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NCAA Hockey Bracketology: March 16th

Matt Christians

It's ironic that this is the last Bracketology we'll do before THE Bracketology next Saturday evening when we project the final NCAA tournament brackets, and yet, it feels like one of the least essential. That's because even though there are over 3,000,000 potential scenarios still out there, we have a pretty good idea of how drastically the field could change by the end of next week based on a few key games.

It's easy to pencil in Boston University as the Hockey East autobid today, but our carefully laid plans go for naught if one of the other three teams in the Hockey East tournament upset them. Quinnipiac is safely in the tournament field tonight, and Harvard just squeaks in as the last bid. But one of those teams will lose a semifinal to the other next Friday and won't be feeling so comfortable.

But predicting the future isn't necessarily the purpose of this exercise. It's to examine how we go from  field of 16 teams and place them into four regions, and some of the issues that may arise in doing so.

So here is this week's field:

1. North Dakota[NCHC Autobid]

2. Minnesota State[WCHA Autobid]

3. Denver

4. Boston University[Hockey East Autobid]

5. Michigan Tech

6. Minnesota Duluth

7. Miami

8. Nebraska-Omaha

9. Boston College

10. Quinnipiac[ECAC Autobid]

11. St. Cloud State

12. Bowling Green

13. Minnesota[Big Ten Autobid]

14. Providence

15. Harvard

16. Robert Morris[Atlantic Hockey Autobid]

Changes from last week's field: Michigan State lost first place in the Big Ten to Minnesota, so they lost their autobid. Harvard is in, Yale it out after the Crimson defeated the Elis in a playoff series, and St. Cloud State moves into the field after sweeping Omaha in the playoffs, because math is oblivious to how small an accomplishment that is.

That field gives us brackets that look like this:

Northeast Regional
Verizon Center
Manchester, NH

1. Denver

2. Omaha

3. Boston College

4. Providence

West Regional
Scheels Arena
Fargo, ND

1. North Dakota

2. Michigan Tech

3. St. Cloud State

4. Robert Morris

Midwest Regional
Compton Arena
South Bend, Ind.

1. Minnesota State

2. Miami

3. Bowling Green

4. Harvard

East Regional
Dunkin Donuts Center
Providence, RI

1. Boston University

2. Minnesota Duluth

3. Quinnipiac

4. Minnesota

One of the big disagreements among the handful of people that put these together in recent weeks was what to do with 1 seeds Minnesota State and Miami. Some people(myself included) put the higher-seeded Mavericks in South Bend, which is a closer trip and more neutral venue for them rather than shipping them out East in favor of Miami, who is closer to South Bend. That problem solved itself with Miami dropping down to a 2 seed, allowing for the best of both worlds.

The three seeds had to moved around a little bit to avoid NCHC intra-conference match-ups, but that ended up resulting in a bracket that looks pretty good in terms of limiting travel.