NCAA field shaping up with three weeks left in regular season

With three weekends of left of regular season play for most conferences (the Big Ten has four), the field of who is likely to make the NCAA tournament has really shaped up in the last week.

You may want to follow along with the data, this narrative is all based on the forecast of PWR by wins, which shows the number of wins necessary to be likely to end the regular season at a particular PWR ranking.

Keep in mind that conference tournaments could result in additional movements, though by then we generally know that teams in the mid-teens need to win to get an at-large bid.

Near locks

Only the top two, #1 Minnesota-Duluth and #2 Denver actually seem to be locks regardless of outcomes. Neither is likely to fall below the #4-7 range, even if swept, so would likely still get an at-large bid even in the worst case 0-2 scenario in the subsequent conference tournament. Note that’s not yet a mathematical certainty, just quite likely.

#1 Minnesota Duluth
#2 Denver

Likely in unless they collapse

#3 Harvard through #9 Mass.-Lowell need at least one win to be likely to finish in the top 13, and thus well positioned for a tournament spot. Because there is an extra weekend of Big Ten play remaining, #4 Minnesota and #6 Penn State actually 3-4 wins to be well positioned for a tournament spot.

#3 Harvard
#4 Minnesota
#5 Boston University
#6 Penn State
#7 Western Michigan
#8 Providence
#9 Mass.-Lowell

Control their own fate

#10 North Dakota through #21 Wisconsin plus #25 Miami control their own fate in reaching the NCAA tournament. #10 North Dakota appears to need 3 wins in its remaining 6 games to be top 13 going into conference tournament play, while #20 Air Force needs to win out its final 4 to stand a decent chance of finishing the regular season in the top 13. #21 Wisconsin has much more room to move because of the extra weekend of Big Ten play remaining. #25 Miami is the lowest ranked team that still seems to control its own ability to jump onto the bubble, with a sweep out of 6 wins likely to land them in the 10-13 range to close out the regular season.

#10 North Dakota
#11 Union
#12 St Cloud St
#13 Cornell
#14 Ohio St
#15 Boston College
#16 Vermont
#17 Nebraska-Omaha
#18 Notre Dame
#19 St. Lawrence
#20 Air Force
#21 Wisconsin
#25 Miami

#22 Quinnipiac through #24 Bemidji State and #26 Canisius and below are unlikely to crack the top 15 in the regular season, so would need near perfection and some luck to sneak into position for an at-large bid. Then, continued success in the conference tournament would be required not to fall out of position. These teams should plan to do well in their conference tournaments.

#22 Quinnipiac
#23 Northeastern
#24 Bemidji State
#26 Canisius
#27 Clarkson
#28 Robert Morris
#29 Merrimack
#30 Princeton
#31 Michigan Tech
#32 MSU-Mankato
#33 Yale
#34 Connecticut
#35 Army
#36 New Hampshire
#37 Colorado College
#38 Dartmouth
#39 Holy Cross
#40 Bentley
#41 Michigan
#42 Bowling Green
#43 Maine
#44 Arizona State
#45 Colgate
#46 Sacred Heart
#47 Mercyhurst
#48 RIT
#49 Michigan State
#50 Lake Superior
#51 Northern Michigan
#52 Ferris State
#53 Alaska
#54 Alaska-Anchorage
#55 American Int’l
#56 Alabama-Huntsville
#57 Rensselaer
#58 Brown
#59 Massachusetts
#60 Niagara

Methodology

Forecasts include the results of games played through Thursday of this week.

Each forecast is based on at least one million monte carlo simulations of the games in the described period. For each simulation, the PairWise Ranking (PWR) is calculated and the results tallied. The probabilities presented in the forecasts are the share of simulations in which a particular outcome occurred.

The outcome of each game in each simulation is determined by random draw, with the probability of victory for each team set by their relative KRACH ratings. So, if the simulation set included a contest between team A with KRACH 300 and team B with KRACH 100, team A will win the game in very close to 75% of the simulations. I don’t simulate ties or home ice advantage.

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