One Weird Trick Could Pair BC With AHA Champ

Jonathan Daniel

New screwball bracket scenario? New screwball bracket scenario.

We all know the bad news: Boston College is sitting at home this weekend while UMass-Lowell, Providence, New Hampshire, and (of course) Notre Dame will battle it out for the Hockey East championship.

The good news is that despite losing 3 out of 4 to Notre Dame, BC remained exactly where they otherwise would have been - #2 overall in the pairwise. And odds are about 99.8% that BC will end the upcoming weekend #2 in the pairwise as well, regardless of what happens in the conference tournaments. This means BC will be the #1 seed in Worcester, take on #15 overall, and have a manageable bracket at "home" that gives them a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The disappointing thing about being #2 overall is that this year, there could be a pretty significant gap between team #15 and team #16 in terms of quality.

While the Atlantic Hockey Association has a number of prominent wins this year, including Holy Cross's upset of BC in November, overall, their conference's contenders are pretty low in terms of Pairwise and KRACH. Mercyhurst, the top ranked team in AHA, is #31 overall in pairwise. On the flip side, potential opponents at #15 include North Dakota, Minnesota State, or even Michigan, if they flame out in the B16 conference tournament. Right now, BC would face Colgate - beatable, sure, but no slouch in a deep ECAC.

However, one screwy (ableit unlikely) scenario could happen that would give the Eagles a crack at the AHA champion in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Brad Bates' old friend Rico Blasi has had a pretty horrible year at Miami, with his team in the midst of 14-19-3 season and mired down in 32nd place in the Pairwise. However, the NCHC playoffs have been rife with upsets, with 3 lower ranked teams joining North Dakota in this weekend's NCHC "Frozen Faceoff."

If Miami manages to stun North Dakota in the NCHC semifinal, then go on to beat the Denver-Western Michigan winner to take home the conference tournament and the autobid to the NCAA tournament, it could set off a weird chain of bracket events taht would lead to BC playing the AHA champ (and having the side benefit of making Gopher fans very angry).

Miami is a host of the Midwest regional in Cincinnati, and as such would be required to be slotted in as the #4 seed in Cincy. So, BC, as the #1 seed in Worcester, would not be able to face the Redhawks. In addition, there's a decent chance that at the end of the weekend, teams #13 and #14 in the PWR could be Hockey East teams, with Vermont, Providence and UNH all in that area currently.

Because the committee would not be permitted to create an interconference matchup between BC and a 4-seed out of Hockey East, that chain of events would require them pair BC with the #16-overall AHA champion.

None of this really matters much unless BC figures out the issues they had over the weekend against Notre Dame and resumes playing championship caliber hockey. But from what I can gather, this scenario is the only one that could shake up the current situation of BC being locked in to play #15 overall.

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