Penultimate weekend PWR/NCAA tournament outlook

Stability at the top

#1 Denver and #2 Minnesota-Duluth are again duking it out for #1 this weekend, with neither likely to drop below #3.

Only #3 Harvard is also safely in the top 10, and thus a near certainty for the NCAA tournament (Harvard is very unlikely to fall below #5 this weekend, even with a pair of losses which would preclude any additional games and much opportunity to fall further).

#4 Western Michigan is pretty safe, with a pair of losses dropping them to the 6-10 range. But, with some bad luck of falling to #10, some additional bad luck while idle, and some additional bad luck on the cutline, it’s possible for the Broncos to miss the tournament.

#5 Minnesota appears at first to be in a similar situation to Western Michigan, but because the Big Ten season hasn’t ended, the Gophers’ worst case scenario is tacking an additional loss next weekend on a pair of losses this weekend, which could push them into the teens.

#6 Mass.-Lowell, #7 Boston University, and #8 Union are likely to end up in the top 12 after this weekend even with a pair of losses. While certainly more vulnerable than Denver through Minnesota, all three are likely in barring unlikely PWR movement while idle and a harsh cutline.

Bubble teams

#9 Penn State could easily fall to the bubble with a pair of losses and then would still have another game in the Big Ten tournament, which could result in a further decline.

#10 Cornell through #21 Northeastern are all fighting for their lives. Wins improve their chances, losses hurt them. From about #12 North Dakota to about #15 Vermont, a pair of wins this weekend is required to be comfortably in bubble position. From about #16 Air Force down, it seems almost impossible to make the tournament without a pair of wins this weekend.

#10 Cornell
#11 Providence
#12 North Dakota
#13 Wisconsin
#14 Notre Dame
#15 Vermont
#16 Air Force
#17 Ohio State
#18 St Cloud St
#19 Boston College
#20 Nebraska-Omaha
#21 Northeastern

Mathematical long shots

#22 St. Lawrence and #23 Quinnipiac are mathematical long shots for at-large bids. Each could conceivably move into the teens with a pair of wins, from which position it would still take another win and a lot of luck to get an at-large bid.

Need to win their conference tournaments

#24 Clarkson and below really need to focus on winning their conference tournaments if they want to see the NCAA tournament.

#24 Clarkson
#25 Mankato
#26 Canisius
#27 Bemidji St
#28 Michigan Tech
#29 Robert Morris
#30 Merrimack
#31 Princeton
#32 Miami
#33 Yale
#34 Army
#35 Connecticut
#36 Colorado College
#37 New Hampshire
#38 Bowling Green
#39 Michigan
#40 Holy Cross
#41 Bentley
#42 Sacred Heart
#43 Dartmouth
#44 Arizona State
#45 Mercyhurst
#46 Maine
#47 Northern Michigan
#48 Michigan State
#49 Colgate
#50 Ferris State
#51 RIT
#52 Alaska
#53 Lake Superior
#54 American Int’l
#55 Rensselaer
#56 Alabama-Huntsville
#57 Alaska Anchorage
#58 Massachusetts
#59 Brown
#60 Niagara

A data note

All conferences except the Big Ten are in conference tournaments, and thus playing best-of-three series this weekend. Their “win 2” curves include both the 2-0 and 2-1 scenarios. A 2-0 scenario is almost always preferable to a 2-1.


Forecasts include the results of games played through Tuesday of this week.

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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