One last week of mixed games — five conferences are in best-of-three quarterfinals, while one is playing its last week of the regular season.
About these forecasts
I’m again going to look just one week ahead because of the mix of games, though we’re starting to get a pretty good idea where the break lines are of teams that are locks for the NCAA tournament and those that can only make it by winning their conference tournaments. There are quite a few teams in the middle still capable of winning their way to an at-large bid.
If you didn’t read Feb. 26’s article, I’d urge you to check out the part that explains what I mean by a particular outcome being “likely”.
Teams that could fall to the bubble if swept
Every conference except the Big Ten is a best-of-three playoff round, meaning that any non-Big Ten team that loses two games this weekend won’t play any more games before the NCAA tournament selection. While teams’ PWR rankings can move a bit when idle, they’re pretty unlikely to make big moves. So, to determine teams’ worst case outcomes if swept we look at their likely PWR rankings following such an outcome this weekend and assume they’ll go into NCAA tournament selection with PWRs in the same neighborhoods.
#7 Quinnipiac is the highest ranked team with a noticeable chance of falling to the bubble (about a 16% chance of falling to #13 or lower if swept this weekend).
For #8 Mass.-Lowell, that jumps to about 29% chance of falling to #13 or lower if swept this weekend. For #9 Notre Dame, about 39% chance of falling to #13 or lower if swept.
Note that it’s also possible for a team that emerges victorious this weekend to end up with a lower PWR ranking going into NCAA selection due to a subsequent loss in a conference tournament.
Teams that could fall out of contention if swept
#10 North Dakota is the highest ranked team with a significant chance of falling out of contention if swept this weekend, with a ranking of #15-#18 most likely following such a result. It may prove to be possible to climb a couple spots while idle or even make the tournament from #15, but it’s not most likely.
#11 Providence and #12 Vermont face similar outlooks.
Teams that probably need to win this round
#13 Cornell is the highest ranked team with very little chance of staying in contention if swept this weekend, with a ranking of #18-#20 most likely if swept or #16-#19 most likely with a single win. Winning the round would keep Cornell in contention, most likely landing between #10-#15 (the broad range is attributable to two wins being achievable with either zero or one losses).
#14 Michigan will fall to the bottom of the bubble if swept this weekend, but has not yet entered its conference tournament so would get one more chance to make up ground next weekend.
#15 Northeastern is likely to fall out of contention if swept, or (unlike Cornell) move above the bubble with two wins.
#16 Colgate, #17 Mankato, and #18 Yale also fall out of contention if swept. Colgate and Minnesota State climb just to the bottom of the bubble with two wins (#13-#17 and #13-#16 most likely, respectively), while Yale is more likely to climb above the bubble with two wins (#10-#14 most likely).
Teams that can barely make the bubble with two wins
#19 Minnesota Duluth has only a 1% chance of making #13 or above with two wins this weekend, or a 15% chance of making #15 or above. #20 New Hampshire and #21 Western Michigan face similarly daunting outlooks.
Remember that after winning this weekend, three more wins would get any of these teams a conference tournament victory and auto-bid, so the chances for an at-large bid are really only interesting if you assume the conference tournament is going to end in a loss. It’s possible for one of these teams to get into position for an at-large bid with a sweep this weekend and then one or two wins followed by a loss, but not most likely.
#22 Maine fares slightly better, looking at about a 6% chance of landing at #13 or higher with two wins or a 31% chance of making #15 or above.
Teams that probably need to win their conference tournaments
#23 Ohio State can’t quite get to the bubble (no higher than #17 likely) even with two wins this weekend. Following such an outcome with two wins and a loss at the Big Ten conference tournament could be enough to get OSU onto the bubble, but it would take some luck.
#24 Clarkson and below aren’t even likely to break #20 with two wins this weekend. It’s hard to imagine one or two wins and a loss being enough to push any of them into place for an at-large bid.
Forecasts include the results of games played through Sunday of this week, unless otherwise noted.
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.
- Current PWR Rankings (SiouxSports.com)
- Current RPI Rankings (SiouxSports.com)
- CHN PWR Rankings (CollegeHockeyNews.com)
- USCHO PWR Rankings (USCHO.com)
- Explanation of how PWR mimics NCAA tournament selection (CollegeHockeyNews.com)