Welcome to the first edition of The Ice Garden’s Bracketology column. In this column I will be discussing the NCAA bracket based on the PWR rankings both as they currently stand and how they will likely shape up. You can follow along from home using the PWR Calculator BCI’s Grant Salzano created from scratch — on the site you can edit past and future results to see where the rankings would end up.
First up, we will look at how the teams rank.
Home Ice Locks
Three teams have locked a home game for the NCAA.
The Gophers currently sit in the top spot but it is incredibly tight with Wisconsin. They will hold the top seed if they win the WCHA.
The current two seed but can get the one seed with a WCHA win.
The three seed and will likely not move unless the two teams above them have some huge upsets.
Home Ice Contenders
These teams are currently on the bubble for the last home ice spot.
Clarkson currently sits in the final home ice spot, but the position is tenuous as they will have to play Princeton in the ECAC semifinals most likely. A ECAC title would give them the home game, but they could host in the quarterfinals even if they lose in the semifinals.
The Eagles are currently the last at-large team in the tournament, but they have plenty of opportunities to move up. Boston College has a higher RPI than BU, but the Terriers are ranked above the Eagles is the Pairwise thanks to BU’s head to head wins as well as their record against common opponents — the other two criteria that make up the rankings. But the Eagles control their own destiny to jump ahead of the Terriers if they can erase BU’s head to head advantage with a win in the Hockey East semifinals. BC can even climb into home ice as high as fourth by winning Hockey East and getting some help in the ECAC.
The Big Red have put themselves both in a great position and a bad position. By winning the ECAC regular season crown, they created an easier path to winning the ECAC tournament. They will need to win the ECAC and not have Boston College win Hockey East to get a home game.
These past few weekends have destroyed the Tigers’ resume. Multiple losses dropped them from the top seed in the ECAC to the fourth seed and all but destroyed their chance to host a game. They will need to win the ECAC and get lots help.
Here are the main teams contending for the last spot.
The Terriers are currently in but likely need to reach the finals to have any realistic chance at an at-large bid. They are in a much more tenuous position due to their low RPI.
After upsetting both Northeastern and BU, the Friars have increased their chances of getting in even by just reaching the semifinals. With their path never leaving their home rink, they have a reasonable chance of sneaking into the field. They will be rooting for Bemidji State to knock off Minnesota-Duluth in a sweep to keep their win over Merrimack as a quality win.
The Buckeyes salvaged their season with a pair of ties against Wisconsin, both knocking the Badgers out of the top spot and breathing life into their at large hopes. Their chances are still slim but still alive.
The runners-up last year are looking like long shots for the tournament right now. They have lots of paths but would need help. If all tournaments went chalk, they would be the first team out right now.
Current Bracket, as is
1 Minnesota v 8 CHA (Robert Morris)
2 Wisconsin v 7 Boston College
3 Northeastern v 6 Boston University
4 Clarkson v 5 Cornell
Of course, there are still two weekends left to play, so this bracket is unlikely to stand through the conference tournaments. But if the season were to end today, this is how the NCAA quarterfinals would most likely play out based on the selection committee’s directives. There’s no way to have fewer than two flights, as no teams are a bus ride away from Minnesota or Wisconsin. As a bonus, the two bus trips are fairly short, with one being in the same city.