Monday, March 3, 2014

Bracketology: Gophers Versus North Dakota in St. Paul Regional Final?

When it comes to NCAA tournament time in College Hockey, the Pairwise Rankings are king.

For the uninitiated, the Pairwise Rankings (abbreviated PWR) is a system that mimics the formula that the NCAA Committee uses to select and seed the NCAA Hockey Tournament.  You can find the PWR HERE.  The committee takes the 16 qualifying teams (the six teams that win their conference tournament, and then the next 10 teams in the PWR that did not already qualify) and ships them out to their regional sites with their first round matchups based on several different factors:


  • The "Host Team" of each regional is automatically placed in that region, if they make the tournament field.  The regionals this year are in St. Paul (Minnesota is the host), Cincinnati (Miami-OH), Worcester (Holy Cross) and Bridgeport (Yale)
  • The seedings are then placed so that the #1 overall seed plays #16, #2 plays #15, etc.
  • Teams will be broken into seed "bands" and placed in the regionals so that the #1 "band" seed in the region plays the #4 "band" seed, and #2 plays #3 in the first round.
From there, the committee has a couple more rules to follow:
  • Teams from the same conference cannot play against each other in the first round unless there is no way to avoid it.
  • Teams can be moved around if it doesn't hurt the bracket integrity too much to try and maximize attendance (you cannot swap a #3 band seed and a #2 band seed).
So, based off of that, here's what we have (PWR taken from USCHO.com):

PWR Rankings as of 3/3/14
1. Minnesota
2. BC
3. Union
4. SCSU

5. Wisconsin
6. Ferris State
7. Quinnipiac
8. UMass-Lowell

9. North Dakota
10. Notre Dame
11. Providence
12. Michigan

13. Cornell
14. Vermont
15. Northeastern
16. Colgate

17. Mankato

AQ: Mercyhurst (AHA Winner)

For the purposes of this blog, I'm going to assume that Mankato either jumps ahead of Colgate and Northeastern to make it into the top 15 of the PWR or wins their conference tournament to qualify automatically.  They've been really hot lately, and I think they'll squeak in.

From here we place the teams in regions starting with the #1 band seeds:

Minnesota is placed in the St. Paul regional, BC is placed in the Worcester regional, Union is placed in Bridgeport, and SCSU is placed in Cincinnati.

Now we place the 2-4 band seeds based on bracket integrity (perfect brackets would have 1-8-9-16, 2-7-10-15, 3-6-11-14, 4-5-12-13 seeds grouped together).  When we do this, our brackets are:

St. Paul
1 Minnesota vs 16 Mercyhurst
8 Lowell vs 9 UND

Cincinnati
4 SCSU vs 13 Cornell
5 Wisconsin vs 12 Michigan

Worcester
2 BC vs 15 Mankato
7 Quinnipiac vs 10 Notre Dame

Bridgeport
3 Union vs 14 Vermont
6 Ferris St vs 11 Providence


How does this look?  For starters, we have an intraconference matchup in Cincinnati with Wisconsin/Michigan, so we need to swap something there.  To keep bracket integrity as sound as possible, let's switch Providence and Michigan around.  Now we've got:


St. Paul
1 Minnesota vs 16 Mercyhurst
8 Lowell vs 9 UND

Cincinnati
4 SCSU vs 13 Cornell
5 Wisconsin vs 11 Providence

Worcester
2 BC vs 15 Mankato
7 Quinnipiac vs 10 Notre Dame

Bridgeport
3 Union vs 14 Vermont
6 Ferris St vs 12 Michigan


What do we think here?  No intra-conference matchups, but we can move things around a bit to help attendance out.  Let's go back to our original brackets:

St. Paul
1 Minnesota vs 16 Mercyhurst
8 Lowell vs 9 UND

Cincinnati
4 SCSU vs 13 Cornell
5 Wisconsin vs 12 Michigan

Worcester
2 BC vs 15 Mankato
7 Quinnipiac vs 10 Notre Dame

Bridgeport
3 Union vs 14 Vermont
6 Ferris St vs 11 Providence


What if instead of swapping Michigan with Providence, we swapped them with Notre Dame?

St. Paul
1 Minnesota vs 16 Mercyhurst
8 Lowell vs 9 UND

Cincinnati
4 SCSU vs 13 Cornell
5 Wisconsin vs 10 Notre Dame

Worcester
2 BC vs 15 Mankato
7 Quinnipiac vs 12 Michigan

Bridgeport
3 Union vs 14 Vermont
6 Ferris St vs 11 Providence


This is looking a bit better, but we'd like to move Lowell out east.  Let's do that by swapping them with Ferris State.

St. Paul
1 Minnesota vs 16 Mercyhurst
6 Ferris State vs 9 UND

Cincinnati
4 SCSU vs 13 Cornell
5 Wisconsin vs 10 Notre Dame

Worcester
2 BC vs 15 Mankato
7 Quinnipiac vs 12 Michigan

Bridgeport
3 Union vs 14 Vermont
8 Lowell vs 11 Providence


Okay, we're almost done here.  That last swap resulted in an intra-conference matchup in Bridgeport which we'll need to alleviate.  The options here are to switch Quinnipiac and Lowell, or to switch Providence and Michigan.  I like Lowell in Worcester more than I like Providence in Worcester, I love Quinnipiac in Bridgeport, and I like the idea of making BC's region easier instead of harder (the #2 overall seed should have an easier road than #3 overall Union), so let's swap Quinnipiac and Lowell:

St. Paul
1 Minnesota vs 16 Mercyhurst
6 Ferris State vs 9 UND

Cincinnati
4 SCSU vs 13 Cornell
5 Wisconsin vs 10 Notre Dame

Worcester
2 BC vs 15 Mankato
8 Lowell vs 12 Michigan

Bridgeport
3 Union vs 14 Vermont
7 Quinnipiac vs 11 Providence


No intra-conference matchups here, but is there anything more we can do to help with attendance?  The committee usually protects the #1 overall seed's matchup with the #16 seed, so that rules out swapping Mercyhurst for Mankato.  But what about swapping Cornell and Mankato?

St. Paul
1 Minnesota vs 16 Mercyhurst
6 Ferris State vs 9 UND

Cincinnati
4 SCSU vs 15 Mankato
5 Wisconsin vs 10 Notre Dame

Worcester
2 BC vs 13 Cornell
8 Lowell vs 12 Michigan

Bridgeport
3 Union vs 14 Vermont
7 Quinnipiac vs 11 Providence


Above are our final brackets.  Attendance looks pretty good in all of the regions, and there are no intra-conference matchups to speak of.  This sets up a potential matchup between the Gophers and North Dakota in the St. Paul regional final, as well as some other interesting matchups.

This post is very much inspired by the amazing Jason Moy over at USCHO.  He's gotten everything exactly right in the tournament the past three years.

1 comment:

  1. I had BC over Minnesota at the beginning of the season, but if we could beat UND to get to the Frozen Four again, that would be pretty sweet.

    The other big takeaway I got is even if Holy Cross gets in, we cannot lose to them in the first round.

    ReplyDelete

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