NCAA Hockey Bracketology: March 7, 2012

Apr 7, 2011; St. Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs and Notre Dame Fighting Irish line up for the National Anthem prior to the semifinals of the 2011 Frozen Four at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota Duluth defeated Notre Dame 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-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
-- February 29 -- No. 1 seed (2nd overall) in Worcester

Step 1: Pick the 16 tournament teams

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

Bubble teams (in order): Northern Michigan, Western Michigan, Notre Dame, Colorado College, Lake Superior

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

Step 2: Assign the seeds

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

Number 3 seeds:

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

Number 4 seeds:

No. 13 North Dakota is placed in No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth's Regional, the West.
No. 14 Cornell is placed in No. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell's Regional, the East.
No. 15 Merrimack 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
8 Union vs. 9 Miami

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
2 Michigan vs. 15 Merrimack
6 Boston University vs. 11 Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
3 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 14 Cornell
5 Ferris State vs. 12 Michigan State

West Regional (St. Paul, Minnesota)
4 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 13 North Dakota
7 Minnesota vs. 10 Maine

After initially populating the bracket, the NCAA then looks to avoid intra-conference matchups. OK. So. Minnesota-Duluth vs. North Dakota is problematic. As is Ferris State-Michigan State. Flipping North Dakota with Merrimack solves one, and swapping Michigan State and Denver solves the other.

Our bracket as we have it set up now:

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Massachusetts)
1 Boston College vs. 16 Air Force
8 Union vs. 9 Miami

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
2 Michigan vs. 13 North Dakota
6 Boston University vs. 12 Michigan State

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
3 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 14 Cornell
5 Ferris State vs. 11 Denver

West Regional (St. Paul, Minnesota)
4 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 15 Merrimack
7 Minnesota vs. 10 Maine

Finally, the NCAA looks at ways of boosting attendance by tweaking the programs within each band, though everything seems to be OK here. The Northeast gets BC and Union. The Midwest Michigan, Michigan State and North Dakota. The East UMass-Lowell and Cornell and the West UMD and Minnesota.

The only difference between this bracket and last week's bracket is instead of drawing a dangerous WCHA team like NoDak, the top seeded Eagles are rewarded with a first round matchup against the Atlantic Hockey champs. Miami and Union are still in BC's bracket, but have swapped the 8 and 9 spots this week.

With this bracket, the Northeast is easily the clearest path to Tampa and the Frozen Four, though there doesn't seem to be a clear cut winner in the East Regional. The West is an absolute bloodbath and the Midwest isn't much better.

Projected Frozen Four this week: Boston College, Boston University, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth

Go Eagles!

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