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Extended bracketology for 3/15/12: Three for the price of one

March 15, 2012 - Matt Wellens

Welcome the final NCAA hockey bracketology prior to the start of the conference tournaments tonight.

I’ll be going through three separate scenarios including what the bracket would look like if the season ended today, what the bracket will look like based on my predications for the weekend and I’ll give you a scenario that puts both Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech into the NCAA tournament.

Lets start with how the bracket would look if the season ended today, starting with the current top 16 in the USCHO.com PairWise rankings.

Ties have been broken via the RPI.

1. Boston College

2. Michigan

3. Minnesota-Duluth

4. Miami

5. Boston University

6. Union

7. Ferris State

8. Minnesota

9. UMass-Lowell

10. Maine

11. North Dakota

12. Denver

13. Cornell

14. Michigan State

15. Western Michigan

16. Northern Michigan

The only conference not represented is Atlantic Hockey, so I’ll take that tournament’s No. 1 seed — Air Force — and make it the No. 16 seed in the tourney, bumping out NMU.

Now I’ll start by placing the No. 1 seeds in regionals based on proximity. So, Boston College will head to the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass., Michigan will get the Midwest Regional in Green Bay, UMD heads to St. Paul for the West Regional and Miami heads to the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn.

After that, I’ll place teams based on proximity, so No. 1 faces No. 16, No. 8 takes on No. 9, etc. Only the No. 1 seeds get placed based on proximity.

The only exception is No. 8 Minnesota is the host of the West Regional, so the No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchup automatically lands in St. Paul.

So here is how the initial bracket shakes out.

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Mass.) — 1. Boston College vs. 16. Air Force; 7. Ferris State vs 10. Maine

East Regional (Bridgeport, Conn.) — 4. Miami vs. 13. Cornell; 5. Boston University vs. 12. Denver

West Regional (St. Paul) — 3. Minnesota-Duluth vs. 14. Michigan State; 8. Minnesota vs. 9 UMass-Lowell

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wis.) — 2. Michigan vs. 15. Western Michigan; 6. Union vs. 11. North Dakota

The first problem with this bracket is an intra conference matchup between the CCHA’s Michigan and Western Michigan in Green Bay. To remedy that, I’ll swap Western with Air Force.

I’m going to make one other switch as well to boost attendance in a pair of regionals and keep teams closer to home. I’m going to send Union to Worcester and Ferris State to Green Bay, which needs all the help it can get. This move does little to damage bracket integrity.

So here’s my final bracket, if the season ended today:

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Mass.) — 1. Boston College vs. 15. Western Michigan; 6. Union vs 10. Maine

East Regional (Bridgeport, Conn.) — 4. Miami vs. 13. Cornell; 5. Boston University vs. 12. Denver

West Regional (St. Paul) — 3. Minnesota-Duluth vs. 14. Michigan State; 8. Minnesota vs. 9 UMass-Lowell

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wis.) — 2. Michigan vs. 16. Air Force; 7. Ferris State vs. 11. North Dakota

Bonus bracket No. 1

USCHO and College Hockey News both have great tools that allow you to predict the final outcome of the PairWise rankings based on how every game plays out.

For this exercise, I’ll be using CHN’s “You Are The Committee” tool.

Here are my predictions, with limited upsets you’ll find.

WCHA

Quarterfinal #2: Denver defeats Michigan Tech.

Quarterfinal #1: North Dakota defeats St. Cloud State.

Semifinal #2: Minnesota-Duluth defeats Denver.

Semifinal #1: Minnesota defeats North Dakota.

Championship game: Minnesota-Duluth defeats Minnesota.

Hockey East

Semifinal #2: Maine defeats Boston University.

Semifinal #1: Boston College defeats Providence.

Championship game: Boston College defeats Maine.

ECAC

Semifinal #2: Cornell defeats Harvard.

Semifinal #1: Union defeats Colgate.

Championship game: Union defeats Cornell.

Consolation game: Harvard defeats Colgate.

CCHA

Semifinal #2: Miami defeats Western Michigan.

Semifinal #1: Bowling Green defeats Michigan.

Championship game: Miami defeats Bowling Green.

Consolation game: Michigan defeats Western Michigan.

