Long time followers of PWR know that despite seeming pretty stable overall, individual teams’ PWR rankings can move substantially under the right conditions. An 8-10 position swing in a single weekend’s pair of games is a relatively common possibility, though it often takes both an unusual outcome for the team and a lot of other things going just right around the league.
This week, however, the #31 Maine Black Bears face a stunning 18 position upside potential in their series against #5 Boston College. While the full 18 position climb is exceedingly unlikely, occurring in only 1.1% of scenarios in which Maine sweeps BC, Maine’s likely PWR ranking if they sweep are centered around #16, a 15 spot climb!
Digging into why such a big move is possible for Maine, there’s nothing unique about their situation, there are just lots of known little things about PWR and RPI adding up just right for the Black Bears facing a series they’re supposed to lose.
Warning, thar be math below!
At 10-9-4, Maine has a win percentage of .5217, and winning two more would move that to 12-9-4 and .5600. But, because of RPI game weightings (in which road wins and home losses count more than road losses and home wins), Maine’s current weighted percentage is actually .5490 and would rise to .5965 with a pair of road wins this weekend. Maine is undefeated at home, but home wins only count as 4/5 of a game, as do road losses. But, road wins would count as 6/5 of a game, giving them 50% more impact on Maine’s ratings, giving these games (if wins) outsized influence on Maine’s ratings. The other components of Maine’s RPI would also rise a bit because of BC’s strong schedule, though much more modestly (oppponents’ win% from .4927 to .5197, and opponents’ opponents’ win% from .4958 to .5012). Finally, Maine’s quality win bonus would climb from .0019 to .0057 with a pair of road wins against Boston College.
Adding all of that up, Maine’s RPI would climb from .5103 to about .5346 with a pair of road wins this weekend.
Maine’s position near the bottom of a dense cluster of RPI rankings would result in an RPI climb of .0243 leading to a substantial climb in PWR ranking. Looking at the current RPI rankings, an RPI of .5346 would be good for #16 today, 15 spots higher than Maine’s current ranking. For comparison, if Maine were .0243 lower, at .4860 RPI, they would still be #40, only 9 positions lower.
Is this really going to happen?
Of course, a road sweep against #5 Boston College (15-5-0) is a tall order. Assuming no home ice advantage, KRACH predicts Maine as only having a 19% chance of winning each game, or a 3.7% chance of the sweep (if the games were independent). But, if Maine pulled off this signature sweep, RPI and PWR would statistically reward the Black Bears for being a different team than their results to date would predict.