NCAA hockey bracketology: Badgers move up to 3-seed after sweep over CC

Providence goaltender Jon Gillies has the Friars at the top spot this week. - Richard T Gagnon - Getty Images

Wisconsin finds itself a No. 3 seed in St. Paul this week, setting up a potential regional final vs. long-time rival Minnesota.

After a sweep last weekend over Colorado College, Wisconsin has moved up from No. 15 overall to No. 11 in the current PairWise that mimics the formula used by the NCAA to select the tournament field.

There is one thing I wanted to clarify, as there seems to be some confusion. This season the NCAA has altered its formula on the PairWise, and there is some debate as to who has the correct version. In the past there has been no variance between the PWR published by USCHO.com, College Hockey News, or SiouxSports.com. This season USCHO has yet to publish PWR, and Sioux Sports and College Hockey News both have teams ranked differently.

The hope is the NCAA will clear things up soon, but at this point we can't say for sure who is calculating the PWR correctly. For full clarity, we're using the College Hockey News version this week. If we find out it's inaccurate, we'll make the change going forward.

Step 1: Pick the 16 tournament teams

1. Providence (Hockey East)
2. Minnesota (Big 10)
3. Ferris State (WCHA)
4. St. Cloud State (NCHC)
5. Michigan
6. Boston College
7. Union (ECAC)
8. Quinnipiac
9. Clarkson
10. Northeastern
11. Wisconsin
12. UMass-Lowell
13. Cornell
14. Minnesota State
15. Vermont
16. North Dakota

-- Mercyhurst (Atlantic Hockey)

Bubble teams (in order): Notre Dame, UNH, Maine, Lake Superior State

All conferences earn an auto-bid to the tournament, which means Mercyhurst will take the final spot currently held by North Dakota.

Step 2: Assign the seeds

No. 1 seeds: Providence, Minnesota, Ferris State, St. Cloud
No. 2 seeds: Michigan, Boston College, Union, Quinnipiac
No. 3 seeds: Clarkson, Northeastern, Wisconsin, UMass-Lowell
No. 4 seeds: Cornell, Minnesota State, Vermont, Mercyhurst

Step 3: Place host schools in regionals

The only team in the tournament at this point hosting a regional is Minnesota, which is hosting the West Regional in St. Paul. Therefore, the Gophers are the No. 1 seed in the West.

Step 4: Place No. 1 seeds in regionals

No. 1 seeds are placed based on proximity to regional site.

No. 1 overall seed Providence is the top seed at the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass.
No. 2 overall seed Minnesota is the top seed at the West Regional in St. Paul, Minn.
No. 3 overall seed Ferris State is the top seed at the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati, Ohio.
No. 4 overall seed St. Cloud is the top seed at the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn.

Step 5: Place the other 12 teams avoiding intra-conference matchups, if possible.

Begin by filling each bracket by banding groups. Remember that teams are not assigned to the regional closest to their campus sites by ranking order within the banding.

If this is the case, then the committee should seed so that the quarterfinals are seeded such that the four regional championships are played by No. 1 v. No. 8, No. 2 v. No. 7, No. 3 v. No. 6 and No. 4 v. No. 5.

No. 2 seeds:

No. 8 Quinnipiac is placed in No. 1 Providence's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 7 Union is placed in No. 2 Minnesota's Regional, the West.
No. 6 Boston College is placed in No. 3 Ferris State's Regional, the Midwest
No. 5 Michigan is placed in No. 4 St. Cloud's Regional, the East.

No. 3 seeds:

No. 9 Clarkson is placed in No. 8 Quinnipiac's Regional, the Northeast.
No. 10 Northeastern is placed in No. 7 Union's Regional, the West.
No. 11 Wisconsin is placed in No. 6 Boston College's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 12 UMass-Lowell. is placed in No. 5 Michigan's Regional, the East.

No. 4 seeds:

No. 13 Cornell is placed in No. 4 St. Cloud State's Regional, the East.
No. 14 Minnesota State is placed in No. 3 Ferris State's Regional, the Midwest.
No. 15 Vermont is placed in No. 2 Minnesota's Regional, the West.
No. 16 Mercyhurst is placed in No. 1 Providence's Regional, the Northeast.

Our bracket as we have it set up:

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Mass.)

No. 1 Providence vs. No. 16 Mercyhurst
No. 8 Quinnipiac vs. No. 9 Clarkson

West Regional (St. Paul, Minn.)

No. 2 Minnesota vs. No. 15 Vermont
No. 7 Union vs. No. 10 Northeastern

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati, Ohio)

No. 3 Ferris State vs. No. 14 Minnesota State
No. 6 Boston College vs. No. 11 Wisconsin

East Regional (Bridgeport, Conn.)

No. 4 St. Cloud State vs. No. 13 Cornell
No. 5 Michigan vs. No. 12 Lowell

Our first concern is to avoid intra-conference matchups.This week we only have two, so we should be able to make some fairly easy changes.

One match up we need to change is the ECAC match up between Quinnipiac and Clarkson. The ideal switch would be to move a team from the Union/Northeastern first round matchup, but that creates another intra-confrerence game with Union. Therefore, we have to flip Quinnipiac and Boston College.

Not only does the switch satisfy intra-conference match up problems, but it gives the tournament a big boost in attendance by moving Boston College within an hour of home in Worcester.

The other game we need to switch is the Ferris State/Minnesota State mach up in Cincinnati. Once again we can kill two birds with one stone by boosting attendance when we flip Vermont and Minnesota State. This brings the Mavericks to St. Paul, just a short drive from Mankato.

Our bracket as we have it set up now:

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Mass.)

No. 1 Providence vs. No. 16 Mercyhurst
No. 6 Boston College vs. No. 9 Clarkson

West Regional (St. Paul, Minn.)

No. 2 Minnesota vs. No. 14 Minnesota State
No. 7 Union vs. No. 10 Northeastern

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati, Ohio)

No. 3 Ferris State vs. No. 15 Vermont
No. 8 Quinnipiac vs. No. 11 Wisconsin

East Regional (Bridgeport, Conn.)

No. 4 St. Cloud State vs. No. 13 Cornell
No. 5 Michigan vs. No. 12 Lowell

Is there anything that we can change right now to make the tournament better for attendance?

There's really only one logical move, and that involves moving Wisconsin to St. Paul. To keep bracket integrity intact as much as possible, we can take the entire match up and flip Union/Northeastern to Cincinnati.

This actually balances the numbers and helps improve attendance, again, two birds with one stone. Not that the committee will care, but this also sets up a potential Regional final pitting the Badgers vs. the Gophers.

Our final bracket this week:

Northeast Regional (Worcester, Mass.)

No. 1 Providence vs. No. 16 Mercyhurst
No. 6 Boston College vs. No. 9 Clarkson

West Regional (St. Paul, Minn.)

No. 2 Minnesota vs. No. 14 Minnesota State
No. 8 Quinnipiac vs. No. 11 Wisconsin

Midwest Regional (Cincinnati, Ohio)

No. 3 Ferris State vs. No. 15 Vermont
No. 7 Union vs. No. 10 Northeastern

East Regional (Bridgeport, Conn.)

No. 4 St. Cloud State vs. No. 13 Cornell
No. 5 Michigan vs. No. 12 Lowell

Week-by-week Wisconsin tournament tracker:

Week 1: No. 15 overall seed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass.
Week 2: No. 11 overall seed in the West Regional in St. Paul, Minn.

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