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Final NCAA Women's Hockey Bracketology: March 6th, 2016

An easy meeting for the committee

BC Athletics

Well, that's all she wrote. The conference championships are in the books, and we've got ourselves a tournament field.

Let's skip the pleasantries and get right on to it.

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.

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.

Here are the current autobids, chosen as the top seed in each conference tournament:

WHEA: Boston College
WCHA: Wisconsin
ECAC: Quinnipiac
CHA: Mercyhurst

Now we'll fill in the rest of the top eight using the Pairwise Rankings, seeding only the top 4 teams:

1) Boston College -- WHEA Champion
2) Wisconsin -- WCHA Champion
3) Minnesota
4) Quinnipiac -- ECAC Champion
– CHA Champion

Straight bracket integrity gives us the following:

Mercyhurst @ (1) Boston College
Princeton @ (2) Wisconsin
Northeastern @ (3) Minnesota
Clarkson @ (4) Quinnipiac

Three out of four matchups are flights. We need to minimize flights as our primary consideration.

There are two eastern teams and two western teams in the top four, plus three eastern teams and an outlier (Mercyhurst is flying anywhere) in the bottom four. That means the eastern teams in the top four both need to be a bus trip.

The easiest way to do this while keeping bracket integrity the best we can is to swap Princeton and Mercyhurst.

Current Bracket:

Princeton @ (1) Boston College
Mercyhurst @ (2) Wisconsin
Northeastern @ (3) Minnesota
Clarkson @ (4) Quinnipiac

That leaves us with two flights, the minimum possible with this set of teams, so that will be our bracket.

It's an unfortunate situation for BC, who as the #1 seed do not get the lowest ranked team in the field for the quarterfinal. But as the WCHA teams know all too well from the last several years, the selection criteria is not set up with fairness in mind.

The selection show is at 9pm this evening on The committee will undoubtedly just pull up and link to us for their official bracket, because the decision this year is an easy one. We're here to help, NCAA.