This week’s movement has Omaha in, North Dakota out, Boston College going to Worcester

Omaha's Teemu Pulkkinen (14) sets to redirect a shot for a power-play goal during the second period. Omaha beat North Dakota 6-3 Friday night at Baxter Arena. (Photo by Michelle Bishop) (Michelle Bishop)
Omaha and North Dakota battled earlier this season at Baxter Arena, but if the NCAA tournament began today, only the Mavericks would be vying for a national title (photo: Michelle Bishop).

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 might look like come selection time, using what we know now.

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

This is not a be-all, end-all analysis of the bracket. I am trying to give you, the reader, an idea of what the committee might be thinking and not exactly what they are thinking.

We’ll be bringing you a new Bracketology every week until we make our final picks before the field is announced on March 18.

If you want to skip the inner workings and get to the results of the analysis, then click here.

Here are the facts:

• Sixteen teams are selected to participate in the national tournament.

• There are four regional sites (East – Bridgeport, Conn.; Northeast – Worcester, Mass.; Midwest – Allentown, Pa.; West – Sioux Falls, S.D.).

• A host institution that is invited to the tournament plays in the regional for which it is the host and cannot be moved. The host institutions this year: Yale in Bridgeport, Holy Cross in Worcester, Penn State in Allentown and North Dakota in Sioux Falls.

• Seedings will not be switched. 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, from the 2015 pre-championship manual:

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 the likelihood of a playoff-type atmosphere at each regional site. For this model, the following is a basic set of priorities:

1. Once the six automatic qualifiers and 10 at-large teams are selected, the next step is to develop four groups from the committee’s rankings of 1-16. The top four teams are 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. The next four are targeted as No. 2 seeds. The next four are No. 3 seeds and the last four are No. 4 seeds.

2. Step two is to place the home teams. Host institutions that qualify will be placed at home.

3. Step three is to fill in the bracket so that first-round conference matchups are avoided, unless it corrupts the integrity of the bracket. If five or more teams from one conference are selected to the championship, then the integrity of the bracket will be protected (i.e., maintaining the pairing process according to seed will take priority over avoidance of first-round conference matchups). To complete each regional, the committee assigns one team from each of the remaining seeded groups so there is a No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seed at each regional site.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the remaining highest seeds in the tournaments through all games of March 7:

1 St. Cloud State
2t Notre Dame
2t Cornell
4 Ohio State
5t Minnesota State
5t Denver
7t Michigan
7t Clarkson
9 Minnesota Duluth
10 Northeastern
11 Penn State
12 Providence
13 Minnesota
14 Omaha
15 North Dakota
16 Bowling Green
17t Boston College
22 Mercyhurst

Current highest remaining seeds BOLDED Above:

Atlantic Hockey: Mercyhurst
Big Ten: Notre Dame
ECAC Hockey: Cornell
Hockey East: Boston College
NCHC: St. Cloud State
WCHA: Minnesota State

Notes

• Bracketology assumes that the season has ended and there are no more games to be played — i.e., the NCAA tournament starts tomorrow.

• The top seeds in each conference tournament and the current conference leaders are my assumed conference tournament champions.

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 is not is Canisius.

From there, we can start looking at the ties and bubbles in a more detailed fashion.

The ties and bubbles consist of Notre Dame and Cornell at 2, Minnesota State and Denver at 5, and Michigan and Clarkson at 7.

We break all of our ties based upon the RPI.

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

1 St. Cloud State
2 Notre Dame
3 Cornell
4 Ohio State
5 Minnesota State
6 Denver
7 Michigan
8 Clarkson
9 Minnesota Duluth
10 Northeastern
11 Penn State
12 Providence
13 Minnesota
14 Omaha
15 Boston College
16 Mercyhurst

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 seeds: St. Cloud State, Notre Dame, Cornell, Ohio State
No. 2 seeds: Minnesota State, Denver, Michigan, Clarkson
No. 3 seeds: Minnesota Duluth, Northeastern, Penn State, Providence
No. 4 seeds: Minnesota, Omaha, Boston College, Mercyhurst

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals according to geography.

