Welcome back to the next installment of our Bracketology, and we’ll keep bringing you a new one every week until we make our final picks before the field is announced.

If you want to skip the inner workings and get to the results of the analysis, then click here.

Here are the facts:

• Sixteen teams are selected to participate in the national tournament.

• There are four regional sites (East — Bridgeport, Conn.; Northeast — Worcester, Mass.; Midwest — Green Bay, Wis.; West — St. Paul, Minn.)

• A host institution which is invited to the tournament plays in the regional for which it is the host, and cannot be moved. There are four host institutions this year: Yale in Bridgeport, Holy Cross in Worcester, Michigan Tech in Green Bay and Minnesota in St. Paul.

• Seedings will not be switched, as opposed to years past. To avoid undesirable first-round matchups, including intra-conference games (see below), teams will be moved among regionals, not reseeded.

Here are the NCAA’s guidelines on the matter, per a meeting of the championship committee:

In setting up the tournament, the committee begins with a list of priorities to ensure a successful tournament on all fronts including competitive equity, financial success and likelihood of playoff-type atmosphere at each regional site. For the model, the following is a basic set of priorities:

• The top four teams as ranked by the committee are the four No. 1 seeds and will be placed in the bracket so that if all four teams advance to the Men’s Frozen Four, the No. 1 seed will play the No. 4 seed and the No. 2 seed will play the No. 3 seed in the semifinals.

• Host institutions that qualify will be placed at home.

• No. 1 seeds are placed as close to home as possible in order of their ranking 1-4.

• Conference matchups in first round are avoided, unless five or more teams from one conference are selected, then the integrity of the bracket will be preserved.

• Once the five automatic qualifiers and 11 at-large teams are selected, the next step is to develop four groups from the committee’s ranking of 1-16. The top four teams are the No. 1 seeds. The next four are targeted as No. 2 seeds. The next four are No. 3 seeds and the last four are No. 4 seeds. These groupings will be referred to as “bands”.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders (through all games of Jan. 31, 2012):

1 Minnesota-Duluth
2 Boston University
3 Massachusetts-Lowell
4 Ferris State
5t Boston College
5t Merrimack
5t Ohio State
8 Michigan
9 Minnesota
10t Maine
10t Miami
12 Notre Dame
13 Northern Michigan
14t Denver
14t Union
16 North Dakota
31 Rochester Institute of Technology

Here are the current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: RIT
CCHA: Ferris State
ECAC Hockey: Union
Hockey East: Merrimack
WCHA: Minnesota


• Bracketology assumes that the season has ended and there are no more games to be played. i.e., the NCAA tournament starts tomorrow.

• Because there are an uneven amount of games played inside each conference, I will be using winning percentage, not points accumulated, to determine who the current leader in each conference is. This team is my assumed conference tournament champion.

Step one

From the committee’s report, choose the 16 teams in the tournament.

We break ties in the PWR by looking at how the teams rank in the Ratings Percentage Index, and add in any current league leaders that are not currently in the top 16. The only team that is not is RIT.

From there, we can start looking at the ties and bubbles in a more detailed fashion.

The ties and bubbles consist of Boston College, Merrimack and Ohio State at 5, Maine and Miami at 10 and Denver and Union at 14.

We break all of our ties based upon the RPI.

Therefore the 16 teams in the tournament, in rank order, are:

1 Minnesota-Duluth
2 Boston University
3 Massachusetts-Lowell
4 Ferris State
5 Boston College
6 Merrimack
7 Ohio State
8 Michigan
9 Minnesota
10 Maine
11 Miami
12 Notre Dame
13 Northern Michigan
14 Denver
15 Union
16 RIT

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 seeds — Minnesota-Duluth, Boston University, Massachusetts-Lowell, Ferris State
No. 2 seeds — Boston College, Merrimack, Ohio State, Michigan
No. 3 seeds — Minnesota, Maine, Miami, Notre Dame
No. 4 seeds — Northern Michigan, Denver, Union, RIT

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.
No. 2 Boston University is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport.
No. 4 Ferris State is placed in the Midwest Regional in Green Bay.

Step four

Now we place the other 12 teams so as to avoid intra-conference matchups if possible.

Begin by filling in each bracket by banding groups. Remember that teams are not assigned to the regional closest to their campus sites by ranking order within the banding (unless you are a host school, in which case you must be assigned to your home regional).

If this is the case, as it was last year, then the committee should seed so that the quarterfinals are seeded such that the four regional championships are played by No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5.

