NCAA Hockey Bracketology: March 18, 2014

Jim McIsaac

Updates on the road to South Broad Street.

The Division I men's hockey NCAA Tournament selection show is this Sunday. Yay! But Boston College won't be playing hockey this weekend. Boo. Let's take a look at where the Eagles would land if the season ended today.

First, the ground rules.

Sixteen teams make the tournament. Each conference tournament champion receives an automatic bid. 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, the team with the top PWR rating still standing in each respective conference tournament will receive the conference's auto-bid.

Step 1: Pick the 16 tournament teams

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

Bubble teams (in order): Cornell, New Hampshire, Northeastern, Western Michigan, Yale

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

Step 2: Assign the seeds

No. 1 seeds: Minnesota, Boston College, Union, Ferris State
No. 2 seeds: Wisconsin, Quinnipiac, UMass-Lowell, Notre Dame
No. 3 seeds: Providence, St. Cloud State, Michigan, Minnesota State
No. 4 seeds: North Dakota, Vermont, Colgate, 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, though interestingly, Miami is still alive in the NCHC Tournament and could steal a tournament bid.

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 Minnesota is placed in the West Regional in Saint Paul.
No. 2 Boston College is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 3 Union is placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport.
No. 4 Ferris State is placed in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.

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

Number 3 seeds:

No. 9 Providence is placed in No. 8 Notre Dame's Regional, the West.
No. 10 St. Cloud State is placed in No. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 11 Michigan is placed in No. 6 Quinnipiac's Regional, the East.
No. 12 Minnesota State is placed in No. 5 Wisconsin's Regional, the Midwest.

Number 4 seeds:

No. 13 North Dakota is placed in No. 4 Ferris State's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 14 Vermont is placed in No. 3 Union's Regional, the East.
No. 15 Colgate is placed in No. 2 Boston College's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 16 Mercyhurst is placed in No. 1 Minnesota's Regional, the West.

Our bracket as we have it set up:

West Regional (Saint Paul, Minnesota)
1 Minnesota vs. 16 Mercyhurst
8 Notre Dame vs. 9 Providence

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati, Ohio)
4 Ferris State vs. 13 North Dakota
5 Wisconsin vs. 12 Minnesota State

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
3 Union vs. 14 Vermont
6 Quinnipiac vs. 11 Michigan

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Massachusetts)
2 Boston College vs. 15 Colgate
7 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 10 St. Cloud State

After initially populating the bracket, the NCAA then looks to avoid intra-conference matchups. Here, we need to move around the Notre Dame-Providence matchup. Can't swap PC with St. Cloud State as that creates another intra-conference matchup, but we can swap PC with Michigan. This sends the Friars to the East Regional and Michigan to the West Regional.

Our bracket as we have it set up now:

West Regional (Saint Paul, Minnesota)
1 Minnesota vs. 16 Mercyhurst
8 Notre Dame vs. 11 Michigan

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati, Ohio)
4 Ferris State vs. 13 North Dakota
5 Wisconsin vs. 12 Minnesota State

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
3 Union vs. 14 Vermont
6 Quinnipiac vs. 9 Providence

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Massachusetts)
2 Boston College vs. 15 Colgate
7 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 10 St. Cloud State

Finally, the NCAA looks at ways of boosting attendance by tweaking programs within each band. Interestingly, going by the straight Pairwise and adjusting for the ND-PC intra-conference matchup, we've created a near perfect geographic bracket. The West has Minnesota and Michigan. The Midwest Ferris State, Wisconsin, Minnesota State and North Dakota. The East Union, Vermont, QU and Providence and the Northeast BC, Colgate and Lowell. All looks pretty good attendance-wise, if not a little too regionalized.

For Boston College, the road to Philadelphia would go through Colgate and the Lowell / St. Cloud State winner. Like Notre Dame, Lowell is one of those tough matchups for the Eagles. I won't be disappointed in the slightest if Lowell wins its second Hockey East title this weekend and moves out of the #7 slot in the Pairwise.

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