No. 1 St. Cloud State is placed in the West Regional in Sioux Falls
No. 2 Notre Dame is placed in the Midwest Regional in Allentown
No. 3 Cornell is placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport
No. 4 Minnesota 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 would be played by No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5.

No. 2 seeds

No. 8 Clarkson placed in No. 1 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional
No. 7 Michigan is placed in No. 2 Notre Dame’s regional, the Midwest Regional
No. 6 Denver is placed in No. 3 Cornell’s regional, the East Regional
No. 5 Minnesota State is placed in No. 4 Ohio State’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 and 15; another with 3, 6, 11 and 14; and another with 4, 5, 12 and 13.

Penn State, as a host school, must be placed first.

No. 11 Penn State is placed in No. 7 Michigan’s regional, the Midwest Regional
No. 9 Minnesota Duluth is placed in No. 8 Clarkson’s regional, the West Regional
No. 10 Northeastern is placed in No. 6 Denver’s regional, the East Regional
No. 12 Providence is placed in No. 5 Minnesota State’s regional, the Northeast Regional

No. 4 seeds

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

No. 16 Mercyhurst travels to No. 1 St Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional
No. 15 Boston College travels to No. 2 Notre Dame’s regional, the Midwest Regional
No. 14 Omaha travels to No. 3 Cornell’s regional, the East Regional
No. 13 Minnesota travels to No. 4 Ohio State’s regional, the Northeast Regional

The brackets as we have set them up:

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
15 Boston College vs. 2 Notre Dame
11 Penn State vs. 7 Michigan

East Regional (Bridgeport):
14 Omaha vs. 3 Cornell
10 Northeastern vs. 6 Denver

West Regional (Sioux Falls):
16 Mercyhurst vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Minnesota Duluth vs. 8 Clarkson

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
13 Minnesota vs. 4 Ohio State
12 Providence vs. 5 Minnesota State

It’s quite messy again.

Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have Penn State vs. Michigan and Minnesota vs. Ohio State.

We can’t swap Penn State since it is a host. Therefore Michigan must be swapped. We swap Michigan with Denver.

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
15 Boston College vs. 2 Notre Dame
11 Penn State vs. 6 Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport):
14 Omaha vs. 3 Cornell
10 Northeastern vs. 7 Michigan

West Regional (Sioux Falls):
16 Mercyhurst vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Minnesota Duluth vs. 8 Clarkson

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
13 Minnesota vs. 4 Ohio State
12 Providence vs. 5 Minnesota State

Now we have to swap out Minnesota. We swap Minnesota with Omaha.

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
15 Boston College vs. 2 Notre Dame
11 Penn State vs. 6 Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport):
13 Minnesota vs. 3 Cornell
10 Northeastern vs. 7 Michigan

West Regional (Sioux Falls):
16 Mercyhurst vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Minnesota Duluth vs. 8 Clarkson

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
14 Omaha vs. 4 Ohio State
12 Providence vs. 5 Minnesota State

Now we adjust for attendance.

We can swap Clarkson with Michigan to bring another team to Bridgeport.

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
15 Boston College vs. 2 Notre Dame
11 Penn State vs. 6 Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport):
13 Minnesota vs. 3 Cornell
10 Northeastern vs. 8 Clarkson

West Regional (Sioux Falls):
16 Mercyhurst vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Minnesota Duluth vs. 7 Michigan

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
14 Omaha vs. 4 Ohio State
12 Providence vs. 5 Minnesota State

I think swapping the matchups of Northeastern vs. Clarkson and Providence vs. Minnesota State might help a little more to Worcester.

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
15 Boston College vs. 2 Notre Dame
11 Penn State vs. 6 Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport):
13 Minnesota vs. 3 Cornell
12 Providence vs. 5 Minnesota State

West Regional (Sioux Falls):
16 Mercyhurst vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Minnesota Duluth vs. 7 Michigan

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
14 Omaha vs. 4 Ohio State
10 Northeastern vs. 8 Clarkson

I think that’s about all I can do. It’s tough this week.

BUT…

The “but” is back this week.

