22 teams face elimination from at-large contention

It’s an interesting weekend—with the three Eastern conferences (Atlantic Hockey, ECAC, and Hockey East) beginning best-of-3 conference tournament play-in series, while the three Western conferences have one or two weeks of their regular seasons left. In all three Eastern conferences, top teams are on bye this week; so, many teams in the PWR top 20 don’t play.

Team that need to win this weekend to stay alive

Each of the teams in play-in series this weekend need to win their series to have a chance at the NCAA tournament. The highest ranked team playing in a conference tournament this weekend is #19 Vermont, losing this weekend (with a record of 1-2 at best) is very unlikely to result in a significant upward move, and losing this weekend means no additional games before NCAA selection.

The teams that need to win to stay alive are:

Hockey East

  • #30 New Hampshire
  • #38 Connecticut
  • #31 Notre Dame
  • #45 Massachusetts
  • #20 Northeastern
  • #34 Merrimack
  • #19 Vermont
  • #43 Maine


  • #41 Clarkson
  • #48 Rensselaer
  • #24 Dartmouth
  • #56 Princeton
  • #22 Harvard
  • #46 Brown
  • #33 Cornell
  • #35 Union

Atlantic Hockey

  • #52 Sacred Heart
  • #57 Army
  • #47 Holy Cross
  • #59 Niagara
  • #51 Air Force
  • #58 American International

Most of those teams would need to go on to win their conference tournaments to secure the autobid, though a few could keep the hopes of an at-large bid alive by advancing.

This weekend’s bubble watch (a look at #10-#23)

#10 Boston College – Idle this weekend, will most likely stay at #10.


#11 Minnesota – Remains one of the most interesting teams to watch week after week. With another split having resulted in the Gophers hanging on at #11, they are once again facing much more downside than upside. They most likely need a sweep to hang on at #11, another split would push them to the bubble, and a sweep would push them a bit below.

Regardless, the Big Ten has another weekend of conference play before beginning it’s tournament, so Minnesota will remain alive regardless of outcome.


#12 Quinnipiac – Idle this weekend, will most likely stay at #12 or fall to #13. The most likely move is that the Gophers could pass Quinnipiac in RPI, thus flipping the comparison and dropping QU one spot (even though Minnesota is ahead of Quinnipiac on the basis of taking more total comparisons, Quinnipiac currently has the head-to-head comparison).


#13 Yale – Has some of the most uncertainty and biggest opportunities for movement among the idle teams. #15 Michigan, #17 St Cloud St, and #14 Bowling Green all have opportunities to overtake Yale, while #1  Minnesota has the opportunity to fall below them.


#14 Bowling Green – Needs to win to hang onto it’s position, or perhaps even rise a bit if #11 Minnesota falters. If Bowling Green loses, they’ll be hoping #15 Michigan, #17 St Cloud St, #19 Vermont, and #22 Harvard lose, lest they overtake Bowling Green.


#15 Michigan – is the highest ranked team with significant upside potential this weekend. A sweep would likely put the Wolverines in the #11-12 range. A split should let them hang on in the neighborhood of #16, while getting swept would result in a fall to around #20.

Like Minnesota, Michigan will remain alive regardless of outcome.


#16 Mass.-Lowell – faces some decent upside potential, despite being idle. They will be watching the results from #14 Bowling Green, #15 Michigan, and #11 Minnesota, hoping to overtake them; while also hoping #17 St Cloud St doesn’t pull ahead with a sweep.


#17 St Cloud St – much like Michigan, SCSU has a big opportunity to gain ground over idle teams with a sweep, is likely to stay in the #17-18 range with a split, or fall to the high 20s if swept.


#18 Colgate – is a bit more likely to fall than climb. They could take the comparison from #15 Michigan, #14 Bowling Green, #19 Vermont, #17 St Cloud St, and possibly even #11 Minnesota. More likely, they could lose the comparisons to #22 Harvard and #23 Bemidji State.


#19 Vermont – has the chance to move up a little bit with a sweep, but would need some help. The comparisons Vermont is most likely to take would require losses from #31 Notre Dame (which surprisingly currently wins the comparison with Vermont on the basis of H2H and COP), #17 St Cloud State, #11 Minnesota, #15 Michigan, and #14 Bowling Green.

Vermont would then likely need at least one more win or a lot of luck to stand a shot an at-large bid. As mentioned above, losing this weekend would almost certainly put Vermont on the outside of the NCAA tournament.


#20 Northeastern – looks a lot like Vermont. They can climb a bit with two wins and if the teams ranked ahead of them that are playing this weekend stumble. The double-peaked “Win 2 curve is because it includes both possibilities (going 2-0 and going 2-1).

As mentioned above, if Northeastern does not advance, they’re very unlikely to make the NCAA tournament at-large.


#21 St. Lawrence – idle this weekend, is unlikely to move up much. St. Lawrence’s chances for an at-large bid are harmed by the bye because the best they can do without securing the autobid is 3-1, a record that is not sure to push them into position for an at-large bid.


#22 Harvard – is still very much alive for an at-large bid. Advancing this weekend would be required, after which a 2-1 or 3-1 conference tournament record could propel the Crimson onto the bubble for an at-large bid.


#23 Bemidji St – is the lowest ranked team with a decent shot at an at-large bid. The story is quite similar to Harvard, requiring not only advancement this weekend but then also some success in the conference tournament.




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.


4 thoughts on “22 teams face elimination from at-large contention

  1. John Edwards

    On the discussion of St. Lawrence and Harvard, I may be missing something, but after this weekend, couldn’t either of them possibly go 3-1? (2-0 QF, 1-1 at Lake Placid?)

    1. jimdahl

      Good catch. The same is true of all three conferences starting their tournaments this weekend–the first two rounds are both best-of-three series.

      Updated the text to add that a 3-1 record (in addition to a 2-1 record) would also put them in good position for an at-large bid.

  2. MagnessMan

    Jim. I recently discovered your website. I just want to say I appreciate what you’re doing. I find your team graphs to be super helpful. As a long time CH fan, I find myself baffled by the most recent changes to PWR. The comparison wins weigthing results in some very strange/unpredictable movements. For example DU splits with #4 (at the time) Miami and doesn’t move and then beats SCSU last night a lower team and rockets all the way up to a one seed. Seeing your graphs helps me get a sense of the possible movements.

    Thanks for your work!

    1. jimdahl


      The single most important thing to keep in mind about PWR is that the rankings are made by comparing teams. So, even if Denver has a great weekend but no one Denver can overtake has a poor one, they won’t move up much.

      In this case, Nebraska-Omaha and Miami both failed to win, allowing Denver to jump past them.

      Going into the weekend, I would have said Denver needs another win to hold onto that rating (see forecast below), but it depends how the other teams around them do.


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