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]
4. Boston University[Hockey East Autobid]
5. Michigan Tech
6. Minnesota Duluth
9. Boston College
10. Quinnipiac[ECAC Autobid]
11. St. Cloud State
12. Bowling Green
13. Minnesota[Big Ten Autobid]
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: