Michigan Hockey and the Pairwise - Updated through 2/12 games (post 13)!!

Submitted by redwings8831 on February 6th, 2011 at 2:29 AM

Below is what I think the NCAA hockey bracket would look like today, and a breif summary of the system "the committee" uses to determine the field (way too long explanation of the pairwise - http://www.collegehockeynews.com/info/?d=pwcrpi), after the sweep at Miami. It's a crazy formula (which at times I wonder is it any better than just throwing random people who barely watch any games into a room like basketball does).

Quick explanation:
- Pairwise is made up by comparisions as every TUC (team under consideration) will have a comparision against every other team.
- TUC's are determined as those teams who has a RPI over .500._
- RPI is defined to adjust the differerent strength of schedules among all the teams in D-1 hockey and is calcuated by the combination of: 1. A team's own winning percentage (25%); 2. The average of the team's opponents' winning percentages (21%); 3. The average of the team's opponents opponents' winning percentages (54%).
- Common opponents in a comparions is the total record for a team against teams that both in the comparison have played.

How a comparison is formed:
- Comparions are based off points. The team with the higher RPI gets 1 point. The team with the better winning percentage against the TUC's gets 1 point. The team with the better winning percentage against the common opponents gets 1 point. For every head to head matchup between the teams being compared, the winner gets 1 point. Ties result in no points either way. Below is an example of a comparion between Michigan and Miami:

Although Miami won both head to head matchups this weekend and gained 2 points because of it, since Michigan leads in the other three categories, they still win the comparison 3-2. A tie in the total comparison goes to the team with the higher RPI (I think).

In the current pairwise listing below, the two-letter abbreviation is the team's conference (CC - CCHA, WH - WCHA, HE - Hockey East, EC - ECAC, AH - Atlantic Hockey), and the number is the total comparisons won by that team. Currently, there are 30 TUC's (which changes based on the number of teams with an RPI over .5), and since you can't beat yourself, the highest possible comparions won score is 29 (which #1 Yale has), meaning they have won their comparision against every other team.

Tournament Regulations:
- 16 teams make the tournament, which are the top 16 in the pairwise at the end of the year before the conference playoff winners (automatic qualifiers) are taken into account. 
- Right now no one from Atlantic Hockey is in the top 16, so the last spot will be their "champ". Thus, the "cut-line" is at 15, and for every team who wins their conference via the playoffs (auto-qualifier), like Alabama-Huntsville did last year (Michigan wasn't above the cut line until they won the CCHA playoffs), it drops.
- Teams who host a regional have to be placed in it, no matter what their seed is. The hosts are Yale for the Bridgeport regional, New Hampshire for Manchester, Michigan Tech (lol) for Green Bay regional and the CCHA for St. Louis.
- 1 through 4 are 1 seeds, 5 through 8 are 2 seeds, etc.
- The "committee" has a 400 mile driving limit (between a school and the host) and does what they can to keep those schools in those regionals. Michigan is more than 400 miles from any regional site and thus will have to fly no matter what. Teams like Minnesota-Duluth, Notre Dame, and Western Michigan are all within 400 miles of Green Bay, and thus can bus there.
- The "committee" has to avoid first-round matchups (and preferably possible second-round matchups) of teams from the same conferences, unless they are unavoidable.
- The "committee" will move teams around to abide by the regulations above. Teams are very rarely moved from one seed band (1 seed, 2 seed) to another, but are switched within bands with norm. I explain my changes within the seed bands below the brackets and why I made each change.


My projection (using http://www.collegehockeynews.com/ratings/ncaapwcr.php, breaking ties by RPI) through tonights games:

1. Yale (EC) - 29
2. Boston College (HE) - 26
3. Minnesota-Duluth (WC) - 26
4. New Hampshire (HE) - 26
5. North Dakota (WC) - 26
6. Denver (WC) - 25
7. Rensselaer (EC) - 21
8. Wisconsin (WC) - 21
9. Union (EC) - 20
10. Merrimack (HE) - 20
11. Notre Dame (CC) - 18
12. Michigan (CC) - 18
13. Western Michigan (CC) - 18
14. Boston University (HE) - 17
15. Nebraska-Omaha (WC) - 16
16. Atlantic Hockey Champ (AH)

1. Yale (EC)
8. Wisconsin (WC)
9. Union (EC)
14. Boston University (HE)

St. Louis:
2. Boston College (HE)
5. North Dakota (WC)
12. Michigan (CC)
15. Nebraska-Omaha (WC)

Green Bay:
3. Minnesota-Duluth (WC)
6. Denver (WC)
11. Notre Dame (CC)
13. Western Michigan (CC)

4. New Hampshire (HE)
7. Rensselaer (EC)
10. Merrimack (HE)
16. Atlantic Hockey Champ (AH)

1 seeds: #1 Yale (Bridgeport Host), #4 New Hampshire (Manchester Host), #3 Duluth within driving to Green Bay, leaves #2 BC for St. Louis.

