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NCAA Hockey Bracketology, December 16, 2014

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I don't know either, man.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Bracketology is back, but to be honest, this is gonna be a bit depressing considering BC is currently on the outside looking in at an NCAA Tournament berth. But plenty of hockey left to be played.

Let's look at what the tournament would look like if the season ended today.

Step 1: Pick the 16 tournament teams

1. Minnesota State -- WCHA champ
2. Nebraska-Omaha -- NCHC champ
3. Minnesota-Duluth
4. Harvard -- ECAC champ
5. Miami
6. Michigan Tech
7. Vermont -- Hockey East champ
8. North Dakota
9. Bowling Green
10. Boston University
11. Minnesota -- Big Ten champ
12. Massachusetts-Lowell
13. Denver
14. Merrimack
15. Yale
21. Robert Morris -- AHA champ

Bubble teams (in order): Penn State, Providence, Quinnipiac, Dartmouth, Colgate

By conference: NCHC 5, Hockey East 4, WCHA 3, ECAC 2, Big Ten 1, Atlantic Hockey 1

Step 2: Assign the seeds

No. 1 seeds: Minnesota State, Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota-Duluth, Harvard
No. 2 seeds: Miami, Michigan Tech, Vermont, North Dakota
No. 3 seeds: Bowling Green, Boston University, Minnesota, Massachusetts-Lowell
No. 4 seeds: Denver, Merrimack, Yale, Robert Morris

Step 3: Place host teams in regionals

This year's four regional hosts are Brown (East in Providence), New Hampshire (Northeast in Manchester), Notre Dame (Midwest in South Bend) and North Dakota (West in Fargo). Only one of those programs, North Dakota, is safely in the tournament field at this point, so NoDak will be 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 State is placed in the West Regional in Fargo.
No. 2 Nebraska-Omaha is placed in the Midwest Regional in South Bend.
No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in the East Regional in Providence.
No. 4 Harvard is placed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester.

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 North Dakota is placed in No. 1 Minnesota State's Regional, the West.
No. 7 Vermont is placed in No. 2 Nebraska-Omaha's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 6 Michigan Tech is placed in No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth's Regional, the East.
No. 5 Miami is placed in No. 4 Harvard's Regional, the Northeast.

Number 3 seeds:

No. 9 Bowling Green is placed in No. 8 North Dakota's Regional, the West.
No. 10 Boston University is placed in No. 7 Vermont's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 11 Minnesota is placed in No. 6 Michigan Tech's Regional, the East.
No. 12 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in No. 5 Miami's Regional, the Northeast.

Number 4 seeds:

No. 13 Denver is placed in No. 4 Harvard's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 14 Merrimack is placed in No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth's Regional, the East.
No. 15 Yale is placed in No. 2 Nebraska-Omaha's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 16 Robert Morris is placed in No. 1 Minnesota State's Regional, the West.

Our bracket as we have it set up:

West Regional (Fargo, North Dakota)
1 Minnesota State vs. 16 Robert Morris
8 North Dakota vs. 9 Bowling Green

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
4 Harvard vs. 13 Denver
5 Miami vs. 12 Massachusetts-Lowell

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
3 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 14 Merrimack
6 Michigan Tech vs. 11 Minnesota

Midwest Regional (South Bend, Indiana)
2 Nebraska-Omaha vs. 15 Yale
7 Vermont vs. 10 Boston University

After initially populating the bracket, the NCAA then looks to avoid intra-conference matchups. There's only one of those: Vermont vs. BU. If you swap BU with Minnesota, you then have Michigan Tech-BU in Providence and Vermont-Minnesota in South Bend.

Our bracket as we have it set up now:

West Regional (Fargo, North Dakota)
1 Minnesota State vs. 16 Robert Morris
8 North Dakota vs. 9 Bowling Green

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
4 Harvard vs. 13 Denver
5 Miami vs. 12 Massachusetts-Lowell

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
3 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 14 Merrimack
6 Michigan Tech vs. 10 Boston University

Midwest Regional (South Bend, Indiana)
2 Nebraska-Omaha vs. 15 Yale
7 Vermont vs. 11 Minnesota

Finally, the NCAA looks at ways of boosting attendance by tweaking the programs within each band. Minnesota State and North Dakota out West is pretty solid, as is Harvard and Lowell in Manchester. Two lower seeds from Hockey East anchor the East, while Nebraska-Omaha and Minnesota are holding it down in the Midwest. Real glad Notre Dame is hosting on campus this year. That'll look like, well, every other Midwest regional without the Irish.

Strange year this year, seriously.