Bracket ABCs: Quarterfinals Edition
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
One more weekend in the books, and two more weekends of games to go before the NCAA tournament teams are determined.
Remember, after this weekend, you can use CHN's You Are the Committee tool to prognostical the NCAA field. The tool allows you to plug in results from the remaining conference tournament games, and see what the Pairwise would look like. From there, you can pick the field and seed the theoretical field.
1-3. Yale, Boston College, North Dakota
Not much has changed from last week for these teams. The biggest difference was the six TUC wins that North Dakota lost by Bemidji State and Robert Morris dropping out of TUC status, and the two TUC wins that Boston College picked up by defeating New Hampshire. That was a significant change in the Record vs. TUC for each team, and flipped the comparison between the two, thus moving Boston College up to No. 2 and North Dakota to No. 3.
Thing is, it really won't make that much difference. None of these three teams will play TUCs this week, which further limits the ability for anything really happen to them either way. And all three have significantly higher RPIs than Michigan, which is No. 4.
The teams still figure to be in Bridgeport (Yale), Manchester (BC) and Green Bay (North Dakota), regardless. The only thing that will change this is if New Hampshire drops to a No. 4 seed, which means BC will not be able to play there. See last week's discussion to see how Yale looks fairly locked into No. 1 as well.
4-5. Michigan, Denver
Denver is playing a TUC this week in Minnesota State, though if Denver wins twice, Minnesota State will no longer be a TUC. So there you go. Michigan plays Bowling Green, so again, no TUC.
Consequently, these two are probably safe in this area. If Denver somehow loses twice, it could drop into the 8-9 range at worst. Neither team has much chance to the upside. And the difference between either being a 1 or 2 seed is really not much.
If you work this through, it's easy to see these two playing in the St. Louis Regional.
Union has more upside than downside, because its RPI edge against the teams below is pretty significant. If it wins the ECAC tournament while Michigan and Denver get bumped off, the Dutchmen could very well get a No. 1 seed. Barring a crazy series of upsets, Union is in the tournament for the first time in its Division I history.
The Mavericks have a wide range. Part of that is because they play Bemidji State this weekend. If the Beavers win the series, they will become a TUC again, and put a double hurt on UNO. Like a lot of teams in this range, however, they could still rise to that No. 4 overall slot if things break right.
With the split with Providence, Merrimack's RPI went down from .5518 to .5454, enough to flip two comparisons the other way — Miami and Minnesota-Duluth. A couple more losses this weekend, to Maine, would probably drop Merrimack around No. 12 or so, which leaves them vulnerable to falling out of the NCAA race if current non-at-large teams win their conference tournament. On the plus side, Merrimack can get around No. 5 or 6 fairly easily with a pair of wins, and still has potential for a No. 1 seed if it wins Hockey East while the teams above it (like Michigan) falter.
9-10. Miami, Notre Dame
Both teams will be in the tournament with two wins this weekend, perhaps even with one. They could still make it from losing their playoff series, but it would be more dicey — especially for Miami. It will be hard for both to move up far, because they'll have to play each other at some point if they keep winning.
Here's another team that could feasibly become the last No. 1 seed, but needs a ton of help. But even a couple of losses this weekend may not drop the Bulldogs down very far.
12. New Hampshire
New Hampshire was in the same spot last year, a home playoff series with Vermont, and lost. The Wildcats are the last team in this mid-pack plethora, with a big range to move up, but fairly protected from dropping out. The odds of moving up, however, are somewhat mitigated just by the sheer amount of teams in the pack. Not all can lose. Two losses to Vermont, however, would seriously jeopardize the situation — though one win should be plenty to secure a bid. New Hampshire, of course, will be in Manchester, because it's hosting the regional. So it mucks things up for Boston College if UNH is a No. 4 seed. Win this series, however, and that's not a problem.
Can the Big Green hold on and gain its first NCAA bid in 31 years? Their place is very precarious. Their RPI lead is slim on a number of teams, and so is the Record vs. TUC department. And Dartmouth doesn't play a TUC this week (Harvard) so it can't help itself, whereas others on the bubble can. That means Dartmouth may need to get a TUC win in Atlantic City just to secure the bid, even if it wins this weekend. It has been in this spot before, and not been able to pull it off.
14. Western Michigan
Another team hanging on by a thread. The key for WMU is simple, though: win two games against Ferris State this weekend. Ferris is a TUC, so it provides a big boost. WMU hasn't made it since 1996.
15-16. Colorado College, Boston University
For all the teams in this area, it begins with winning their playoff series this weekend, and these two are certainly no exception. The problem for BU is that it's not playing a TUC this weekend (Northeastern), so it will be difficult to move up, moreso than for Colorado College.
Despite losing last weekend, the Engineers are still in it. If Western and Colorado College lose their series, RPI can move up to 15 — as long as their opponents, Ferris State and Wisconsin, don't win their respective tournaments and gain autobids, of course. There are other combinations of quarterfinal series losses from bubble teams that would help RPI.
The Black Bears face Merrimack this weekend, and it's a must-win there, obviously. From there, it probably needs a Hockey East semifinal win — and of course some combination of quarterfinal series losses from bubble teams.
The Gophers actually have a better TUC record than a number of teams above them, but are slightly behind in the RPI. But because it's so close, a few wins here and a few losses elsewhere, and Minnesota's upside is very strong. It has to start with a sweep of Alaska-Anchorage, which is a TUC.
St. Cloud State, Ferris State, Wisconsin and Alaska have very obscure hopes of an at-large bid. Might as well just win their tournaments.