So therefore:

No. 2 seeds

No. 8 Michigan is placed in No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 7 Ohio State is placed in No. 2 Boston University’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 6 Merrimack is placed in No. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 5 Boston College is placed in No. 4 Ferris State’s regional, the Midwest Regional.

No. 3 seeds

Our bracketing system has one regional containing seeds 1, 8, 9, and 16, another with 2, 7, 10, 15, another with 3, 6, 11, 14 and another with 4, 5, 12 and 13.

But we have to place Minnesota first, as it is a host institution.

No. 9 Minnesota is placed in No. 8 Michigan’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 10 Maine is placed in No. 7 Ohio State’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 11 Miami is placed in No. 6 Merrimack’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 12 Notre Dame is placed in No. 5 Boston College’s regional, the Midwest Regional.

No. 4 seeds

One more time, taking No. 16 vs. No. 1, No. 15 vs. No. 2, etc.

No. 16 RIT is sent to No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 15 Union is sent to No. 2 Boston University’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 14 Denver is sent to No. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 13 Northern Michigan is sent to No. 4 Ferris State’s regional, the Midwest Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

West Regional:
RIT vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Minnesota vs. Michigan

Midwest Regional:
Northern Michigan vs. Ferris State
Notre Dame vs. Boston College

Northeast Regional:
Union vs. Boston University
Maine vs. Ohio State

East Regional:
Denver vs. Massachusetts-Lowell
Miami vs. Merrimack

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have one in Northern Michigan vs. Ferris State.

To avoid this, we switch Northern Michigan with Denver.

Our brackets are now:

West Regional:
RIT vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Minnesota vs. Michigan

Midwest Regional:
Denver vs. Ferris State
Notre Dame vs. Boston College

Northeast Regional:
Union vs. Boston University
Maine vs. Ohio State

East Regional:
Northern Michigan vs. Massachusetts-Lowell
Miami vs. Merrimack

We now have a bracket that does not have any intra-conference matchups.

Can we make it better?

Attendance is always a concern.

If you take a look at the Midwest Regional, you may have a problem. The regional is in Green Bay, traditionally a WCHA territory. And while you do have three western teams there, only Denver is a WCHA school, and at the same time, you have Notre Dame and Ferris State.

So could you possibly make one switch?

Swap the matchup of RIT vs. Minnesota-Duluth and Denver vs. Ferris State in terms of location.

Does this make sense?

Let’s look at distance. Duluth is 254 miles to Green Bay. Duluth is 140 miles to St. Paul. That’s 114 extra miles, which can be considered negligible in the NCAA’s eyes.

How about the attendance issue?

St. Paul has Minnesota vs. Michigan right now. I would say that’s a full house draw right there.

Green Bay has no such matchup.

How about bracket integrity? You’ve gone and screwed this up now to a degree. You now have the number 4, 8, 9 and 14 seeds in St. Paul and the number 1, 5, 12 and 16 seeds in Green Bay.

So there’s a tough decision to be made here.

Do you throw out bracket integrity for the sake of thinking that putting Minnesota-Duluth in Green Bay will boost the Green Bay attendance number?

It’s a tough call, but in the end, I’m going to go with bracket integrity.

So my bracket does not change.

West Regional:
RIT vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Minnesota vs. Michigan

Midwest Regional:
Denver vs. Ferris State
Notre Dame vs. Boston College

Northeast Regional:
Union vs. Boston University
Maine vs. Ohio State

East Regional:
Northern Michigan vs. Massachusetts-Lowell
Miami vs. Merrimack

So that is it. My bracket for the week.

See you here next week for the next Bracketology.

Here’s a summary of everything that we have covered.

This week’s brackets

St. Paul
16 RIT vs. 1 Minnesota-Duluth
9 Minnesota vs. 8 Michigan

Green Bay
14 Denver vs. 4 Ferris State
12 Notre Dame vs. 5 Boston College

13 Northern Michigan vs. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell
11 Miami vs. 6 Merrimack

15 Union vs. 2 Boston University
10 Maine vs. 7 Ohio State

Conference breakdowns

CCHA — 6
HEA — 5
WCHA — 3
ECAC — 1
AHA — 1

On The Move

In: Maine, Union, RIT
Out: Michigan State, Cornell, Mercyhurst

Attendance woes?

Green Bay. But we addressed that earlier in the Bracketology.

