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Bracketology sees the NCAA bracket taking as much shape as possible

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Another week, and another look at a potential tournament field for March’s NCAA Tournament. It’s an exercise which uses your head as well as a ranking system, and we call it Bracketology. Bracketology: The prognostication behind how the NCAA sets up its annual Division I hockey tournament.

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 intra-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: Boston College, Minnesota, Union, Ferris State, St. Cloud State, Wisconsin, Quinnipiac, UMass-Lowell, Northeastern, North Dakota, Cornell, Vermont, Colgate, Michigan, Notre Dame and Providence.

Since the NCAAs are made up of six conference champions and ten at-large teams, Mercyhurst is in the conference leader hole for Atlantic Hockey. Thus, they’re in and replace Providence. Therefore, your tournament eligible teams: Boston College, Minnesota, Union, Ferris State, St. Cloud State, Wisconsin, Quinnipiac, UMass-Lowell, Northeastern, North Dakota, Cornell, Vermont, Colgate, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Mercyhurst.

Let’s assign the seeds in groups:

1 Seeds: Boston College, Minnesota, Union, Ferris State
2 Seeds: St. Cloud State, Wisconsin, Quinnipiac, UMass-Lowell
3 Seeds: Northeastern, North Dakota, Cornell, Vermont
4 Seeds: Colgate, Michigan, Notre Dame, Mercyhurst

Let’s start by assigning the #1 seeds. We must first place #2 Minnesota in the West Regional in St. Paul due to the Gophers hosting that regional. #1 Boston College goes to the Northeast Regional in Worcester. #3 Union heads to the East Regional in Bridgeport, while #4 Ferris State headlines the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.

Onto the #2 seeds we go now. #5 St. Cloud State heads to the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati. #6 Wisconsin heads to the East Regional in Bridgeport. #7 Quinnipiac heads to the West Regional in St. Paul while #8 UMass-Lowell heads to the Northeast Regional in Worcester.

We start placing the #3 seeds starts with #9 Northeastern going to the Northeast Regional in Worcester. #10 North Dakota heads to the West Regional in St. Paul. #11 Cornell heads over to the East Regional in Bridgeport while #12 Vermont heads over to the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.

Lastly, the #4 seeds. #16 Mercyhurst heads to the Northeast Regional in Worcester, while #15 Notre Dame heads into the West Regional in St. Paul. #14 Michigan heads to the East Regional in Bridgeport while #13 Colgate heads into the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.

In bracket form, this is how the tournament sets up by default:

Northeast Regional
#1 Boston College vs. #16 Mercyhurst
#8 UMass-Lowell vs. #9 Northeastern

Midwest Regional
#4 Ferris State vs. #13 Colgate
#5 St. Cloud State vs. #12 Vermont

West Regional
#2 Minnesota vs. #15 Notre Dame
#7 Quinnipiac vs. #10 North Dakota

East Regional
#3 Union vs. #14 Michigan
#6 Wisconsin vs. #11 Cornell

We must eliminate one intra-conference matchup that sits in the Northeast with UMass-Lowell and Northeastern. We’ll do that by swapping #9 Northeastern and #11 Cornell. That gives you this:

Northeast Regional
#1 Boston College vs. #16 Mercyhurst
#8 UMass-Lowell vs. #9 Cornell

Midwest Regional
#4 Ferris State vs. #13 Colgate
#5 St. Cloud State vs. #12 Vermont

West Regional
#2 Minnesota vs. #15 Notre Dame
#7 Quinnipiac vs. #10 North Dakota

East Regional
#3 Union vs. #14 Michigan
#6 Wisconsin vs. #11 Northeastern

Trouble with that bracket is attendance related. I’d like to bring Michigan to Cincinnati if at all possible and that’s possible if we exchange #13 Colgate with #15 Notre Dame, bringing Notre Dame to Cincinnati temporarily. That gives this:

Northeast Regional
#1 Boston College vs. #16 Mercyhurst
#8 UMass-Lowell vs. #9 Cornell

Midwest Regional
#4 Ferris State vs. #13 Notre Dame
#5 St. Cloud State vs. #12 Vermont

West Regional
#2 Minnesota vs. #15 Colgate
#7 Quinnipiac vs. #10 North Dakota

East Regional
#3 Union vs. #14 Michigan
#6 Wisconsin vs. #11 Northeastern

I’d like to make one more change, putting #14 Michigan in #13 Notre Dame’s spot in the Midwest, so we’ll now do that.

Northeast Regional
#1 Boston College vs. #16 Mercyhurst
#8 UMass-Lowell vs. #9 Cornell

Midwest Regional
#4 Ferris State vs. #13 Michigan
#5 St. Cloud State vs. #12 Vermont

West Regional
#2 Minnesota vs. #15 Colgate
#7 Quinnipiac vs. #10 North Dakota

East Regional
#3 Union vs. #14 Notre Dame
#6 Wisconsin vs. #11 Northeastern

No intra-conference games and attendance is improved as best we can. That’s the bracket we’ll go with. See you next week for more Bracketology.

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!

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