The major issue this year is that there are basically three “Eastern-based” Regionals and there are more “Western-based” teams that seem to be in line for at-large bids. Thus, it’s tough to move some teams around for attendance purposes.

Let’s look at Notre Dame and Ohio State this week. Notre Dame is more than 500 miles from every single Regional, thus it has to fly. Ohio State is also more than 500 miles from every single Regional – except Allentown. Ohio State is only 446 miles from Allentown. Now we can form a basis for my bracket.

Based on the number one seeds, we have:

St. Cloud in Sioux Falls, Ohio State in Allentown, Cornell in Bridgeport and Notre Dame in Worcester.

What does that get us?

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
13 Minnesota vs. 4 Ohio State
11 Penn State vs. 5 Minnesota State

East Regional (Bridgeport):
14 Omaha vs. 3 Cornell
12 Providence vs. 6 Denver

West Regional (Sioux Falls):
16 Mercyhurst vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Minnesota Duluth vs. 8 Clarkson

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
15 Boston College vs. 2 Notre Dame
10 Northeastern vs. 7 Michigan

We now only have Minnesota vs. Ohio State as an intraconference matchup.

We swap Minnesota with Omaha.

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
14 Omaha vs. 4 Ohio State
11 Penn State vs. 5 Minnesota State

East Regional (Bridgeport):
13 Minnesota vs. 3 Cornell
12 Providence vs. 6 Denver

West Regional (Sioux Falls):
16 Mercyhurst vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Minnesota Duluth vs. 8 Clarkson

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
15 Boston College vs. 2 Notre Dame
10 Northeastern vs. 7 Michigan

Is there anything else? Why not swap Michigan and Clarkson to get Clarkson closer east?

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
14 Omaha vs. 4 Ohio State
11 Penn State vs. 5 Minnesota State

East Regional (Bridgeport):
13 Minnesota vs. 3 Cornell
12 Providence vs. 6 Denver

West Regional (Sioux Falls):
16 Mercyhurst vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Minnesota Duluth vs. 7 Michigan

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
15 Boston College vs. 2 Notre Dame
10 Northeastern vs. 8 Clarkson

You can’t tell me that you don’t like this bracket much more than the other one above. I like this bracket a lot and that’s what I would go with.

See you next week for the next Bracketology.

Here’s a summary of everything that we have covered.

This week’s brackets

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
14 Omaha vs. 4 Ohio State
11 Penn State vs. 5 Minnesota State

East Regional (Bridgeport):
13 Minnesota vs. 3 Cornell
12 Providence vs. 6 Denver

West Regional (Sioux Falls):
16 Mercyhurst vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Minnesota Duluth vs. 7 Michigan

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
15 Boston College vs. 2 Notre Dame
10 Northeastern vs. 8 Clarkson

Conference breakdowns

Big Ten — 5
NCHC — 4
Hockey East — 3
ECAC Hockey — 2
WCHA — 1
Atlantic Hockey – 1

Last Week’s Brackets

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
13 Penn State vs. 3 Cornell
10 Michigan vs. 5 Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport):
16 Mercyhurst vs. 1 St. Cloud State
12 Providence vs. 7 Clarkson

West Regional (Sioux Falls):
14 North Dakota vs. 4 Minnesota State
9 Minnesota vs. 8 Minnesota Duluth

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
15 Boston College vs. 2 Notre Dame
11 Northeastern vs. 6 Ohio State

This week’s movement:

Out: North Dakota

In: Omaha

43 COMMENTS

  1. If you can’t get the facts in your story correct how are we suppose to take you serious. Spencer Abbott should win but it will probably be Jack C announced the winner tonight

    • a couple things.
      Abbott had more points in FEWER games, AND Abbott might be the guy to credit for bringing Maine to the NCAA tournament for the first time in years.
      Connolly was already on a team that has been there.  Connolly did not raise his team up, his team was stacked.  It was a little easier for Jack not to have to always go out against the top D and to[ checking lines all season long, than it was for Abbott, who had to face teams that were keying on him.

