NCAA Hockey Bracketology: February 29, 2012

October 14, 2011; Boston MA, USA; Boston College Eagles defenseman Tommy Cross (4) hits Denver Pioneers winger Luke Salazar (18) in the first period at Conte Forum. Mandatory Credit: Andrew B. Fielding-US PRESSWIRE

Every Wednesday between now and Selection Sunday, we'll update the NCAA Division I men's ice hockey Tournament bracketology.

Previous brackets:

-- December 12 -- No. 1 seed (3rd overall) in Worcester
-- January 13 -- No. 1 seed (4th overall) in Worcester
-- February 8 -- No. 2 seed (6th overall) in Bridgeport
-- February 15 -- No. 1 seed (2nd overall) in Worcester
-- February 22 -- No. 1 seed (1st overall) in Worcester

Onward.

Step 1: Pick the 16 tournament teams

1. Minnesota-Duluth
2. Boston College
3. Michigan
4t. Ferris State
4t. Boston University
4t. UMass-Lowell
7. Minnesota
8t. Miami
8t. Union
10. Maine
11t. Michigan State
11t. Northern Michigan
11t. Denver
14t. North Dakota
14t. Merrimack
16. Air Force -- AHA Champ

Bubble teams (in order): Cornell, Western Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Lake Superior

By conference: 5 CCHA, 5 Hockey East, 4 WCHA, 1 ECAC, 1 Atlantic Hockey

Step 2: Assign the seeds

No. 1 seeds: Minnesota-Duluth, Boston College, Michigan, Ferris State
No. 2 seeds: Boston University, UMass-Lowell, Minnesota, Miami
No. 3 seeds: Union, Maine, Michigan State, Northern Michigan
No. 4 seeds: Denver, North Dakota, Merrimack Air Force

Step 3: Place host teams in regionals

This year's four regional hosts are Yale and Fairfield (East in Bridgeport), Holy Cross (Northeast in Worcester), Michigan Tech (Midwest in Green Bay) and Minnesota (West in St. Paul). Golden Gophers to the West.

Step 4: Place number 1 seeds in Regionals

Number 1 seeds are placed based on proximity to regional site.

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

Step 5: Place the other 12 teams avoiding intra-conference match ups if possible. Begin by filling 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.

If this is the case, 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.

Number 2 seeds (moved around to accommodate regional host Minnesota):

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

Number 3 seeds:

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

Number 4 seeds:

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

Our bracket as we have it set up:

West Regional (St. Paul, Minnesota)
1 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 16 Air Force
7 Minnesota vs. 10 Maine

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Massachusetts)
2 Boston College vs. 15 Merrimack
8 Miami vs. 9 Union

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
3 Michigan vs. 14 North Dakota
6 UMass-Lowell vs. 11 Michigan State

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
4 Ferris State vs. 13 Denver
5 Boston University vs. 12 Northern Michigan

After initially populating the bracket, the NCAA then looks to avoid intra-conference matchups. You've only got one -- no. 2 Boston College vs. no. 15 Merrimack. Swapping Merrimack for North Dakota seems to solve this issue.

Our bracket as we have it set up now:

West Regional (St. Paul, Minnesota)
1 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 16 Air Force
7 Minnesota vs. 10 Maine

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Massachusetts)
2 Boston College vs. 14 North Dakota
8 Miami vs. 9 Union

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
3 Michigan vs. 15 Merrimack
6 UMass-Lowell vs. 11 Michigan State

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
4 Ferris State vs. 13 Denver
5 Boston University vs. 12 Northern Michigan

Finally, the NCAA looks at ways of boosting attendance by tweaking the programs within each band. Though I don't think the committee has much tweaking to do. The tournament gets Minnesota-Duluth and Minnesota in the West, BC and Union in the Northeast, Michigan and Michigan State in the Midwest and BU in the East. The East is the weakest of the bunch, but I'm not sure you can do much about that. This is what happens when only one ECAC team is safely in the field of 16 and the conference hosts a regional in a St. Louis Jr. situation. [Insert obligatory argument about moving the Regionals to campus here].

Again, here is the big difference between finishing first and second in the PairWise. BC draws a dangerous North Dakota team that it beat to start the season in the Ice Breaker, followed by the Miami/Union winner. Though the Northeast Regional's other pairing is probably the least formidable 2 vs. 3 pairing of the bunch.

Go Eagles!

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