Atlantic Hockey

Semifinal #2: Niagara defeats RIT.

Semifinal #1: Air Force defeats Mercyhurst.

Championship game: Air Force defeats Niagara.

Based on these results, here is how the NCAA bracket would look, with notes afterwards of why I did what I did.

Midwest Regional (Green Bay) — 1. Minnesota-Duluth vs. 15. Northern Michigan; 8. Boston University vs. 10 North Dakota

East Regional (Bridgeport, Conn.) — 4. Miami vs. 13. Cornell; 5. Union vs. 12. Denver

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Mass.) — 2. Boston College vs. 14. Michigan State; 6. Ferris State vs. 11. UMass-Lowell

West Regional (St. Paul) — 3. Michigan vs. 16. Air Force; 7. Minnesota vs. 9. Maine

Notes

First question obviously is, “Why is UMD in Green Bay and not St. Paul?” The answer lies in the committee’s goal of always protecting the No. 1 seed and giving it the easiest route to the Frozen Four. It’s a reward for regular season success. It starts with allowing the No. 1 seed to play the lowest seed possible, but the question batted around is, “Will the committee save the Bulldogs from having to play host Minnesota in the second round?”

I think the committee will do this, if UMD is the No. 1 overall seed and Green Bay is desperate for a draw. That’s why I put UMD in Green Bay.

As for other shakeups, I had to break up Michigan-Michigan State in St. Paul. To do that, and protect UMD, I sent Air Force to St. Paul, the Spartans to Worcester and Northern to Green Bay. For the Bulldogs, the next best thing to the No. 16 seed is a No. 15 seed who last played a hockey game three weeks ago.

The other change necessary was flipping Maine and North Dakota to break up a Hockey East matchup between Boston University and the Black Bears.

Bonus bracket No. 2

So how could NMU and Michigan Tech both get into the NCAA tournament?

For starters, NMU would need to climb to No. 14 overall via Cornell and Western Michigan both going 0-2. Michigan Tech would then have to win the WCHA title.

Here’s a scenario that safely puts both teams in, with NMU at No. 13 in the PairWise.

You have specified the following tournament results:

WCHA

Quarterfinal #2: Michigan Tech defeats Denver.

Quarterfinal #1: St. Cloud State defeats North Dakota.

Semifinal #2: Michigan Tech defeats Minnesota-Duluth.

Semifinal #1: St. Cloud State defeats Minnesota.

Championship game: Michigan Tech defeats St. Cloud State.

Hockey East

Semifinal #2: Maine defeats Boston University.

Semifinal #1: Boston College defeats Providence.

Championship game: Maine defeats Boston College.

ECAC

Semifinal #2: Harvard defeats Cornell.

Semifinal #1: Colgate defeats Union.

Championship game: Colgate defeats Harvard.

Consolation game: Union defeats Cornell.

CCHA

Semifinal #2: Miami defeats Western Michigan.

Semifinal #1: Michigan defeats Bowling Green.

Championship game: Miami defeats Michigan.

Consolation game: Bowling Green defeats Western Michigan.

Atlantic Hockey

Semifinal #2: RIT defeats Niagara.

Semifinal #1: Air Force defeats Mercyhurst.

Championship game: RIT defeats Air Force.

Based on these results, here is how the bracket shakes out, with an explanation of why I did what I did.

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Mass.) — 1. Boston College vs. 16 RIT; 7. Minnesota-Duluth vs. 10. UMass-Lowell

East Regional (Bridgeport, Conn.) — 4. Maine vs. 13. Northern Michigan; 5. Union vs. 12. Denver

Midwest Regional (Green Bay) — 2. Michigan vs. 15. Michigan Tech; 6. Ferris State vs. 11. North Dakota

West Regional (St. Paul) — 3. Miami vs. 14. Colgate; 8. Minnesota vs. 9. Boston University

Notes

Michigan Tech automatically gets to play in Green Bay because it is the host. The same goes for Minnesota in St. Paul.

No other changes necessary.

As you can see, there are a lot of different ways things can shake out in the PairWise in the final weekend. I’ll have another edition of bracketology on Saturday morning and again Sunday morning prior to the selection show at noon on ESPNU.

 
 

 

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