Bracketology: If NCAA tourney began today, St. Cloud State, UMass, Ohio State, Quinnipiac would be top four seeds

 (THOMAS KENDALL/THOM KENDALL FOR UMASS ATHLETICS photo: UMass Athletics)
Would Cale Makar and UMass emerge out of the Manchester regional if the NCAA round of 16 started today? (photo: Thom Kendall).

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 one every week until we make our final picks before the field is announced on the evening of March 24.

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 – Providence, R.I.(March 30-31); Northeast – Manchester, N.H.(March 29-30); Midwest – Allentown, Pa.(March 30-31); West – Fargo, N.D.(March 29-30).

• 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: Brown in Providence, University of New Hampshire in Manchester, Penn State in Allentown and North Dakota in Fargo.

• 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 2019 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 conference leaders through all games of Feb. 5:

1t St. Cloud State
1t Massachusetts
3 Ohio State
4 Quinnipiac
5 Minnesota Duluth
6 Minnesota State
7 Denver
8 Arizona State
9 Western Michigan
10 Cornell
11 Northeastern
12 Clarkson
13 UMass Lowell
14 Bowling Green
15t Providence
15t Notre Dame
34 American International

Current conference leaders based on winning percentage BOLDED above:

Atlantic Hockey: American International
Big Ten: Ohio State
ECAC Hockey: Cornell
Hockey East: Massachusetts
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.

• Because there are an uneven amount 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 after applying the tiebreakers.

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 Air Force.

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

The ties and bubbles consist of St. Cloud State and Massachusetts at 1 and Providence and Notre Dame at 15.

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 Massachusetts
3 Ohio State
4 Quinnipiac
5 Minnesota Duluth
6 Minnesota State
7 Denver
8 Arizona State
9 Western Michigan
10 Cornell
11 Northeastern
12 Clarkson
13 UMass Lowell
14 Bowling Green
15 Providence
16 American International

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 seeds: St. Cloud State, Massachusetts, Ohio State, Quinnipiac
No. 2 seeds: Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State, Denver, Arizona State
No. 3 seeds: Western Michigan, Cornell, Northeastern, Clarkson
No. 4 seeds: UMass Lowell, Bowling Green, Providence, American International

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

No. 1 St. Cloud State is place in Fargo
No. 2 Massachusetts is placed in Manchester
No. 3 Ohio State is placed in Allentown
No. 4 Quinnipiac is placed in Providence

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.

So therefore:

No. 2 seeds

No. 8 Arizona State is placed in No. 1 St. Cloud’s regional, the West Regional
No. 7 Denver is placed in No. 2 Massachusetts’ regional, the Northeast Regional
No. 6 Minnesota State is placed in No. 3 Ohio State’s regional, the Midwest Regional
No. 5 Minnesota Duluth is placed in No. 4 Quinnipiac’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 and 15; another with 3, 6, 11 and 14; and another with 4, 5, 12 and 13.

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

No. 4 seeds

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

No. 16 American International travels to No. 1 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional
No. 15 Providence travels to No. 2 Massachusetts’ regional, the Northeast Regional
No. 14 Bowling Green travels to No. 3 Ohio State’s regional, the Midwest Regional
No. 13 UMass Lowell travels to No. 4 Quinnipiac’s regional, the East Regional

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional (Fargo):
16 American International vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Western Michigan vs. 8 Arizona State

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
14 Bowling Green vs. 3 Ohio State
11 Northeastern vs. 6 Minnesota State

East Regional (Providence):
13 UMass Lowell vs. 4 Quinnipiac
12 Clarkson vs. 5 Minnesota Duluth

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Providence vs. 2 Massachusetts
10 Cornell vs. 7 Denver

Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have Providence vs. Massachusetts.

We have a few factors involved here. The committee in the past has made it known that they would like Providence in Providence for attendance reasons. Thus we can move Providence to face Quinnipiac. But we can’t have Lowell face Massachusetts. Thus, we need to swap out and move Bowling Green to Manchester and Lowell to Allentown.

Is that a move that the committee wants to make? They would love to have Providence in Providence, so I think the answer has to be yes.

West Regional (Fargo):
16 American International vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Western Michigan vs. 8 Arizona State

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
13 UMass Lowell vs. 3 Ohio State
11 Northeastern vs. 6 Minnesota State

East Regional (Providence):
15 Providence vs. 4 Quinnipiac
12 Clarkson vs. 5 Minnesota Duluth

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
14 Bowling Green vs. 2 Massachusetts
10 Cornell vs. 7 Denver

More on attendance, what can be done?

A Minnesota team in Fargo would be a boon I would think.

