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NCAA Women’s Hockey Bracketology: February 1st, 2018

Just three weeks until the conference tournaments!

Tournament time is fast approaching, and the conference quarterfinals are just three weeks from tomorrow. It’s time for Week 2 of women’s hockey bracketology!

Here is the selection criteria as set forth in the women’s hockey handbook:

The Women’s Ice Hockey Committee will seed the selected participants as follows:

1. The top four teams according to the selection criteria will be seeded 1-4 at the time of the selection call. The remaining four teams will be placed in the bracket based on relative strength as long as these pairings do not result in additional flights. These teams will not be reseeded and the committee will not change the bracket once the tournament has begun.

2. Assuming it meets the committee’s hosting criteria, the highest seeded team will be given the opportunity to host the quarterfinal game.

Pairings in the quarterfinal round shall be based primarily on the teams’ geographical proximity to one another, regardless of their region, in order to avoid air travel in quarterfinal-round games whenever possible. Teams’ relative strength, according to the committee’s selection criteria, shall be considered when establishing pairings if such pairings do not result in air travel that otherwise could be avoided. The NCAA Division I Competition Oversight Committee shall have the authority to modify its working principles related to the championship site assignment on a case-by-case basis.

There are a few key differences between the men’s hockey criteria and the women’s hockey criteria. In the men’s tournament, the selection committee primarily avoids intraconference first round matchups and tries to improve attendance, and the 16 teams are seeded 1-16.

Women’s hockey only seeds the top 4 of 8 teams, and the primary consideration is minimizing the number of flights, with bracket integrity the secondary consideration.

One last caveat is that this year, the women’s hockey handbook added in language stating that “during the selection process, each team’s full body of work will be evaluated.” Presumably, this was added to give the committee some leeway in whether or not the newly-eligible D-I/D-II independents would be selected for the tournament regardless of any top 8 ranking.

Here are the current autobids, chosen based on best in-conference winning percentage:

WHEA: Boston College
WCHA: Wisconsin
ECAC: Clarkson
CHA: Mercyhurst*

*Mercyhurst and Robert Morris are currently tied atop the CHA standings and in the head to head tiebreaker, but Mercyhurst currently holds the second tiebreaker of number of wins in conference play, 10-9.

Now let’s take our conference autobids and fill in the rest of the top eight using the Pairwise Rankings, seeding only the top 4 teams. While we have no inside information, it is our best guess that D-II Saint Anselm will not be included in the tournament despite sitting 5th in the Pairwise. So we’ll take a look at the bracket without the Hawks first.

1) Wisconsin — WCHA Champion
2) Clarkson ECAC Champion
3) Boston CollegeWHEA Champion
4) Colgate
Ohio State
Cornell
Minnesota
Mercyhurst CHA Champion

Straight bracket integrity gives us the following:

Mercyhurst @ (1) Wisconsin
Minnesota @ (2) Clarkson
Cornell @ (3) Boston College
Ohio State @ (4) Colgate

We have three flights. Not good! But we can fix that pretty easily.

We know Minnesota has to be going to Wisconsin, since they are the only bus trip the Gophers can make to the four seeded teams. We also know that Mercyhurst is a bus trip to Clarkson — although barely at 372 miles — so we can just swap Mercyhurst with Minnesota.

Minnesota @ (1) Wisconsin
Mercyhurst @ (2) Clarkson
Cornell @ (3) Boston College
Ohio State @ (4) Colgate

Since our best guess is that Saint Anselm will not be selected to the tournament, this is our official prediction for today’s Pairwise Rankings.

Just for fun, here is our Bracketology with Saint Anselm included:

1) Wisconsin — WCHA Champion
2) Clarkson ECAC Champion
3) Boston CollegeWHEA Champion
4) Colgate
Saint Anselm
Ohio State
Cornell
Mercyhurst CHA Champion

Straight bracket integrity gives us the following:

Mercyhurst @ (1) Wisconsin
Cornell @ (2) Clarkson
Ohio State @ (3) Boston College
Saint Anselm @ (4) Colgate

Well, this is certainly a mess. No Minnesota in the tournament means that someone is flying to Wisconsin. Since Ohio State is flying no matter what, the Buckeyes and Badgers are the happy couple.

To keep bracket integrity the best we can, we’ll bump Mercyhurst and Cornell down to the next seed each.

Ohio State @ (1) Wisconsin
Mercyhurst @ (2) Clarkson
Cornell @ (3) Boston College
Saint Anselm @ (4) Colgate

This would be our prediction with Saint Anselm in the tournament, but as we said before, our best guess is they will not be selected.

If next week’s Pairwise changes, we’ll be back in a week with a new Bracketology as the end of the season rapidly approaches!