Hockey Bracketology: The "Regular Season Finale" Episode

We have a couple teams on the bubble. Who is going to have their bubble burst?

Ok, so the CCHA playoffs have started. And the Atlantic Hockey and the ECAC as well. So why is this the "regular season"? Well, as far as the NCAA is concerned, the regular season just ended. The first rounds of all those series that were played (11 in all) were simply "non-conference" games. With the Hockey East and WCHA finally done with their conference slate, we can begin the 2 week mayhem that is college hockey's March Madness.

We will do this next week with the help of the Pairwise Predictor, a nifty tool that let's us predict the 5 conference finals and get an idea on who will be in come next Sunday, and who will be out. Until then, let's look at who's seasons are already over with:

Alabama-Huntsville (Independent), Canisius, Army, Sacred Heart, American Int (AHA), Ohio State, Alaska, Northern Michigan**(CCHA), St. Lawrence, Clarkson, Princeton, Brown (ECAC), Vermont, and Northeastern (Hockey East).

Northern Michigan is an exception because they are the first team out of the Pairwise. They need a lot of help, but they could still get in. Therefore, they are on watch this weekend. We'll check in on them next week.

Ok, so now time to get down to business, you know the whole shindig, so we'll get crackin' after the jump.

Remember, this will change drastically over the next 2 weeks, but this is if the season ended today. We can't move teams around seed-wise, but we can move them between regions.

Step One: Select the Field

We use the Pairwise rankings for at-larges, and regular season conference champs to do this. The top 16 in the Pairwise and the conference champs are:

1. Boston College (Hockey East Champ)
t-2. Michigan
t-2. UMass-Lowell
t-2. Minnesota-Duluth
5. Ferris State (CCHA Champ)
t-6. Boston U
t-6. Minnesota (WCHA Champ)
8. Union (ECAC Champ)
t-9. Miami
t-9. Maine
11. Denver
12. Michigan State
13. North Dakota
t-14. Cornell
t-14. Merrimack
16. Northern Michigan
t-29. Air Force (AHA Champ)

Since Air Force is outside the top 16, Northern Michigan gets bumped out (as noted earlier). That order is our 1-16 as well, with ties broken (in order) by RPI.

Step Two: Seed the Teams

Our bands will be:

1-seeds: Boston College, Michigan, UML, UMD
2-seeds: Ferris State, Boston U, Minnesota, Union
3-seeds: Miami, Maine, Denver, Michigan State
4-seeds: North Dakota, Cornell, Merrimack, Air Force

Step Three: Place the Top Seeds

No. 1 Boston College goes to the Northeast Regional (Worchester, MA)
No. 2 Michigan goes to the Midwest Regional (Green Bay, WI)
No. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell goes to the East Regional (Bridgeport, CT)
No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth goes to the West Regional (St. Paul, MN)

Step Four: Place the Other Seeds

In the 2-seed band, we have a host (the only host) in Minnesota, so we put them there. Remember, with the seeds we want the most "competitive field" as possible (i.e. 1 vs 8, 8 vs 9, 1 vs 16 in the 1 regional, and so on). With that we have.......

No. 7 Minnesota in the West Regional
No. 8 Union in the Northeast Regional
No. 6 Boston in the East Regional
No. 5 Ferris State in the Midwest Regional

In the 3-seed band we have:

No. 9 Miami in the Northeast Regional
No. 10 Maine in the West Regional
No. 11 Denver in the East Regional
No. 12 Michigan State in the Midwest Regional

and our 4-seeds go.......

No. 13 North Dakota in the West Regional
No. 14 Cornell in the East Regional
No. 15 Merrimack in the Midwest Regional
No. 16 Air Force in the Northeast Regional

Thus we have.....

Northeast Regional (Worchester, MA)
No. 1 Boston College vs No. 16 Air Force
No. 8 Union vs No. 9 Miami

Midwest Regiona (Green Bay, WI)
No. 2 Michigan vs No. 15 Merrimack
No. 5 Ferris State vs No. 12 Michigan State

East Regional (Bridgeport, CT)
No. 3 Mass-Lowell vs No. 14 Cornell
No. 6 Boston vs No. 11 Denver

West Regional (St. Paul, MN)
No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth vs. No. 13 North Dakota
No. 7 Minnesota vs No. 10 Maine

Step Five: Check for intra-conference matchups

We have 2: Ferris State vs MSU and UMD vs North Dakota.

Let's fix the WCHA match-up first. I want to move Merrimack closer to home, but the two top seeds out East are Hockey East foes, so the only thing we can do is move North Dakota with Air Force.

For the CCHA match-up, we can only switch MSU with either Denver or Maine. Let's choose Denver to move them out West for now.

Now we have......

Northeast Regional (Worchester, MA)
No. 1 Boston College vs No. 13 North Dakota
No. 8 Union vs No. 9 Miami

Midwest Regiona (Green Bay, WI)
No. 2 Michigan vs No. 15 Merrimack
No. 5 Ferris State vs No. 11 Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport, CT)
No. 3 Mass-Lowell vs No. 14 Cornell
No. 6 Boston vs No. 12 Michigan State

West Regional (St. Paul, MN)
No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth vs. No. 16 Air Force
No. 7 Minnesota vs No. 10 Maine

Step Six: Attendance Adjustments (optional)

Ok, so I like our 1-8 seeds. Works out great for those fan bases.

Our 4-seed band we can't really touch like I said.

So that just leaves us with our 3-seeds.

I want to put Maine out East. However, Boston is a Hockey East foe, so we can only move them to the Northeast. We switch them with Miami to get.........

Northeast Regional (Worchester, MA)
No. 1 Boston College vs No. 13 North Dakota
No. 8 Union vs No. 10 Maine

Midwest Regiona (Green Bay, WI)
No. 2 Michigan vs No. 15 Merrimack
No. 5 Ferris State vs No. 11 Denver

East Regional (Bridgeport, CT)
No. 3 Mass-Lowell vs No. 14 Cornell
No. 6 Boston vs No. 12 Michigan State

West Regional (St. Paul, MN)
No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth vs. No. 16 Air Force
No. 7 Minnesota vs No. 9 Miami

I want to move Michigan State, but we can only move them with Miami. They play each other this weekend with a trip to Detroit on the line, and a great opportunity to improve each's Pairwise while ending the other's regular season (and Michigan State could be in hot water if swept). I won't change the bracket, and let this weekend work out the bracket.

I really like this bracket. Keep in mind that of the 6 teams currently first out, 5 are CCHA teams (although Ohio State is out because they have no games left) including fellow MAC school Western Michigan. Stay tuned as we try to sort this mess out.

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