Author Archives: jim

How many teams will each conference put in the playoffs? (2017 edition)

In the college hockey community, speculation about who is likely to make the NCAA tournament begins to reach a fevered pitch this time of year. That also leads to inevitable boasting from fans of those conferences having a strong season.

Looking at the top 14 (or 16) of PWR gives an interesting benchmark of performance to date, but this is a situation in which it can be interesting to try to determine the effects of the known remaining regular season schedule. By simulating the rest of the regular season (assuming teams will continue to perform as they have to date), we can see how each conference is likely to fare at the end of the regular season.

How many teams will each conference put in the playoffs?

As mentioned above, a good quick first check is how many teams each conference currently has in the top 14. (The cut line of 14 is based on a historical guess, but also fits quite well with the current situation of two conferences with autobids not having any teams in the top 14).

Teams currently in the top 14 of PWR
Atlantic Hockey 0
Big Ten 3
ECAC 3
Hockey East 3
NCHC 5
WCHA 0

But, by simulating the rest of the regular season (assuming teams will continue to perform as they have to date), we can see how the remaining schedule might affect those numbers.

Likelihood of each conference’s number of teams in top 14 PWR at the end of the regular season
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Atlantic Hockey 41% 59%
Big Ten 2% 35% 57% 6%
ECAC 9% 91%
Hockey East 2% 37% 48% 13% 1%
NCHC 21% 50% 29% 1%
WCHA 100%

Comparing the two tables, Atlantic Hockey and Hockey East are more likely to make a small gain before the end of the regular season than stay at their current level. That’s not surprising, as Atlantic Hockey and Hockey East teams currently hold PWR spots 15 and 16-18, respectively. The NCHC is more likely than not to lose a team, with St Cloud St and North Dakota sitting at #12 and #14, respectively. In fact, the NCHC seems about as likely to end with just 3 teams in the top 14 as its current 5. The Big Ten, with teams in PWR spots 11 and 13, is also reasonably likely to lose a team.

Methodology

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.

Resources

NCAA field shaping up with three weeks left in regular season

With three weekends of left of regular season play for most conferences (the Big Ten has four), the field of who is likely to make the NCAA tournament has really shaped up in the last week.

You may want to follow along with the data, this narrative is all based on the forecast of PWR by wins, which shows the number of wins necessary to be likely to end the regular season at a particular PWR ranking.

Keep in mind that conference tournaments could result in additional movements, though by then we generally know that teams in the mid-teens need to win to get an at-large bid.

Near locks

Only the top two, #1 Minnesota-Duluth and #2 Denver actually seem to be locks regardless of outcomes. Neither is likely to fall below the #4-7 range, even if swept, so would likely still get an at-large bid even in the worst case 0-2 scenario in the subsequent conference tournament. Note that’s not yet a mathematical certainty, just quite likely.

#1 Minnesota Duluth
#2 Denver

Likely in unless they collapse

#3 Harvard through #9 Mass.-Lowell need at least one win to be likely to finish in the top 13, and thus well positioned for a tournament spot. Because there is an extra weekend of Big Ten play remaining, #4 Minnesota and #6 Penn State actually 3-4 wins to be well positioned for a tournament spot.

#3 Harvard
#4 Minnesota
#5 Boston University
#6 Penn State
#7 Western Michigan
#8 Providence
#9 Mass.-Lowell

Control their own fate

#10 North Dakota through #21 Wisconsin plus #25 Miami control their own fate in reaching the NCAA tournament. #10 North Dakota appears to need 3 wins in its remaining 6 games to be top 13 going into conference tournament play, while #20 Air Force needs to win out its final 4 to stand a decent chance of finishing the regular season in the top 13. #21 Wisconsin has much more room to move because of the extra weekend of Big Ten play remaining. #25 Miami is the lowest ranked team that still seems to control its own ability to jump onto the bubble, with a sweep out of 6 wins likely to land them in the 10-13 range to close out the regular season.

#10 North Dakota
#11 Union
#12 St Cloud St
#13 Cornell
#14 Ohio St
#15 Boston College
#16 Vermont
#17 Nebraska-Omaha
#18 Notre Dame
#19 St. Lawrence
#20 Air Force
#21 Wisconsin
#25 Miami

#22 Quinnipiac through #24 Bemidji State and #26 Canisius and below are unlikely to crack the top 15 in the regular season, so would need near perfection and some luck to sneak into position for an at-large bid. Then, continued success in the conference tournament would be required not to fall out of position. These teams should plan to do well in their conference tournaments.

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

Methodology

Forecasts include the results of games played through Thursday 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.

