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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Bracketology: Where will Quinnipiac land on Selection Sunday?

Quinnipiac+head+coach+Rand+Pecknold+will+make+his+10th+Division+I+NCAA+Tournament+appearance+with+the+Bobcats+this+season.
Peyton McKenzie
Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold will make his 10th Division I NCAA Tournament appearance with the Bobcats this season.

Entering ECAC Hockey championship weekend a year ago, the only concern for Quinnipiac men’s hockey was the Whitelaw Cup. 

The Bobcats were 30-3-3, dominating their competition in the regular season and securing the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament weeks in advance. 

This year’s team does not have that luxury. A younger roster and a stronger strength of schedule have Quinnipiac 26-8-2 as it heads north to Lake Placid — a respectable record by all means — but nowhere near out of the woods for tournament seeding.

Currently sitting at No. 7 in the Pairwise (the mathematical tournament determinator), the Bobcats have a tournament bid secured, but the outcomes of this weekend’s conference championships could swing them as high as No. 4 or as low as No. 10 by Selection Sunday.

The Bobcats could also land anywhere in between, meaning all of the four regional sites (Springfield, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Maryland Heights, Missouri) are in the cards with just a handful of games left to play. 

I’ve broken down the scenarios that put Quinnipiac in each Pairwise position and the larger implications those have on the bracket. 

But before getting to that, several things should be prefaced about how the bracket is organized. The 1-16 order of tournament qualifiers based on the Pairwise (six automatic, 10 at-large) is prioritized, but teams will be moved to meet several conditions. 

First, teams hosting regionals will always be put in that region. So Omaha (a tournament lock) will play in Sioux Falls and UMass (which has a 5% chance to fall past the cut line) will play in Springfield. 

Second, the committee looks to avoid first round matchups between teams in the same conference (and second round matchups, if possible). With four Hockey East, four Big Ten and five NCHC programs currently above the cut line, movement is inevitable.  

BC and BU have already locked up the No. 1 and 2 seeds in the tournament, BC will more than likely host close to home in Providence. But unless UMass upsets the Eagles in the Hockey East Semifinal, the Minutemen will almost certainly enter the tournament as a four seed, forcing BU to host in Maryland Heights to avoid a first round interconference matchup unless the committee takes unprecedented action. 

Because of the UMass problem, Quinnipiac will most likely stay east if it lands in any other seed but No. 6. 

*Each percentage in this story is based on the Pairwise Probability Matrix from College Hockey News

 

No. 4

Chance: 0.4%

 

What needs to happen:

ECAC Final:

Quinnipiac over Cornell

 

Hockey East Final:

BC over Maine

 

CCHA Final:

Bemidji State over Michigan Tech

 

Big Ten Final:

Michigan over Michigan State

 

NCHC Final: 

Denver and Omaha advance to final

 

Atlantic Hockey Final:

If Omaha wins NCHC: AIC over RIT

if Denver wins: either result works

 

There is still a theoretical scenario where the Bobcats enter the tournament as a top four seed, though of the three teams on the outside looking in (Quinnipiac, Michigan State, Maine), they have by far the lowest chance.

Based on initial seeding Quinnipiac would host the Missouri Heights regional in this scenario because Denver, the No. 3 seed, is closer to Sioux Falls. 

But there are four conflicts in this bracket: No. 8 Minnesota vs No. 9 Wisconsin (Big Ten), No. 3 Denver vs No. 14 Colorado College (NCHC), No. 5 North Dakota vs No. 12 Western Michigan (NCHC) and No. 13 UMass in the Maryland Heights Regional. 

The first problem is UMass, in this scenario, it become a four seed, but can’t play BU in the first round. So unless the committee takes unprecedented action and swaps the Minutemen to a three seed and Western Michigan the final four seed, the Terriers would have to go west to host at Maryland Heights and Quinnipiac would host in Springfield. 

Then there’s the interconference conflicts. It makes the most sense to move Wisconsin to Maryland Heights to face Maine, creating a No. 7-9 matchup. Then take Michigan from that bracket and pair it with North Dakota in Springfield, and Western Michigan, the original three-seed in that region, lines up with Minnesota in Providence. 

This leaves Denver and Colorado College together. There’s a clause in the NCAA Championship Manual that allows the committee to prioritize bracket integrity over avoiding first round conference matchups if five or more teams from a conference together, so this pairing could remain. The committee could also elect to swap the Tigers and the Atlantic Hockey winner, giving BU the No. 14 seed instead of No. 15. I’ll settle with the former option for this projection.

No. 5

Chance: 11%

 

What needs to happen:

ECAC Final:

Quinnipiac over Cornell 

 

Hockey East Final:

BC over Maine

 

NCHC Final:

If Michigan wins the Big Ten: Denver over North Dakota

If Michigan State wins the Big Ten: Denver and Omaha advance to final

 

In order for Quinnipiac to jump to No. 5, it has to leapfrog one of North Dakota or Michigan State. If North Dakota is the team the Bobcats jump, as I’ve chosen in this projected bracket, the Fighting Hawks end up in Sioux Falls in an NCHC Semifinal rematch with Omaha. Using the rule I mentioned in the section above, the committee can leave this matchup intact. Given that Omaha can’t move and the tremendous backlash the committee would face if UND was moved from this region, this seems like the likely option. That puts four NCHC teams in the same regional however, so in this case, it would make sense to swap No. 14 Colorado College from Sioux Falls with the No. 15 Atlantic Hockey winner.  