2/3 seeds: Switched the 7/10 and 5/12 matchups to help with attendance.

4 seeds: #13 Western Michigan within driving to Green Bay, kept the #15 UNO for in St Louis for attendance. Switched #14 BU and #16 AHA Champ to avoid Hockey East first round matchup in Manchester.



February 6th, 2011 at 6:05 AM ^

The NCAA does not particularly care about preserving bracket integrity outside of maintaining the seeding bands. They do not have any intention of preserving things like the 5-12 matchup at the expense of getting better attendance. I say this because last year, they put #12 Michigan against #8 Bemidji State so they could put Michigan in Fort Wayne and thus increase attendence.

Also, you broke ties by winning percentage, not RPI. Breaking ties by RPI yields the following overall seeds*:

1 (1). Yale (ECAC)
2 (1). Minn-Duluth (WCHA)
3 (1). North Dakota (WCHA)
4 (1). Boston College (HE)
5 (2). New Hampshire (HE)
6 (2). Denver (WCHA)
7 (2). RPI (ECAC)
8 (2). Wisconsin (WCHA)
9 (3). Union (ECAC)
10 (3). Merrimack (HE)
11 (3). Notre Dame (CCHA)
12 (3). Michigan (CCHA)
13 (4). WMU (CCHA)
14 (4). Boston University (HE)
15 (4). Nebraska-Omaha (WCHA)
16 (4). RIT (Leads Atlantic Hockey Standings)

Sidenote: Massive down year for the CCHA.

Given these overall seeds, I produce the following bracket:

East (Bridgeport)
1 (1). Yale
4 (14). Boston University
2 (5). Boston College
3 (9). Union

Midwest (Green Bay)
1 (2). Minn-Duluth
4 (13). WMU
2 (8). Wisconsin
3 (12). Michigan

West (St. Louis)**
1 (3). North Dakota
4 (16). RIT/Atlantic Hockey
2 (6). Denver
3 (11). Notre Dame

Northeast (Manchester)
1 (4). New Hampshire
4 (15). Nebraska-Omaha
2 (7). RPI
3 (10). Merrimack

Placing the 1-seeds was easy based on geography and hosting requirements. The 4-seeds were not so simple. We'll first put WMU in Green Bay so that WMU doesn't have to fly. Nebraska-Omaha must go east so as to avoid playing North Dakota in an intraconference matchup. This means that either BU or the Atlantic Hockey champ must go west. BU cannot play in Manchester to avoid an intraconference matchup. Furthermore, every semi-decent Atlantic Hockey except RIT will have to fly to every city, in which case we'd stick them in St. Louis by default. However, RIT is within 400 miles of Bridgeport and Manchester*** and would therefore be able to drive. This leaves us with the choice to promote bracket integrity by giving Yale a game with RIT and sending BU west, or shoring up attendence in Bridgeport and sending RIT west. Considering that BU will give a much bigger attendence bump to Bridgeport by virtue of geography, I chose to send BU to Bridgeport and RIT to St. Louis, leaving Nebraska-Omaha for Manchester. This could easily go the other way though.

The 2-seeds and 3-seeds posed a more difficult challenge. Wisconsin to Green Bay was the easiest choice, as it serves to shore up attendence there. Denver to St. Louis also made a lot of sense as the remaining 2-seeds were in the east. For geographical purposes, it also makes sense to keep the eastern 3-seeds to the east, leaving Notre Dame and Michigan for Green Bay and St. Louis. Notre Dame is within 400 miles of both cities and Michigan would have to fly to both. I wound up choosing to put Notre Dame in St. Louis on the basis that Notre Dame could probably draw more fans than Michigan could in that regional, as it's a 9-hour drive down to St. Louis from Ann Arbor.****

This leaves BC, RPI, Union, and Merrimack to be placed into regionals. In order to avoid intraconference matchups, we have to place BC against Union and RPI against Merrimack. I put RPI-Merrimack in Manchester as Merrimack is actually closer to Manchester than the University of New Hampshire is. This leaves BC-Union to the Bridgeport regional, rounding out the set.

