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Jayson Moy theorizes that moving a Boston College-Yale first-round game from St. Paul to Worcester, and bringing Omaha and Notre Dame west, would help attendance (photo: Melissa Wade).

It’s time once again to do what we like to call Bracketology, college hockey style. It’s our weekly look at how I believe the NCAA tournament will wind up come selection time.

It’s a look into what are the possible thought processes behind selecting and seeding the NCAA tournament teams.

We’ll keep bringing you a new one every week until we make our final picks before the field is announced on March 20.

Those of you that are veterans of the college hockey scene know that it is all about the PairWise Rankings. This is USCHO’s numerical approach that simulates the way the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey committee chooses the teams that make the NCAA tournament.

Since USCHO began the PairWise Rankings, we have correctly identified all of the teams that have been selected to the NCAA tournament.

I am the only prognosticator to have correctly predicted the exact brackets for the NCAA tournament in four of the last five years, meaning that I have predicted how the committee thought when putting together the brackets.

This is not a be-all, end-all analysis of the bracket. I am trying to give you, the reader, an idea of what the committee might be thinking and not exactly what they are thinking.

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 — Albany, N.Y.; Northeast — Worcester, Mass.; Midwest — Cincinnati; West — St. Paul, Minn.).

• A host institution that 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: Union in Albany, Holy Cross in Worcester, Miami in Cincinnati and Minnesota in St. Paul.

• Seedings will not be switched. To avoid undesirable first-round matchups, including intraconference games (see below), teams will be moved among regionals, not reseeded.

Here are the NCAA’s guidelines on the matter, from the 2016 pre-championship manual:

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 the likelihood of a playoff-type atmosphere at each regional site. For this model, the following is a basic set of priorities:

1. Once the six automatic qualifiers and 10 at-large teams are selected, the next step is to develop four groups from the committee’s rankings of 1-16. The top four teams are 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. The next four are targeted as No. 2 seeds. The next four are No. 3 seeds and the last four are No. 4 seeds.

2. Step two is to place the home teams. Host institutions that qualify will be placed at home.

3. Step three is to fill in the bracket so that first-round conference matchups are avoided, unless it corrupts the integrity of the bracket. If five or more teams from one conference are selected to the championship, then the integrity of the bracket will be protected (i.e., maintaining the pairing process according to seed will take priority over avoidance of first-round conference matchups). To complete each regional, the committee assigns one team from each of the remaining seeded groups so there is a No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seed at each regional site.

Given these facts, here is the top 16 of the current PairWise Rankings (PWR), and the conference leaders through all games of Jan. 19:

1 Quinnipiac
2 St. Cloud State
3 North Dakota
4 Providence
5 Harvard
6 Michigan
7 Boston College
8 Notre Dame
9 Omaha
10 Yale
11 Boston University
12 Massachusetts-Lowell
13 Denver
14 Cornell
15t Minnesota
15t Penn State
21t Minnesota State
23t Robert Morris

Current conference leaders based on winning percentage:

Atlantic Hockey: Robert Morris
Big Ten: Minnesota
ECAC Hockey: Quinnipiac
Hockey East: Notre Dame
NCHC: North Dakota
WCHA: Minnesota State

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 the current leader in each conference. This team is my assumed conference tournament champion after applying the tiebreakers.

Step one

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

We break ties in the PWR by looking at the individual comparisons among the tied teams, and add in any current league leaders that are not currently in the top 16. The only teams that are not are Minnesota State and Robert Morris.

From there, we can start looking at the ties and bubbles in a more detailed fashion, but there are none among those in the field.

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

1 Quinnipiac
2 St. Cloud State
3 North Dakota
4 Providence
5 Harvard
6 Michigan
7 Boston College
8 Notre Dame
9 Omaha
10 Yale
11 Boston University
12 Massachusetts-Lowell
13 Denver
14 Minnesota
15 Minnesota State
16 Robert Morris

Step two

Now it’s time to assign the seeds.

No. 1 seeds: Quinnipiac, St. Cloud State, North Dakota, Providence

No. 2 seeds: Harvard. Michigan, Boston College, Notre Dame

No. 3 seeds: Omaha, Yale, Boston University, Massachusetts-Lowell

No. 4 seeds: Denver, Minnesota, Minnesota State, Robert Morris

Step three

Place the No. 1 seeds in regionals.

No. 1 Quinnipiac is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester.
No. 2 St. Cloud State is placed in the West Regional in St. Paul.
No. 3 North Dakota is placed in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.
No. 4 Providence is placed in the East Regional in Albany.

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 would be 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 Notre Dame is placed in No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 7 Boston College is placed in No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 6 Michigan is placed in No. 3 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 5 Harvard is placed in No. 4 Providence’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 3 seeds

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

No. 9 Omaha is placed in No. 8 Notre Dame’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 10 Yale is placed in No. 7 Boston College’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 11 Boston University is placed in No. 6 Michigan’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 12 Massachusetts-Lowell is placed in No. 5 Harvard’s regional, the East Regional.

No. 4 seeds

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

Since Minnesota is a host institution, we must place Minnesota in the West Regional.

No. 14 Minnesota is sent to No. 2 St. Cloud State’s regional, the West Regional.
No. 16 Robert Morris is sent to No. 1 Quinnipiac’s regional, the Northeast Regional.
No. 15 Minnesota State is sent to No. 3 North Dakota’s regional, the Midwest Regional.
No. 13 Denver is sent to No. 4 Providence’s regional, the East Regional.

The brackets as we have set them up:

East Regional (Albany):
13 Denver vs. 4 Providence
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
9 Omaha vs 8 Notre Dame

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
15 Minnesota State vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Boston University vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
10 Yale vs. 7 Boston College

Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups. We have none this week.

We now head to our favorite topic — attendance.

Don’t kid yourselves, folks: Attendance is a huge part of where teams go.

How can we make attendance better?

I see at least one thing we can do. We swap the Yale-Boston College game and the Omaha-Notre Dame game to bring those teams closer to their regions.

East Regional (Albany):
13 Denver vs. 4 Providence
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Yale vs. 7 Boston College

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
15 Minnesota State vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Boston University vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
9 Omaha vs 8 Notre Dame

Is there anything else we can do? I would love to have both Michigan and Notre Dame in Cincinnati, but that can’t happen because they’re both No. 2 seeds.

So that’s about all we can do for this week.

See you here next week for the next Bracketology.

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

This week’s brackets

East Regional (Albany):
13 Denver vs. 4 Providence
12 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 5 Harvard

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Robert Morris vs. 1 Quinnipiac
10 Yale vs. 7 Boston College

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
15 Minnesota State vs. 3 North Dakota
11 Boston University vs. 6 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
14 Minnesota vs. 2 St. Cloud State
9 Omaha vs 8 Notre Dame

Conference breakdowns

Hockey East — 5
NCHC — 4
ECAC Hockey — 3
Big Ten — 2
WCHA — 1
Atlantic Hockey — 1

On the move

In: Denver, Minnesota

Out: Cornell, Penn State

Attendance woes?

Cincinnati is iffy.

Last week’s brackets

East Regional (Albany):
14 Penn State vs. 4 Providence
9 Boston College vs 8 Cornell

Northeast Regional (Worcester):
16 Holy Cross vs. 1 Quinnipiac
12 Boston University vs. 6 Harvard

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati):
13 Massachusetts-Lowell vs. 3 North Dakota
10 Notre Dame vs. 7 Michigan

West Regional (St. Paul):
15 Minnesota State vs. 2 St. Cloud State
11 Yale vs. 5 Omaha