NCAA hockey tournament selection in 4 days picture coming into focus.

We’ve mentioned it elsewhere this week, but we can say with full certainty that the top 10 teams in the PairWise have secured their spots: Minnesota State, Michigan, Denver, North Dakota, Minnesota, Western Michigan, Minnesota Duluth, Quinnipiac, Notre Dame, and St. Cloud State.

Michigan tech is all but clinched as only .3 percent of the scenarios that can happen this weekend will knock them out. Add in the Atlantic Hockey champion ad we can comfortably define 12 of the 16 spots.

It would take a lot to keep Massachusetts out of the tournament at this point as they have odds of 92 percent. Them and UMass Lowell can each get into the tournament if Minnesota State wins the CCHA title over Bemidji State.

USCHO.com PairWise Predictor

Then there is Northeastern. The Huskies continue to take care of the business of late, sweeping the final weekend of the regular season and knocking off Boston College in the quarterfinals. One win for Northeastern gets them in, but a loss on Friday to Connecticut in the Hockey East semifinals could make Saturday a long night of waiting.

Then there’s Ohio State. The Buckeyes have just a nine percent chance of getting in but could secure a spot if Quinnipiac wins the ECAC, Minnesota State wins the CCHA and any team except UConn wins Hockey East. This is NOT absolute, as there are scenarios when all three of these things happen and Ohio State still misses the field, but ALL three have to happen to give Ohio State a chance.

All of that said, let’s get on to this weekend’s Bracketology:

Jayson’s approach and bracket

Once again, this week let me start by putting everyone into bracket integrity.

That means:

1 Minnesota State
8 Notre Dame
9 Minnesota Duluth
16 AIC

2 Michigan
7 Quinnipiac
10 St. Cloud State
15 Ohio State

3 Denver
6 North Dakota
11 Massachusetts
14 Northeastern

4 Minnesota
5 Western Michigan
12 Michigan Tech
13 UMass Lowell

Now I will check for intra-conference matchups. I have Michigan-Ohio State.

We swap Ohio State and Northeastern.

Therefore, our brackets are now:

1 Minnesota State
8 Notre Dame
9 Minnesota Duluth
16 AIC

2 Michigan
7 Quinnipiac
10 St. Cloud State
14 Northeastern

3 Denver
6 North Dakota
11 Massachusetts
15 Ohio State

4 Minnesota
5 Western Michigan
12 Michigan Tech
13 UMass Lowell

Now I will start placing the brackets into regionals.

Loveland – Denver bracket because Denver is the host.

Now it gets tougher.

How do we allocate the brackets?

Let’s start by putting Minnesota State in Allentown.

That leaves Albany and Worcester.

The Michigan bracket has two eastern teams and the Minnesota bracket has one eastern team.

What can I do here?

How can I balance the two eastern regionals with two eastern teams each?

One way that I can do it is to swap two matchups – North Dakota-Massachusetts and Western Michigan-Michigan Tech.

If I do that I get the following brackets:

1 Minnesota State
8 Notre Dame
9 Minnesota Duluth
16 AIC

2 Michigan
7 Quinnipiac
10 St. Cloud State
14 Northeastern

3 Denver
5 Western Michigan
12 Michigan Tech
15 Ohio State

4 Minnesota
6 North Dakota
11 Massachusetts
13 UMass Lowell

Now if I put the Michigan bracket in Albany and the Minnesota bracket in Worcester, I think my attendance issue is somewhat alleviated.

So that’s my bracket for this week.

Allentown
1. Minnesota State
2. Notre Dame
3. Minnesota Duluth
4. AIC

Albany
1. Michigan
2. Quinnipiac
3. St. Cloud State
4. Northeastern

Loveland
1. Denver
2. Western Michigan
3. Michigan Tech
4. Ohio State

Worcester
1. Minnesota
2. North Dakota
3. Massachusetts
4. UMass Lowell

Jim’s approach and bracket

I will start right away this week by telling you that I’m very focused on strengthening attendance as much as possible.

My biggest attendance concern is Allentown, so a major focus is to put a great fan base in that city. Who’s better than North Dakota.

As you’ll see below, though, that didn’t work out too well thus I settled to have both Minnesota Duluth and Notre Dame, two strong fanbases, in Allentown. North Dakota, though, needs access to lots of tickets so what better place than the DCU Center, which holds 12,135 for hockey.

Here’s my approach. Like Jayson, I’m seeding the field as expected, 1-16, and taking care of one conflict, which is, like Jayson to swap Northeastern and Ohio State to avoid No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Ohio State.

Thus I have:

1. Minnesota State
2. Notre Dame
3. Minnesota Duluth
4. AIC

1. Michigan
2. Quinnipiac
3. St. Cloud State
4. Northeastern

1. Denver
2. North Dakota
3. Massachusetts
4. Ohio State

1. Minnesota
2. Western Michigan
3. Michigan Tech
4. UMass Lowell

To assign regions, I’ll take the following steps:

• Region with Denver must be placed in Loveland
• Region with Quinnipiac and Northeastern can go to Albany
• Region with UMass Lowell goes to Worcester
• That leaves the fourth region for Loveland

Can I help with the attendance in Allentown? I don’t think so. But I could help either Albany or Worcester. If we move the North Dakota-UMass first-round game to either Albany or Worcester, you’ll increase attendance significantly in either. I’d choose Worcester as you’d be swapping out Western Michigan and Michigan Tech, to western teams, to send them to Allentown.

So I’ve arrived at my final brackets:

Allentown
1. Minnesota State
2. Notre Dame
3. Minnesota Duluth
4. AIC

Albany
1. Michigan
2. Quinnipiac
3. St. Cloud State
4. Northeastern

Loveland
1. Denver
2. Western Michigan
3. Michigan Tech
4. Ohio State

Worcester
1. Minnesota
2. North Dakota
3. UMass
4. UMass Lowell

Now that I read back to what Jayson wrote (we each compile our own independently), it looks like he used the same logic to get the EXACT SAME BRACKET.

We’ll be back late on Saturday night with our final bracket predictions.

Enjoy the hockey this weekend.

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