Let’s keep bracket integrity a little bit and move Minnesota State to Fargo.

West Regional (Fargo):
16 American International vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Western Michigan vs. 6 Minnesota State

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
13 UMass Lowell vs. 3 Ohio State
11 Northeastern vs. 8 Arizona State

East Regional (Providence):
15 Providence vs. 4 Quinnipiac
12 Clarkson vs. 5 Minnesota Duluth

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
14 Bowling Green vs. 2 Massachusetts
10 Cornell vs. 7 Denver

Swapping Clarkson and Northeastern wouldn’t be a bad idea either, since Clarkson is equidistant to both Providence and Allentown.

West Regional (Fargo):
16 American International vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Western Michigan vs. 6 Minnesota State

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
13 UMass Lowell vs. 3 Ohio State
12 Clarkson vs. 8 Arizona State

East Regional (Providence):
15 Providence vs. 4 Quinnipiac
11 Northeastern vs. 5 Minnesota Duluth

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
14 Bowling Green vs. 2 Massachusetts
10 Cornell vs. 7 Denver

And while we’re at it, why not swap Cornell and Northeastern for distance purposes.

West Regional (Fargo):
16 American International vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Western Michigan vs. 6 Minnesota State

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
13 UMass Lowell vs. 3 Ohio State
12 Clarkson vs. 8 Arizona State

East Regional (Providence):
15 Providence vs. 4 Quinnipiac
10 Cornell vs. 5 Minnesota Duluth

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
14 Bowling Green vs. 2 Massachusetts
11 Northeastern vs. 7 Denver

And that’s where I think we can stop.

I think this is about all we can do this week.

That’s my bracket for the week based on how I think the committee will think.

See you next week for the next Bracketology.

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

This week’s brackets

West Regional (Fargo):
16 American International vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Western Michigan vs. 6 Minnesota State

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
13 UMass Lowell vs. 3 Ohio State
12 Clarkson vs. 8 Arizona State

East Regional (Providence):
15 Providence vs. 4 Quinnipiac
10 Cornell vs. 5 Minnesota Duluth

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
14 Bowling Green vs. 2 Massachusetts
11 Northeastern vs. 7 Denver

Conference breakdowns

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

Last Week’s Bracket

West Regional (Fargo):
16 Air Force vs. 1 St. Cloud State
9 Cornell vs. 8 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Allentown):
14 Notre Dame vs. 3 Minnesota Duluth
12 Arizona State vs. 5 Ohio State

East Regional (Providence):
13 Northeastern vs. 4 Quinnipiac
10 Providence vs. 7 Minnesota State

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Harvard vs. 2 Massachusetts
11 Clarkson vs. 6 Denver

Out: Notre Dame (14), Harvard (15), Air Force (16)
In: UMass Lowell (13), Bowling Green (14), American International (16)

57 COMMENTS

  1. The committee learned in 2015 that seeding Providence College in Providence is money. Admittedly play will need to greatly improve between now and then. I’ll be at the Dunk regardless of which teams are, naturally I’d prefer my Friars!

  2. How do you keep “integrity” by moving 8 from playing 9? That is literally how the bracket should fall. St. Cloud being in Fargo will be enough to fill a 5K seat arena….moving Mankato there for “integrity” wont do anything.

      • At this point, might as well just place them as they fall. 1 goes closest regional to home, then 2nd, so on. Then when you hit 9 you put them in the game against 8 and keep going. There’s integrity. No more switch it for attendance, which is just some lame excuse. Attendance issues stem from overpriced tickets.

      • If the green plague isn’t there, St. Cloud is the second best option in terms of potential best attendance. Last year in Sioux Falls was pretty good with 3 Minnesota based teams there and obviously that didn’t include the host team.

        • Although, being in Fargo, a lot of Sioux fans would still probably show up. I went to Sioux Falls last year and there were still a decent amount of Sioux fans, but being closer to Grand Forks, I think a lot more will actually use their tickets. I’m just hoping they get in………wish in one hand…….you know the rest….

  3. Blah Blah Blah Blah ATTENDANCE Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah BRACKET INTEGRITY Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah THEY GOT TO FLY ANYWAY Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah DISTANCE Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah

    JAYSON, This is nothing but transparent excuses for the NC$$ to put teams anywhere they want. I wonder if you realize, or even care, NOT ONE REGIONAL HAS BRACKET INTEGRITY!!! West Regional has #6 versus #9, Midwest Regional has #3 versus #13 and #12 versus #8, East Regional has #4 versus #15 and #5 versus #10, Northeast Regional has #2 versus #14 and #7 versus #11. THIS MEANS THE ONLY MATCHUP THAT HAS “BRACKET INTEGRITY” IS ONE GAME OUT OF EIGHT, ST. CLOUD AGAINST AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL… Absolute bullcrap……

    • Bracket integrity is just a BS excuse to move things around. No rhyme or reason to it. “Lets move this team here cause that’s integrity….and they’ll get one more person in the building.”

