NCAA Hockey Bracketology: March 14, 2012

ST. PAUL, MN - APRIL 07: : Kenny Reiter #35 of the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs stops a shot by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during semifinals of the 2011 NCAA Men's Frozen Four on April 7, 2011 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 4-3. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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
-- February 29 -- No. 1 seed (2nd overall) in Worcester
-- March 7 -- No. 1 seed (1st overall) in Worcester

Step 1: Pick the 16 tournament teams

1. Boston College
2. Michigan
3. Minnesota-Duluth
4t. Miami
4t. Boston University
6t. Union
6t. Ferris State
8. Minnesota
9. Massachusetts-Lowell
10t. North Dakota
10t. Maine
12t. Denver
12t. Cornell
14t. Michigan State
14t. Western Michigan
16. Air Force -- AHA Champ

Bubble teams (in order): Northern Michigan, Merrimack, Notre Dame, St. Cloud State, Ohio State

By conference: 5 CCHA, 4 Hockey East, 4 WCHA, 2 ECAC, 1 Atlantic Hockey

Step 2: Assign the seeds

No. 1 seeds: Boston College, Michigan, Minnesota-Duluth, Miami
No. 2 seeds: Boston University, Union, Ferris State, Minnesota
No. 3 seeds: Massachusetts-Lowell, North Dakota, Maine, Denver
No. 4 seeds: Cornell, Michigan State, Western Michigan, 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 Boston College is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 2 Michigan is placed in the Midwest Regional in Green Bay.
No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.
No. 4 Miami 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. 8 Minnesota is placed in No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth's Regional, the West.
No. 5 Boston University is placed in No. 4 Miami's Regional, the East.
No. 6 Union is placed in No. 2 Michigan's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 7 Ferris State is placed in No. 1 Boston College's Regional, the Northeast.

Number 3 seeds:

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

Number 4 seeds:

No. 13 Cornell is placed in No. 4 Miami's Regional, the East.
No. 14 Michigan State is placed in No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth's Regional, the West.
No. 15 Western Michigan 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 as we have it set up:

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Massachusetts)
1 Boston College vs. 16 Air Force
7 Ferris State vs. 10 North Dakota

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
2 Michigan vs. 15 Western Michigan
6 Union vs. 11 Maine

West Regional (St. Paul, Minnesota)
3 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 14 Michigan State
8 Minnesota vs. 9 UMass-Lowell

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
4 Miami vs. 13 Cornell
5 Boston University vs. 12 Denver

After initially populating the bracket, the NCAA then looks to avoid intra-conference matchups. Since the CCHA has five in the committee doesn't have to get rid of Michigan-Western Michigan. With the other three non-BC number 1 seeds all hailing from the CCHA, moving Western on the 4 line wouldn't do the Committee any good as I doubt they would move the AHA champ from facing the Tournament's top seed.

So no changes to this bracket to avoid Michigan-Western Michigan.

Finally, the NCAA looks at ways of boosting attendance by tweaking the programs within each band. The Northeast is probably the weakest of the bunch, but a BC-NoDak Regional final would probably be well attended and Air Force is used to playing back east every other weekend in Atlantic Hockey. The West is set with UMD, Minnesota and Michigan State. The East has Cornell and BU, and the Midwest gets Michigan and Western.

The winner of Ferris State / North Dakota will be dangerous, but I still like BC's chances of advancing to Tampa out of the Northeast Regional.

Projected Frozen Four this week: Boston College, Michigan, Minnesota, Boston University

Go Eagles!

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