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Making changes to NCAA Tournament bracket by shuffling things around

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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, St. Cloud State, Ferris State, Quinnipiac, Wisconsin, UMass-Lowell, Northeastern, Michigan, Maine, North Dakota, Cornell, Notre Dame, Vermont, and finally, Minnesota-Duluth. There’s one problem. Atlantic Hockey’s conference leader (and assumed champion) is given a conference champion berth into the tournament (which consists of six conference champions and ten at-large teams). So, the sixteen eligible teams: Boston College, Minnesota, Union, St. Cloud State, Ferris State, Quinnipiac, Wisconsin, UMass-Lowell, Northeastern, Michigan, Maine, North Dakota, Cornell, Notre Dame, Vermont, and Mercyhurst.

Let’s assign the seeds in groups:

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

Let’s now assign the #1 seeds. We start with #2 Minnesota in the West Regional in St. Paul since they are the regional’s host school. Let’s place #1 Boston College in the Northeast Regional in Worcester. #3 Union goes to the East Regional in Bridgeport while #4 St. Cloud State heads to the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.

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

The #3 seeds come next. #9 Northeastern heads to the Northeast Regional in Worcester. #10 Michigan goes to the West Regional in St. Paul. #11 Maine goes to the East Regional in Bridgeport while #12 North Dakota goes to the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.

Finally, we have the #4 seeds. #16 Mercyhurst heads to the Northeast Regional in Worcester. #15 Vermont heads to the West Regional in St. Paul. #14 Notre Dame heads to the East Regional in Bridgeport while #13 Cornell goes to the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.

Our bracket sets up like this:

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

Midwest Regional
#4 St. Cloud State vs. #13 Cornell
#5 Ferris State vs. #12 North Dakota

West Regional
#2 Minnesota vs. #15 Vermont
#7 Wisconsin vs. #10 Michigan

East Regional
#3 Union vs. #14 Notre Dame
#6 Quinnipiac vs. #11 Maine

We have two intra-conference matchups we must avoid, and they are the lower seeded games in the Northeast Regional and West Regional. Our two switches involve four teams, so let’s swap #9 Northeastern with #12 North Dakota. We’ve also got a switch with #10 Michigan and #11 Maine that we must make. Now, our bracket:

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

Midwest Regional
#4 St. Cloud State vs. #13 Cornell
#5 Ferris State vs. #12 Northeastern

West Regional
#2 Minnesota vs. #15 Vermont
#7 Wisconsin vs. #10 Maine

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

We can’t make any more changes to this bracket that avoid inter-conference games, so that’s the bracket we’ll go with this week.

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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