MAC Hockey Bracketology: Closer, But Still No Cigar

Ryan Carpenter has the Falcons flying high as of late. Can they soar into the NCAA picture? - BGSU Media File

After an exciting week of hockey for two teams, and disappointing weeks for two others, our MAC schools inch closer to the NCAA picture in this week's Bracketology.

Welp, after WMU swept Miami, BG earned 3 points against Alaska, and UMass just imploding against AIC, we have a shake-up in the Pairwise this week for our MAC schools. However, even with schools like Michigan and Notre Dame struggling as of late (ND killed UAH this weekend, but so has mostly everyone), the MAC did little spotlight moving in the NCAA picture.

In case you missed last week's Bracketology, we broke down the system of how this whole thing works. Let's now take a look at the NCAA picture if the season ended today.

Step One: Get The Participants

Remember, 6 auto-bids and 10 at-large participants. Again, we have a games played disparity, this time in the ECAC. However, like last time, it doesn't matter as both teams are set to make the tournament. Therefore, I'll just use conference winning percentage. That gives us the following auto-bids:

AHA: Mercyhurst
Big Ten: Minnesota
ECAC: Union
WCHA: Ferris State
NCHC: St. Cloud State
Hockey East: Boston College

Now our at-large teams. We turn to the Pairwise for that. The top 16 are as followed:

1. Minnesota
2. Boston College
3. Ferris State
4. Quinnipiac
5. St. Cloud State
t6. Union
t6. Northeastern
t8. Providence
t8. UMass-Lowell
10. Wisconsin
11. Cornell
12. Yale
13. New Hampshire
t14. Clarkson
t14. Michigan
16. Notre Dame

Again, dominance by the conference champions as they hold 5 of the top 6 spots, with Quinnipiac currently leading the ECAC in points, but not winning percentage. So all 6 are leading 5 conferences in some way. But there are 6 conferences, and Mercyhurst gets a spot, so bye-bye Notre Dame!

Also, we get introduced to the first seed-bucket tiebreaker. Both Providence and UMass-Lowell are tied for 8th, the last spot in the 2-seed bucket. To break that tie, we use the adjusted RPI. Providence has a .5630 RPI while UMass-Lowell is .5560. Therefore, the River Hawks are headed to the 3-seed bucket while the Friars enjoy the 2-seed.

If you know the drill, these two teams will be matched-up right off the bat, but cannot face each other since they are both in the Hockey East. We'll fix that later. So the teams, in order, are as followed:

1. Minnesota
2. Boston College
3. Ferris State
4. Quinnipiac
5. St. Cloud State
6. Union
7. Northeastern
8. Providence
9. UMass-Lowell
10. Wisconsin
11. Cornell
12. Yale
13. New Hampshire
14. Clarkson
15. Michigan
16. Mercyhurst

Step Two: Seed The Teams

Four seeds, four teams per seed, four buckets:

#1 seeds: Minnesota, Boston College, Ferris State, Quinnipiac
#2 seeds: St. Cloud State, Union, Northeastern, Providence
#3 seeds: UMass-Lowell, Wisconsin, Cornell, Yale
#4 seeds: New Hampshire, Clarkson, Michigan, Mercyhurst

Step Three: Place Hosts and Top Seeds

Remember, the four regional sites are as followed, with their hosts:

East Regional - Bridgeport, Connecticut (Yale)
Northeast Regional - Worcester, Massachusetts (Holy Cross)
Midwest Regional - Cincinnati, Ohio (Miami)
West Regional - St. Paul, Minnesota (Minnesota)

As we look, due to a HUGE jump by Yale, they throw a monkey wrench into everything by being a host and a 3-seed. Minnesota remains out West and is the top overall seed, so they get first choice anyways. Keep Yale in mind when we throw the other teams in the regionals, but for now, we'll just make a note.

Since Minnesota gets first pick, and is host, they head out West. Boston College is next, and would get placed close to home in the Northeast regional. Ferris State is next up, and gets the Midwest leaving the East to Quinnipiac. Last week, we had hell with three Western teams. Now, we have an even split. tl:dr break-down:

#1 Minnesota to the West Regional
#2 Boston College to the Northeast Regional
#3 Ferris State to the Midwest Regional
#4 Quinnipiac to the East Regional

And Yale is headed to the East as well.

Step 4: Place Remaining Teams

Again, we want 1 vs 16, 8 vs 9, 5 vs 12, etc. We'll get to Yale in a minute, but first we have the 2-seeds. 1 vs 8 and 4 vs 5 if possible, which it is.

#5 St. Cloud State is placed with #4 Quinnipiac in the East Regional
#6 Union is placed with #3 Ferris State in the Midwest Regional
#7 Northeastern is placed with #2 Boston College in the Northeast Regional
#8 Providence is placed with #1 Minnesota in the West regional

Now the 3-seeds, and Yale finally gets to step up. And luck be damned, we get to hold serve! Yale gets placed EXACTLY where they would go in the "perfect bracket". Therefore. . .

