NCAA Tournament Projection (2/28)

No. 1 Michigan split with No. 6 Michigan State this past weekend to maintain its grip on the nations top slot. Where are the Wolverines projected to skate in the upcoming NCAA Tournament? Will the Maize and Blue skate in the Midwest Regional? Who are they likely to face in the first round as they begin their march to the Frozen Four?

Michigan split with Michigan State with a pair of 5-2 decisions last weekend at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing and then Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. How did the weekend split affect the PairWise Rankings? Where are the Wolverines in the PairWise Rankings this week? Where are the rest of the CCHA teams as the Wolverines conference prepares for its final weekend of regular season action?

PairWise Rankings
1. Michigan
2t. New Hampshire
2t. Colorado College
4t. North Dakota
4t. Miami
6. Denver
7t. Michigan State
7t. Boston College
7t. St. Cloud State
10. Clarkson
11t. Notre Dame
11t. Minnesota State
13. Minnesota
14t. Wisconsin
14t. Minnesota-Duluth
16t. Princeton
16t. Boston U.

With the top 16 teams now selected, it's time we trim the field. Only 16 teams are eligible for the NCAA Tournament, and we must include the tournament champions for each of the six conference. For the sake of the projection, we'll give the automatic bid to the team with the highest win percentage in each conference.

Conference AutoBids
Atlantic Hockey: Army (.615)
CCHA: Michigan (.808)
CHA: Bemidji State (.666)
ECAC: Clarkson (.700)
Hockey East: New Hampshire (.783)
WCHA: Colorado College (.750)

Adding teams who earn an automatic bids, and using the RPI as a tiebreaker among teams who are tied in the PairWise Rankings, we come up with the following field.

Tournament Seeding
1. Michigan **AutoBid**
2. New Hampshire **AutoBid**
3. Colorado College **AutoBid**
4. North Dakota
5. Miami
6. Denver
7. Michigan State
8. Boston College
9. St. Cloud State
10. Clarkson **AutoBid**
11. Notre Dame
12. Minnesota State
13. Minnesota
14. Wisconsin
15. Bemidji State **AutoBid**
16. Army **AutoBid**

Teams By Conference
HE: 2
AH: 1
CHA: 1

Next we place the team into four bands. The NCAA uses these bands to determine seeds and would prefer to swap teams from within the same bands if needed to avoid an inter conference match up.

No. 1 Seeds: Michigan, New Hampshire, Colorado College, North Dakota
No. 2 Seeds: Miami, Denver, Michigan State, Boston College
No. 3 Seeds: St. Cloud State, Clarkson, Notre Dame, Minnesota State
No. 4 Seeds: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Bemidji State, Army

We place the No. 1 seeds first. Colorado College is the host for the West Regional so we'll place them in the West right off the bat. Michigan should go to the Midwest, but the No. 1 overall seed will not be forced to skate against the Badgers in Madison in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. We'll send them to the East Regional instead. New Hampshire goes to the Northeast while Colorado College gets sent to the Midwest.

Now we fill in the bracket using the typical bracket formula. Boston College goes to the East as the No. 8 seed. Michigan State goes to the Northeast as the No. 7 seed. Denver goes to the West as the No. 6 seed. Miami goes to the Midwest as the No. 5 seed.

Snaking through the third band, St. Cloud State is sent to the East. Clarkson is sent to the Northeast. Notre Dame is sent to the West. Minnesota State will pack for the Midwest.

We now have the following bracket…

East Regional
#1 Michigan vs. #16 Army
#8 Boston College vs. #9 St. Cloud State

Northeast Regional
#2 New Hampshire vs. #15 Bemidji State
#7 Michigan State vs. #10 Clarkson

West Regional
#3 Colorado College vs. #13 Minnesota
#6 Denver vs. #11 Notre Dame

Midwest Regional
#4 North Dakota vs. #14 Wisconsin
#5 Miami vs. #12 Minnesota State

Our two problems with this bracket come into play in the West and Midwest Regional's. We've got match ups with four WCHA teams. Under normal circumstances the committee would try and avoid these match ups, but with seven teams skating from the WCHA, I think things would remain unchanged in this situation. As a result, the previous it the final bracket for the week.

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