Unlikely scenarios and how they might happen

How Yale could make the NCAA tournament

Here’s an example: http://goo.gl/VukVIh

The keys are:

  • A large number of conference tournaments being won by top teams. In this case 4 conference tournaments go to top teams so the top 14 in PWR will make the NCAA tournament.
  • Enough teams lose for Yale to climb to #14. In this case Quinnipiac, Bowling Green, Colgate, Minnesota, and Mass.-Lowell all fall below Yale. Passing five instead of four is needed to allow Vermont to pass Yale so it can absorb the autobid.

That set of conditions come together in only about 4% of scenarios to get Yale in.

How Boston College could miss the NCAA tournament

Here’s an example: http://goo.gl/lkricG

The keys are:

  • A large number of conference tournaments won by low ranked teams to take up more slots. In this example, all but 2 conference tournaments go to lower ranked teams so only the top 12 in PWR will make the NCAA tournament.
  • Move idle BC’s PWR down as much as possible. In this case, BC falls from #9 to #13 by losing the comparison to Bowling Green, St Cloud, and Colgate, to fall from 49 comparisons won to 46 (see BC’s PWR). It does so on a combination of their RPIs rising just a hair and a BC’s falling just a hair.
  • The intersection between the above two is what makes this scenario very unlikely — teams that pass BC must do so without winning the conference tournament so lower ranked teams can still take up spots. Looking back at all the possibilities, only a small number of teams have the potential to climb to #12 or higher without winning their conference tournaments. In this case, St Cloud St and Bowling Green are able to flip their comparisons with BC without too much success because they’re already so close in RPI to BC.

That set of conditions come together in only about .8% of scenarios to keep Boston College out.

How St Cloud St could make the NCAA tournament without any more wins

Here’s an example: http://goo.gl/fVsULS

The keys are:

  • As discussed in Odds and Ends, SCSU is perilously close to a .500 record so must take advantage of the possibility of a tie in the NCHC consolation game to end up with exactly a .500 record without winning another game.
  • Have only 3 conference tournaments go to lower ranked teams so #13 makes the NCAA tournament.

That set of conditions come together in about 40% of the scenarios in which SCSU loses the semifinal but goes on to tie in the consolation game.

How Hockey East could send five teams to the NCAA tournament

Here’s an example: http://goo.gl/n0L3on

The keys are:

  • In addition to BU (which makes it for sure), we need four of Mass.-Lowell, Vermont, Boston College, Providence, and New Hampshire.
  • It’s easy to get BC and idle Providence highly ranked (that’s two).
  • Because Vermont and Mass.-Lowell are long shots who play each other, we can really only get one highly ranked (one more).
  • Give New Hampshire the conference championship (outbid for one more), but also give 3 conference championships to highly ranked teams so the HE teams we positioned in 11-13 all make it.

That set of conditions come together in about .3% of scenarios to get 5 Hockey East teams in.

How Hockey East could be limited to only two teams in the NCAA tournament

Here’s an example: http://goo.gl/JxVA6l

The keys are:

  • Because Boston University is going to make the tournament anyway, the conference championship either needs to go to BU or another team that’s going to make it at-large.
  • BC is exceptionally hard to push out (see above), so instead preventing any of Mass.-Lowell, Providence, or Vermont from climbing is easier. Vermont is coming from far enough behind that despite a first round win, it’s easy to keep their PWR low with wins by neighbors Harvard, Bowling Green, and St Cloud St.
  • Finally, enough conference tournaments (in this scenario, 3) go to low ranked teams to keep out any remaining Hockey East teams on the bubble.

Those factors come together to limit Hockey East to two NCAA bids in only about 5% of scenarios.

How the ECAC could send three teams to the NCAA tournament

Here’s an example: http://goo.gl/dp9e7S

The keys are:

  • Colgate, Harvard, and Quinnipiac are all on the bubble. But, because Harvard plays Quinnipiac in the first round, the winner of which plays the winner of St. Lawrence vs. Colgate, it’s really hard to get all three in. Both Harvard and Colgate are long shots, so in this scenario we sacrifice one to get the other in, sending Harvard all the way to the championship.
  • Advancing Harvard damaged Quinnipiac, so we then need to make sure as many conference tournaments as possible go to top teams. In this scenario, that’s 4, allowing #14 Quinnipiac in at-large. That requirement also allows Yale to slip in (see “How to get Yale in” above).

Those factors come together to get 3 ECAC teams in the NCAAs in about 6% of scenarios, so it can also happen without Yale being one of the teams

  • jsfny

    Thanks, Jim. With regards to the Yale situation, it seems to me there are several critical things that have to happen. (1) SCSU has to fall out of contention; (2) Yale must pass Lowell, which allows Yale to stay ahead of Quinnipiac even with a lower RPI, or, if Quinnipac wins the game against Harvard, they must win the ECAC (3) Like Quinnipiac, Minnesota must either lose right away or win it all. (4) I’m pretty sure (but not positive) that Bowling Green needs to lose right away as well. A narrow gauntlet indeed.

    • jimdahl

      Thanks for the additional insight, that’s some nice analysis!