Resources

New forecast presentation – PWR by wins

I’m pleased to announce an improvement to the way I present PWR forecasts this year. There were two guiding principles to the design of the new presentation:

  • The question people are really asking until conference tournaments begin is, “what will it take for my team to make the playoffs (or finish top 4)?”
  • Everyone is interested in something a little different—some are fans of a single team and just care about that team, some want to check up on rivals, and some want to dig through all the data to look for interesting outcomes.

My forecast posts in past years gave some insight into what it takes for a team to make the playoffs, but was limited to the teams I chose or scenarios I found interesting. To help expand that analysis to all teams, I sought a useful way to present all the data.

The table on the PWR By Wins page shows you how many wins each team needs to likely finish at each PWR ranking. If you want more detail on a specific team, you can click a team name to see the probability curves of how likely that team is to end the regular season with each PWR ranking with a given number of wins out of its remaining scheduled games.

This is the first public presentation of this, so I’m sure there will be some tweaks and improvements in coming weeks. Check it out, and let me know if there’s anything I can do to make this data more useful to you.

What does it take for each team to finish at each PWR rankings: PWR By Wins

Methodology

The page notes when the forecast was last run (assume that it includes all games that had been completed as of that time).

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.

New ranking tables and tools

I’m pleased to announce CollegeHockeyRanked’s new ratings tables and tools. Though everything covered by this announcement is based on a previous product from another site of mine, SiouxSports.com, each has been redesigned from the ground up. The rankings include tables for RPI, PWR, and KRACH plus a comparison table of teams’ ranks across multiple ranking schemes. The historical charts page lets you view the history of KRACH, RPI and/or PWR over the course of the season in a graphical format (with coverage of over 10 seasons). Finally, the conference standings “what if” calculator lets you see what effect predicted game outcomes will have on the conference standings.

Two major design principles make these tables and tools different from previous versions on SiouxSports.com and other sites:

  • Phone, tablet, and computer support – Each was designed to be responsive to screen size to have full functionality on any size screen, but still take advantage of the extra real estate available if viewed on a large screen.
  • Supporting details – The RPI and PWR ranking tables provide a wealth of background information as to how the rankings were calculated, including information that could help you think about how future games are likely to affect those rankings. The RPI Details page (see Minnesota Duluth example) in particular was designed from the ground up to give better insight into the impact of individual game outcomes on RPI under the new RPI formula that has been in use the last couple seasons.

Getting these basic tables and tools designed for the modern web, a variety of devices, and the new RPI formula is the foundation on which I hope to build some exciting new tools and analysis in coming months and years. Stay tuned!

What Yale, Northeastern and Minnesota Duluth need

Remember that 11 teams are already in.

These teams can’t get in at-large, but can claim a spot by winning their conference tournament:

  • Minnesota
  • Robert Morris or RIT
  • Minnesota State or Ferris State

These teams are hoping for at-large bids:

  • Yale (idle)
  • Minnesota-Duluth
  • Northeastern

The Big Ten Championship is the biggest determinant of who gets in, because it’s the only one in which it’s not yet known whether its winner will take away an at-large spot. If Minnesota wins the Big Ten and takes away a spot, then Northeastern can only get in by winning, otherwise Yale and Minnesota-Duluth get the two spots. If Minnesota wins and Northeastern does take one of the spots, then Minnesota-Duluth needs to win to get the last spot, otherwise it goes to Yale.

Here’s how each team gets in

Yale

Michigan wins
or
Northeastern loses
or
Minnesota-Duluth loses

Minnesota-Duluth

Michigan wins
or
Minnesota Duluth wins
or
Northeastern loses

Northeastern

Michigan wins
or
Northeastern wins

Friday night update

These 11 teams are locks:
North Dakota
Quinnipiac
St Cloud St
Providence
Boston College
Denver
Michigan
Mass.-Lowell
Boston University
Harvard
Notre Dame

These teams are hoping for at-large bids:
Yale (idle)
Minnesota-Duluth
Northeastern

These teams can claim a spot by winning their conference tournament:
Minnesota
Robert Morris or RIT
Minnesota State or Ferris State

Each of Minnesota-Duluth and Northeastern is also in if they win their conference tournament.

So, given that the Big Ten is the only remaining conference in which it’s unknown whether the winner will consume an at-large spot or not, Minnesota is the wildcard. If they win, they will take a slot, denying one of Yale, Minnesota-Duluth, or Northeastern. If Michigan wins, all three get in regardless of their own outcome.

