Hockey Bracketology: Predicting WAY Too Many Games

The time has come. We are in the last week of the season, and all 5 conference titles are on the line. With each title, an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. 11 teams will be hoping for a bid come Sunday, the ones who could not secure their conference title. 16 teams, one goal. To be standing in Tampa Bay (a city WAY south than any other school with a hockey program, even if it's Alabama-Huntsville) holding the coveted National Title Trophy.

So a quick rundown. There are exactly 19 games left, with 3 of them being 3rd place games meaning teams in that game would tie and go to a shootout to decide who gets to call themselves 3rd best to ensure the title games can start on time. Since there are that few of games, we can predict how they will impact the Pairwise with the Pairwise Predictor tool.

What is that you say? It's a nifty little thing that adjusts the Pairwise math for each outcome of the 19 games. I will be using the College Hockey News' tool, because it shows the comparisons won rather than USCHO's which just shows the math. To pick the games, I will use a coin because this season has been that full of parity. Heads for the higher seed, tails for the lower seed (So UM would be heads and BGSU would be tails)

If you want to try this out yourself, go ahead. Just click here. There are literally 1,769,472 possibilities, I can't run them all.

Ok, so let's get one thing straight. The AHA will only get an auto-bid. There is no way to put Air Force (the top team there) ahead of everyone else. Those games really only matter to shuffle teams around the bottom of the TUC. I will simply pick teams as I see fit for them, leaving us with 221,184 possibilities that directly impact who is in and who is out.

Ok, so after running the predictions, this is what I came up with:

Pairwise_medium

Ya, apparently my coin likes to land on tails a lot. I do not personally see that Hockey East final, nor do I see St. Cloud State taking the WCHA title, but rules are rules. I take this and pull my Pairwise:

1. Boston College
2. Michigan
3. Miami (CCHA Champ)
t-4. Union (ECAC Champ)
t-4. Minnesota-Duluth
t-6. Maine (Hockey East Champ)
t-6. Ferris State
8. Boston U
9. Mass-Lowell
t-10. Minnesota
t-10. Denver
t-10. Cornell
13. North Dakota
t-14. Michigan State
t-14. Northern Michigan
t-14. St. Cloud State (WCHA Champ)
t-23. Air Force (AHA Champ)

Yeah, this is going to be fun. Only NMU would be out from that list. They have a worse RPI than MSU, and was bounced in round 1 of the CCHA tourney. Our 1-seeds would include Michigan who lost to BG twice in their last 3 meetings.

If we run the seeding rules and all that jazz as before, we'd get:

Northeast Regional (Worchester, MA)
No. 1 Boston College vs No. 14 Michigan State
No. 8 Boston vs No. 12 Cornell

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, WI)
No. 2 Michigan vs No. 15 St. Cloud State
No. 7 Ferris State vs No. 11 Denver

West Regional (St. Paul, MN)
No. 3 Miami vs No. 16 Air Force
No. 6 Maine vs No. 10 Minnesota

East Regional (Bridgeport, CT)
No. 4 Union vs No. 13 North Dakota
No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth vs No. 9 Mass-Lowell

Now, we could get all 3 MAC schools in there by having a WMU-BGSU final, and having BG win it (that's the ONLY way they get in. Even with that, they aren't a TUC [>.500 RPI]). Along with that, I made a few modifications to the predictions, as I see fit. St. Cloud State loses to Minnesota who loses to UMD in the WCHA final. Boston College beats Boston U in the Hockey East final. In the ECAC, I only changed the Harvard-Cornell winner. Colgate and Union still win on Saturday. In the CCHA, Michigan wins the 3rd place game, and we have what we said needed to happen, happen. Nothing needed to change in the AHA.

Our Pairwise now sits:

1. Boston College (Hockey East Champ)
2. Minnesota-Duluth (WCHA Champ)
3. Michigan
t-4. Union (ECAC Champ)
t-4. Ferris State
t-4. Boston U
t-7. Minnesota
t-7. Miami
t-7. Mass-Lowell
t-10. North Dakota
t-10. Maine
t-10. Denver
t-13. Michigan State
t-13. Western Michigan
t-24. Air Force (AHA Champ)
unranked. Bowling Green (CCHA Champ)

If this miracle happened, our tournament would look like this:

Northeast Regional (Worchester, MA)
No. 1 Boston College vs No. 16 Bowling Green
No. 8 Miami vs No. 9 Mass-Lowell

West Regional (St. Paul, MN)
No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth vs No. 14 Western Michigan
No. 7 Minnesota vs No. 11 Maine

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, WI)
No. 3 Michigan vs No. 15 Air Force
No. 5 Ferris State vs No. 10 North Dakota

East Regional (Bridgeport, CT)
No. 4 Union vs No. 13 Michigan State
No. 6 Boston vs No. 12 Denver

These 19 games will drastically alter this picture. Our 3 MAC schools are either jockeying for position, fighting to stay in the picture, or fighting for their season. The Final Five (WCHA) starts tomorrow, and I'll see you Friday from Joe Louis Arena

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