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A tournament prediction one week before NCAA field officially unveiled

NCAA Tournament field announced Sunday, March 23rd
NCAA Tournament field announced Sunday, March 23rd
National Collegiate Athletic Association

The NCAA Tournament is around the corner, and it’s time for another installment of Bracketology, which is the science of seeding hockey teams for the annual national tournament. This is our final installment of Bracketology until the bracket is officially released next Sunday.

There are four host sites this year as always (sixteen teams) and four institutions that must be placed close to home if they qualify. The West Regional will be played in St. Paul, MN (Minnesota is the host). The East Regional will be played in Bridgeport, CT (Yale). The Midwest Regional will be played in Cincinnati, OH (Miami-Ohio). The Northeast Regional will be in Worcester, MA (Holy Cross).

The objective is to avoid inter-conference games with the way the tournament is seeded, and there are ten at-large teams along with the six conference champions who will take part in the tournament. Let’s give you the top sixteen in the latest Pairwise rankings, in sequential order: Minnesota, Boston College, Union, Ferris State, Wisconsin. Quinnipiac, UMass-Lowell, Notre Dame, Providence, St. Cloud State, Michigan, Minnesota State, North Dakota, Vermont, Colgate, and Cornell.

Each of the highest remaining seeds in every conference except for one is in that group, so the bubble currently is sitting at fifteen. This means we must replace Cornell with Atlantic Hockey’s Mercyhurst, who is the highest Atlantic Hockey seed remaining in that conference playoff. This move gives us our sixteen eligible teams: Minnesota, Boston College, Union, Ferris State, Wisconsin. Quinnipiac, UMass-Lowell, Notre Dame, Providence, St. Cloud State, Michigan, Minnesota State, North Dakota, Vermont, Colgate, and finally, Mercyhurst.

Let’s assign the seeds in groups:
1 Seeds: Minnesota, Boston College, Union, Ferris State
2 Seeds: Wisconsin, Quinnipiac, UMass-Lowell, Notre Dame
3 Seeds: Providence, St. Cloud State, Michigan, Minnesota State
4 Seeds: North Dakota, Vermont, Colgate, Mercyhurst

We begin placing teams in the bracket by default, starting with the #1 seeds. #1 Minnesota is hosting a regional, so they’re automatically placed in the West Regional in St. Paul, MN. #2 Boston College is placed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester, MA. #3 Union is placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport, CT. #4 Ferris State heads to the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati, OH.

We’ll be moving to the #2 seeds now. We have #5 Wisconsin heading to the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati, OH while #6 Quinnipiac heads to the East Regional in Bridgeport, CT. #7 UMass-Lowell heads to the Northeast Regional in Worcester, MA while #8 Notre Dame heads to the West Regional in St. Paul, MN.

Just like that, we move to the #3 seeds. #9 Providence heads to the West Regional in St. Paul, MN while #10 St. Cloud State goes to the Northeast Regional in Worcester, MA. #11 Michigan heads to the East Regional in Bridgeport, CT while #12 Minnesota State goes to the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati, OH.

Finally, we place the #4 seeds. #16 Mercyhurst heads to the West Regional in St. Paul, MN. #15 Colgate heads to the Northeast Regional in Worcester, MA. #14 Vermont goes to the East Regional in Bridgeport, CT while #13 North Dakota goes to the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati, OH.

Now, the last four paragraphs in bracket form.

West Regional
#1 Minnesota vs. #16 Mercyhurst
#8 Notre Dame vs. #9 Providence

Midwest Regional
#4 Ferris State vs. #13 North Dakpta
#5 Wisconsin vs. #12 Minnesota State

Northeast Regional
#2 Boston College vs. #15 Colgate
#7 UMass-Lowell vs. #10 St. Cloud State

East Regional
#3 Union vs. #14 Vermont
#6 Quinnipiac vs. #11 Michigan

Are there any moves we can make to improve attendance? Let’s make one. I’ll move #12 Minnesota State into the West Regional, replacing #9 Providence. Remember, we can only move teams within their band (for example, moving a #9 and #12 overall is good since they’re both in the three group). That gives us:

West Regional
#1 Minnesota vs. #16 Mercyhurst
#8 Notre Dame vs. #9 Minnesota State

Midwest Regional
#4 Ferris State vs. #13 North Dakpta
#5 Wisconsin vs. #12 Providence

Northeast Regional
#2 Boston College vs. #15 Colgate
#7 UMass-Lowell vs. #10 St. Cloud State

East Regional
#3 Union vs. #14 Vermont
#6 Quinnipiac vs. #11 Michigan

I’d love to move Wisconsin to the Midwest in place of Notre Dame, but that cannot happen due to the inter-conference matchup that’d result.

So, that’s our final bracket. Until Selection Sunday.

Geoff Discher is Examiner.com's National College Hockey Examiner as well as the Minnesota Golden Gophers Hockey Examiner. Leave a comment below, or feel free to reach him at Disch61@hotmail.com with comments, story ideas, or any general talk surrounding college hockey. You can find him on Facebook as well by clicking here and here, joining the conversation from the social media side as well. He's always chock full of fact and opinion.

Until next time, I’ll see you at the rink!