      • What happens if the team moved for “attendance” loses the first game? I can tell you from personal experience, I have seen less than 1,000 people at the regional finals. That includes the ushers, concession people and security. Kind of a joke when they ask fans to move behind the bench and penalty box so the TV audience thinks there are more fans. You are correct, just let the “Committee” arrange the top 16 wherever the hell they want. That is almost how it turns out anyway.

          • Imagine this scenario for Jayson’s Regional Finals. West – American International versus WMU, Midwest – UML versus ASU, East – UMD versus Quinnipiac, Northeast – Bowling Green versus DU. Anyone think the total attendance for all 4 combined would be over 5,000? Screw attendance moves, go strictly by seedings.

          • People were actually in the arena? Sure didnt seem like it. Wasnt much better at the X in the opposite years. Stupid little 7…messing up the best conference tourney….

  4. Joining the integrity, attendance, host teams, etc…….discussion. Posted this last year, still applies say I:

    “Ad nauseum!!!
    The conferences have embraced the on-campus championship race for early rounds. Does the NCAA see the writing on the wall?

    Proposal:
    Round of 16: On-campus of 1-8. No more reseeding for attendance.
    Round of 8,4,2: One site, games Thurs, Fri and Sat. (or Fri, Sat, Mon). Bring all of college hockey together, once a year, in one locale. Boston, NY, Detroit, St. Paul, Denver, Tampa, CA, etc….”

    • Or……
      Round of 16 and 8 on-campus of higher seed.
      Round of 4 and 2 in one locale.

      No attendance problems with this format.

    • I like your idea but there are two huge reasons NC$$ would never go for it. First, there are too many schools with only 3,000 capacity, or less. Right now, with your proposal ASU (500 capacity) and Quinnipiac (3286) would host first round games. By the time you allocate “visiting” tickets and NCAA VIP tickets, how many “home” seats would be available? Also, NC$$ would not make hardly any money from this attendance. Second, would be totally unfair to visiting teams fans. A last minute trip to many sites would be highly expensive for flights, hotels, and possibly rental cars. Imagine trying to book a trip to Ithaca, Rensselaer, Schenectady, or how about Anchorage at 4 days notice. This trip would also only be to see one game, not two. Agree something needs to be done, don’t really see any viable solution the NC$$ would agree with, I would go for strict Bracket Integrity, except for 1-4 earning right to be close to home. The ONLY exception is for “host” teams.

        • I have gone to every Regional, and Frozen Four, that DU played in since Yost Arena in 2002. You can’t go by the Regional attendance figures they post, it includes tickets sold. not those in the seats. As far as getting large arenas at a 5 day advance, it would be impossible for Denver or Air Force to get the Pepsi Center or World Arena on short notice. Too many other events planned, that can’t be cancelled at the last minute.

    • Do you really think playing 3 games in 3 days (or 4) is the proper way to decide the champion when you play almost 6 months to get to that point? I like your on-campus idea but it should be for both the round of 16 and 8. If your arena holds less than 4,000, you can designate another arena as your home site. Each school needs to determine this prior to the start of each season. If you can’t hold your own arena or your designated arena open for regional weekend, then it goes to the next highest seeded team who can. Not perfect, but could it work?

      Or can we move to conferences hosting regionals instead of individual schools and then ensure the top seeded school from the hosting conference is placed in that region? It goes against every tenet of the word “fair” when you have lower seeded schools essentially getting home games due to financial resources to improve attendance (when it probably wouldn’t change overall attendance vs. a different model).

      The NCAA needs to realize hockey is a niche sport and not try to fit it into the same mold as basketball and football for determining its champion.

      • The format I like the best is three weeks of NCAA tourney time.
        First week: Round of 16 on-campus of highest eight rated teams playing a best of 3 series (Fri, Sat & Sun, if necessary).
        Second week:Round of 8 on-campus of the remaining 8 highest rated playing a best of 3 series (Fri, Sat & Sun, if necessary).
        Third week: Round of 4 and 2 in one locale playing one game to advance (Fri and Sun).
        It ends reseeding for bogus reasons. Most likely increases attendance figures. Most likely ensures we see the best of the best in the Frozen Four. It also ends the mental masturbation exercises such as the weekly version of Bracketology.

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