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Welcome 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 Feb. 14, 2012):

1 Ferris State
2 Boston College
3t Boston University
3t Minnesota-Duluth
5t Michigan
5t Massachusetts-Lowell
7 Denver
8 Maine
9t Northern Michigan
9t Union
11 Merrimack
12 Michigan State
13 Miami
14 Minnesota
15t Ohio State
15t North Dakota
15t Cornell
29 Air Force

Here are the current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Air Force
CCHA: Ferris State
ECAC Hockey: Union
Hockey East: Massachusetts-Lowell
WCHA: Minnesota

Notes

• 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 Air Force.

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

The ties and bubbles consist of Boston University and Minnesota-Duluth at 3, Michigan and Massachusetts-Lowell at 5, Northern Michigan and Union at 9, and Ohio State, North Dakota and Cornell at 15.

We break all of our ties based upon the RPI.

Therefore the 16 teams in the tournament, in rank order, and adding in any conference leaders not already in the top 16, are:

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

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

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

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

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

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

No. 9 Northern Michigan is placed in No. 8 Maine’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 10 Union is placed in No. 7 Denver’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 11 Merrimack is placed in No. 6 Massachusetts-Lowell’s regional, the East Regional.
No. 12 Michigan State is placed in No. 5 Michigan’s regional, the West Regional.

No. 4 seeds

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

But we have to place Minnesota first, as the host institution.

No. 14 Minnesota is sent to No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 16 Air Force is sent to No. 1 Ferris State’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 15 Ohio State is sent to No. 2 Boston College’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 13 Miami is sent to No. 3 Boston University’s regional, the East Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

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

Midwest Regional:
Air Force vs. Ferris State
Northern Michigan vs. Maine

Northeast Regional:
Ohio State vs. Boston College
Union vs. Denver

East Regional:
Miami vs. Boston University
Merrimack vs. Massachusetts-Lowell

Our first concern is avoiding intra-conference matchups. We have quite a few here.

Let’s start at the top band, the 1 vs. 4 band. We have Minnesota vs. Minnesota-Duluth.

Aiyo.

We can’t move Minnesota in this matchup, so we have to move Minnesota-Duluth in this situation.

And we have two Western teams and two Eastern teams, and as the rulebook likes to state, No. 1 seeds should be seeded closest to home whenever possible. So with two Eastern schools and two Western schools, then we have to consider keeping both Western schools West and both Eastern schools East.

Which means we have to swap Minnesota-Duluth with Ferris State.

There will be a fuss because now you have the No. 1 overall seed playing the host institution. A cry that you will hear often and enough out there.

Our only other choice is to swap BU with Minnesota-Duluth.

That is a possibility, but you break a number of considerations here. You have the consideration of keeping No. 1 seeds closest to home. You have the attendance consideration as well. But, do you protect your No. 1 overall seed?

In the past, the committee has said that it would like to protect its No. 1 seed whenever possible.

So you have an interesting dilemma here.

In this case, I think that if I was a committee member, I would lobby for keeping the No. 1 seeds closest to home based upon that and the attendance consideration.

So I swap Minnesota-Duluth with Ferris State.

But, now I also have to do some swapping around. I would like to keep the bracket integrity as much as I can. That means that Air Force, the lowest overall seed, should play the highest overall seed remaining, meaning it now matches up against Boston College.

In turn, Ohio State now goes to play Boston University and Miami to play Minnesota-Duluth.

So our bracket is now:

West Regional:
Minnesota vs. Ferris State
Michigan State vs. Michigan

Midwest Regional:
Miami vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Northern Michigan vs. Maine

Northeast Regional:
Air Force vs. Boston College
Union vs. Denver

East Regional:
Ohio State vs. Boston University
Merrimack vs. Massachusetts-Lowell

Now we have to break the other intra-conference matchups in Michigan State vs. Michigan and Merrimack vs. Massachusetts-Lowell.

A simple switch will do the trick.

West Regional:
Minnesota vs. Ferris State
Merrimack vs. Michigan

Midwest Regional:
Miami vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Northern Michigan vs. Maine

Northeast Regional:
Air Force vs. Boston College
Union vs. Denver

East Regional:
Ohio State vs. Boston University
Michigan State vs. Massachusetts-Lowell

Anything else that we can do?

We could swap Maine for Denver to keep some traveling down and increase some attendance in Worcester.

