Bracketology: No new teams in or out, but matchups starting to get interesting

Bracketology: No new teams in or out, but matchups starting to get interesting
If the NCAA tournament began today, Minnesota would most likely start in Sioux Falls, S.D., against North Dakota (photo: Jim Rosvold/USCHO.com).
It’s time once again to do what we like to call Bracketology, college hockey style.It’s our weekly look at how I believe the NCAA tournament might look like come selection time, using what we know now.It’s a look into the possible thought processes behind selecting and seeding the NCAA tournament teams.This is not a be-all, end-all analysis of the bracket. I am trying to give you, the reader, an idea of what the committee might be thinking and not exactly what they are thinking.We’ll be bringing you a new Bracketology every week until we make our final picks before the field is announced on March 18.If you want to skip the inner workings and get to the results of the analysis, then click here.Here are the facts:• Sixteen teams are selected to participate in the national tournament.• There are four regional sites (East – Bridgeport, Conn.; Northeast – Worcester, Mass.; Midwest – Allentown, Pa.; West – Sioux Falls, S.D.).• A host institution that is invited to the tournament plays in the regional for which it is the host and cannot be moved. The host institutions this year: Yale in Bridgeport, Holy Cross in Worcester, Penn State in Allentown and North Dakota in Sioux Falls.• Seedings will not be switched. To avoid undesirable first-round matchups, including intra-conference games (see below), teams will be moved among regionals, not reseeded.Here are the NCAA’s guidelines on the matter, from the 2015 pre-championship manual:

In setting up the tournament, the committee begins with a list of priorities to ensure a successful tournament on all fronts, including competitive equity, financial success and the likelihood of a playoff-type atmosphere at each regional site. For this model, the following is a basic set of priorities:1. Once the six automatic qualifiers and 10 at-large teams are selected, the next step is to develop four groups from the committee’s rankings of 1-16. The top four teams are No. 1 seeds and will be placed in the bracket so that if all four teams advance to the Men’s Frozen Four, the No. 1 seed will play the No. 4 seed and the No. 2 seed will play the No. 3 seed in the semifinals. The next four are targeted as No. 2 seeds. The next four are No. 3 seeds and the last four are No. 4 seeds.2. Step two is to place the home teams. Host institutions that qualify will be placed at home.3. Step three is to fill in the bracket so that first-round conference matchups are avoided, unless it corrupts the integrity of the bracket. If five or more teams from one conference are selected to the championship, then the integrity of the bracket will be protected (i.e., maintaining the pairing process according to seed will take priority over avoidance of first-round conference matchups). To complete each regional, the committee assigns one team from each of the remaining seeded groups so there is a No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seed at each regional site.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders through all games of February 6:1t Notre Dame1t St. Cloud State1t Denver4 Cornell5 Minnesota State6 Ohio State7 Clarkson8 North Dakota9t Minnesota9t Omaha11t Providence11t Minnesota Duluth13 Northeastern14 Western Michigan15 Penn State16 Michigan22 Boston College33 CanisiusCurrent conference leaders based on winning percentage BOLDED Above:Atlantic Hockey: Canisius (Holy Cross is tied in points, but with 2 more games played)Big Ten: Notre DameECAC Hockey: CornellHockey East: Boston CollegeNCHC: St. Cloud State (Denver does lead in points though)WCHA: Minnesota State (Northern Michigan does lead in points though)

Notes

• Bracketology assumes that the season has ended and there are no more games to be played — i.e., the NCAA tournament starts tomorrow.• Because there are an uneven amount of games played inside each conference, I will be using winning percentage, not points accumulated, to determine the current leader in each conference. This team is my assumed conference tournament champion after applying the tiebreakers.

