Saturday’s championship (and 3rd place) games caused a couple of changes to the final Pairwise rankings. Michigan had already locked up the #2 overall seed, but there were still a few spots up for grabs entering play on Saturday, and in a couple instances, teams could have ended up as high as #3 overall, and as low as #10 or #11. Here are Saturday’s results:
CCHA championship: Western Michigan beat Michigan
CCHA 3rd place: Miami beat BG
Atlantic Hockey championship: Air Force beat RIT
ECAC championship: Union beat Harvard
ECAC 3rd place: Cornell beat Colgate
Hockey East championship: BC beat Maine
WCHA championship: North Dakota beat Denver
As a result of these…er...results, here are the final Pairwise rankings:
The bracketing starts by placing the top four teams in the closest regional, then doing the #2, #3, and #4 seeds so that there are no intraconference matchups in the first round, and to try and have “bracket integrity,” meaning the first round has 1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, etc. and the second round would have 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, etc. The two things that can draw things away from bracket integrity are 1) host schools, which in this case means Minnesota, which must be placed in St. Paul, and 2) attendance considerations, so that a couple of 2 or 3 seeds might be switched to ensure better attendance at regionals, and to prevent things like an Eastern regional from having mostly Western teams. With that in mind, here is the bracket I have come up with:
1. Boston College
16. Air Force
9. Boston University 10. Maine
St. Paul, MN
4. North Dakota
14. Western Michigan
10. Maine 9. Boston University
Green Bay, WI
6. Ferris State
15. Michigan State
EDIT: switched BU and Maine to keep the 8-9 and 7-10 matchups in the first round.
This is pretty much the bracket I posted yesterday, but with Western and State switched as a result of Western winning the CCHA. It is also possible that Michigan (along with Cornell) could get put in St. Paul for better bracket integrity. That would basically switch the Michigan-Cornell game with the North Dakota-Western game. I really don’t think this will happen though, since you’d be giving the #2 seed a more distant regional, a more difficult than expected first round game, and a host school in the second round. That’s a trifecta of screwing that I don’t think even the NCAA selection committee is capable of. Plus, the attendance setup is probably better with Michigan in Green Bay and North Dakota in St. Paul.
The Cornell matchup is pretty much a given in the first round. I mentioned this in comments to another post this morning, but that is a pretty tough matchup. Cornell has six shutouts on the year (including their game Saturday), and simply don’t give up a lot of goals (only gave up more than three goals six times all year). They have also had 10 of their last 20 games go to overtime, so be prepared for a close, white-knuckle finish.
So there is my bracket prediction. We’ll find out how right I am tomorrow at noon on ESPNU when the brackets are announced. Go Blue!