Given UMass still lands as a four seed here, BU would again have to move to Maryland Heights, with Michigan State and by association Quinnipiac coming east to Springfield. I made the same moves swapping three-seeded teams as the section above, so this leaves the Bobcats in a No. 5-10 matchup with Michigan. 

If Michigan State falls to No. 6, this bracket becomes a lot murkier, but I’ll let the committee deal with that scenario. 

No. 6

Chance: 39%

 

What needs to happen:

ECAC Final:

Quinnipiac over Cornell

 

The conditions to rise to No. 5 or No. 4 are not met.

 

By far the most likely seeding if Quinnipiac wins the ECAC, finishing No. 6 puts Quinnipiac in Sioux Falls facing No. 11 Omaha. Seeds No. 3-5 are a toss up between North Dakota, Denver and Michigan State in this scenario, so for the sake of this projection, I’ve gone chalk with the outcomes in the NCHC and Big Ten tournaments. So North Dakota beats Denver and Michigan State tops Michigan. That gives the Fighing Hawks the No. 3 Seed, Michigan State at No. 4 and Denver at No. 5. 

In this case, UND hosts the Sioux Falls regional and Mighigan State hosts in Springfield (again because UMass has to be there) and Denver is the two seed in that region. All the other changes are the same as in the scenario where Quinnipiac ends up as the No. 4 seed. I again elected to leave Colorado College in Sioux Falls rather than replace it with the Atlantic Hockey winner. 

No. 7

Chance: 36%

If Quinnipiac loses in the ECAC title game, it’ll enter the tournament at No. 7, regardless of results from other conferences. 

Winning the ECAC could also keep the Bobcats in their current position. That would take a Dartmouth upset over Cornell in the ECAC Semifinals and a Maine upset over BU in the Hockey East Semifinals, or Cornell advancing to the ECAC final, but Maine, North Dakota and Michigan State all also win their respective conferences. 

Regardless of how it gets there, this puts Quinnipiac as the two seed in Springfield, but in order to avoid a Big Ten No. 8-9 matchup between Minnesota and Wisconsin, the Bobcats would almost undoubtedly be moved to Providence. 

 

No. 8

Chance: 0.4%

 

What needs to happen:

ECAC Final:

Cornell over St. Lawrence

 

Hockey East Final:

Maine over BC


NCHC Final:

Denver over North Dakota or Omaha

 

If Quinnipiac is upset by St. Lawrence in the ECAC Semifinals, it will fall somewhere between No. 8-10 entering the tournament. 

For the Bobcats to remain a two seed, they would need the specific conditions above to be met, which would put them in Providence as the home team against Wisconsin. 

 

No. 9

Chance: 11%

 

What needs to happen:

ECAC Final:

St. Lawrence vs Dartmouth or Cornell

 

The conditions listed to rise to No. 8 or fall to No. 10 are not met.

 

The results of the Big Ten and NCHC tournaments could drastically change who lands No. 3-6, but if Quinnipiac drops to No. 9, it will almost certainly stay in Providence to face Wisconsin with No. 1 BC and the No. 16 CCHA winner on the other side of the bracket. 

 

Again taking chalk picks in the NCHC and Big Ten for the sake of the projection, Michigan State hosts in Springfield, moving UMass in as the four seed. Then to avoid an NCHC first round matchup between North Dakota and Western Michigan, the Broncos move to Maryland Heights to play BU and the Atlantic Hockey winner goes to Sioux Falls. 

 

No. 12 Cornell, my projected ECAC winner in this scenario, swaps with No. 10 Michigan from Springfield to Maryland Heights to break up a Big Ten first round matchup. 

No. 10

Chance: 1%

 

What needs to happen:

ECAC Final:

St. Lawrence advances to final, St. Lawrence or Dartmouth win

 

Hockey East Final:

Maine doesn’t win

 

Big Ten Final:

Michigan over Michigan State

 

NCHC:

Denver doesn’t advance to final

 

In this scenario, Michigan leapfrogs Quinnipiac and takes the No. 9 spot, but that again creates a Big Ten conflict in the No. 8-9 matchup between Wisconsin and Michigan in Providence, so the Bobcats would likely move to Providence to face the Badgers, while Michigan heads to Springfield. This would create another conflict, as No. 7 Minnesota would matchup with the Wolverines, so I moved No. 6 Maine closer to home and the Gophers out to Sioux Falls to play Omaha.  

UMass only makes the tournament in this case if it wins its Hockey East semifinal game. For the sake of argument, in this projection it doesn’t, making this scenario one of few where it makes sense for BU to host in Springfield. They would initially be matched up with Dartmouth, my projected ECAC winner here, but because of a conflict between No. 4 Denver and No. 13 Colorado College, it makes sense to bring the Tigers to Springfield and send Dartmouth to play the Pioneers in Maryland Heights.

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Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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