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NCAA Hockey Final Day Bracketology: There’s only one way in

Here’s your national picture heading in to the final slate of games

michigan state bc hockey kathryn riley november 13 Kathryn Riley, BC Interruption

There is one day of NCAA hockey left before Selection Sunday. Crazy. And despite looking dead in the water a few weeks ago, Boston College is very much alive, playing for the Hockey East Championship tonight against top-seeded UMass-Lowell.

Unfortunately, any hopes for an at-large bid were extinguished yesterday due to Ohio State’s loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten semifinal. There is now no at-large path in to the tournament. There’s only one thing left to do:

Here’s your national picture.

12 teams are definitely in the NCAA tournament. Here they are, along with their potential seed ranges:

Denver [1-3] - faces Western Michigan in NCHC 3rd Place Game
Minnesota-Duluth [1-3] - faces North Dakota in NCHC Final
Harvard [2-3] - faces Cornell in ECAC final
Western Michigan [4-6] - faces Denver in NCHC 3rd Place Game
Minnesota [4-6] - idle
BU [6-7] - idle, womp womp
UMass-Lowell [4-10] - faces BC in Hockey East final
Union [7-10] - idle
North Dakota [7-11] - faces Minnesota-Duluth in NCHC Final
Cornell [7-11] - faces Harvard in ECAC final
Penn State [8-12] - faces Wisconsin in B1G final
Notre Dame [12-14] - idle

Two more NCAA tournament spots will be awarded to champions of one-bid leagues, the Atlantic Hockey Conference and the WCHA:

AHC Final -> Air Force vs. Robert Morris
WCHA Final -> Bowling Green vs. Michigan Tech

Two teams are idle and waiting to see if results break their way to land an at-large bid:

Providence [13-15] - They will be bumped if BC and Wisconsin win conference titles, which would dump the Friars out of the tournament

Ohio State [14-16] - It seems like Ohio State is doomed if one of Wisconsin or BC wins the conference title.

Then, in addition to the four teams playing in the WCHA/AHC title games, there are two teams that must win tonight:

Boston College [12-17]
Wisconsin [15-18]

Potential bracket if all the favorites win:

1] Denver 16] Michigan Tech
8] Union 10] North Dakota

2] Minnesota-Duluth 15] Ohio State
6] Western Michigan 9] Penn St.

3] Harvard 14] Providence
7] BU 11] Cornell

4] Minnesota 13] Notre Dame
5] UMass-Lowell 12] Air Force

BC’s situation:

Obviously at this point all that matters is “win and get in,” there’s no real use worrying about seeding or where they’d go. But if they do win, they will either finish as #12 (the final 3 seed) or #13 (the top 4 seed).

Which they’d be seems to depend on what happens with Air Force. If Air Force wins, they will probably end up #12 (maybe #11). If they lose, they’re out, and RMU would slot in at #15. That would likely put BC at #12 should they win the Hockey East title.

We’re getting way ahead of ourselves here, because BC needs to pull the upset W tonight in order to make this relevant. But that’s your situation.

From a practical standpoint, I’m not sure how much it would matter to be #13 vs #12 - the top 1-3 teams are well-defined, but 4 through 6/7 is kind of a cluster and those teams are pretty interchangeable in terms of quality. That said, if BC ends up #13 and Providence is #14, I could see BC things getting swapped around to set up BC-Harvard in Manchester, with Providence hosting one of the top 3 in Providence. Just a hunch.

As the #12 and a 3-seed, BC probably would have less of a chance of staying East. BU and UMass-Lowell are likely to be 2-seeds, and of course even if Lowell fell to a 3 seed they’d likely get venue preference over BC because they will finish higher.

As we said, of course, none of this really matters unless and until the Eagles come out and play, by far, their best game of the season tonight. Let’s make it happen.