Ice Hockey: Bracketology

With just six left before Selection Sunday, the No. 9 Michigan ice hockey team is now rounding the final corner for the stretch run of the season. Where is Michigan in GoBlueWolverine Magazine's Bracketology this week? Are the Wolverines still scheduled to open the NCAA Tournament in Grand Rapids, Mich.? Who will be Michigan's opening round opponent? Find out inside!

Just six weeks left until Selection Sunday and the bracket is starting to take shape. Once again the WCHA dominates the tournament field, but where will the Wolverines end up in this weeks Bracketology? We start by selected the automatic qualifiers. Using teams with the highest win percentage in each conference, the following are locked into the NCAA tournament – for now:

Auto-Bids
Atlantic Hockey: Sacred Heart (.545)
CCHA: Notre Dame (.773)
CHA: Bemidji State (.571)
ECACHL: St. Lawrence (.688)
Hockey East: New Hampshire (.789)
WCHA: Minnesota (.682)

With the automatic bids in place, it's time to move to the PairWise rankings. Before using the .003 adjustment for quality road wins, we have the following in the PairWise Rankings:

PairWise Rankings (Unadjusted)
t1. Minnesota
t1. St. Cloud State
t1. New Hampshire
4. Notre Dame
5. Denver
6. Clarkson
7. Maine
t8. Colorado College
t8. North Dakota
t10. Boston
t10. MICHIGAN
t12. Vermont
t12. Michigan State
14. Miami
15. Boston College
t16. St. Lawrence
t16. Niagara

Now it's time to adjust for quality wins and include the automatic qualifiers that don't finish in the top 16 of the PairWise Rankings. Using the RPI to rank the teams that sit are tied for their seeding, we finish with the following rankings:

PairWise (Adjusted and including Auto-Bids)
1. New Hampshire **Auto-Bid**
2. Minnesota **Auto-Bid**
3. St. Cloud State
4. Notre Dame **Auto-Bid**
5. Denver
6. Maine
7. Clarkson
t8. Colorado College
t8. North Dakota
t10. Boston
t10. MICHIGAN
t12. Vermont
t12. Michigan State
14. St. Lawrence **Auto-Bid** (t16 PWR)
15. Bemidji State **Auto-Bid** (19 PWR)
16. Sacred Heart **Auto-Bid** (NR PWR)

This is where things get tricky. Notre Dame vs. Michigan State is a match up problem for the NCAA committee. To avoid a first round match up with two teams from the same conference, Michigan State must flip with Vermont. It keeps each regional in tact and avoids the first round match up. Colorado College and North Dakota also present a match up problem, but since the WCHA has five teams in the tournament, we'll ignore that for now.

#1 New Hampshire vs. #16 Sacred Heart
#8 Colorado College vs. #9 North Dakota

#4 Notre Dame vs. #13 Vermont
#5 Denver vs. #12 Michigan State

#3 St. Cloud State vs. #14 St. Lawrence
#6 Maine vs. #11 Michigan

#2 Minnesota vs. #15 Bemidji State
#7 Clarkson vs. #10 Boston

Now we place the teams. As a host, New Hampshire and Denver are both guaranteed to be in their own regional. Notre Dame is forced into the Denver regional as a part of Denver's bracket. That leaves Minnesota and St. Cloud State to place. Minnesota stays as close to home as possible, that means Grand Rapids. St. Cloud State takes the final regional in Rochester, New York. That gives us:

Eastern Regional (Rochester, New York)
#3 St. Cloud State vs. #14 St. Lawrence
#6 Maine vs. #11 Michigan

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
#1 New Hampshire vs. #16 Sacred Heart
#8 Colorado College vs. #9 North Dakota

Midwest Regional (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
#2 Minnesota vs. #15 Bemidji State
#7 Clarkson vs. #10 Boston

West Regional (Denver, Colo.)
#4 Notre Dame vs. #13 Vermont
#5 Denver vs. #12 Michigan State

Michigan next returns to the ice on Friday in Bowling Green, Ohio, in a CCHA regular season game. Saturday night the Wolverine icers meet the Michigan State Spartans in a critical game at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

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