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Sorting Out the Seeds in the Olympics - UPDATE at End

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Team USA's surprising 5-3 win (I won't dare call it an upset on the scale of the Miracle on Ice in 1980) over Canada did more than send waves of uncertainty through Canada. It also shook up the seedings used to determine who gets byes in the qualification round. Before the tournament began, Canada was the favorite to emerge out of round-robin play with the top seed in the group that included the United States, Norway, and Switzerland.

Instead, Team USA swept all three games with regulation wins to earn the maximum number of points available. As such, they are one of four teams guaranteed to not have to play in the qualification round on Tuesday. Right now, Finland and Sweden are playing the final preliminary round game to lock in the seedings. But we already know that seeds 6 through 12 have already been decided.

Those seeds and more, after the jump.

Before I get to the seeds, here's a primer on the tiebreaking procedures the IIHF is using for these Olympics:
  • Higher position in the group
  • Higher number of points
  • Better goal difference
  • Higher number of goals scored for
  • Better 2009 IIHF World Ranking

Now onto the seeds. I'll work my way backwards and get the easiest seeds to determine out of the way.

12th seed - Latvia (0-0-0-3, 0 pts)

11th seed - Germany (0-0-0-3, 0 pts)

Both Latvia and Germany lost all three of their preliminary games in regulation. As such, both teams have the dubious distinction of being the only teams in the tournament to not earn at least one point. Germany wins the tiebreaker of having a better Goal Differential with a -9 to Latvia's -15

10th seed - Norway (0-0-1-2, 1 pt)

They can thank the tremendously named Tore Vikingstad for helping them get to OT against Switzerland yesterday where they picked up a point after dropping their first two contests against Canada and the United States.

9th seed - Belarus (1-0-0-2, 3 pts)

8th seed - Switzerland (0-1-1-1, 3 pts)

Not that seeding matters much. Belarus and Switzerland would face off against one another no matter who the higher seed was because this is an 8-9 matchup. But Switzerland got the tiebreak by virtue of having a -2 goal differential to Belarus' -4 goal differential.

7th seed - Slovakia (1-1-0-1, 5 pts)

6th seed - Canada (1-1-0-1, 5 pts)

Again, goal differential breaks the tie with Canada having a +7 goal differential to Slovakia's +5 goal differential.

5th seed - Yeah, I'll get to that here in just a second. Because as of now, Seeds 1, 2, 4, and 5 are undecided.

3rd seed - Russia. Theoretically, Finland could tie them in points and beat them in goal differential with an OT or SO win over Sweden.

But keep in mind, the first tiebreaker according to the IIHF:

Higher position in the group

Because Russia finished with a 2-0-1-0 mark and 7 points, they cannot overtake the USA, who won Group A with 9 points. And because the winner of Group C will either have 8 or 9 points, they can't overtake them, either.

Now as for Seeds 1, 2, 4, and 5, I'll start at the top and work my way down.

The United States won all three round robin games and will either finish as the top seed or 2nd seed. If the Finland-Sweden match goes into OT, they'll clinch the top seed as the most number of points the winner of the Finland-Sweden match could get is 8.

If Finland wins this game in regulation, they'll clinch the top seed by virtue of having a better goal differential (at least +10 to USA +9). If they win in OT or the shootout, they'll get the second seed.

Sweden can clinch the top seed if they beat the Fins by at least 6 goals, or beat the Fins by 5 while scoring at least 8 goals.Otherwise, they'll finish with the second seed with any other kind of a win tonight.

Now about the 4th and 5th seeds:

If Finland loses in OT or the Shootout, they'll clinch the 4th seed by virtue of having a +9 goal differential to the Czech Republic's +3 goal differential.

If Sweden loses in OT or the shootout, they'll have to score at least four goals in regulation to clinch the 4th seed. That would leave them even with the Czech Republic in terms of points, goal differential, and position within the group. They would clinch by virtue of having the third seed going into the Olympics. The Czech Republic had the 5th seed coming in.

If Sweden scores three goals or less in regulation or the Finland-Sweden game is decided in regulation, the Czech Republic gets the fourth and final bye through to the Quarterfinals.

And as an FYI, group replacement was done on an S-curve. Canada was the top seed in the entire tournament coming in with the United States 6th (2nd in Group A). So in a twist of irony, Team USA and Canada could flip flop seedings going into the next round.

So as of now, here are your matchups:

Latvia plays either Czech Republic, Finland, or Sweden with the winner playing whoever winds up with the 4th seed.

Germany plays Canada with the winner playing Russia.

Norway plays Slovakia with the winner playing whoever winds up with the 2nd seed.

Belarus plays Switzerland with the winner playing whoever winds up with the 1st seed.

UPDATE: Sweden beat Finland by a 3-0 score last night to give the United States the top seed by virtue of a better goal differential (+9 to +7). Sweden is the second seed, Finland slips down to 4th, and Czech Republic falls to 5th.

The matchups for tomorrow (and I modified this so it'll look like the actual bracket):

Belarus plays Switzerland with the winner playing the United States.

Latvia plays either Czech Republic with the winner playing Finland.

Norway plays Slovakia with the winner playing Sweden.

Germany plays Canada with the winner playing Russia.

Basically, the United States can't meet Sweden, Canada, or Russia until the Gold Medal or Bronze Medal game. Conversely, Canada would have to at least go through Russia and probably Sweden as well just to reach the Gold Medal Game.