  2. Id love to see Abbott win it, for playing 4 years of college hockey, and also coming back to be cleared a hour before his regional from a concussion….great season, national leader in pts, and a Deans List student for his 4 yrs and much more to the community in Orono, were proud of you Abbott….but the nod will probably go to Connolly, being on the list last year.  

  3. Abbott deserves the Hobey. Two more points in two LESS games than JC, he and line mates finished 1-2-3 in Hockey East Scoring….which hasn’t happened since a guy named Karyia played in Hockey East. This was done in a league with Cannata, Carr, Milner, Millan in goal.

    I disagree MD had a better season than Maine. Yes, they won head-to-head, against Maine, but Maine swept BC (the last time BC lost) and beat 2012 tournament member BU three times in Boston. Maine’s offense kept the team
    In the HE race, despite a pourous D and inconsistent goal tending. Abbot was the leader of the offense and deserves the Hobey.

    Best Wishes to all candidates.

  4. Abbott deserves the Hobey.  Two more points in two LESS games than JC.  He and his line mates finished 1-2-3 in Hockey East Scoring….which hasn’t happened since a guy names Karyia played in Hockey East.  This was done against goalies like Cannata, Carr, Milner, and Millan. 

    I disagree MD had a better season than Maine.  Yes, they beat Maine head-to-head, but Maine swept BC (the last time BC lost) and beat 2012 tournament member BU three times IN BOSTON. 

    Maine’s Offense kept the team in the Hockey East race, and into the tournament despite a porous D, and inconsistent goal tending.  Abbott was the leader of the offense and deserves the Hobey.

    Best Wishes to all candidates.

  5. Not sure where this writer got her stats from, but according to the official ones from Miami, the RedHawks outshot Ohio State, 31-30, on Saturday night. Not 36-27.

  6. God it hurts to read “The last-place Spartan”. I NEVER thought I would read that. This Coaching Staff and Team better show vast improvement next season, or a once proud and mighty program can be consigned to the dust heap of history.

  7. God it hurts to read “The last-place Spartan”. I NEVER thought I would read that. This Coaching Staff and Team better show vast improvement next season, or a once proud and mighty program can be consigned to the dust heap of history.

  8. Many of the post-game quotes from the RedHawks were very interesting, but the one that caught my attention was something that senior forward Curtis McKenzie said: “That trophy’s forever ours now.”

    Truth hurts doesn’t it?

  9. Many of the post-game quotes from the RedHawks were very interesting, but the one that caught my attention was something that senior forward Curtis McKenzie said: “That trophy’s forever ours now.”

    Truth hurts doesn’t it?

  10. Cornell is much closer to Allentown, than Bridgeport. If attendance is a concern, this is a quick fix for Allentown

    • Attendance wasn’t the issue. Avoiding having to fly Ohio State somewhere was. If Penn State makes it, I would think attendance would be OK.

  11. Cornell is much closer to Allentown, than Bridgeport. If attendance is a concern, this is a quick fix for Allentown

    • Attendance wasn’t the issue. Avoiding having to fly Ohio State somewhere was. If Penn State makes it, I would think attendance would be OK.

  12. Some how the Green Plague (North Dakota) will get in and make a mess of this tournament. I know their chances are not that good, but I still think they will sneak in

  13. Some how the Green Plague (North Dakota) will get in and make a mess of this tournament. I know their chances are not that good, but I still think they will sneak in

  14. North Dakota, at a bare minimum, needs to beat Omaha in their series this weekend.

    These 7 teams are locks for the NCAA’s no matter what happens the rest of the way for them: SCSU, Notre Dame, Cornell, Ohio State, Mankato, Denver, and Michigan.

    That leaves 9 spots. After the group above, Clarkson has a 98% chance of getting in. Northeastern 96%. UMD 98%. Penn State 99.7%. Providence 90%. Minnesota 98%.

    That is, in all likelihood, 6 more spots taken, leaving 3 spots left.

    One of these spots will be taken by the Atlantic Hockey champion, a conference that has no way to get a team within sniffing distance of otherwise qualifying. That leaves 2 spots.

    The teams that have realistic shots at those two spots are, in order of probability, Omaha 44%, Boston College 33%, Bowling Green 31%, Mercyhurst 30%, & North Dakota 26%. No other team’s chance are better than 17% (BU).

