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NCAA Hockey Bracketology Part II: Predicting The Weekend

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A look at how the bracket might stand after this weekend's games

bceagles.com

All season long, we've taken a look at "college hockey bracketology" by trying to think through how the committee would seed and locate the field if the season ended today. We haven't tried to look ahead to who is going to make it when all is said and done. But with one weekend left in the season, and College Hockey News' outstanding "You Are The Committee" tool, we are able to predict what we think will happen in this week's conference tournaments and predict the ensuing bracket.

Let's do it.

Atlantic Hockey

Robert Morris has been the best team in Atlantic Hockey all year long, winning the regular season title and leading all AHC teams in KRACH at #27. But this tournament frequently gives us strange results. There's also an added wildcard - the games are being played in Rochester, home of RIT's raucous fanbase.

Whoever wins this tournament - RMU/Air Force and RIT/Army are the matchups - will be #16 overall in the NCAA tournament, unless there's a huge upset in the B1G or WCHA. There won't be too much impact on the bracket at large.

We'll stick with chalk here and pick RMU, but RIT is tempting.

Big Ten

This is the biggest wild card on the board. Only one B1G team is locked in to the NCAA tournament, Michigan. Hilariously, Minnesota, who won the B1G regular season title, is on the wrong side of the bubble and needs to win the conference tournament to make the field.

Because the Big Ten is stupid, all 6 B1G teams are playing in a single elimination, neutral site tournament to determine their autobid. These teams are all crap so anything can happen.

I've been on record for months as predicting that Ohio State will win this tournament, for no particular reason. Penn State and Ohio State should win easily against the dreadful Wisconsin and Michigan State in the QF/play in games. I'll take Michigan over Penn State in one semifinal, and Ohio State to topple a nervous Minnesota in the other. And then Ohio State to somehow score an upset win in the final in a rivalry clash against Michigan, with the Buckeyes playing for their lives.

It's worth noting that tOSU has a six game unbeaten run right now which includes a sweep of Michigan, so I'm not just picking this for the lulz (but it's mostly for the lulz).

ECAC

This is going to be a fascinating tournament. On paper, you'd expect Quinnipiac to easily advance past Dartmouth in one semifinal, but Dartmouth just waxed Yale in a sweep in New Haven. I'll still take the Q, but we'll see if Dartmouth stays hot. In the other semifinal, Harvard seems to be repeating their late season run last year of getting hot just as the tournament picks up, completely dismantling RPI last weekend. I'll take them over SLU.

Harvard vs. Quinnipiac will be a really good game, and I'm going to take Harvard to win it. QU has had a habit in recent years of not winning the ECAC title. I also think Harvard has more talent on paper despite having a somewhat disappointing regular season, and guys like Jimmy Vesey, Alex Kerfoot, and talented freshman Ryan Donato will provide the lift Harvard needs to score the minor upset.

Hockey East

I just realized doing this article is going to put me on the spot, isn't it. I'm not sure I'm ready to make a prediction for the NU vs. BC game, but I'm going to tentatively give BC the slight edge. However, I'm taking Providence to win the title, even with the news that Jake Walman is out for the season. They just seem to be the best team right now and there's nobody in the country who wants to face them.

NCHC

The one conference in the country that still has a stupid consolation game could well mess up the bracket for someone. North Dakota plays Duluth in one semifinal, and Denver plays SCSU in the other. I've been pretty adamant all year that I think Denver is a dark horse to win the national championship, and I'll take them to beat NoDak in the conference final. When I watched Danton Heinen against BC in the fall, I thought  he was one of the most skilled non BC players I've seen in person. They've also had an outstanding freshman emerge in Dylan Gambrell ,who now leads the team in scoring.

Duluth will be the desperate team in the consolation game against SCSU. So I'm guessing Duluth finds a way to win that one, and make the other bubble teams sweat. This could be pretty crucial for other teams trying to beat out SCSU for a one seed.

WCHA

This is a situation similar to the AHC where there's only going to be one team in. Michigan Tech could rise above #15 by winning the tournament; the other teams would likely be #15 if they won it. I'm taking chalk - Michigan Tech over Minnesota State in the final.

The resulting tournament field

OK, this threw some surprises at me.

1 North Dakota
2 Providence
3 Quinnipiac
4 BC

5 Denver
6 St. Cloud State
7. BU
8 Michigan

9 Harvard
10 Lowell
11 Yale
12 Notre Dame

13 Michigan Tech
14 Duluth
15 Robert Morris
16 Ohio State

Well, I'm really not happy about the scenario I predicted. It has BC going west because there would be two eastern #1 seeds ahead of them. Sorry, everyone. Of course, SCSU not losing the consolation game would change this scenario, and I suspect some of the other results I picked, like the Harvard and Denver and Ohio State wins, boosted BC's RPI.

Here's how I'd draw up the bracket based on my predictions if I were the committee.

Bracket Integrity

ST PAUL
1 North Dakota / 16 Ohio State
8 Michigan / 9 Harvard

CINCINNATI
4 BC / 13 Michigan Tech
5 Denver / 12 Notre Dame

WORCESTER
2 PC / 15 Robert Morris
7 BU / 10 Lowell

ALBANY
3 QU / 14 Duluth
6 St. Cloud St. / 11 Yale

We'll break up the in conference matchup by swapping Lowell and Yale. We'll also beef up attendance in St. Paul by moving SCSU out there and swapping Michigan to St. Paul. That leaves us with

ST PAUL
1 North Dakota / 16 Ohio State
6 St. Cloud / 9 Harvard

CINCINNATI
4 BC / 13 Michigan Tech
5 Denver / 12 Notre Dame

WORCESTER
2 PC / 15 Robert Morris
7 BU / 11 Yale

ALBANY
3 QU / 14 Duluth
8 Michigan. / 10 Lowell

Welp, let's root for me to be wrong about my conference tournament predictions. This has us having to get on a plane, then potentially face one of the best teams in the country in Denver in the regional final.

Sorry!