CHN Community
Log In/Register

March 24, 2013 E-MAIL PRINT Bookmark and Share

NCAA Bracket Projection: Big Questions for Committee

Opportunity to Boost Attendance Looms

by Mike Machnik/CHN Senior Editor

With two scenarios remaining before the final CCHA Championship on Sunday between Notre Dame and Michigan, the committee has had more time than usual to consider the options. Some interesting possibilities may result.

Let's take a look at the projected brackets in each scenario.

If Notre Dame wins Sunday:

Final Pairwise (* means school receives automatic bid):
1 Quinnipiac
2 Minnesota
3 *Mass.-Lowell
4 *Notre Dame
5 Miami
6 Boston College
7 New Hampshire
8 North Dakota
9 Denver
10 Niagara
11 Minnesota State
12 *Union
13 St. Cloud
14 *Wisconsin
15 Yale
16 *Canisius
Last two in: St. Cloud, Yale
Last two out: Western Michigan, Robert Morris

Initial Regional Brackets (+ means host school):

Providence, RI - East
No. 1 Quinnipiac vs No. 16 Canisius
No. 8 North Dakota vs No. 10 Niagara

Grand Rapids, MI - West
No. 2 Minnesota vs No. 15 Yale
No. 6 Boston College vs No. 11 Minnesota State

Manchester, NH - Northeast
No. 3 Mass.-Lowell vs No. 14 Wisconsin
No. 7 +New Hampshire vs No. 9 Denver

Toledo, OH - Midwest
No. 4 Notre Dame vs No. 13 St. Cloud
No. 5 Miami vs No. 12 Union

Things work out cleanly here, with the main exception of the 2 seeds. No. 6 Boston College would normally be placed in the same bracket as No. 3 Mass.-Lowell, but instead, No. 7 New Hampshire is already there as host. So BC goes to Grand Rapids. No. 5 Miami is placed in No. 4 Notre Dame's bracket, and No. 8 North Dakota is placed in No. 1 Quinnipiac's bracket.

But more on this later.

As we place the 3 seeds, No. 9 Denver can't face No. 8 North Dakota, so they go to Manchester instead to face No. 7 UNH, and No. 10 Niagara goes to Providence to face North Dakota.

The 4 seeds fall into place nicely.

Could BC be sent to Providence instead?

This is the biggest question the committee will have to face. North Dakota travels well, and it's possible attendance in Providence would still be strong whether North Dakota or BC are there.

But what about Grand Rapids? Would attendance there be better with North Dakota instead of BC? Minnesota would certainly be the biggest draw, and could be enough to carry the regional.

But maybe not. North Dakota there and BC in Providence appears to be very convincing.

The problem is that it messes with bracket integrity. Instead of facing the lowest 2 seed potentially in the second round in No. 8 North Dakota, top overall seed Quinnipiac would get the second highest 2 seed in No. 6 BC.

And to avoid messing with it further, the entire lower half of the bracket in both Providence and Grand Rapids would need to be switched. BC and Minnesota State would go to Providence, and North Dakota and Niagara to Grand Rapids.

This also has the nice side effect of saving another flight — in Niagara, which is more than 400 miles from Providence but less than 400 miles from Grand Rapids.

So we'll hedge our bets and say this is entirely possible, and a very reasonable alternative to the bracket presented above, if the committee values attendance highly enough this year.

An interesting note is that either way, with Michigan as the final CCHA host of a regional in Grand Rapids, there would be no CCHA teams there. That's just how it works out, however, with only two CCHA teams in the field and both in Toledo.