Step one

From the committee’s report, choose the 16 teams in the tournament.We break ties in the PWR by looking at the individual comparisons among the tied teams, and add in any current league leaders that are not currently in the top 16. The only teams that is not is Canisius.From there, we can start looking at the ties and bubbles in a more detailed fashion.The ties and bubbles consist of Notre Dame, St. Cloud State and Denver at 1, Clarkson and Denver at 4, Minnesota and Omaha at 9 and Providence and Minnesota Duluth at 11.We break all of our ties based upon the RPI.Therefore, the 16 teams in the tournament, in rank order, are:1 Notre Dame2 St. Cloud State3 Denver4 Cornell5 Minnesota State6 Ohio State7 Clarkson8 North Dakota9 Minnesota10 Omaha11 Providence12 Minnesota Duluth13 Northeastern14 Western Michigan15 Boston College16 Canisius

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.No. 1 seeds: Notre Dame, St. Cloud State, Denver, CornellNo. 2 seeds: Minnesota State, Ohio State, Clarkson, North DakotaNo. 3 seeds: Minnesota, Omaha, Providence, Minnesota DuluthNo. 4 seeds: Northeastern, Western Michigan, Boston College, Canisius

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.No. 1 Notre Dame is placed in the Midwest Regional in AllentownNo. 2 St. Cloud State is placed in the West Regional in Sioux FallsNo. 3 Denver is placed in the Northeast Regional in WorcesterNo. 4 Cornell is placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport

Step four

Now we place the other 12 teams so as to avoid intra-conference matchups if possible.Begin by filling in 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 (unless you are a host school, in which case you must be assigned to your home regional).If this is the case, as it was last year, then the committee should seed so that the quarterfinals are seeded such that the four regional championships would be played by No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5.But we must place the hosts first, and that means North Dakota is to be placed first.No. 2 seedsNo. 8 North Dakota is placed in No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West RegionalNo. 7 Clarkson is placed in No. 1 Notre Dame’s regional, the Midwest RegionalNo. 6 Ohio State is placed in No. 3 Denver’s regional, the Northeast RegionalNo. 5 Minnesota State is placed in No. 4 Cornell’s regional, the East RegionalNo. 3 seedsOur bracketing system has one regional containing seeds 1, 8, 9, and 16; another with 2, 7, 10 and 15; another with 3, 6, 11 and 14; and another with 4, 5, 12 and 13.No. 9 Minnesota is placed in No. 8 North Dakota’s regional, the West RegionalNo. 10 Omaha is placed in No. 7 Clarkson’s regional, the Midwest RegionalNo. 11 Providence is placed in No. 6 Ohio State’s regional, the Northeast RegionalNo. 12 Minnesota Duluth is placed in No. 5 Minnesota State’s regional, the East RegionalNo. 4 seedsOne more time, taking No. 16 vs. No. 1, No. 15 vs. No. 2, etc.No. 16 Canisius travels to No. 1 Notre Dame’s regional, the Midwest RegionalNo. 15 Boston College travels to No. 2 St Cloud State’s regional, the West RegionalNo. 14 Western Michigan travels to No. 3 Denver’s regional, the Northeast RegionalNo. 13 Northeastern travels to No. 4 Cornell’s regional, the East RegionalThe brackets as we have set them up:Midwest Regional (Allentown):16 Canisius vs. 1 Notre Dame10 Omaha vs. 7 ClarksonEast Regional (Bridgeport):13 Northeastern vs. 4 Cornell12 Minnesota Duluth vs. 5 Minnesota StateWest Regional (Sioux Falls):15 Boston College vs. 2 St. Cloud State9 Minnesota vs. 8 North DakotaNortheast Regional (Worcester):14 Western Michigan vs. 3 Denver11 Providence vs. 6 Ohio StateOur first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have Western Michigan vs. Denver.We swap Northeastern with Western Michigan.Midwest Regional (Allentown):16 Canisius vs. 1 Notre Dame10 Omaha vs. 7 ClarksonEast Regional (Bridgeport):14 Western Michigan vs. 4 Cornell12 Minnesota Duluth vs. 5 Minnesota StateWest Regional (Sioux Falls):15 Boston College vs. 2 St. Cloud State9 Minnesota vs. 8 North DakotaNortheast Regional (Worcester):13 Northeastern vs. 3 Denver11 Providence vs. 6 Ohio StateHow can we improve attendance at these regionals?I can swap Clarkson with Ohio State. This brings Ohio State a little closer to home, and for Clarkson it’s almost the same distance.Midwest Regional (Allentown):16 Canisius vs. 1 Notre Dame10 Omaha vs. 6 Ohio StateEast Regional (Bridgeport):14 Western Michigan vs. 4 Cornell12 Minnesota Duluth vs. 5 Minnesota StateWest Regional (Sioux Falls):15 Boston College vs. 2 St. Cloud State9 Minnesota vs. 8 North DakotaNortheast Regional (Worcester):13 Northeastern vs. 3 Denver11 Providence vs. 7 ClarksonThe other thing I would like to do is put another Eastern team in Bridgeport. Right now Worcester has three Eastern teams, so let’s move one to Bridgeport. Let’s swap Minnesota Duluth with Providence.Midwest Regional (Allentown):16 Canisius vs. 1 Notre Dame10 Omaha vs. 6 Ohio StateEast Regional (Bridgeport):14 Western Michigan vs. 4 Cornell11 Providence vs. 5 Minnesota StateWest Regional (Sioux Falls):15 Boston College vs. 2 St. Cloud State9 Minnesota vs. 8 North DakotaNortheast Regional (Worcester):13 Northeastern vs. 3 Denver12 Minnesota Duluth vs. 7 ClarksonLooks like a plan here to me.

