Bracketology 3/3/11

The NCAA has released its final set of rankings before Selection Sunday, so it’s time for an updated Bracketology.
As was the case for the past few year, we know the criteria used by the NCAA Division III Men’s Committee to select and seed the teams, but not the weighting used in their evaluation. This means that unlike Division I, the process cannot be replicated. USCHO produces a PairWise Comparison (PWC) for Division III, but assumes an equal weighting for the criteria, which we know from past experience has not been the case.
Click on the links for the East, West and national PWCs.
To recap: eleven teams will get their tickets punched: seven Pool A teams, one Pool B Team, and three Pool C teams. Pool A consists of the seven teams that will win playoff championships in leagues with an automatic qualifier: ECAC East, ECAC Northeast, NCHA, NESCAC, MCHA, MIAC, and SUNYAC. One Pool B slot is reserved for an independent team or team from a conference that does not have an AQ: ECAC West and MASCAC. Pool C bids will be handed out to the highest remaining teams according to the NCAA rankings.
The rub here is that there are East and West rankings, but not a combined one. So when the rubber hits the road, the committee will be combining the separate rankings on Selection Sunday.
For this bracketology, we’re going with the assumption that the NCAA will stay consistent in its process from the regional rankings to the actual selection.
Here’s my guess as to where the teams still in the running stand:
A Lock : Oswego, St. Norbert, Elmira. The Lakers were upset in the SUNYAC semifinals but are still at the top of the Eastern Regional Rankings, so they’ve sewn up a Pool C bid. Elmira, which plays Neumann in the ECAC West championship on Saturday,  is a lock for Pool B, and St. Norbert will get the NCHA Automatic Qualifier Pool A (AQ) bid if they beat UW-Superior in the league’s championship game. Otherwise, the Green Knights get a Pool C bid.
Bet On It: Plattsburgh, Norwich. These teams fare well in most head-to-head matchups with other contenders. Plattsburgh needs to defeat Fredonia in the SUNYAC finals to ensure a bid, but can also get one if it loses, provided St. Norbert and Norwich win. There’s always a chance that the committee would not take three SUNYAC teams in the event of a Plattsburgh loss, but they would have to change the criteria weighting.The West could push for Adrian to get a Pool C bid over Plattsburgh if  both lose in their respective conference finals, but I think Plattsburgh would still have the advantage due to a stronger strength of schedule, opponent’s SOS, etc.
Good Chance: Neumann, Castleton. If all the favorites win, I’m seeing these teams get the remaining Pool C bids and an 8-3 East-West split.
On the Bubble: I can’t see the West getting an at-large team in unless St. Norbert loses.
Must Win Their AQ: Babson, S. Maine, Curry, Wentworth, MSOE, Lawrence, Marian, Concordia (MN), UW-Superior, Wesleyan, Williams, Colby, Bowdoin, Fredonia.
Playing Out the String: These teams are from conferences that don’t have an AQ, so even if they win their league championship, it wont raise them high enough in the criteria to get an at-large bid:, Salem State, Mass-Dartmouth, Fitchburg State, Westfield State
Thank You Seniors: These teams have concluded their seasons: Suffolk, Salve Regina, Manhattanville, Finlandia, Concordia (WI), St. Olaf, St. John’s, St. Mary’s Bethel, UW-Stout, Uw-Eau Claire, St. Scholastica, Conn College, Tufts, Buffalo State, Morrisville, Cortland, Potsdam, Brockport, Hobart, Amherst, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, New England, U of New England, Skidmore, Mass-Boston, Gustavus Adolphus, St. Thomas, Augsburg, Northland, Lake Forest, Nichols, W. New England, Worcester State, Plymouth State, Becker, Johnson & Wales, Framingham State, Utica, Hobart
OK, so lets take a shot at a possible bracket, assuming the higher seeded team wins its respective league:
ECAC East: Norwich
ECAC Northeast: Curry
MCHA: Adrian
MIAC: Hamline
NCHA: St. Norbert
NESCAC: Williams
SUNYAC: Plattsburgh
Based on the NCAA rankings, I’m picking Elmira to get Pool B, Oswego, Castleton and Neumann to get the Pool C spots. That would mean an 8-3 split.
E1: Oswego
E2: Elmira
E3: Plattsburgh
E4: Norwich
E5: Castleton
E6: Neumann
E7: Williams
E8: Curry
W1: St. Norbert
W2: Adrian
W3: Hamline
First Round:
Hamline at St. Norbert (should be Hamline at Adrian, it’s an 11 hour bus ride. Unless the NCAA flies Hamline, they’re going the 278 miles to Green Bay vs. the 628 miles to Adrian).
Curry at Castleton
Williams at Neumann
Hamline will go to Adrian if it wins; Adrian goes to SNC if the Green Knights win.
Neumann/Williams at Oswego
Curry/Castleton at Elmira
Norwich at Plattsburgh
And finally, in the event St. Norbert does not win the NCHA, it will be a 7-4 split.
E1: Oswego
E2: Elmira
E3: Plattsburgh
E4: Norwich
E5: Castleton
E6: Williams
E7: Curry
W1: St. Norbert
W2: Adrian
W3: Hamline
W4: NCHA winner
First Round:
Curry at Elmira
Williams at Plattsburgh
Castleton at Norwich
And…the West will be TBD based on which team wins the NCHA, travel distances, etc. Someone’s going to have a long drive or a flight.
Check back next week!