*This assumption is not necessarily true. While the NCAA traditionally breaks ties with RPI, they can also do so via head-to-head comparisons or other means. They could well break ties in such a manner that will improve attendance. Or they could do something incredibly stupid for the sole pleasure of irritating people. After all, I'm pretty sure that the NCAA came up with the Pairwise system in the first place for that exact reason.

**The NCAA was kind of stupid for putting a regional in St. Louis. They generally fret about having half-full arenas and low attendance at the regionals. So putting a regional in a city that's far away from virtually every college hockey program and trying to fill an NHL arena is going to be very difficult. As such, the NCAA is probably hoping very much that the Pairwise changes such that Michigan, Notre Dame, and Nebraska-Omaha can all be placed in St. Louis.

***RIT can stay under the 400 mile limit to Manchester by using state roads. Not that it matters as RIT wouldn't be placed in Manchester in any scenario based on these seeds.

****This pick was the one I'm least certain about. On one hand, Notre Dame fans have done a very good job of supporting their non-revenue teams. On the other hand, Michigan hockey generally draws a fair group of supporters in the NCAAs wherever they play. However, this level of support is rarely enough to even fill a smaller arena if it's a long drive from Ann Arbor, so I put Notre Dame in St. Louis on the basis that fans in South Bend are more likely to make the substantially shorter drive to St. Louis.


February 6th, 2011 at 7:08 AM ^

being in that st louis regional would be killer. looks like the toughest regional if that bracket were to hold, while the manchester regional looks like a tea party


February 6th, 2011 at 8:23 AM ^

Nice breakdown.  Have to hope the team rights the ship a bit and wins most, if not all, of the rest of the games.  Being a third seed in St. Louis is scary, but there are only a few spots between that and being out of the tournament.  

Number 7

February 6th, 2011 at 10:02 AM ^

If Air Force beats RIT for the AH spot -- eminently plausible -- I imagine AF would get placed as the # 4 seed in St Louis. Michigan could then very easily be sent out east. Also, as it is now, both OP and Seth have 6 teams from HE and ECAC staying in the east. I think that the committee will break things up a bit, preference to minimize travel not withstanding. Again, Michigan could end up coming east. Otoh, bet the committee would love to send notre dame and bc to Manchester.


February 6th, 2011 at 10:45 PM ^

There's still a ton of games to be played between now and mid-March and seeing how one games can make such an impact (Michigan fell from #5 to #9 after the MSU loss), and how other games don't change anythign (Michigan stayed at #9 after the Friday loss to Miami), I'll continue to update this thread throughout the remainder of the season (after the completions of Friday's and Saturday's).


February 8th, 2011 at 5:52 PM ^

Here is an updated projection through the Beanpot semifinals, done by USCHO.com.

West Regional (St. Louis):
14 Nebraska-Omaha vs. 2 Boston College
11 Notre Dame vs. 5 North Dakota

Midwest Regional (Green Bay):
13 Western Michigan vs. 3 Minnesota-Duluth
12 Michigan vs. 8 Wisconsin

East Regional (Bridgeport):
16 RIT vs. 1 Yale
9 Union vs. 5 Denver

Northeast Regional (Manchester):
15 Dartmouth vs. 4 New Hampshire
10 Merrimack vs. 7 Rensselaer



February 12th, 2011 at 12:33 AM ^

Updated through 2/11 games:

1. Yale (EC) - 29
2. Boston College (HE) - 28
3. North Dakota (WC) - 26
4. Denver (WC) - 25
5. Minnesota-Duluth (WC) - 25
6. Merrimack (HE) - 24
7. Union (EC) - 22
8. New Hampshire (HE) - 22
9. Rensselaer (EC) - 22
10. Notre Dame (CC) - 19
11. Wisconsin (WC) - 19
12. Nebraska-Omaha (WC) - 18
13. Michigan (CC) - 18
14. Dartmouth (EC) - 15
15. Miami (CC) - 15
16. Atlantic Hockey Champ (AH)


1. Yale (EC)
7. Union (EC)
12. Nebraska-Omaha (WC)
16. Atlantic Hockey Champ (AH)

2. Boston College (HE)
8. New Hampshire (HE)
9. Rensselaer (EC)
14. Dartmouth (EC)

St. Louis:
3. North Dakota (WC)
6. Merrimack (HE)
11. Wisconsin (WC)
15. Miami (CC)

Green Bay:
4. Denver (WC)
5. Minnesota-Duluth (WC)
10. Notre Dame (CC)
13. Michigan (CC)


1 seeds: #1 Yale to Bridgeport (host), #2 BC to Manchester, #3 North Dakota to St. Louis, #4 Denver to Green Bay.

