Bracket ABCs (PROJECTION UPDATE)
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
The tournaments are over, and now the NCAA field is set, and we can project the brackets.
With Clarkson's huge comeback win over Quinnipiac, that helped Massachusetts and Miami breathe a sigh of relief. Both got in as a result of QU staying out. One or the other would've been out depending on what happens in the WCHA, had Clarkson not rallied.
Now it's matter of seeding. Where we mention items in parentheses, we are referring to the NCAA's requirement to avoid first-round matchups against teams from the same conference.
It should be noted that this includes a .003 "good win" RPI bonus, which is approximately correct. The committee doesn't reveal the precise number, but judging by precedent, we can determine it to a close proximity. Without the bonus, Denver would be in the tournament. Maine is helped the most by the bonus.
(Check back throughout the night for more complete analysis, and final projected brackets)
1. Minnesota vs. 16. Alabama-Huntsville
8. Michigan vs. 10. North Dakota (to avoid MSU)
2. Notre Dame vs. 15. Air Force
7. Boston University vs. 9. Michigan State
3. Clarkson vs. 13. Massachusetts (to avoid UNH)
6. St. Cloud State vs. 12. Maine (to avoid BC)
4. New Hampshire vs. 14. Miami
5. Boston College vs. 11. St. Lawrence
Note: This depends upon how the committee breaks the 3-way tie at 11. This is representative of the way the committee has done so in recent years — it has taken the straight Pairwise, and then broken ties by looking at which team had the higher RPI. ... If you do it according to the way it was done historically, things are different. In that method, the committee would break ties by looking at the individual comparisons among the tied teams. In that case, Massachusetts would be 11, St. Lawrence 12, and Maine 13.
Remember, this is still possible — the committee can ultimately do it whichever why it wants. So these scenarios are certainly not definitive.
Also, Minnesota is closer to Grand Rapids, but since it would fly either way, we're projecting the Gophers to be in the Denver Regional. That avoids a flight for Notre Dame. Theoretically, the top overall seed goes "closest to home," but the committee has ignored that in the past in a common sense scenario. ... Had the Denver Pioneers made the tournament, I felt all along the committee would "protect" the Gophers in this scenario and send them to Grand Rapids so they wouldn't have to play at Denver. But now we'll never know.
Now, if the committee does put Minnesota in Grand Rapids, it basically would just flip-flop the entire brackets as we've laid them out. The benefit to that is, Air Force would be in Denver. That would be nice.
The committee can do some other things if it decides to care about attendance, but since switching to a 16-team tournament in 2003, the committee has gone Straight Pairwise every season, without fail, other than just switching to avoid first-round intra-conference matchups. The attendance issue has not been used as a factor whatsoever.
LAST IN: Miami
LAST OUT: Denver, Wisconsin (which would've made it using KRACH, by the way.
Mike Machnik contributed to this article.