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March 19, 2011 E-MAIL PRINT Bookmark and Share

Bracket ABCs: Alternate View

by Mike Machnik/CHN Senior Editor

BOSTON — When you get right down to it, seeding and bracketing the NCAA tournament for 2011 ends up to be a pretty easy task.

This is a different take on the final numbers and was produced separately from any other sources. In this space, we try to follow the same process each year before looking at what anyone else has come up with, and then see how it compares.

First, the 16 teams, after breaking ties by using RPI:


1. Yale
2. North Dakota
3. Boston College
4. Miami
5. Michigan
6. Merrimack
7. Denver
8. Union
9. Minnesota-Duluth
10. Western Michigan
11. Notre Dame
12. Nebraska-Omaha
13. New Hampshire
14. Colorado College
15. Rensselaer
16. Air Force

We'll start by placing the four No. 1 seeds — the top four above — using the rules as follows: Teams that are hosting a Regional, must be in that Regional; and first-round matchups between two teams from the same conference should be avoided.

Next, we'll just place the teams so as to preserve bracket integrity as best as possible, following the above rules where necessary. This gives us the following:

Bridgeport
1. Yale vs. 16. Air Force
8. Union vs. 9. Minnesota-Duluth

St. Louis
4. Miami vs. 14. Colorado College
5. Michigan vs. 12. Nebraska-Omaha

Manchester
3. Boston College vs. 13. New Hampshire
6. Merrimack vs. 11. Notre Dame

Green Bay
2. North Dakota vs. 15. Rensselaer
7. Denver vs. 10. Western Michigan

The only change we had to make at first was to keep New Hampshire in Manchester as host, which meant Colorado College would go to St. Louis to match up with Miami.

In terms of first-round matchups between teams from the same league, the only issue was in Manchester, where New Hampshire falling to a No. 4 seed brings them into a first-round meeting with fellow Hockey East member Boston College. We can't have that, so we'll switch Miami with BC. BC can't go to Bridgeport either with Yale hosting there, so this means the Eagles go to St. Louis.

We get:

Bridgeport
1. Yale vs. 16. Air Force
8. Union vs. 9. Minnesota-Duluth

St. Louis
3. Boston College vs. 14. Colorado College
5. Michigan vs. 12. Nebraska-Omaha

Manchester
4. Miami vs. 13. New Hampshire
6. Merrimack vs. 11. Notre Dame

Green Bay
2. North Dakota vs. 15. Rensselaer
7. Denver vs. 10. Western Michigan

And that's it. Attendance considerations turn out to be somewhat respectable here. The forced absence of BC from Manchester leaves a void in terms of having another Eastern team that would bring people. But our original bracketing placed Merrimack here, and Merrimack's perhaps somewhat unexpectedly strong fan showing at the Hockey East tournament in Boston this weekend should alleviate those concerns. It's likely that Merrimack fans, who until now had probably resigned themselves to their team being sent West, will wind up turning out in similar numbers when they learn their first NCAA appearance in 23 years will be just a half hour up the road in Manchester.

The other attendance concern might have been St. Louis, but the natural placing of Michigan and Nebraska-Omaha should help. Notre Dame is slightly closer to St. Louis than UNO, but not much, and besides, we can't match up Michigan with CCHA rival Notre Dame. We can't really make any other changes to try to help out St. Louis without wreaking serious havoc with bracket integrity — and it's questionable whether such changes would impact attendance enough to make it worth the trouble, given how remote St. Louis is from the schools in the field.

So that's what we end up with. Our hand was forced by UNH dropping to a No. 4 seed, but what we have seems to preserve bracket integrity pretty closely while handling attendance concerns as best as can probably be expected given the regional locations this year and the schools in the field.

The big question remaining might be Green Bay. North Dakota can be expected to have a strong showing, but Minnesota-Duluth would help too. However with WCHA rival Denver already there, we can't move UMD to Green Bay without similarly wreaking havoc by finding another place for Denver, and that's not likely given UMD's status as a No. 3 seed versus Denver as a No. 2.

At any rate, we'll know for sure with the official announcement on ESPN2 on Sunday at 11:30 ET.

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