If Michigan wins Sunday:

Final Pairwise (* means school receives automatic bid):
1 Quinnipiac
2 Minnesota
3 *Mass.-Lowell
4 Miami
5 Boston College
6 North Dakota
7 New Hampshire
8 Notre Dame
9 Denver
10 Niagara
11 Minnesota State
12 *Union
13 St. Cloud
14 *Wisconsin
15 *Michigan
16 *Canisius
Last two in: Minnesota State, St. Cloud
Last two out: Yale, Western Michigan

Initial Regional Brackets (+ means host school):

Providence, RI - East
No. 1 Quinnipiac vs No. 16 Canisius
No. 8 Notre Dame vs No. 9 Denver

Grand Rapids, MI - West
No. 2 Minnesota vs No. 15 +Michigan
No. 6 North Dakota vs No. 10 Niagara

Manchester, NH - Northeast
No. 3 Mass.-Lowell vs No. 14 Wisconsin
No. 7 +New Hampshire vs No. 11 Minnesota State

Toledo, OH - Midwest
No. 4 Miami vs No. 13 St. Cloud
No. 5 Boston College vs No. 12 Union

We run into problems again with the 2 seeds. After placing No. 7 UNH at home and in No. 3 Mass.-Lowell's regional, we have to put No. 6 North Dakota in Grand Rapids.

Next when we come to the 3 seeds, No. 9 Denver and No. 10 Niagara are no problem, but No. 11 Minnesota State cannot face North Dakota. We could send No. 12 Union to Grand Rapids, and Minnesota State to Toledo to face No. 5 BC. However, BC is the highest 3 seed and should draw the lowest 3 seed possible, which is Union. We keep that matchup, and then have No. 6 North Dakota face the lowest 3 seed possible, No. 10 Niagara.

It means No. 7 UNH gets a slightly easier matchup (according to the rankings) in No. 11 Minnesota State, in addition to playing at "home", but that's the lowest 3 seed that is left after assigning the two higher 2 seeds their opponents.

The 4 seeds, again, fall into place nicely.

Still, we have the attendance question, although now it's not with Providence and Grand Rapids, it's with Providence and Toledo. Should we do the same thing as above and switch the lower half of the brackets?

That would move BC and Union to Providence, and Notre Dame and Denver to Toledo.

This is certainly very attractive from an attendance standpoint. In both scenarios, these changes could have the ability to have a not insignificant effect on overall tournament attendance.

But we just don't know how much emphasis any given year's committee will place on this issue. Most of the time, they have avoided significant bracket changes like this — but on the other hand, we've seen a number of cases where attendance has been less than ideal.

We've got to make a decision here. If you've read this far, you've probably been following things closely enough that you've also noticed the wild fluctuations in the Pairwise even up to and including the final day of conference championships. As such:

Is there really that much difference among the seeds within bands? (Let alone between bands at times.)

In many cases, we'd say no. More so with the 4 seeds in many years. Not so much with the 2 and 3 seeds, which are the issue here.

So if you ask us, we'd make that change. Our brackets would look like this:

If Notre Dame wins Sunday:

Providence, RI - East
No. 1 Quinnipiac vs No. 16 Canisius
No. 6 Boston College vs No. 11 Minnesota State

Grand Rapids, MI - West
No. 2 Minnesota vs No. 15 Yale
No. 8 North Dakota vs No. 10 Niagara

Manchester, NH - Northeast
No. 3 Mass.-Lowell vs No. 14 Wisconsin
No. 7 +New Hampshire vs No. 9 Denver

Toledo, OH - Midwest
No. 4 Notre Dame vs No. 13 St. Cloud
No. 5 Miami vs No. 12 Union

If Michigan wins Sunday:

Providence, RI - East
No. 1 Quinnipiac vs No. 16 Canisius
No. 5 Boston College vs No. 12 Union

Grand Rapids, MI - West
No. 2 Minnesota vs No. 15 +Michigan
No. 6 North Dakota vs No. 10 Niagara

Manchester, NH - Northeast
No. 3 Mass.-Lowell vs No. 14 Wisconsin
No. 7 +New Hampshire vs No. 11 Minnesota State

Toledo, OH - Midwest
No. 4 Miami vs No. 13 St. Cloud
No. 8 Notre Dame vs No. 9 Denver

It might mess a bit with bracket integrity in potential second round matchups. But in either case you'd have four terrific regionals, and four regionals that should all draw very, very well.

This is what we'd like to see, and we think you can make a strong case for it. But we'll see what happens.

Bookmark and Share E-MAIL PRINT

Comment on this Article

Send Feedback | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions

©2014 Mike Machnik. All Rights Reserved.