Who’s a lock for the NCAA tournament?

Because everyone except the Big Ten is now in conference tournaments, any non-Big Ten team that loses two becomes idle, thus limiting its future movement. So, for the first time this season we can start to declare some (but not as many as you might guess) teams locks for the NCAA tournament.

While it only seems like the top two teams are safe, the top eight are all most likely to stay in the top ten if eliminated this weekend, thus well-positioned for an at-large bid.

Locks for the NCAA tournament

#1 North Dakota finishes at worst #3 after this weekend. It’s hard to imagine conference tournament results pushing them to #11 or below while idle.


#2 Mankato is most likely to fall just to #3 with two losses this weekend. It’s hard to imagine conference tournament results pushing them to #11 or below while idle.


Very likely to make NCAA tournament

#3 Minnesota-Duluth also seems pretty safe with a fall to #8 being the worst likely outcome of losing two. It would be possible for them to get pushed into the double digits while idle, which would have the remote chance of leaving them on the outside if accompanied by the additional unlikely event of a very large number of conference tournaments being won by teams not in position for an at-large bid.


#4 Miami through #8 Denver haver very similar outlooks. They’ll probably make the NCAA tournament even if eliminated this weekend, with a fall to #8-9 most likely. But a fall to #10 or even #11 this weekend is possible. Any of them could end up on the bubble with the additional bad luck of declining while idle plus a large number of conference tournaments being won by lower ranked teams.


#5 Michigan Tech


#6 Boston University


#7 Nebraska-Omaha


#8 Denver


Preview of teams still in play

The line between #8 and #9 is pretty clear, as #9 Providence would definitely be on the bubble if eliminated this weekend. The same pattern holds for teams #10 and below, which I’ll look at more in depth later this week.



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.


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