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National tournament in flux as teams get moved around to fit differing criteria

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The NCAA Tournament is ever closer, and it’s time for another installment of Bracketology, which is the science of seeding hockey teams for the annual national 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: Minnesota, Boston College, Union, Wisconsin, St. Cloud State, Ferris State, Quinnipiac, UMass-Lowell, Notre Dame, North Dakota, Providence, Vermont, Cornell, Michigan, Northeastern, and Colgate. With the Atlantic Hockey and Hockey East playoffs underway, we’ll assume that the highest remaining seed is each conference champion, and thus inserted into the field of sixteen.

In the case of Boston College in Hockey East, they’re already in the top sixteen in Pairwise, but we must insert Atlantic Hockey’s Mercyhurst in place of Colgate. That gives us: Minnesota, Boston College, Union, Wisconsin, St. Cloud State, Ferris State, Quinnipiac, UMass-Lowell, Notre Dame, North Dakota, Providence, Vermont, Cornell, Michigan, Northeastern, and Mercyhurst as your top sixteen teams eligible for the tournament.

Let’s assign the seeds in groups:
1 Seeds: Minnesota, Boston College, Union, Wisconsin
2 Seeds: St. Cloud State, Ferris State, Quinnipiac, UMass-Lowell
3 Seeds: Notre Dame, North Dakota, Providence, Vermont
4 Seeds: Cornell, Michigan, Northeastern, 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 while #4 Wisconsin goes to the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati, OH.

We place each remaining team in similar fashion, moving to the #2 seeds. #5 St. Cloud State goes to the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati, OH. #6 Ferris State goes to the East Regional in Bridgeport, CT. #7 Quinnipiac heads to the Northeast Regional in Worcester, MA while #8 UMass-Lowell goes to the West Regional in St. Paul, MN.

Onto the #3 seeds now and we start by placing #9 Notre Dame in the West Regional in St. Paul, MN. #10 North Dakota heads to the Northeast Regional in Worcester, MA. #11 Providence heads to the East Regional in Bridgeport, CT. #12 Vermont heads to the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati, OH.

Finally, we have the #4 seeds. #16 Mercyhurst heads to the West Regional in St. Paul, MN. #15 Northeastern heads to the Northeast Regional in Worcester, MA. #14 Michigan heads to the East Regional in Bridgeport, CT while #13 Cornell goes to the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati, OH.

Here’s our default bracket:

West Regional
#1 Minnesota vs. #16 Mercyhurst
#8 UMass-Lowell vs. #9 Notre Dame

Midwest Regional
#4 Wisconsin vs. #13 Cornell
#5 St. Cloud State vs. #12 Vermont

Northeast Regional
#2 Boston College vs. #15 Northeastern
#7 Quinnipiac vs. #10 North Dakota

East Regional
#3 Union vs. #14 Michigan
#6 Ferris State vs. #11 Providence

With the #2-#15 matchup in the Northeast, we must switch Northeastern out of the Northeast Regional. (Northeastern and BC are both in Hockey East.) Thus, we swap them with #16 Mercyhurst, putting Northeastern in the West Regional. For attendance purposes, I’m also going to switch #9 Notre Dame with #12 Vermont, moving Vermont to the #9 seed in the West temporarily. Now, we bring #10 North Dakota over to St. Paul, replacing #9 Vermont and putting the Catamounts in the Northeast. Finally, let’s swap #6 Ferris State with #5 St. Cloud State, bringing the Bulldogs to the Midwest and sending the Huskies to Bridgeport.

Our final bracket this week:

West Regional
#1 Minnesota vs. #16 Northeastern
#8 UMass-Lowell vs. #9 North Dakota

Midwest Regional
#4 Wisconsin vs. #13 Cornell
#5 Ferris State vs. #12 Notre Dame

Northeast Regional
#2 Boston College vs. #15 Mercyhurst
#7 Quinnipiac vs. #10 Vermont

East Regional
#3 Union vs. #14 Michigan
#6 St. Cloud State vs. #11 Providence

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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