NCAA Hockey Bracketology: February 26, 2014

via https://www.facebook.com/BostonCollegeAthletics

Updates on the road to South Broad Street.

Only a few weekends left until Selection Sunday. Let's take a look at where BC would end up in the National Tournament if the season ended today.

First, the ground rules.

Sixteen teams make the tournament. Each conference tournament champion receives an automatic bid. Interestingly, there's one more of those this year with the creation of the Big Ten Hockey Conference and resulting CCHA/WCHA reshuffle. The remaining 10 programs receive at-large berths. Those 10 bids go to the top 10 teams in the PWR.

For the purposes of this bracket, we'll assume the team with the top PWR rating earns the conference's auto-bid.

Step 1: Pick the 16 tournament teams

1. Boston College - Hockey East champ
2. Minnesota - Big Ten champ
3. Union - ECAC champ
4. Ferris State - WCHA champ
5. St. Cloud State - NCHC champ
6. Wisconsin
7. Quinnipiac
8. Massachusetts-Lowell
9. Northeastern
10. North Dakota
11. Cornell
12. Vermont
13. Colgate
14. Michigan
15. Notre Dame
16. Mercyhurst - AHA champ
----------
46. Boston University

Bubble teams (in order): Providence, Maine, Yale, Minnesota State, New Hampshire

By conference: Hockey East 5, ECAC 4, Big Ten 3, NCHC 2, Atlantic Hockey 1, WCHA 1

Step 2: Assign the seeds

No. 1 seeds: Boston College, Minnesota, Union, Ferris State
No. 2 seeds: St. Cloud State, Wisconsin, Quinnipiac, Massachusetts-Lowell
No. 3 seeds: Northeastern, North Dakota, Cornell, Vermont
No. 4 seeds: Colgate, Michigan, Notre Dame, Mercyhurst

Step 3: Place host teams in regionals

This year's four regional hosts are Yale / Fairfield (East in Bridgeport), Holy Cross (Northeast in Worcester), Miami (Ohio) (Midwest in Cincinnati) and Minnesota (West in Saint Paul). Only Minnesota is currently in the tournament field at this point. Minnesota is slotted into the West Regional.

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 Minnesota is placed in the West Regional in Minneapolis.
No. 3 Union is placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport.
No. 4 Ferris State is placed in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.

Pretty straightforward here.

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 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in No. 1 Boston College's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 7 Quinnipiac is placed in No. 2 Minnesota's Regional, the West.
No. 6 Wisconsin is placed in No. 3 Union's Regional, the East.
No. 5 St. Cloud State is placed in No. 4 Ferris State's Regional, the Midwest.

Number 3 seeds:

No. 9 Northeastern is placed in No. 8 Massachusetts-Lowell's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 10 North Dakota is placed in No. 7 Quinnipiac's Regional, the West.
No. 11 Cornell is placed in No. 6 Wisconsin's Regional, the East.
No. 12 Vermont is placed in No. 5 St. Cloud State's Regional, the Midwest.

Number 4 seeds:

No. 13 Colgate is placed in No. 4 Ferris State's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 14 Michigan is placed in No. 3 Union's Regional, the East.
No. 15 Notre Dame is placed in No. 2 Minnesota's Regional, the West.
No. 16 Mercyhurst 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 Mercyhurst
8 Northeastern vs. 9 Massachusetts-Lowell

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati, Ohio)
4 Ferris State vs. 13 Colgate
5 St. Cloud State vs. 12 Vermont

West Regional (Saint Paul, Minnesota)
2 Minnesota vs. 15 Notre Dame
7 Quinnipiac vs. 10 North Dakota

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
3 Union vs. 14 Michigan
6 Wisconsin vs. 11 Cornell

After initially populating the bracket, the NCAA then looks to avoid intra-conference matchups. The above bracket has just one -- Northeastern-Lowell. Can't swap Lowell for Vermont, but you can swap Lowell for Cornell, sending the River Hawks to the East Regional and Cornell to the Northeast.

Our bracket as we have it set up now:

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Massachusetts)
1 Boston College vs. 16 Mercyhurst
8 Northeastern vs. 11 Cornell

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati, Ohio)
4 Ferris State vs. 13 Colgate
5 St. Cloud State vs. 12 Vermont

West Regional (Saint Paul, Minnesota)
2 Minnesota vs. 15 Notre Dame
7 Quinnipiac vs. 10 North Dakota

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
3 Union vs. 14 Michigan
6 Wisconsin vs. 9 Massachusetts-Lowell

Finally, the NCAA looks at ways of boosting attendance by tweaking programs within each band. The Northeast Regional gets four relatively local teams in BC, Mercyhurst, Northeastern and Cornell. The Midwest gets Ferris State and St. Cloud State. The West would be anchored by Minnesota and North Dakota [your WCHA conspiracy theory goes here], while the East gets Union and UMass-Lowell. Not bad.

It will be interesting to see just how much the committee tweaks the pairings to cater to attendance concerns this year. With the above, the committee could just as easily flip Colgate and Notre Dame or Colgate, Notre Dame and Michigan on the three line to get either the Irish or Wolverines into the Midwest Regional. Let's leave this as is, but there very well could be tweaks to the 4 line to further improve regional attendance.

For BC, the Eagles get the favorable 1 vs. 16 draw vs. the Atlantic Hockey champ and, should they advance, either Northeastern or Cornell in the Regional final. Very favorable draw compared to the other three.

Projected Frozen Four: Boston College, St. Cloud State, Minnesota, Lowell

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