Bracketology: Jan. 27, 2010

It’s time once again to do what we like to call Bracketology — college hockey style. It’s our weekly look at how I believe the NCAA tournament will wind up come selection time.

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

This is the first installment of our 2010 Bracketology, and we’ll be bringing you a new one every week until we make our final picks before the field is announced. And this year, check out our Bracketology blog, where we’ll keep you entertained, guessing and educated throughout the rest of the season.

Related link: PairWise Rankings

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 — Fort Wayne, Ind.; West — St. Paul, Minn.).

• 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, Notre Dame in Fort Wayne and Minnesota in St. Paul.

• Seedings will not be switched, as opposed to years past. To avoid undesirable first-round matchups, including intra-conference 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.”

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders (through all games of Jan. 26):

1t Denver
1t Miami
3t Bemidji State
3t Wisconsin
5t Massachusetts
5t St. Cloud State
7 New Hampshire
8t Ferris State
8t Minnesota-Duluth
10t North Dakota
10t Vermont
12 Boston College
13 Michigan State
14t Colorado College
14t Cornell
16 Yale
— RIT

Current conference leaders based on winning percentage:
Atlantic Hockey: RIT
CHA: Bemidji State
CCHA: Miami
ECAC: Cornell
Hockey East: New Hampshire
WCHA: Minnesota-Duluth

Notes

• 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 team that is not is RIT.

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

The bubbles consist of Denver and Miami at 1, Bemidji and Wisconsin at 3, Massachusetts and St. Cloud at 5, Ferris and UMD at 8, North Dakota and Vermont at 10, and Colorado College and Cornell at 14.

Looking at the head-to-head PairWise comparisons we break all of our ties. Miami, Wisconsin, St. Cloud, Ferris, North Dakota and CC all win the individual PairWise comparisons.

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

1 Miami
2 Denver
3 Wisconsin
4 Bemidji State
5 St. Cloud State
6 Massachusetts
7 New Hampshire
8 Ferris State
9 Minnesota-Duluth
10 North Dakota
11 Vermont
12 Boston College
13 Michigan State
14 Colorado College
15 Cornell
16 RIT

Step Two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 Seeds — Miami, Denver, Wisconsin, Bemidji State
No. 2 Seeds — St. Cloud State, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ferris State
No. 3 Seeds — Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota, Vermont, Boston College
No. 4 Seeds — Michigan State, Colorado College, Cornell, RIT

Step Three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals. Following the guidelines, there are no host teams in this grouping, so that rule does not need to be enforced.

We now place the other No. 1 seeds based on proximity to the regional sites.

No. 1 Miami is placed in the Midwest Regional in Fort Wayne.
No. 2 Denver is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.
No. 3 Wisconsin is placed in the East Regional in Albany.
No. 4 Bemidji State is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.

Step Four

Now we place the other 12 teams so as to avoid intra-conference 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 Ferris State is placed in No. 1 Miami’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 7 New Hampshire is placed in No. 2 Denver’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 6 Massachusetts is placed in No. 3 Wisconsin’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 5 St. Cloud is placed in No. 4 Bemidji’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.

Therefore:

No. 9 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in No. 8 Ferris State’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 10 North Dakota is placed in No. 7 New Hampshire’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 11 Vermont is placed in No. 6 Massachusetts’ Regional, the East Regional.
No. 12 Boston College is placed in No. 5 St. Cloud’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.

No. 4 Seeds

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

No. 16 RIT is sent to No. 1 Miami’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 15 Cornell is sent to No. 2 Denver’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 14 Colorado College is sent to No. 3 Wisconsin’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 13 Michigan State is sent to No. 4 Bemidji State’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional:

Cornell vs. Denver
North Dakota vs. New Hampshire

Midwest Regional:

RIT vs. Miami
Minnesota-Duluth vs. Ferris State

East Regional:

Colorado College vs. Wisconsin
Vermont vs. Massachusetts

Northeast Regional:

Michigan State vs. Bemidji State
Boston College vs. St. Cloud

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have an East Regional of them.

We can switch Colorado College with Michigan State and then we can switch Vermont with only Minnesota-Duluth.

So our tournament now becomes:

West Regional:

Cornell vs. Denver
North Dakota vs. New Hampshire

Midwest Regional:

RIT vs. Miami
Vermont vs. Ferris State

East Regional:

Michigan State vs. Wisconsin
Minnesota-Duluth vs. Massachusetts

Northeast Regional:

Colorado College vs. Bemidji State
Boston College vs. St. Cloud

Do we like the way this looks?

We have no intraconference matchups, so we are OK. Integrity also looks OK.

Do we have an attendance issue?

The East Regional looks very shaky. Can we do anything about it?

Let’s look at our No. 1 seeds.

Denver’s closest Regional is St. Paul. That is also Wisconsin and Bemidji State’s closest Regional. So if you put Denver in its closest regional, which is a guidelined rule, you have three teams flying, since Wisconsin and Bemidji will go to the East and Northeast Regionals.

But if you send Wisconsin to St. Paul, then only Denver and Bemidji will fly.

So let’s try our brackets with this one little switch. That switch is:

Denver is placed in the East Regional and then Wisconsin is placed in the West Regional.

Let’s start it all over and place all of the teams again.

No. 1 Seeds
No. 1 Miami is placed in the Midwest Regional in Fort Wayne.
No. 2 Denver is placed in the East Regional in Albany.
No. 3 Wisconsin is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.
No. 4 Bemidji State is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.

No. 2 Seeds
No. 8 Ferris State is placed in No. 1 Miami’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 7 New Hampshire is placed in No. 2 Denver’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 6 Massachusetts is placed in No. 3 Wisconsin’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 5 St. Cloud is placed in No. 4 Bemidji’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.

No. 3 Seeds
No. 9 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in No. 8 Ferris State’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 10 North Dakota is placed in No. 7 New Hampshire’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 11 Vermont is placed in No. 6 Massachusetts’ Regional, the West Regional.
No. 12 Boston College is placed in No. 5 St. Cloud’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.

No. 4 Seeds
No. 16 RIT is sent to No. 1 Miami’s Regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 15 Cornell is sent to No. 2 Denver’s Regional, the East Regional.
No. 14 Colorado College is sent to No. 3 Wisconsin’s Regional, the West Regional.
No. 13 Michigan State is sent to No. 4 Bemidji State’s Regional, the Northeast Regional.

Our brackets:

West Regional:

Colorado College vs. Wisconsin
Vermont vs. Massachusetts

Midwest Regional:

RIT vs. Miami
Minnesota-Duluth vs. Ferris State

East Regional:

Cornell vs. Denver
North Dakota vs. New Hampshire

Northeast Regional:

Michigan State vs. Bemidji State
Boston College vs. St. Cloud

We have to resolve the West Regional now.

Colorado College switches places with Michigan State and Vermont and Minnesota-Duluth switch places.

That gives us:

West Regional:

Michigan State vs. Wisconsin
Minnesota-Duluth vs. Massachusetts

Midwest Regional:

RIT vs. Miami
Vermont vs. Ferris State

East Regional:

Cornell vs. Denver
North Dakota vs. New Hampshire

Northeast Regional:

Colorado College vs. Bemidji State
Boston College vs. St. Cloud

I am liking this bracket much more than the original one with just that one simple change. Attendance is now outstanding with Wisconsin and Minnesota-Duluth in St. Paul, Cornell and UNH in Albany, Miami and Ferris in Fort Wayne and BC in Worcester.

That is what I would go with for a bracket this week.

More thoughts and education and plain wit on the blog. Check there every day and we’ll see you here next week for the next Bracketology.

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