A few top teams are starting to look like locks for NCAA tournament

For the first time this season, the top PWR teams are starting to look like locks for the NCAA hockey tournament. Aside from current PWR ranking, the biggest determinant in how possible it is for a top team to fall out of contention is how many games it has remaining (because when looking for the worst case, each is a potential loss). Some teams are down to 4 regular season games remaining while others have as many as 8 (plus up to 2 conference tournament losses, in the worst case, for most teams).

While it’s tough to imagine #1 Quinnipiac or #2 St Cloud St losing out, including a pair in the conference tournament, even that probably wouldn’t be enough to bump them (dependent on how many conferences’ tournament champions come from outside the top of the PWR).

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While #3 North Dakota is mathematically vulnerable, getting swept 4 more weekends (including into the conference tournament) seems unlikely.

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With only 4 games remaining, #4 Boston College and #5 Providence are near locks (again, dependent on how many conferences’ tournament champions come from outside the top of the PWR).

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#6 Michigan is the highest ranked team with a significant chance of falling to the bubble, largely by virtue of having more games remaining than any other similarly ranked team.

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Despite a brutal schedule of series against #5 Providence and #11 Boston University, #7 Notre Dame won’t fall much with only 4 regular season games remaining. But, 11-12 going into the conference tournament would leave the Irish vulnerable to being excluded with a poor performance.

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With 6 regular season games remaining for each, it’s too early to call #8 Denver and #9 Nebraska-Omaha safe. It would take a slump for either to miss the NCAA tournament, but they do play each other head-to-head and the Mavericks have a particularly brutal schedule (#8 Denver, #3 North Dakota, and #2 St Cloud).

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