NCAA Hockey Bracketology: Final 2012 Bracket Projection

Yesterday I went six for seven in my seven team college hockey parlay (only missing Western Michigan's CCHA title victory over Michigan), so our final NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Bracket does not look all that different from yesterday's bracket. Let's get to it.

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
-- March 17 -- 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
8. Minnesota
9t. Boston University
9t. Maine
11. Denver
12t. UMass-Lowell
12t. Cornell
14t. Western Michigan
15t. Michigan State
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, Western Michigan, Michigan State, 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 Western Michigan is placed in No. 3 Union's Regional, the East.
No. 15 Michigan State 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 Michigan State
6 Ferris State vs. 11 Denver

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

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

The Committee will likely move around Michigan State to avoid the intraconference matchup with Michigan. Western can't switch with Michigan State, and Cornell can switch with Western. So the only solution that preserves 1 vs. 16 (BC vs. Air Force) and avoids all other 1 vs. 4 intraconference matchups is Michigan vs. Cornell, North Dakota vs. Western Michigan and Union vs. Michigan State.

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 Michigan State
5 Miami vs. 12 UMass-Lowell

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

Finally, the NCAA looks at ways of boosting attendance by tweaking the programs within each band. Northeast is good to go with BC and Maine. The Midwest gets Michigan, Ferris State and Denver. The East draws Union and UMass-Lowell, while the west is anchored by North Dakota and Minnesota. Don't think there will be any further tweaks here.

So it looks like BC may get a second crack at Maine in the Northeast Regional Final or have to dethrone the defending Champs. That's if they can get past a dangerous NCAA Tournament team in the Atlantic Hockey Champion Air Force Falcons.

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

Go Eagles!

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