2 seeds: #8 New Hampshire to Manchester (host), #5 Minneosta-Duluth to Green Bay (within 400 mile range to bus there). #6 Merrimack to St. Louis and #7 Union to Bridgeport (possible you could switch these two, keep the higher seed out east?).

3 seeds: #11 Wisconsin to St. Louis (can't put in Green Bay due to the WCHA first round matchup - reasoning on why not them to GB below), #10 Notre Dame to Green Bay (within 400 mile range to bus), #9 RPI to Manchester (can't go to Bridgeport due to ECAC first round matchup), #12 Nebraska-Omaha to Bridgeport (nowhere else).

4 seeds: #15 Miami to St. Louis (within 400 mile range to bus), #14 Dartmouth to Manchester (only 31 miles away, had no idea), #13 Michigan to Green Bay, #16 AHA Champ to Bridgeport.


Who to put in Green Bay? 2 seed Minnesota-Duluth or 3 seed Wisconsin? Can't have both since they are both in the WCHA and common sense would say Wisconsin (attendance, closer, etc), but I went with Minnesota-Duluth because how this move affects the others made after it. Minnesota-Duluth and Notre Dame are both within busing to Green Bay, while only Notre Dame is busing to St. Louis.

Option 1:
St. Louis:
#6 Merrimack (fly)
#11 Wisconsin (bus)

Green Bay:
#5 UMD (bus)
#10 Notre Dame (bus)


Option 2:
Green Bay:
#6 Merrimack (fly)
#11 Wisconsin (bus)

St. Louis:
#5 UMD (fly)
#10 Notre Dame (bus)


February 13th, 2011 at 12:09 AM ^

Updated through 2/12 games (ties broken by RPI).


1. Yale (EC) - 29
2. Boston College (HE) - 27
3. North Dakota (WC) - 25
4. Denver (WC) - 24
5. Merrimack (HE) - 24
6. Minnesota-Duluth (WC) - 22
7. Union (EC) - 20
8. Nebraska-Omaha (WC) - 20
9. New Hampshire (HE) - 29
10. Michigan (CC) - 19
11. Miami (CC) - 19
12. Notre Dame (CC) - 18
13. Dartmouth (EC) - 18
14. Rensselaer (EC) - 17
15. Wisconsin (WC) - 15
16. Atlantic Hockey Champ (AH)


1. Yale (EC)
5. Merrimack (HE)
10. Michigan (CC)
16. Atlantic Hockey Champ (AH)

2. Boston College (HE)
7. Union (EC)
9. New Hampshire (HE)
15. Wisconsin (WC)

St. Louis:
3. North Dakota (WC)
8. Nebraska-Omaha (WC)
11. Miami (CC)
14. Rensselaer (EC)

Green Bay:
4. Denver (WC)
6. Minnesota-Duluth (WC)
12. Notre Dame (CC)
13. Dartmouth (EC)


1 seeds: #1 Yale to Bridgeport (host), #2 BC to Manchester, #3 North Dakota to St. Louis, #4 Denver to Green Bay.

2 seeds: #6 Minnesota-Duluth to Green Bay (within 400 mile limit to bus), #8 Nebraska-Omaha to St. Louis (attendance purposes), #7 Union to Manchester, #5 Merrimack to Bridgeport.

3 seeds: #12 Notre Dame to Green Bay (within 400 mile limit to bus), #11 Miami to St. Louis (within 400 mile limit to bus), #9 New Hampshire to Manchester (host), #10 Michigan to Bridgeport (nowhere else)

4 seeds: #13 Dartmouth to Green Bay, #14 Rensselaer to St. Louis, #15 Wisconsin to Manchester (can't send out west due to having WCHA teams as #1 seeds in both regions), #16 Atlantic Hockey champ* to Bridgeport. All these keep 1-16, 2-15, 3-14, 4-13 matchups.

*If AHA champ is Air Force, send them to St. Louis, Wisconsin to Bridgeport, and Rensselaer to Manchester.