Is that feasible? I think it is.

West Regional:
Minnesota vs. Ferris State
Merrimack vs. Michigan

Midwest Regional:
Miami vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Northern Michigan vs. Denver

Northeast Regional:
Air Force vs. Boston College
Union vs. Maine

East Regional:
Ohio State vs. Boston University
Michigan State vs. Massachusetts-Lowell

And that looks like a good bracket to me.

But, before I finalize it, let’s look and see what we might get should we swap BU with UMD instead.

West Regional:
Minnesota vs. Boston University
Merrimack vs. Michigan

Midwest Regional:
Air Force vs. Ferris State
Northern Michigan vs. Denver

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

East Regional:
Miami vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Michigan State vs. Massachusetts-Lowell

Let’s look at this bracket.

Ferris State, our overall No. 1 seed, has now been protected.

But we do have differenct matchups, but the biggest difference would be in the East Regional.

There will be an attendance problem.

Union will bring some fans, not the amount BU would, but still it’s quite a draw. So I’ll make one slight switch here, and put Michigan State in Worcester and Union in Bridgeport.

West Regional:
Minnesota vs. Boston University
Merrimack vs. Michigan

Midwest Regional:
Air Force vs. Ferris State
Northern Michigan vs. Denver

Northeast Regional:
Ohio State vs. Boston College
Michigan State vs. Maine

East Regional:
Miami vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Union vs. Massachusetts-Lowell

Slightly better for me in terms of attendance.

So, there you have it. Your two choices for a bracket.

Which one is better? What would your call be?

I still have to sacrifice the No. 1 overall seed for the consideration of attendance and keeping the No. 1 seeds closest to home. Yes, Ferris State fans will be mad at me, but I think that would make the best tournament, both for the fans and for the student-athletes, and in turn keeping all of the considerations and rules intact.

So I go with the first one.

West Regional:
Minnesota vs. Ferris State
Merrimack vs. Michigan

Midwest Regional:
Miami vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Northern Michigan vs. Denver

Northeast Regional:
Air Force vs. Boston College
Union vs. Maine

East Regional:
Ohio State vs. Boston University
Michigan State vs. Massachusetts-Lowell

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
14 Minnesota vs. 1 Ferris State
11 Merrimack vs. 5 Michigan

Green Bay
13 Miami vs. 4 Minnesota-Duluth
9 Northern Michigan vs. 7 Denver

Bridgeport
15 Ohio State vs. 3 Boston University
12 Michigan State vs. 6 Massachusetts-Lowell

Worcester
16 Air Force vs. 2 Boston College
10 Union vs. 8 Maine

Conference breakdowns

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

On the move

In: Miami, Denver
Out: Notre Dame, North Dakota

Attendance woes?

I am quite comfortable, despite sacrificing Ferris State, with what I’ve done.

Last week’s brackets

St. Paul
15 North Dakota vs. 4 Ferris State
9 Maine vs. 7 Minnesota

Green Bay
16 Air Force vs. 2 Michigan
12 Ohio State vs. 5 Minnesota-Duluth

Bridgeport
13 Michigan State vs. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell
11 Union vs. 6 Boston College

Worcester
14 Northern Michigan vs. 1 Boston University
10 Notre Dame vs. 8 Merrimack

Interesting …

• The bubble will continue to be interesting.

• Cornell has crept up to within striking distance; it needs to win some games to keep its momentum. Cornell travels to the North Country this weekend to play Clarkson and St. Lawrence, and getting points there is not easy. And then there’s a matchup with Union coming the week after.

• Notre Dame can get back into it this weekend against Miami. This series with Miami might establish whether one team remains in and the other falls away. Notre Dame needs to win to try to avoid having to win it all to get into the tournament. The Irish get Michigan State to close out the regular season.

• Ohio State needs to keep things going, but an off week might hurt or it might help. The Buckeyes will get Miami after the off week.

• Miami, having Notre Dame and Ohio State left on the schedule, will certainly get to play its way in or out of the bubble heading into the CCHA playoffs.

• North Dakota has climbed back into it, but can it keep things going? Michigan Tech, Denver and Minnesota State are left on the Sioux’s schedule.

• How about Minnesota? Up and down it goes. Bemidji State, Nebraska-Omaha and Wisconsin are left on the Gophers’ schedule. What happens to them?