Last week’s brackets

St. Paul
13 Minnesota vs. 4 Notre Dame
10 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 7 Northern Michigan

Green Bay
14 Michigan State vs. 2 Minnesota-Duluth
12 Denver vs. 5 Michigan

16 Mercyhurst vs. 3 Ohio State
11 Cornell vs. 6 Merrimack

15 Miami vs. 1 Boston University
9 Boston College vs. 8 Ferris State

Interesting …

• All five conference leaders changed this week. It shows you how volatile the whole thing is.

  • SIOUXFAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    First of all most if not all regionals are empty seats, its a dang fact. I mean seriously nobody out east watches the games.   The best regional in hockey history happend at the REA  which had Minnesota vs Holy Cross and North Dakota vs Michigan.  That was the most memorable event for me when talkign about college hockey. No frozen four has ever come close. the NCAA are bigots who wipe thier A**** with 100 dollar bills, they hate North Dakota and anyone who stands up to the opressive nature.  College football is just about tired of them and will seperate soon. In conclusion no matter where teams go the attendance will be horrid. 

    • Shany94

      Can’t argue with that – have been to several regionals in my lifetime in at least three different states, and they haven’t even come close to a packed house at any of them

      • Fan Man

        No doubt!  INDIANpolis hater city should be sunk just like atlantis

    • bronxbomberz41

      The Regional in Manchester, NH is almost always full for at least two games.  You often get UNH (definitely not this year – so sad) and one of the Boston schools (quick ride up I-93).  And the year it was UNH-BU in the regional final (even the UNH-NoDak game) that place was absolutely nuts.  

    • bulldogsupersenior

      The Frozen Four at the X was full for both sessions last year with high profile teams such as your Sioux, along with Michigan and Notre Dame. Pair that with a Minnesota-Duluth underdog team that the hometowners were pulling for in the end and you saw full houses for the semis and finals. So yes, the Ralph was rocking for the MN vs. Holy Cross game, but you can’t say No Frozen Four has ever come close to that.

    • Rkgtstrand

      The 2002 frozen four had nearly twice the attendance as the REA regional and three times the volume.

      • Unfair comparison??

        Let’s be fair. 2002 was perhaps the most followed college hockey team returning to prominence and timing that perfectly with frozen four in their hometown. I am Gopher fan and even I realize that 2002 was a ridiculous home advantage, but that doesn’t take away my goosebumps from the Koalska and Potulnty goals.

      • Phoenixfyre1313

        Yes, I was there!  REA, doesn’t come close to the same number as the X.

  • CT Hockey Fan

    As a CT hockey fan, I know this is all speculation but the Bridgeport Regional isn’t much of a draw. I hope they get better “name” schools than what is shown or else they will have the attendance issue.

    • After Further Review

      I think UML and Merrimack would travel very well, being close to the regional site.  UML has had a lot of down years recently and Merrimack is in it’s 2nd year of being a good quality D1 team.  Not to mention how close together the two schools are, if they both won their first game, the I-495 Regional Final would draw.  Just my thoughts on it, though I do also know neither of these schools historically travels particularly well.
      Of course, there is a lot of hockey to be played and it will most certainly change.

      • Blaise who?

        Lowell would travel very well for a regional in CT.Given the campus commitment to hockey around here, I can imagine several buses for the students as well as organized buses by fans.

    • GUest

      As a Lowell fan living in CT, I would be quite pleased with this arrangment :)

    • bronxbomberz41

      who hosts the Bridgeport one?  Quinnipiac?  Outside of Yale there aren’t really any top flight programs in CT.  Technically Holy Cross is the host for Worcester, but because Boston, Lowell, North Andover, Providence and NH are all so close it usually does well.

  • Mr Hockey

    Correction all 5 conference leaders didn’t change this week! Minnesota has been on top of the WCHA all year!

    • Gufygi

      Actually, he identifies the “current conference leaders” based on winning percentage not points. Which makes sense because teams have played differing amounts of league games.  Last week had UMD had a higher win percentage then Minnesota, .750 to .722.    

      • Mr Hockey

        Gophers have more wins and swept Bulldogs. They owned all tie breakers for the league title. So Minnesota has been in 1st all year.

  • CyanWinters

    Minnesota-Duluth, eh? We’ll go Catamount Cup Champs on them!

  • Anonymous

    For the second straight week you ignore a rule.

    “Conference matchups in first round are avoided, unless five or more teams from one conference are selected, then the integrity of the bracket will be preserved.”

    If the season were to end today, CCHA would have six teams in this tournamen. Therefore, Ferris State vs. Northern Michigan stays!!!

