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Thursday, March 16, 2006

With Michigan in the Not Interesting (To Blog About) Tournament and the long sports desert that is the summer rapidly approaching, it seems like a good idea to make up for the shameful lack of attention I've paid the hockey team in recent weeks.

So: with their sweep of Ferris State in the second round of the CCHA playoffs, Michigan is in the tournament and hoping to get shipped east. The worst result I can get after excessive futzing with USCHO's Pairwise Predictor tool is Michigan in a three-way tie for 12th, but Michigan wins the tiebreakers by taking the comparisons against UNH and UNO. The top 16 teams in the pairwise rankings get in minus whatever number of non-qualifying autobids there are -- usually two or three. It would take two Michigan losses and an unprecedented string of upsets for Michigan to be knocked out at this point.

Michigan's locked into a two or three seed; the only things left to determine are the where and who. For your edification, a trip through the NCAA seeding process...

Chalk Scenario which all higher-seeded teams win.

(Bold == Autobid)

1 Minnesota (Mn) 29 .5908*
2 Wisconsin (Wi) 28 .5782*
3 Boston University (BU) 27 .5695
4 Miami (Mm) 26 .5688*
5 Michigan State (MS) 25 .5643
6t North Dakota (ND) 23 .5523
6t Cornell (Cr) 23 .5503
8 Harvard (Ha) 21 .5488
9 Michigan (Mi) 20 .5475
10 Maine (Me) 19 .5477
11t Colorado College (CC) 18 .5435
11t New Hampshire (NH) 18 .5391
11t Nebraska-Omaha (NO) 18 .5355
11t Holy Cross (HC) 18 .5353*
16 Dartmouth (Da) 15 .5446
27 Bemidji State (BS) 3 .4943

Three of the four hosts this year -- guaranteed to play at 'home' -- made the tourney: North Dakota, Wisconsin, and BU. So UW and BU are at home. Clearly the logical places for Minnesota and Miami are Grand Forks and Albany, respectively.

Grand Forks

#1 Minnesota vs. #16 Bemidji State
#8 Harvard vs. #9 Michigan

Green Bay

#2 Wisconsin vs. #15 Dartmouth
#7 Cornell vs. #10 Maine


#3 BU vs. #14 Holy Cross
#6 North Dakota vs. #11 CC


#4 Miami vs. #13 UNO
#5 MSU vs. #12 UNH

Problems in bold: two intraconference first round matchups and North Dakota is not at home. Fixing the latter is fairly simple: the logical thing to do is to swap Harvard and North Dakota, officially giving Michigan a Bracket Of Death in which they face North Dakota at home followed by overall #1 seed Minnesota should they survive the first trial by ordeal. Swapping UNO out is a bit murkier, as I'd figure they'd leave Holy Cross as close to Boston as possible... they'd probably swap with Dartmouth. Final bracket, with seeds massaged down to the 1-4 scale the NCAA uses:

Grand Forks

#1 Minnesota vs. #4 Bemidji State
#2 North Dakota vs. #3 Michigan


#1 Wisconsin vs. #4 UNO
#2 Cornell vs. #3 Maine


#1 BU vs. #4 Holy Cross
#2 Harvard vs. #3 CC


#1 Miami vs. #4 Dartmouth
#2 MSU vs. #3 UNH

Obviously, that's the worst possible bracket Michigan can find themselves in. I'll spare you the tedious details, but suffice it to say that the following bracket, which Michigan reaches under the same parameters as "chalk" but with an improbable run through MSU and Miami to win the CCHA tournament, is much preferable:

Green Bay

#1 UW vs. #4 UNO
#2 Michigan vs. #3 Maine

Still not exactly a field of frickin' poppies, but at least the defacto home game comes in the second round against a team that Michigan played fairly straight up earlier in the year (and thumped in the tournament a year ago).

Of course,
  1. the chances of chalk occurring are vanishingly small and
  2. given the volatile nature of your stupid, stupid minds pairwise the slightest deviation from said chalk will cause totally unpredictable swings,
so this has likely been an exercise in futility. But my futility needs to get off the couch anyway. The grim reality of the situation is that unless Michigan manages to snag a #2 seed -- which would require winning the CCHA tournament and having a selection of other games fall in the right way -- it will be hard to get away from the NoDak/Minnesota enjoy-your-lovely-parting-gifts combination.

But, hey, at least they made it.

And there's always next year. Packer487 has compiled stats for the dizzying array of recruits Michigan has committed over the next three years.