host team that is not a 15 or 16 seed in the first round.

• The attendance issue looks great. We have three WCHA teams in Madison, two Colorado teams in Colorado Springs, one New York team and BC in Albany, and UNH in Worcester. I would love to have Clarkson in Albany and BC in Worcester, but I can’t quite manage that without creating an intraconference matchup.

• The bracket integrity is there.

What are the cons?

• We have an intraconference matchup in the first round.

Remember the rules: we are permitted to have the intraconference matchup in the first round with five or more teams from one league.

So I think it’s simple. This is and has to be the bracket.