Ice Hockey: Bracketology

With just seven weeks left until Selection Sunday, GoBlueWolverine Magazine reveals its first projected NCAA hockey bracket of the season. Where will the No. 11-ranked Wolverines fall in the first bracket? Will a second consecutive weekend sweep get Red Berenson's team a spot in the Grand Rapids Regional? Find out with GoBlueWolverine Magazine's NCAA Bracketology.

As is the case with each edition of GoBlueWolverine Magazine's Bracketology, all automatic bids will be determined by the teams leading their conference in win percentage.

Regional Locations:

East: Blue Cross Arena, Rochester N.Y. – Host: ECAC
Northeast: Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, N.H. – Host: New Hampshire
Midwest: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich. – Host: Western Michigan
West: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colo. – Host: Denver

Automatic Bids:

Atlantic Hockey: Sacred Heart (.600)*
CCHA: Notre Dame (.750)
CHA: Niagara (.792)
ECACHL: St. Lawrence (.714)
Hockey East: New Hampshire (.824)
WCHA: Minnesota (.725)

Now it's time to rank the teams. As is the case with basketball, there is a selection committee used to determine the final NCAA pairings. Unlike basketball, however, the formula used is not so secret. With the Pairwise Rankings, the formula used to rank all teams under consideration, it's fairly simple to fill in the blanks.

Pairwise Rankings (Including quality win bonus):

1. New Hampshire **Auto-bid**
2. Minnesota **Auto-bid**
3. St. Cloud State
4. Notre Dame **Auto-bid**
5. Denver
6. Clarkson
7. Maine
8. Michigan State
9. Michigan
10. North Dakota
11. Vermont
12. Miami
13. Boston College
14. Niagara **Auto-bid**
15. St. Lawrence **Auto-bid**
16. Sacred Heart **Auto-bid**

Now we place the teams in standard tournament format.

#1 New Hampshire vs. #16 Sacred Heart
#8 Michigan State vs. #9 Michigan

#4 Notre Dame vs. #13 Boston College
#5 Denver vs. #12 Miami

#3 St. Cloud State vs. #14 Niagara
#6 Clarkson vs. #11 Vermont

#2 Minnesota vs. #15 St. Lawrence
#7 Maine vs. #10 North Dakota

With these brackets there is just one match up problem. Since the committee doesn't like to schedule conference opponents in the first round, Michigan would likely be bumped from the No. 9 seed to the No. 10 seed with North Dakota moving up to No. 9. In that scenario, we have:

#1 New Hampshire vs. #16 Sacred Heart
#8 Michigan State vs. #9 North Dakota

#4 Notre Dame vs. #13 Boston College
#5 Denver vs. #12 Miami

#3 St. Cloud State vs. #14 Niagara
#6 Clarkson vs. #11 Vermont

#2 Minnesota vs. #15 St. Lawrence
#7 Maine vs. #10 Michigan

With match up problems out of the way, it's time to place teams. New Hampshire and Denver are hosts, therefore in their own Regional's. That puts Notre Dame out west and New Hampshire in the Northeast Regional. As the second No. 1 seed, Minnesota stays as close to home as possible and is sent to Grand Rapids. St. Cloud State is the final top seed and is sent to New York.

East Regional:
#3 St. Cloud State vs. #14 Niagara
#6 Clarkson vs. #11 Vermont

Northeast Regional:
#1 New Hampshire vs. #16 Sacred Heart
#8 Michigan State vs. #9 North Dakota

Midwest Regional:
#2 Minnesota vs. #15 St. Lawrence
#7 Maine vs. #10 Michigan

West Regional:
#4 Notre Dame vs. #13 Boston College
#5 Denver vs. #12 Miami

In this case the Northeast would play the West in the Frozen Four with the Midwest matching up with the East.

* RIT actually leads Atlantic Hockey but isn't eligible for the NCAA tournament until next season.

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