Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday Morning PWR Roundup: Who's In, Who's Out, and Who Has a Chance

Things are starting to solidify in the PairWise Rankings (PWR) as the season winds down.

As a reminder, the PWR is the mathematical formula which picks the NCAA Tournament field in college hockey.

Here's the way it looks to me:

The following 13 teams are "locks" (as far as I can tell) to make the 16-team NCAA Tournament field:

Ferris State
Notre Dame
St. Cloud State
Denver / Miami (whoever wins the NCHC)
Robert Morris / Canisius (whoever wins AHA)

There are three spots remaining, and there are three autobids still out there to be claimed by:

Ohio State, if they win the B1G.  If they do not win tonight, they are out.

New Hampshire, if they win HE.  If they do not win tonight, their season is also done.

Minnesota State, if they win the WCHA.  If they do not win, they've still got a pretty good chance of earning an At Large bid (explained below).

Unless all three of the above teams win tonight, there will still be at least one more At Large bid to be determined.  Things are still fluid with games left to be played, but I think these teams still have a chance to make it, in order of likelihood:

Vermont - they need one of Mankato, Ohio State or New Hampshire to lose tonight to squeak in.  If all three of those teams win, it looks like they'll be the last team out.

Mankato - they are in with a win, but if they lose they'll need at least one of Ohio State or New Hampshire to lose tonight to get in with the last bid.

North Dakota - they need to win today in the NCHC third place game, and then need Ohio State and New Hampshire to lose.

Michigan - they need a North Dakota tie or loss in the NCHC third place game, and they need Ohio State and New Hampshire to lose.

That looks like all the teams left standing.  Here's what some of the seeds look like:

Minnesota is guaranteed the #1 overall seed.  They will be at the St. Paul regional and should play the #16 overall seed, which this year will be the winner of the Atlantic Hockey autobid - that's the winner of Canisius / Robert Morris tonight.

BC is almost guaranteed the #2 overall seed (I was able to find one scenario where Union jumps them into the #2).  They will be in the Worcester regional and SHOULD play the #15 overall seed, unless that team is Miami (because Miami is the "host school" at the Cincinnati regional, they must be slotted there if they make the tournament) or New Hampshire / Vermont (those teams play in Hockey East together, and the committee avoids first round inter-conference matchups where possible).  I think it's most likely that BC matches up against Denver or Ohio State if either of them wins tonight, and if neither does they'll face North Dakota, Michigan or Mankato

Union is guaranteed the #3 overall seed.  They will be in the Bridgeport regional and should play the #14 overall seed, which will likely be New Hampshire or Ohio State (if they win their tourneys), and if not then probably Vermont, Michigan or North Dakota.

The #4 and #5 overall seeds (the #4 being the last #1 band seed available) will likely go to Ferris State and Wisconsin.  Ferris State is guaranteed the #4 seed with a win tonight or a Wisconsin loss.  Whomever it is, this seed will play at the Cincinnati regional, and will play Miami (OH) if they win tonight, and if not they'll play whichever #4 band seed is left standing - my guess is Mankato.

The #5 seed (Ferris State or Wisconsin) should also be in Cincinnati.

Quinnipiac should be the #6 seed and should get slotted in Bridgeport.

UMass-Lowell looks like the #7 seed and would go to Worcester.

Notre Dame is the #8 seed and will be in St. Paul.  They'll face #9 seeded St. Cloud State in the first game.

(Note: these brackets are shaping out PERFECTLY for the committee so far.  UW and Ferris in Cincinnati, Minnesota and SCSU in St. Paul, BC and Lowell in Worcester, Union and Quinnipiac in Bridgeport is just about how you'd draw it up attendance-wise).

The #10 seed looks like Colgate at this point.  They would be slated to play Lowell in Worcester, all else equal.  However, it looks like Mankato could move all the way up to the #10 spot with a win tonight, which would bump every other team down one spot.  I think they'd probably send Mankato to Cincinnati anyways, unless Ferris State is the #2 seed there...

#11 looks like Providence to me.  They'd head to Bridgeport to play Quinnipiac.

The rest is where it gets interesting, with those last teams fighting for their spots.

For what it's worth, here's how the brackets shape up so far:

St. Paul
1 Minnesota vs 16 Robert Morris / Canisius (AHA Winner)
8 Notre Dame vs 9 St. Cloud State

2 BC vs ??
7 Lowell vs 10 Colgate

3 Union vs ??
6 Quinnipiac vs 11 Providence

4 Ferris State / Wisconsin vs ??
5 Ferris State / Wisconsin vs ??

Again, those question marks will be filled out by four of the following: Denver or Miami (whoever wins the NCHC), Ohio State, New Hampshire, Vermont, Mankato, North Dakota, Michigan.

Some interesting notes to consider: in the first round, BC cannot play UNH or Vermont, Ferris can't play Mankato, and Wisconsin can't play Michigan or Ohio State.  If Miami wins they will have to play in Cincinnati as the host school there.

That's the way it looks to me!  I'll try to throw together a final bracketology once the dust settles tonight.

NOTE: I have found some scenarios where the seeds don't 100% match what I wrote above.  It looks like there are scenarios where there is a three-way tie for #5 overall between Wisconsin, Quinnipiac and Lowell that would change the seedings slightly.  However, I think that the committee will likely set the brackets up like the above - the seeds are close enough and the attendance is near perfect.

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