2013 Frozen Four: NCAA Hockey Bracketology: January 22, 2013

USA TODAY Sports

Let's take a look at this week's bracket.

Step 1: Pick the 16 tournament teams

1. Quinnipiac -- ECAC champ
2. Minnesota -- WCHA champ
3. Boston College -- Hockey East champ
4. New Hampshire
5. Yale
6t. North Dakota
6t. UMass-Lowell
8. Miami -- CCHA champ
9t. Dartmouth
9t. Notre Dame
11. Denver
12. Western Michigan
13. Boston University
14. St. Cloud State
15t. Minnesota State
17t. Niagara -- AHA champ

Bubble teams (in order): Northern Michigan, Alaska, Nebraska-Omaha, Cornell, Ferris State

By conference: WCHA 5, Hockey East 4, ECAC 3, CCHA 3, Atlantic Hockey 1

Step 2: Assign the seeds

No. 1 seeds: Quinnipiac, Minnesota, Boston College, New Hampshire
No. 2 seeds: Yale, North Dakota, UMass-Lowell, Miami
No. 3 seeds: Dartmouth, Notre Dame, Denver, Western Michigan
No. 4 seeds: Boston University, St. Cloud State, Minnesota State, Niagara

Step 3: Place host teams in regionals

This year's four regional hosts are New Hampshire (Northeast in Manchester), Brown (East in Providence), Bowling Green (Midwest in Toledo) and Michigan (West in Grand Rapids).

Only UNH is in this week, so the Wildcats will be slotted into the Northeast Regional.

Step 4: Place number 1 seeds in Regionals

Number 1 seeds are placed based on proximity to regional site.

No. 1 Quinnipiac is placed in the East Regional in Providence.
No. 2 Minnesota is placed in the West Regional in Grand Rapids.
No. 3 Boston College is placed in the Midwest Regional in Toledo.
No. 4 New Hampshire is placed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester.

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:

No. 8 Miami is placed in No. 1 Quinnipiac's Regional, the East.
No. 7 UMass-Lowell is placed in No. 2 Minnesota's Regional, the West.
No. 6 North Dakota is placed in No. 3 Boston College's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 5 Yale is placed in No. 4 New Hampshire's Regional, the Northeast.

Number 3 seeds:

No. 9 Dartmouth is placed in No. 8 Miami's Regional, the East.
No. 10 Notre Dame is placed in No. 7 UMass-Lowell's Regional, the West.
No. 11 Denver is placed in No. 6 North Dakota's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 12 Western Michigan is placed in No. 5 Yale's Regional, the Northeast.

Number 4 seeds:

No. 13 Boston University is placed in No. 4 New Hampshire's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 14 St. Cloud State is placed in No. 3 Boston College's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 15 Minnesota State is placed in No. 2 Minnesota's Regional, the West.
No. 16 Niagara is placed in No. 1 Quinnipiac's Regional, the East.

Our bracket as we have it set up:

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
1 Quinnipiac vs. 16 Niagara
8 Miami vs. 9 Dartmouth

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
4 New Hampshire vs. 13 Boston University
5 Yale vs. 12 Western Michigan

West Regional (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
2 Minnesota vs. 15 Minnesota State
7 UMass-Lowell vs. 10 Notre Dame

Midwest Regional (Toledo, Ohio)
3 Boston College vs. 14 St. Cloud State
6 North Dakota vs. 11 Denver

After initially populating the bracket, the NCAA then looks to avoid intra-conference matchups. North Dakota-Denver, Minnesota-Minnesota State and New Hampshire-BU all have to be moved around. Denver can be swapped with Western Michigan, sending the Broncos to the Midwest and the Pioneers to the Northeast. Or, Denver could be swapped out with Notre Dame, putting the Pioneers out "west" and sending the Irish to the Midwest. Based on how that seems to work out for both Denver and Notre Dame travel-wise, let's go with that.

Minnesota State can't be swapped out for St. Cloud State (also a WCHA member) nor Niagara (AHA champ almost always given to #1 overall seed). The Mavericks then have to switch places with the Terriers, sending Minnesota State to Manchester and BU to Grand Rapids.

Our bracket as we have it set up now:

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
1 Quinnipiac vs. 16 Niagara
8 Miami vs. 9 Dartmouth

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
4 New Hampshire vs. 15 Minnesota State
5 Yale vs. 11 Denver

West Regional (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
2 Minnesota vs. 13 Boston University
7 UMass-Lowell vs. 10 Notre Dame

Midwest Regional (Toledo, Ohio)
3 Boston College vs. 14 St. Cloud State
6 North Dakota vs. 12 Western Michigan

Finally, the NCAA looks at ways of boosting attendance by tweaking the programs within each band. The East looks solid with QU, Niagara and Dartmouth. The Northeast is anchored by the host Wildcats and the Yale Bulldogs. The West by Minnesota and Notre Dame and the Midwest by St. Cloud State, Western and a well-traveled North Dakota squad.

Some thoughts on this bracket.

-- This is the bracket that Boston College fans should fear the most. So long as Quinnipiac continues its scorched Earth ECAC tour (14-0-2 in their last 16 games and playing non-scholarship UConn tonight in non-conference play) and UNH stays on the 1 line, it's "Go West, young man" for York and the Eagles. Luckily the two western Regionals aren't all that west this year. Still, if the reward for earning a National Tournament top seed is Toledo against three power conference teams, count me out.

-- Niagara is down to 17th in the latest PairWise, but has been flirting with getting into the Top 16 of the PairWise even without Atlantic Hockey's auto-bid. Definitely something to keep an eye on as we emerge from Slump Time TM and hit the stretch run. Should Niagara finish in the Top 16 and not win the Atlantic Hockey title, two AHA clubs will make this year's NCAA Tournament field.

-- This bracket really would suck for BC. Let's not have this happen. And yet ...

-- Boston University, who has taken a nosedive of late in the PWR (from 5th to 13th in a weekend), is back out west facing a Minnesota Golden Gophers buzzsaw in the first round for the second consecutive season. So there's that, too.

-- Projected Frozen Four this week: all chalk (yes, QU can emerge from that Regional).

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