Friday, March 27, 2015

NCAA Hockey Tournament: Predicting the Games

The NCAA Tournament is finally here!

Four games Friday, six games Saturday and two games Sunday will determine who moves on to play in the Frozen Four.

Although the tournament was a tough one to pick for the bracketologists (including yours truly), everyone has an opinion and I'll use mine to try and pick the games.  This year is especially tough, as I think the top 15 teams have a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.  All game times listed are in Central time.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

2015 NCAA Tournament Bracketology

By virtue of their B1G Conference Playoff title, the Minnesota Gophers will be playing in the NCAA Tournament as a #3 seed.

Now that all of the other conference tournament results are in, let's take a stab at predicting the brackets the NCAA Selection Committee will unveil tomorrow afternoon.

The field of 16 breaks down like this:

1 Seeds
Minnesota State (#1 Overall)
North Dakota
Boston University
Miami

2 Seeds
Denver
Minnesota-Duluth
Michigan Tech
Nebraska-Omaha

3 Seeds
Harvard
Minnesota
Boston College
St. Cloud State

4 Seeds
Yale
Quinnipiac
Providence
RIT

The first step of the Bracketology process is to place host teams in their own regionals.

North Dakota is placed in the Fargo regional as the only host team that made the tournament.

Next, starting with the #1 overall seed (Mankato), #1 seeds are placed in the regional closest to them - Mankato is placed in the South Bend regional, Boston University is placed in the Manchester regional, and Miami is placed in Providence (BU is about as close to Manchester as Providence, and this makes things easier down the line).

Now we place the remaining teams in their regionals based on ideal seed bands (1 vs 16 and 8 vs 9, 2 vs 15 and 7 vs 10, 3 vs 14 and 6 vs 11, 4 vs 13 and 5 vs 12):

When we do that, we get the following:

South Bend
Mankato vs RIT
Nebraska-Omaha vs Harvard

Fargo
North Dakota vs Providence
Michigan Tech vs Minnesota

Manchester
BU vs Quinnipiac
Minnesota-Duluth vs BC

Providence
Miami vs Yale
Denver vs St. Cloud State

Now, we're looking to eliminate first-round intra-conference matchups.  We have only one in Providence with Denver playing St. Cloud.  Because the NCHC has three #2 seeds, the only way to avoid this matchup is to swap Minnesota and St. Cloud State.  Now we're left with:

South Bend
Mankato vs RIT
Nebraska-Omaha vs Harvard

Fargo
North Dakota vs Providence
Michigan Tech vs St. Cloud State

Manchester
BU vs Quinnipiac
Minnesota-Duluth vs BC

Providence
Miami vs Yale
Denver vs Minnesota

Now, what can we do to maximize attendance at these sites?  One thing we can do is swap Minnesota and Harvard, to bring the Crimson out East and the Gophers back West.

South Bend
Mankato vs RIT
Nebraska-Omaha vs Minnesota

Fargo
North Dakota vs Providence
Michigan Tech vs St. Cloud State

Manchester
BU vs Quinnipiac
Minnesota-Duluth vs BC

Providence
Miami vs Yale
Denver vs Harvard

You'd like to get Providence in Providence, so let's swap Yale, Quinnipiac and Providence to try and preserve bracket integrity as best we can.  So now we've got:

South Bend
Mankato vs RIT
Nebraska-Omaha vs Minnesota

Fargo
North Dakota vs Quinnipiac
Michigan Tech vs St. Cloud State

Manchester
BU vs Yale
Minnesota-Duluth vs BC

Providence
Miami vs Providence
Denver vs Harvard

Okay.  All four regionals look pretty good from an attendance perspective here.  South Bend is probably the weakest of the four, but Minnesota usually travels pretty well and Mankato isn't that far either.  We'd love to get Miami to South Bend, and the committee in the past has said that "a flight is a flight" and sent a higher-ranked team farther in favor of a bus ride for a lower team.  However, the committee also likes to keep the 1 vs 16 matchup intact, and moving Mankato to Providence would screw up our whole "Providence in Providence" idea.

So, the question is: does the committee care more about preserving the 1/16 match up, or about attendance?  If they care about attendance more I could see Mankato going to Providence, but in the past they've been sure to protect that 1/16 matchup so I can't see them changing that now.  Here's my final bracket:

South Bend
Mankato vs RIT
Nebraska-Omaha vs Minnesota

Fargo
North Dakota vs Quinnipiac
Michigan Tech vs St. Cloud State

Manchester
BU vs Yale
Minnesota-Duluth vs BC

Providence
Miami vs Providence
Denver vs Harvard

Friday, March 20, 2015

Gopher Hockey PairWise Update - What I Believe: Friday Night Edition

Here is what I believe when it comes to the Gophers and the NCAA Tournament:

Minnesota can only miss the tournament if the following occurs-


  • Michigan beats Minnesota in the B1G, AND
  • Colgate beats Harvard in the ECAC, AND
  • UMass-Lowell beats BU in HE, AND
  • Miami beats SCSU in the NCHC, AND
  • Michigan Tech beats Mankato in the WCHA, AND
  • North Dakota beats Denver in the NCHC 3rd Place Game
Any other result in any other game and the Gophers are in the NCAA Tournament.  If each outcome is a 50/50 probability and we take a Minnesota loss as an assumption, there is a 3.125% chance that this scenario will occur.

A win tomorrow night against Michigan would likely mean a #9 or #10 overall seed, whereas a loss will probably net Minnesota a #13 or #14 seed.

NCAA Tournament What If? Gophers Win Today, Lose Tomorrow

The Gophers can still make the NCAA Tournament without winning the B1G Conference Playoff this weekend, but it's going to take some help.

According to the scenarios I've run, there are five other things around the country this weekend that can severely harm Minnesota's chances of making the big dance.  They are:


  1. Boston University not winning the Hockey East postseason tournament
  2. Quinnipiac not winning the ECAC postseason tournament
  3. St. Cloud State winning at least one game in the NCHC tournament
  4. Bowling Green winning at least one game in the WCHA tournament
  5. Minnesota State or Michigan Tech not winning the WCHA tournament
Assuming Minnesota takes care of business against Ohio State today, they've still got a decent shot of making the tourney even if they lose to Michigan or MSU in Saturday's championship game.  Based on the scenario-building I've done, it looks to me like a win tonight will get the Gophers into the NCAA tournament so long as no more than two of the above bad results take place.

As a Gopher fan, these are the only results you need to pay attention to this weekend (other than the Gophers, of course).

We'll go into why each of these results harm the Gophers in more detail below: