We have finally reached the conference tournaments, and there is still a lot of intrigue. We have one team that is locked into hosting an NCAA tournament game and five more vying for the other three slots. Then we have four teams competing for the single remaining at-large bid.
This week we will do the bracketology a bit differently, taking a look at each of the conferences and who the possible autobid thieves might be — and how they would factor into the bracket if they did.
Up first is the simplest to figure out, the WCHA. The historic national power conference looks to continue its dominance.
Likely Bids: 3 (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth)
Possible Thieves: North Dakota
Wisconsin will be the No. 1 seed. Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth are strong contenders for home ice spots. They will likely meet in the semifinals, with the winner all but locking up a home ice spot while the other could still get a spot. North Dakota is the Boston University of the west, a team that could do damage but rarely seems able to string together enough games to get a bid.
The CHA made a new format for their playoffs; a one-weekend single elimination format. They will be playing their last set of games this weekend.
Likely Bids: 1 (Autobid)
Possible Winners: Robert Morris, Syracuse, Penn State
Robert Morris is leading the conference right now but has been slipping of late, though the other teams haven’t taken advantage, so they need only two points this weekend to lock up hosting duties. Syracuse and Penn State have both beaten Robert Morris and could do so again.
Hockey East is likely to be a one-bid league, but the tournament could cause some intrigue.
Likely Bids: 1 (Boston College)
Possible Thieves: Northeastern, Vermont Boston University
The Eagles have led this conference from the start and are the clear-cut favorites. They have an outside chance of home ice in the NCAAs, though their chances plummeted after losing to Providence last week. Vermont and Northeastern have won big games but then thrown games they should’ve won. Boston University is the host and historically has done well in the tournament.
This is the most intriguing tournament of the four.
Likely Bids: 3 (Clarkson, St. Lawrence, Cornell/Colgate/Quinnipiac/Princeton)
The top two will make the tournament, and the one of them will almost certainly host. The 3-6 teams will all be fighting it out for the final at-large spot. They will be playing each other in the quarterfinals, cutting two of them out of the picture by the end of this weekend.
BC Interruption’s Grant Salzano has put together an amazing tool for your at-home use projecting the conference tournament outcomes. You can make all the picks here and generate the bracket that would result.
My Projected Field
1. Wisconsin — WCHA Autobid
2. Clarkson — ECAC Autobid
4. Boston College — HEA Autobid
5. St. Lawrence
8. Syracuse — CHA Autobid
This bracket actually wouldn’t need to be adjusted. There are two western teams hosting but only one travelling, so there would have to be one flight, and it matches bracket integrity.
1. Wisconsin v 8. Syracuse
2. Clarkson v 7. Cornell
3. Minnesota- Duluth v 6. Minnesota
4. Boston College v 5. St. Lawrence