BUT…

The previous weeks we looked at distances to the regionals for the number one seeds. Let’s do that again.Refreshing ourselves from last week we asked – What is the distance for Notre Dame to the regionals?Allentown – 640 milesSioux Falls – 677 milesBridgeport – 761 milesWorcester – 855 milesNotre Dame is more than 500 miles to any regional site. That means, according to the NCAA Handbook, that they need to fly.What do always talk about here at Bracketology? That a flight is a flight so it doesn’t matter where you go. We always say that about Denver, don’t we?Let’s take a look at the current number two seed in Cornell. What is the distance for Cornell to the regionals?Allentown – 179 milesBridgeport – 260 milesWorcester – 293 milesThe closest regional for Cornell is actually Allentown, the Midwest Regional.Let’s take this into consideration with the caveat added – all teams in the number one seed band are placed in the closest proximity to their campuses – as long as it’s by bus.So, let’s see:Notre Dame – more than 500 miles, needs to fly to any regionalCornell – 179 miles to AllentownSt. Cloud State – 222 miles to Sioux FallsDenver – more than 500 miles, needs to fly to any regional.If you look at it this way, you really only get a change of two games in two different places – Canisius vs. Notre Dame in Bridgeport now and Western Michigan vs. Cornell in Allentown.Midwest Regional (Allentown):14 Western Michigan vs. 4 Cornell10 Omaha vs. 6 Ohio StateEast Regional (Bridgeport):16 Canisius vs. 1 Notre Dame11 Providence vs. 5 Minnesota StateWest Regional (Sioux Falls):15 Boston College vs. 2 St. Cloud State9 Minnesota vs. 8 North DakotaNortheast Regional (Worcester):13 Northeastern vs. 3 Denver12 Minnesota Duluth vs. 7 ClarksonMy thoughts? I prefer the first set of brackets for attendance purposes.See you next week for the next Bracketology.Here’s a summary of everything that we have covered.

This week’s brackets

Midwest Regional (Allentown):16 Canisius vs. 1 Notre Dame10 Omaha vs. 6 Ohio StateEast Regional (Bridgeport):14 Western Michigan vs. 4 Cornell11 Providence vs. 5 Minnesota StateWest Regional (Sioux Falls):15 Boston College vs. 2 St. Cloud State9 Minnesota vs. 8 North DakotaNortheast Regional (Worcester):13 Northeastern vs. 3 Denver12 Minnesota Duluth vs. 7 Clarkson

Conference breakdowns

NCHC — 6Big Ten — 3Hockey East — 3ECAC Hockey — 2WCHA — 1Atlantic Hockey – 1

Last Week’s Brackets

Midwest Regional (Allentown):16 Canisius vs. 1 Notre Dame11 Minnesota vs. 8 OmahaEast Regional (Bridgeport):15 Boston College vs. 2 Cornell10 Minnesota Duluth vs. 7 Minnesota StateWest Regional (Sioux Falls):14 Northeastern vs. 3 St. Cloud State12 North Dakota vs. 6 Ohio StateNortheast Regional (Worcester):13 Western Michigan vs. 4 Clarkson9 Providence vs. 5 DenverThis week’s movement:Out: NoneIn: None