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NCAA Hockey Bracketology, January 27, 2015

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Updates on the road to the Garden.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Finaly. This is the fun one. 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. North Dakota – NCHC Champ
3t. Boston University – Hockey East Champ
3t. Nebraska-Omaha
3t. Harvard – ECAC Champ
6. Bowling Green
7. Minnesota-Duluth
8. Miami
9. Providence
10. Michigan Tech
11. Denver
12. Michigan – Big Ten Champ
13. Boston College
14. Vermont
15. Massachusetts-Lowell
22t. Robert Morris – AHA Champ

Bubble teams (in order): Yale, Colgate, Merrimack, Quinnipiac, Minnesota

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

Step 2: Assign the seeds

No. 1 seeds: Minnesota State, North Dakota, Boston University, Nebraska-Omaha
No. 2 seeds: Harvard, Bowling Green, Minnesota-Duluth, Miami
No. 3 seeds: Providence, Michigan Tech, Denver, Michigan
No. 4 seeds: Boston College, Vermont, Massachusetts-Lowell, 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 Midwest Regional in South Bend.
No. 2 North Dakota is placed in the West Regional in Fargo.
No. 3 Boston University is placed in the East Regional in Providence.
No. 4 Nebraska-Omaha 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 Miami is placed in No. 1 Minnesota State's Regional, the Midwest. 
No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in No. 2 North Dakota's Regional, the West.
No. 6 Bowling Green is placed in No. 3 Boston University's Regional, the East.
No. 5 Harvard is placed in No. 4 Nebraska-Omaha's Regional, the Northeast.

Number 3 seeds:

No. 9 Providence is placed in No. 8 Miami's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 10 Michigan Tech is placed in No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth's Regional, the West.
No. 11 Denver is placed in No. 6 Bowling Green's Regional, the East.
No. 12 Michigan is placed in No. 5 Harvard's Regional, the Northeast.

Number 4 seeds:

No. 13 Boston College is placed in No. 4 Nebraska-Omaha's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 14 Vermont is placed in No. 3 Boston University's Regional, the East.
No. 15 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in No. 2 North Dakota's Regional, the West.
No. 16 Robert Morris is placed in No. 1 Minnesota State's Regional, the Midwest.

Our bracket as we have it set up:

Midwest Regional (South Bend, Indiana)
1 Minnesota State (WCHA) vs. 16 Robert Morris (AHA)
8 Miami (NCHC) vs. 9 Providence (HEA)

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
4 Nebraska-Omaha (NCHC) vs. 13 Boston College (HEA)
5 Harvard (ECAC) vs. 12 Michigan (BTHC)

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
3 Boston University (HEA) vs. 14 Vermont (HEA)
6 Bowling Green (WCHA) vs. 11 Denver (NCHC)

West Regional (Fargo, North Dakota)
2 North Dakota (NCHC) vs. 15 Massachusetts-Lowell (HEA)
7 Minnesota-Duluth (NCHC) vs. 10 Michigan Tech (WCHA)

After initially populating the bracket, the NCAA then looks to avoid intra-conference matchups. There's only one of those, and it's in Hockey East: BU vs. Vermont. The problem here is that the other teams on the four line, except for the Atlantic Hockey auto-qualifier, are all Hockey East teams. In this case, would the committee give BU the Atlantic Hockey champ and reshuffle the other Hockey East teams on the four line? I guess?

Our bracket as we have it set up now:

Midwest Regional (South Bend, Indiana)
1 Minnesota State (WCHA) vs. 15 Massachusetts-Lowell (HEA)
8 Miami (NCHC) vs. 9 Providence (HEA)

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
4 Nebraska-Omaha (NCHC) vs. 13 Boston College (HEA)
5 Harvard (ECAC) vs. 12 Michigan (BTHC)

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
3 Boston University (HEA) vs. 16 Robert Morris (AHA)
6 Bowling Green (WCHA) vs. 11 Denver (NCHC)

West Regional (Fargo, North Dakota)
2 North Dakota (NCHC) vs. 14 Vermont (HEA)
7 Minnesota-Duluth (NCHC) vs. 10 Michigan Tech (WCHA)

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

The West is, once again, solid. North Dakota, Minnesota-Duluth and Michigan Tech should be able to anchor that regional; assuming that there's now little/no wiggle room with the teams on the four line (three Hockey East schools and the AHA champ).

The Midwest is just 'OK.' I suppose the committee would be pleased that Miami would fall here, given that they are one of the few geographically sensible options for a regional in South Bend and an NCAA Tournament field without the Irish. Though there's probably a lot of room for improvement with the teams on the three line. With ATTENDANCE BOOST MODE engaged, PC in Providence, not South Bend, and Michigan in South Bend, not Manchester, makes far too much sense not to move them around. But we are limited in what we can do with Denver. Ideally, they'd be sent west, but not if it sets up an intra-conference matchup with Duluth.

The rest goes BC and Harvard in Northeast—good, not great—and BU and Providence in the East. And we'll stop there for now this week. Here it is:

Midwest Regional (South Bend, Indiana)
1 Minnesota State (WCHA) vs. 15 Massachusetts-Lowell (HEA)
8 Miami (NCHC) vs. 12 Michigan (BTHC)

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
4 Nebraska-Omaha (NCHC) vs. 13 Boston College (HEA)
5 Harvard (ECAC) vs. 11 Denver (NCHC)

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
3 Boston University (HEA) vs. 16 Robert Morris (AHA)
6 Bowling Green (WCHA) vs. 9 Providence (HEA)

West Regional (Fargo, North Dakota)
2 North Dakota (NCHC) vs. 14 Vermont (HEA)
7 Minnesota-Duluth (NCHC) vs. 10 Michigan Tech (WCHA)

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