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NCAA Hockey Bracketology: February 19, 2012

Edit. Note- Front Pag'd.

After handling BU in the Beanpot Championship and sweeping Merrimack this weekend, BC has taken over the top spot in the latest PairWise Rankings. Just as things should be.

Step 1: Pick the 16 tournament teams based on the PairWise

1. Boston College
2t. Michigan
2t. Massachusetts-Lowell
4. Ferris State
5. Minnesota-Duluth
6. Boston University
7. Union
8t. Minnesota
8t. Maine
10. Michigan State
11t. Miami
11t. Denver
13. Ohio State
14. North Dakota
15. Cornell
28. Air Force - AHA Champion

Bubble teams (in order): Merrimack, Northern Michigan, Lake Superior, Colorado College

By conference: 5 CCHA, 4 HEA, 4 WCHA, 2 ECAC, 1 AHA

Step 2: Assign the seeds

No. 1 seeds - Boston College, Michigan, Massachusetts-Lowell, Ferris State
No. 2 seeds - Minnesota-Duluth, Boston University, Union, Minnesota
No. 3 seeds - Maine, Michigan State, Miami, Denver
No. 4 seeds - Ohio State, North Dakota, Cornell, Air Force

Step 3: Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals

No. 1 Boston College is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 2 Michigan is placed in the Midwest Regional in Green Bay.
No. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport.
No. 4 Ferris State is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.

Step 4: Place the other 12 teams avoiding intra-conference match ups 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 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5.

No. 2 seeds (Minnesota is placed first because they are a regional host):

No. 8 Minnesota is placed in No. 4 Ferris State's Regional, the West.
No. 7 Union is placed in No. 1 Boston College's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 6 Boston University is placed in No. 2 Michigan's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in No. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell's Regional, the East.

No. 3 seeds:

No. 9 Maine is placed in No. 8 Minnesota's Regional, the West.
No. 10 Michigan State is placed in No. 7 Union's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 11 Miami is placed in No. 6 Boston University's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 12 Denver is placed in No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth's Regional, the East.

No. 4 seeds:

No. 13 Ohio State is placed in No. 4 Ferris State's Regional, the West.
No. 14 North Dakota is placed in No. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell's Regional, the East.
No. 15 Cornell is placed in No. 2 Michigan's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 16 Air Force is placed in No. 1 Boston College's Regional, the Northeast.

Our bracket currently looks like this:

Northeast Regional (Worcester, MA)
1 Boston College vs. 16 Air Force
7 Union vs. 10 Michigan State

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, WI)
2 Michigan vs. 15 Cornell
6 Boston University vs. 11 Miami

East Regional (Bridgeport, CT)
3 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 14 North Dakota
5 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 12 Denver

West Regional (St. Paul, MN)
4 Ferris State vs. 13 Ohio State
8 Minnesota vs. 9 Maine

Before anything else, we must avoid intra-conference matchups whenever possible. We have two intra-conference matchups in No. 4 Ferris State vs. No. 13 Ohio State In the West and No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth vs. No. 12 Denver in the East.

Swapping No. 11 Miami with No. 12 Denver avoids one intra-conference matchup and maintains better bracket integrity than any other swaps. Swapping No. 13 Ohio State with No. 14 North Dakota provides us with the same benefits.

The bracket now is:

Northeast Regional (Worcester, MA)
1 Boston College vs. 16 Air Force
7 Union vs. 10 Michigan State

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, WI)
2 Michigan vs. 15 Cornell
6 Boston University vs. 12 Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport, CT)
3 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 13 Ohio State
5 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 11 Miami

West Regional (St. Paul, MN)
4 Ferris State vs. 14 North Dakota
8 Minnesota vs. 9 Maine

Step 5: Adjust bracket to boost attendance and reduce travel.

Swapping No. 9 Maine and No. 10 Michigan State is the only move between No. 3 seeds that would significantly reduce travel for both teams and boost attendance due to their rabid fanbases. That pits No. 7 Union vs. No. 9 Maine in the Northeast, and No. 8 Minnesota vs. No. 10 Michigan State in the West.

Another option I explored was swapping No. 15 Cornell with No. 16 Air Force. (No. 13 Ohio State is only 1.5 hours closer to Green Bay, WI than Bridgeport, CT, so we'll keep them in Bridgeport.) That would have placed No. 15 Cornell vs. No. 1 Boston College in the Northeast, and No. 16. Air Force vs. No. 2 Michigan in the Midwest. However, the gap between Air Force (No. 28 in the PairWise) and Cornell (No. 15) is so great that we should not hurt BC by forcing them to play Cornell.

So here is the final bracket:

Northeast Regional (Worcester, MA)
1 Boston College vs. 16 Air Force
7 Union vs. 9 Maine

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, WI)
2 Michigan vs. 15 Cornell
6 Boston University vs. 12 Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport, CT)
3 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 13 Ohio State
5 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 11 Miami

West Regional (St. Paul, MN)
4 Ferris State vs. 14 North Dakota
8 Minnesota vs. 10 Michigan State

This bracket also maintains the possibility of a BC-BU championship.

Much like last week's Bracketology posted by Brian, my favorite part of this bracket is how BU gets totally screwed. This time they are forced to travel to Green Bay because of the pesky requirement that Minnesota stay in the West Regional in St. Paul. If not for that, the bracket would look something like this:

Northeast Regional (Worcester, MA)
1 Boston College vs. 16 Air Force
7 Union vs. 9 Maine

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, WI)
2 Michigan vs. 15 Cornell
8 Minnesota vs. 10 Michigan State

East Regional (Bridgeport, CT)
3 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 13 Ohio State
6 Boston University vs. 12 Denver

West Regional (St. Paul, MN)
4 Ferris State vs. 14 North Dakota
5 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 11 Miami

This leaves BC with a very manageable path to the Frozen Four. Air Force is clearly the weakest team in tournament field, and Union/Maine seem much less imposing than Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, and BU.

Go Eagles!

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