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NCAA Hockey Bracketology, January 16, 2015

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Updates on the road to the Garden.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College is still on the outside looking in, but is creeping ever-so-closer to the right side of the PairWise bubble. A pair of victories this weekend would go a long way towards shoring up BC's postseason position.

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. Minnesota-Duluth -- NCHC Champ
3. Harvard -- ECAC Champ
4. Nebraska-Omaha
5. Bowling Green
6. North Dakota 
7. Miami
8. Boston University -- Hockey East Champ
9. Massachusetts-Lowell
10. Vermont
11. Yale
12. Michigan Tech
13. Colgate
14. Quinnipiac
15. Minnesota -- Big Ten Champ
28. Robert Morris -- AHA Champ

Bubble teams (in order): Providence, Merrimack, Denver, Michigan, Boston College

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

Step 2: Assign the seeds

No. 1 seeds: Minnesota State, Minnesota-Duluth, Harvard, Nebraska-Omaha
No. 2 seeds: Bowling Green, North Dakota, Miami, Boston University
No. 3 seeds: Massachusetts-Lowell, Vermont, Yale, Michigan Tech
No. 4 seeds: Colgate, Quinnipiac, Minnesota, 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 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in the Midwest Regional in South Bend.
No. 3 Harvard is placed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester.
No. 4 Nebraska-Omaha is placed in the East Regional in Providence.

Note: Harvard is near equidistant from Providence (53.3 miles) as it is from Manchester (52.5). I suppose by the letter of the rule, Harvard would be placed in the Northeast Regional and Nebraska-Omaha the East Regional, but it's a coin flip, really.

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. 6 North Dakota is placed in No. 1 Minnesota State's Regional, the West. 
No. 8 Boston University is placed in No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 7 Miami is placed in No. 3 Harvard's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 5 Bowling Green is placed in No. 4 Nebraska-Omaha's Regional, the East.

Number 3 seeds:

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

Number 4 seeds:

No. 13 Colgate is placed in No. 4 Nebraska-Omaha's Regional, the East.
No. 14 Quinnipiac is placed in No. 3 Harvard's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 15 Minnesota is placed in No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth'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
6 North Dakota vs. 11 Yale

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
4 Nebraska-Omaha vs. 13 Colgate
5 Bowling Green vs. 12 Michigan Tech

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
3 Harvard vs. 15 Minnesota
7 Miami vs. 10 Vermont

Midwest Regional (South Bend, Indiana)
2 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 14 Quinnipiac
8 Boston University vs. 9 Massachusetts-Lowell

After initially populating the bracket, the NCAA then looks to avoid intra-conference matchups. Bowling Green-Michigan Tech is one, Harvard-Quinnipiac another, and BU-Lowell the third.

There's really no clear cut way to do this. I guess we'll start with the 1 seed Harvard. The four teams currently on the 4 line are ECAC, ECAC, Minnesota and the AHA champ. Minnesota 4 Manch-Vegas? Minnesota 4 Manch-Vegas. The Gophers swap with the Q, sending Minnesota to the Northeast and the Bobcats to South Bend.

The Bowling Green-Michigan Tech and BU-Lowell conflicts can be fixed by rearranging 9, 11 and 12. Send Lowell to the East, Yale to the Midwest and Michigan Tech to the West and the remaining intra-conference conflict is resolved.

Our bracket as we have it set up now:

West Regional (Fargo, North Dakota)
1 Minnesota State vs. 16 Robert Morris
6 North Dakota vs. 12 Michigan Tech

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
4 Nebraska-Omaha vs. 13 Colgate
5 Bowling Green vs. 9 Massachusetts-Lowell

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
3 Harvard vs. 15 Minnesota
7 Miami vs. 10 Vermont

Midwest Regional (South Bend, Indiana)
2 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 14 Quinnipiac
8 Boston University vs. 11 Yale

Finally, the NCAA looks at ways of boosting attendance by tweaking the programs within each band.

The West is pretty locked down with Minnesota State, North Dakota and Michigan Tech. The rest, frankly, need work. I could see the committee going full ATTENDANCE BOOST MODE by moving 5-9 to the Northeast, 8-11 to the East and 7-10 to the Midwest. That would give the Northeast Harvard and Lowell, the East BU, Colgate and Yale, and the Midwest Duluth and Miami. Let's leave it at that for now.

West Regional (Fargo, North Dakota)
1 Minnesota State vs. 16 Robert Morris
6 North Dakota vs. 12 Michigan Tech

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
4 Nebraska-Omaha vs. 13 Colgate
8 Boston University vs. 11 Yale

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
3 Harvard vs. 15 Minnesota
5 Bowling Green vs. 9 Massachusetts-Lowell

Midwest Regional (South Bend, Indiana)
2 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 14 Quinnipiac
7 Miami vs. 10 Vermont

With this tournament field, who ya got in the Frozen Four?