    The problem for the effin Hawks is there isn’t any great Pairwise upside to beating Omaha for them. That sorta helps Omaha this weekend the other way since it isn’t impossible that Omaha would still be in the NCAA’s if they lost the series to North Dakota, but, they’d have to lose in 3 games instead of 2. If Omaha were swept, it would be curtains for them.

    Of course the wild card in all this is “unexpected” conference tourney winners snatching up more AQ bids than just Atlantic Hockey’s.

    Have yet to see an any Pairwise predictors published as of this writing.

    Ain’t Pairwise grand?

    • Omaha hasn’t been a great road team although they did get a split in GF last month and a split at Duluth last weekend. We already know that there will not be an upset team as the automatic qualifier in the big ten since all four teams remaining are in the top 11 of the pairwise.

  15. North Dakota, at a bare minimum, needs to beat Omaha in their series this weekend.

    These 7 teams are locks for the NCAA’s no matter what happens the rest of the way for them: SCSU, Notre Dame, Cornell, Ohio State, Mankato, Denver, and Michigan.

    That leaves 9 spots. After the group above, Clarkson has a 98% chance of getting in. Northeastern 96%. UMD 98%. Penn State 99.7%. Providence 90%. Minnesota 98%.

    That is, in all likelihood, 6 more spots taken, leaving 3 spots left.

    One of these spots will be taken by the Atlantic Hockey champion, a conference that has no way to get a team within sniffing distance of otherwise qualifying. That leaves 2 spots.

    The teams that have realistic shots at those two spots are, in order of probability, Omaha 44%, Boston College 33%, Bowling Green 31%, Mercyhurst 30%, & North Dakota 26%. No other team’s chance are better than 17% (BU).

    The problem for the effin Hawks is there isn’t any great Pairwise upside to beating Omaha for them. That sorta helps Omaha this weekend the other way since it isn’t impossible that Omaha would still be in the NCAA’s if they lost the series to North Dakota, but, they’d have to lose in 3 games instead of 2. If Omaha were swept, it would be curtains for them.

    Of course the wild card in all this is “unexpected” conference tourney winners snatching up more AQ bids than just Atlantic Hockey’s.

    Have yet to see an any Pairwise predictors published as of this writing.

    Ain’t Pairwise grand?

    • Omaha hasn’t been a great road team although they did get a split in GF last month and a split at Duluth last weekend. We already know that there will not be an upset team as the automatic qualifier in the big ten since all four teams remaining are in the top 11 of the pairwise.

  16. Lot of people are sleeping on ND but all they need to do is win quarterfinals and maybe take a game in Xcell ( Now that I think about it that quite a bit for are team to do consider play this year)

  17. Lot of people are sleeping on ND but all they need to do is win quarterfinals and maybe take a game in Xcell ( Now that I think about it that quite a bit for are team to do consider play this year)

    • Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Union go 1-4-1 against the ‘western rats’ this year? There are a handful of ‘western rats’ on Unions roster too.

      They have been streaking which bodes well but they will have to go through Clarkson, and most likely Cornell or Harvard to win the ECAC tourney cuz an at large bid is highly unlikely.

    • Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Union go 1-4-1 against the ‘western rats’ this year? There are a handful of ‘western rats’ on Unions roster too.

      They have been streaking which bodes well but they will have to go through Clarkson, and most likely Cornell or Harvard to win the ECAC tourney cuz an at large bid is highly unlikely.

  18. Could someone please explain how they determine a ‘host school’ – specifically for the Midwest region?
    Last week always favorited North Dakota was the host for Midwest Region – even though Mankato and Omaha are closer.
    This week ND is out, so there is no host school? Is it a money thing? Is that why ND and the Gophers always get such preferential treatment?

  19. Could someone please explain how they determine a ‘host school’ – specifically for the Midwest region?
    Last week always favorited North Dakota was the host for Midwest Region – even though Mankato and Omaha are closer.
    This week ND is out, so there is no host school? Is it a money thing? Is that why ND and the Gophers always get such preferential treatment?

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