#9 UMass-Lowell is placed with #8 Providence in the West Regional
#10 Wisconsin is placed with #7 Northeastern in the Northeast Regional
#11 Cornell is placed with #6 Union in the Midwest Regional
#12 Yale is placed at home against #5 St. Cloud State in the East Regional

Now the 4-seeds:

#13 New Hampshire is placed with #4 Quinnipiac in the East Regional
#14 Clarkson is placed with #3 Ferris State in the Midwest Regional
#15 Michigan is placed with #2 Boston College in the Northeast Regional
#16 Mercyhurst is placed with #1 Minnesota in the West Regional

That yields the following tournament:

West Regional (St. Paul, MN)
#1 Minnesota vs #16 Mercyhurst
#8 Providence vs #9 UMass-Lowell

Northeast Regional (Worcester, MA)
#2 Boston College vs #15 Michigan
#7 Northeastern vs #10 Wisconsin

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati, OH)
#3 Ferris State vs #14 Clarkson
#6 Union vs #11 Cornell

East Regional (Bridgeport, CT)
#4 Quinnipiac vs #13 New Hampshire
#5 St. Cloud State vs #12 Yale

Lots of work to do.

Step 5: Fix Intra-Conference Match-Ups

A quick look and we remember Providence vs UMass-Lowell. We also see Union vs Cornell. They are both 2 vs 3 seeds, and the initial move would be to swap the 3 seeds. However, when we fix the attendance issues, we'll just end up having to move them back. So here's the breakdown. . .

We really want the lone Western 2-seed St. Cloud State out West, so we'll do that now. Next, we have to fix the Cornell vs Union match-up. However, I don't want to move the two-seeds. For now, I'll just move Wisconsin and Cornell to make things simple.

That yields the following tournament:

West Regional (St. Paul, MN)
#1 Minnesota vs #16 Mercyhurst
#5 St. Cloud State vs #9 UMass-Lowell

Northeast Regional (Worcester, MA)
#2 Boston College vs #15 Michigan
#7 Northeastern vs #11 Cornell

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati, OH)
#3 Ferris State vs #14 Clarkson
#6 Union vs #10 Wisconsin

East Regional (Bridgeport, CT)
#4 Quinnipiac vs #13 New Hampshire
#8 Providence vs #12 Yale

Step 6: Make Changes for Attendance

I like the one-seeds and two-seeds, with what we could do with them. Northeastern in Massachusetts and St. Cloud State in the West are ideal. Union can't play Yale, but Providence in Connecticut is pretty solid.

A quick look at the 3-seeds has 3 teams that we could move and Yale sitting in the East. We want Wisconsin in the West, and switching them with UMass-Lowell is perfect, since we can't have Cornell face Union or the River Hawks face Northeastern. So we make that switch.

In the 4-seeds, we have Michigan and Clarkson both playing far from home. Keeping the integrity of the tournament, we keep Mercyhurst in the West and the two East teams are back home. Good enough.

So the final bracket is as followed:

West Regional (St. Paul, MN)
#1 Minnesota vs #16 Mercyhurst
#5 St. Cloud State vs #10 Wisconsin

East Regional (Bridgeport, CT)
#4 Quinnipiac vs #13 New Hampshire
#8 Providence vs #12 Yale

Northeast Regional (Worcester, MA)
#2 Boston College vs #14 Clarkson
#7 Northeastern vs #11 Cornell

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati, OH)
#3 Ferris State vs #15 Michigan
#6 Union vs #9 UMass-Lowell

Frozen Four (Philadelphia, PA)
West Regional winner vs East Regional winner
Northeast Regional winner vs Midwest Regional winner

I actually like this tournament a lot. We have amazing regionals in the West, East, and Northeast attendance wise. The Midwest is the best we can do, and should sell pretty well with Michigan headed there. Plus, this is pretty balanced as well. Weeks like these are easy to do.

New Arrivals:
Yale

Fall-outs:
Vermont

Last Four In:

Yale (ECAC)
New Hampshire (Hockey East)
Clarkson (ECAC)
Michigan (Big Ten)

First Four Out:

Notre Dame (Hockey East)
Vermont (Hockey East)
Maine (Hockey East)
North Dakota (NCHC)

Next Four Out:

Colgate (ECAC)
Minnesota-Duluth (NCHC)
Bowling Green (WCHA)
Minnesota State (WCHA)

Oh hey Bowling Green, you rose a spot. Western Michigan made a nice 7 spot jump, to a tie for 24th (losing the RPI tiebreak though). Miami, who was in the First Four Out last week, fell to 27th this week. UMass fell to 42nd.

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