Bracket ABCs: Final Edition
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. When it was all said and done, all of the higher seeds won Saturday's games — except Air Force in Atlantic Hockey, which was inconsequential in terms of figuring out the bracket.
As a result, according to the strict Pairwise chart, and using the RPI to break ties, as the committee has done for many years now, the final listing looks like this:
2. North Dakota
3. Boston College
10. Western Michigan
11. Notre Dame
13. New Hampshire
14. Colorado College
16. Air Force
For those who aren't familiar with all the details, you can read our Pairwise Primer to see how things work from here. But just to give the basics, the committee will take those teams and split them into four groups of four. The top four teams are four No. 1 seeds, and are placed in the four regionals as close to home as possible. However, there are two sacrosanct rules that must be followed: 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.
It's these rules that forces the committee to shift things around sometimes. That, and, in some cases, a subjective desire to enhance attendance at a certain regional, or a variety of other factors it can weigh.
With that said, here's our projection.
1. Yale vs. 16. Air Force
8. Union vs. 9. Minnesota-Duluth
3. Boston College vs. 14. Colorado College
6. Merrimack vs. 11. Notre Dame
4. Miami vs. 13. New Hampshire
5. Michigan vs. 12. Nebraska-Omaha
2. North Dakota vs. 15. Rensselaer
7. Denver vs. 10. Western Michigan
As you can see, having New Hampshire as a No. 4 seed really mucks things up, because Boston College can no longer be in Manchester. This means either North Dakota or Miami would need to be there. I've made it Miami, since this keeps North Dakota closer to "home," in Green Bay.
The committee can go a lot of different ways here. What I've done with this bracket is essentially move entire blocks of four. This maintains "bracket integrity," i.e. the strict serpentine 1-16, 2-15, 3-14, etc... pairings — which leads to second-round pairings of 1-8, 2-7, 3-6, 4-5.
But the committee could go in different directions. It can move teams within their seeding "band" any which way it wants. It could keep Merrimack back East in Manchester, and split up Miami-Michigan. Or send Merrimack to Green Bay and split up Denver-North Dakota. The committee, however, has, since the 16-team field was introduced in 2003, not cared much about avoiding second-round intra-conference matchups.
So with New Hampshire a 4 seed in Manchester, Boston College can't be there, so we ship its entire natural group of four — 3-14, 6-11 — to St. Louis.
Everything else stays intact.
As far as attendance is concerned, you could argue that Minnesota-Duluth will draw people to Green Bay, so perhaps it gets to go there. Sure, the committee could easily shuffle that, and even move North Dakota's group to St. Louis, knowing Sioux fans will travel anywhere.
However, the committee has rarely shown a propensity to "reward" a lower seed — in this case, Minnesota-Duluth is a 3 seed — in this manner. So I suspect it won't bother to do so here.
It could move Michigan and/or Nebraska-Omaha to St. Louis to help attendance there, though I'm not sure if anything will really help St. Louis.
In the end, this projection is extremely clean. Had Denver won Saturday's 2-OT thriller in the WCHA final, it would've mucked things up a bit. But we don't have to worry about that now.
The official announcement comes at 11:30 ET on Sunday, and it will be aired on ESPN2. CHN will have reaction afterwards.