2013 Frozen Four: NCAA Hockey Bracketology, March 10, 2013

Justin K. Aller

To the bracket!

Only one game left in the regular season in this afternoon's Alaska-Anchorage @ Denver WCHA matchup. Two weeks to go before Selection Sunday.

Step 1: Pick the 16 tournament teams

1. Quinnipiac -- ECAC champ
2. Minnesota -- WCHA champ
3. Miami -- CCHA champ
4. UMass-Lowell -- Hockey East champ
5t. Boston College
5t. New Hampshire
7. North Dakota
8. Denver
9. Minnesota State
10t. Western Michigan
10t. Yale
10t. St. Cloud State
13t. Niagara -- AHA champ
13t. Rensselaer
15. Boston University
16t. Notre Dame

Bubble teams (in order): Union, Wisconsin, Alaska, Dartmouth, Robert Morris

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

Step 2: Assign the seeds

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

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

Number 3 seeds:

No. 9 Minnesota State is placed in No. 8 Denver's Regional, the East.
No. 10 Western Michigan is placed in No. 7 North Dakota's Regional, the West.
No. 11 Yale is placed in No. 6 New Hampshire's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 12 St. Cloud State is placed in No. 5 Boston College's Regional, the Midwest.

Number 4 seeds:

No. 13 Niagara is placed in No. 4 UMass-Lowell's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 14 Rensselaer is placed in No. 3 Miami's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 15 Boston University is placed in No. 2 Minnesota's Regional, the West.
No. 16 Notre Dame 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 Notre Dame
8 Denver vs. 9 Minnesota State

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
4 UMass-Lowell vs. 13 Niagara
6 New Hampshire vs. 11 Yale

West Regional (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
2 Minnesota vs. 15 Boston University
7 North Dakota vs. 10 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Toledo, Ohio)
3 Miami vs. 14 Rensselaer
5 Boston College vs. 12 St. Cloud State

After initially populating the bracket, the NCAA then looks to avoid intra-conference matchups. Just one this time around in Denver vs. Minnesota State in the 8/9. As for the other two seeds, the committee can't move New Hampshire (Northeast host) and can't move North Dakota (fellow WCHA member). They also can't swap Minnesota State for St. Cloud State (WCHA).

I'd imagine what the committee will do here is swap Yale for Minnesota State, making it no. 8 Denver vs. no. 11 Yale in the East, and no. 6 New Hampshire vs. no. 9 Minnesota State in the Northeast.

Our bracket as we have it set up now:

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
1 Quinnipiac vs. 16 Notre Dame
8 Denver vs. 11 Yale

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
4 UMass-Lowell vs. 13 Niagara
6 New Hampshire vs. 9 Minnesota State

West Regional (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
2 Minnesota vs. 15 Boston University
7 North Dakota vs. 10 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Toledo, Ohio)
3 Miami vs. 13 Rensselaer
5 Boston College vs. 12 St. Cloud State

Finally, the NCAA looks at ways of boosting attendance by tweaking the programs within each band. Does the committee then swap BC vs. St. Cloud State for Denver vs. Yale, keeping both the Eagles and Pioneers closer to home? I would think so. Moving those two games around keeps all eight 1 and 2 seeds much closer to home. The regionals would be anchored by:

East -- Quinnipiac, Boston College and (Hockey East-in-waiting) Notre Dame
Northeast -- UMass Lowell, New Hampshire (host) and Niagara
West -- Minnesota, North Dakota and Western Michigan
Midwest -- Miami and Denver

Really, it's a dream bracket for the committee when it comes to attendance. It's also one of the more favorable draws for Boston College. With the Eagles in Providence, I'd expect a fairly sizable contingent of Boston College fans to make the trip down I-95 for that Regional. If BC can get past St. Cloud State and the Irish can upset QU, it also sets up the possibility of an Irish-Eagles Regional final in the last National Tournament before Notre Dame joins Hockey East. That's top 5 rivalry making material right there.

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
1 Quinnipiac vs. 16 Notre Dame
5 Boston College vs. 12 St. Cloud State

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
4 UMass-Lowell vs. 13 Niagara
6 New Hampshire vs. 9 Minnesota State

West Regional (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
2 Minnesota vs. 15 Boston University
7 North Dakota vs. 10 Western Michigan

Midwest Regional (Toledo, Ohio)
3 Miami vs. 13 Rensselaer
8 Denver vs. 11 Yale

Projected Frozen Four this week: Boston College, UMass Lowell, Minnesota, Miami

Who will Brad Bates cheer for?

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