  • Anonymous

    I don’t expect UMass Lowell to stay where they are. They have a tough schedule to round out the season. 2 with BU, 3 with Merrimack, 1 with Maine and by the time the play Providence on the last weekend, Providence may be playing for their playoff lives and they’ve already lost to Vermont this year so I don’t count those games as gimme’s either. Should be alot of movement in Hockey East before this is over.

  • uhhuhbub

    The NCAA has a really tough job in selecting the field, so much so that USCHO can do it by using the pairwise rankings…does the committee even gather anywhere or just use the updated rankings? I do not feel sorry for them however, this tournament should be played based on how you finish not where your fans are coming from…the D1 basketball committee would send Duke to California in a second if that is where they deserved to be sent based on the rankings!! The NCAA has really screwed the pooch with the effort to take college hockey everywhere!! The Final excuse me Frozen Four is in St. Petersburg Florida!! So now we are trying to say attendance is a worry in the regionals…they have set a site in which Ohio State or Notre Dame is the closest school in the 16 team field to the site of the Frozen Four!! Thats roughly 1200 miles and 19 to 20 hours distance away!! Why they do this is beyond me…and they worry about attendance, your product should sell itself, you are leaving it up to coaches to find players from warm climate states but because the NCAA has a hockey tourney there isn’t going to add another 10 division 1 players in the next 20 years!! That is the insane part…look at the locations by state of the top 10 tournament teams this week…Minnesota (2) Mass (4) Michigan (2) Maine and Ohio!!! If they are so worried about attendance and having regionals mainly in those areas then what in the world are they doing when it comes to the Finals!! Teams are dropping programs left and right the University of South Florida is not adding a program because of the finals being down the street!! If the NCAA is worried about the attendance over the integrity of the whole tournament when it comes to seedings they may want to look big picture.  Don’t tell me the economy was so good when they chose Tampa for this years finals!! Fill an arena for your sports biggest events that are live on national TV, and we wonder why college hockey is fighting for tv contracts…Do an estimate of the cost for 2 people to see the Frozen Four this year!! I live in south Florida and the dates of the finals are still at peak season for travel here!! So airfare $400 per person AVG Hotel is going to be $90 a night and not you need a car or taxi the entire time and to eat!! The NCAA needs to wake up…Boston, New York City, Detroit, Minnesota and even Columbus need to be cycled around rotate a Colorado city once every 4 years and a place like DC into the mix, Lake Placid!! Maybe try a trip to Montreal,Toronto,Quebec or Ottowa!! 60% of players seem to be from north of the border and heck they love the sport there and that is still a reasonable drive from the mid west and east!! But to keep this Anahiem and Tampa deal up is insane the NCAA is shooting itself in the foot when it comes to location and ticket sales and going head to head with the economy!! So I dont feel bad that they may have a regional that teams may not bring fans, so sorry NCAA that you would put a tourament together and the 1,16,8 and 9 seeds would be in different brackets rather then the same because you need more revenue!!

    • guest

      Please explain how a trip to NYC is cheaper for a fan than Tampa.

    • WCHA fan

      I would like to see what kind of attendance Omaha would get for a regional.  Most current WCHA teams are all within driving distance.

  • Mesteveo

    East Coast Biased every year. You know it, i know it.

    • WCHA fan

      East coast biased.   Look at next years toournament sites.

      East – Providence
      Northeast – Manchester NH
      Midwest – Toledo OH
      West – Grand Rapids. MI.

      OK Toledo as a MW host I can see as MW.  But there is no way I would consider and site in the Eastern Time zone as being West.

  • Michigan 2011

    Go back to regionals hosted by highest seed.  There I solved your problem.  And just made the regular season a lot more interesting for the top 10. 

  • Anonymous

    Don’t think teams should be able to host regionals and get the favorable essentially home-ice advantage.  There is no reason regionals couldn’t be hosted by a league – Hockey East, ECAC, etc. – with no seeding gaurantees.

  • GB Puck Fan

    moving the Northern Michigan game to Green Bay would also help any attendance concerns, but I can’t see a #1 seed such as UML being moved here in that pairing… I hope the Ferris State people would make the trip across the lake. Former Gamblers at Notre Dame and Ferris State might help attendance.

  • austinsmith4hobey

    For those commenting on the empty seats at the regionals… check the figures from last year at Bridgeport. Packed house on Friday night and Saturday (7,816…capacity 8,412) Small crowd relative to what they get out in the West at Xcel Energy Center, but the atmospehere is great in that smaller building. Great spot for a regional in my opinion, they do a good job.

  • Garbagegoal

    Denver and not Colorado College?