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Extended NCAA hockey bracketology for 3/8/12

March 8, 2012 - Matt Wellens

Welcome to an extended bracketology here on the Inside 1401 Sports Blog.

As the season winds to a close, I’ll have more frequent updates here on the blog rather than just my weekly bracketology column that you can find in print and online at miningjournal.net.

For a more detailed explanation of the NCAA tournament selection process, check out College Hockey News’ NCAA Tournament Primer.

I’ll start with the USCHO.com PairWise Top 16 with any tiebreakers broken via the RPI.

USCHO.com PairWise Top 16

1. Boston College

2. Michigan

3. UMass-Lowell

4. Minnesota-Duluth

5. Ferris State

6. Boston University

7. Minnesota

8. Union

9. Maimi

10. Maine

11. Denver

12. Michigan State

13. North Dakota

14. Cornell

15. Merrimack

16. Northern Michigan

The only league without a representative is Atlantic Hockey, so its regular season champion, Air Force, will serve as its automatic bid for now, bumping NMU off the bubble.

So here is your NCAA field, if the season ended today:

1. Boston College

2. Michigan

3. UMass-Lowell

4. Minnesota-Duluth

5. Ferris State

6. Boston University

7. Minnesota

8. Union

9. Maimi

10. Maine

11. Denver

12. Michigan State

13. North Dakota

14. Cornell

15. Merrimack

16. Air Force

I’ll start by placing the top four seeds — No. 1 seeds — closest to home. The No. 1 seeds are the only teams placed based on proximity, besides Minnesota because it is the host of the West Regional in St. Paul.

So Boston College will be in the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass., Michigan will travel to the Midwest Regional in Green Bay, UMass-Lowell will land in the East Regional in Bridgeport and Minnesota-Duluth gets the West Regional in St. Paul.

From here, I start placing teams based on bracket integrity, so No. 1 vs. No. 16, No. 8 vs. No. 9, etc.

There will be a slight stray with Minnesota, the No. 7 seed, playing the No. 10 seed, Maine, in St. Paul.

Here’s how my initial bracket shakes out:

Northeast Regional (Worcester) — 1. Boston College vs. 16. Air Force; 8. Union vs. 9 Miami

West Regional (St. Paul) — 4. Minnesota-Duluth vs. 13. North Dakota; 7. Minnesota vs. 10. Maine

Midwest Regional (Green Bay) — 2. Michigan vs. 15. Merrimack; 6. Boston University vs. 11. Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport) — 3. UMass-Lowell vs. 14. Cornell; 5. Ferris State vs. 12. Michigan State

There are currently two intraconference matchups in this bracket, which the NCAA does not care for. One involves two CCHA teams in Ferris State and Michigan State, the other two WCHA teams in Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota.

The easiest pairing to break up is the CCHA machtup. Normally I would swap Denver and MSU, the lower seeds, but to increase attendance in Bridgeport, I’m going to send Boston University to the East Regional and Ferris State to the Midwest.

The WCHA matchup is a little tougher to break up. Normally I’d swap No. 13. North Dakota with No. 14 Cornell to preserve some bracket integrity, but that hurts attendance in both St. Paul and Bridgeport. I’m going to leave Cornell in the East.

What I’ll do is flip North Dakota with No. 15 Merrimack. Whether its St. Paul or Green Bay, Sioux fans will travel and the Midwest Regional will need all the help it can get with the Wisconsin Badgers not in the picture.

So here is how my bracket looks:

Northeast Regional (Worcester) — 1. Boston College vs. 16. Air Force; 8. Union vs. 9 Miami

West Regional (St. Paul) — 4. Minnesota-Duluth vs. 15. Merrimack; 7. Minnesota vs. 10. Maine

Midwest Regional (Green Bay) — 2. Michigan vs. 13. North Dakota; 5. Ferris State vs. 11. Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport) — 3. UMass-Lowell vs. 14. Cornell; 6. Boston University vs. 12. Michigan State

That’s a pretty strong bracket, but I have an alternate theory as well.

Many bracketologists have been placing Minnesota-Duluth in Green Bay instead of St. Paul for two reasons.

1) The Bulldogs then don’t have to play in the Gophers’ backyard.

2) Bulldogs fans travel well and will help fill an possibly empty Resch Center minus the Badgers.

So with that in mind, lets see how things shake out if I sort the bracket that way by placing Michigan in St. Paul instead of Green Bay — Michigan will fly to either site in a chartered jet so why does it matter where it lands? — and the Bulldogs in Titletown.

Northeast Regional (Worcester) — 1. Boston College vs. 16. Air Force; 8. Union vs. 9 Miami

Midwest Regional (Green Bay) — 4. Minnesota-Duluth vs. 13. North Dakota; 5. Ferris State vs. 12. Michigan State

East Regional (Bridgeport) — >3. UMass-Lowell vs. 14. Cornell; 6. Boston University vs. 11. Denver

West Regional (St. Paul) — 2. Michigan vs. 15. Merrimack; 7. Minnesota vs. 10. Maine

With Boston University in Bridgeport already and Ferris State in Green Bay, this time I’ll swap Denver and Michigan State.

To break up the WCHA matchup between Duluth and North Dakota, I’ll send the Sioux to St. Paul and Merrimack to Green Bay.

Here’s my alternate bracket:

Northeast Regional (Worcester) — 1. Boston College vs. 16. Air Force; 8. Union vs. 9 Miami

Midwest Regional (Green Bay) — 4. Minnesota-Duluth vs. 15. Merrimack; 5. Ferris State vs. 11. Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport) — >3. UMass-Lowell vs. 14. Cornell; 6. Boston University vs. 12. Michigan State

West Regional (St. Paul) — 2. Michigan vs. 13. North Dakota; 7. Minnesota vs. 10. Maine

So which bracket works best? I would have to say No. 1. The alternate bracket really screws over Michigan, the No. 2 overall seed. The Wolverines have to play the No. 13 Sioux in either bracket, but Green Bay is a much better meeting place for the Wolverines than St. Paul. Plus, in Green Bay, the host Gophers aren’t waiting in the regional final. Ferris State most likely is, or Denver.

It’s a bummer for Duluth, but if the Bulldogs don’t want to play the Gophers in St. Paul, then they need to climb a spot or two more up the PairWise.

 
 

 

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