NCAA Hockey Bracketology: March 17, 2012

DETROIT - APRIL 08: Pat Mullane #11 of the Boston College Eagles is congratulated by teammates after his assist on a goal in the third period against the Miami Redhawks on April 8, 2010 during the semifinals of the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Boston College defeated Miami 7-1. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Two more brackets. We'll post one this afternoon and one early AM tomorrow with our final projections. NOTE: This bracket is based on where I think teams will finish after today's results, not based on the current PairWise rankings.

In other words,

Atlantic Hockey: Air Force over RIT
CCHA: Michigan over Western Michigan, Miami over Bowling Green
ECAC: Union over Harvard, Cornell over Colgate
Hockey East: Boston College over Maine (though admittedly, I have my doubts)
WCHA: North Dakota over Denver

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
-- March 14 -- No. 1 seed (1st overall) in Worcester

Step 1: Pick the 16 tournament teams

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

Bubble teams (in order): Northern Michigan, Merrimack, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Harvard

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, Union, North Dakota
No. 2 seeds: Miami, Ferris State, Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota
No. 3 seeds: Boston University, Maine, Denver, UMass-Lowell
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 Union is placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport.
No. 4 North Dakota is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.

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

Number 3 seeds:

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

Number 4 seeds:

No. 13 Cornell is placed in No. 4 North Dakota's Regional, the West.
No. 14 Michigan State is placed in No. 3 Union's Regional, the East.
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 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 10 Maine

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
2 Michigan vs. 15 Western Michigan
6 Ferris State vs. 11 Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
3 Union vs. 14 Michigan State
5 Miami vs. 12 UMass-Lowell

West Regional (St. Paul, Minnesota)
4 North Dakota vs. 13 Cornell
8 Minnesota vs. 9 Boston University

After initially populating the bracket, the NCAA then looks to avoid intra-conference matchups. We have just one intraconference matchup here -- Michigan State vs. Western Michigan in the Midwest Regional. You can't swap Western for Michigan State, as both are CCHA clubs, but you can throw Cornell into the mix. In this case, I think the Committee would preserve 1 vs. 16 (BC vs. Air Force) and move around the three other No. 4 seeds. So Cornell to the Midwest (and not the East to avoid Union), Michigan State to the West and Western Michigan to the East.

The bracket as we have it set up now looks like this:

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Massachusetts)
1 Boston College vs. 16 Air Force
7 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 10 Maine

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
2 Michigan vs. 13 Cornell
6 Ferris State vs. 11 Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
3 Union vs. 15 Western Michigan
5 Miami vs. 12 UMass-Lowell

West Regional (St. Paul, Minnesota)
4 North Dakota vs. 14 Michigan State
8 Minnesota vs. 9 Boston University

Finally, the NCAA looks at ways of boosting attendance by tweaking the programs within each band. The Northeast is good to go anchored by BC and Maine. The Midwest looks OK too with Michigan, Ferris State and Denver. The East gets Union and UMass-Lowell, while the West is stacked with NoDak, Michigan State and host Minnesota. No further tweaks needed here.

Could BC end up seeing the Black Bears two times in a little over a week? Or will the Eagles have to go through the defending National Champs to make it to Tampa and this year's Frozen Four? Will BC struggle to put away an Air Force which will have won five of its last six games, though had a curious loss to UConn in the AHA Tournament Quarterfinals?

Projected Frozen Four this week: Boston College, Michigan, Miami, North Dakota

Go Eagles!

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