What could be decided by today’s games

We’re not particularly likely to know a lot more about who’s in or out after today’s games because there aren’t a lot of edge cases that just depend on one or two outcomes. Instead, there’s a decent size group of teams fighting for the middle and we probably won’t know who makes it until they’re all either eliminated or have won their conference tournaments.

But, referring back to NCAA tournament possibilities (with less math), here are some things to watch for:

Teams still playing that can make it at-large

#11 Harvard
#13 Minnesota-Duluth
#14 Northeastern
#15 Michigan Tech

The more of these that lose, the better for the others and idle Yale and Notre Dame (who are also hoping for at-large bids).

Teams that won’t chew up an at-large spot if they win

Big Ten – Michigan
ECAC – Quinnipiac
Hockey East – Boston College, Providence, Mass.-Lowell
NCHC – North Dakota, St. Cloud St, Denver

If all the teams listed for a given conference lose, there will be one less at-large spot available. So, most relevant today are Michigan and Quinnipiac.

A few things that could be decided today

Again, it takes some deep combinations for anything big to happen today, but here the most interesting things I’ve found.

If Quinnipiac, Michigan, and Providence all lose, Cornell is out.

If Michigan Tech and Minnesota Duluth lose, Harvard controls its own destiny (in with a win).

If Michigan Tech and Northeastern lose, Yale is in and Harvard controls its own destiny (in with a win).

If Northeastern and Minnesota Duluth lose then Yale, Harvard, and Notre Dame are in.

Correction – removed incorrect scenario that involved Harvard losing. Harvard losing is not sufficient to make any changes to any teams’ outlook.

The 1 seeds – UND and three of QU, SCSU, PC, BC, DU

The 1 seeds

These teams have a shot at 1-seed:
North Dakota (lock)
Quinnipiac
St Cloud St
Providence
Boston College
Denver

Extracted from PWR Possibilities:

Team Result 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
UND Win 0 34% 41% 21% 4%
Win 1 63% 30% 7% < 1%
Win 2 100%
Quinnipiac Win 0 < 1% 35% 39% 25% < 1% < 1%
Win 1 4% 46% 38% 12% < 1%
Win 2 57% 42% 1%
SCSU Win 0 < 1% 29% 40% 24% 7%
Win 1 8% 18% 48% 25% 1%
Win 2 62% 27% 11%
Providence Win 0 1% 58% 32% 9%
Win 1 7% 44% 41% 7%
Win 2 14% 51% 30% 5%
Boston College Win 0 82% 18%
Win 1 < 1% 4% 81% 15%
Win 2 < 1% 29% 41% 29% < 1%
Denver Win 0 98% 2% < 1%
Win 1 1% 3% 93% 2%
Win 2 31% 36% 8% 24% < 1%

UND will finish in the top 4 and get a 1-seed.

Quinnipiac, St Cloud St, and Providence are each guaranteed a top 4 finish, and a 1-seed, if they win their conference tournament.

Quinnipiac is nearly (but not quite!) a lock for a 1-seed regardless of outcome, and St Cloud St is nearly (but not quite!) a lock for a 1-seed if they win 1.

Boston College and Denver each need at least one win, preferably two.

BC to #1 overall

An example:
http://pwp.uscho.com/rankings/pairwise-predictor/?uniq=pwp_56e6c9fa056fc

Obviously Boston College needs to win and North Dakota, Quinnipiac, St Cloud St, and Providence need to lose enough to be passed by BC. Finally, it takes an unusual combination of other outcomes to give BC a small RPI advantage over those teams (note, for example, that the linked scenario actually has Providence win one then lose one to give BC just enough of an RPI edge; note also that the top 4 in that example end up within .0003 in RPI).

This is pretty unlikely, occurring only in about 1 of 940 scenarios in which Boston College wins its conference championship.

Quinnipiac missing a 1 seed

An example:
http://pwp.uscho.com/rankings/pairwise-predictor/?uniq=pwp_56e8cbd15d592

Even with a win, it’s possible for Quinnipiac to fall to 5th and miss out on a 1 seed. Success by other teams eligible for #1 is a key, in this case Boston College, Denver, and St Cloud St. Note how unusual this scenario is, with a 3-way tie in pairwise comparisons and the RPI tie-breaker settled by just .001 between the three teams.

This is pretty unlikely, occurring in only about 1 of 1900 scenarios in which Quinnipiac wins one, or 1 in 210 scenarios in which Quinnipiac loses its first game.

NCAA tournament conference participation possibilities

Conference recreation in NCAA tournament

Conference representation in NCAA tournament by share of possible scenarios
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Atlantic Hockey 100%
Big Ten 25% 75%
ECAC 2% 60% 38% 0%
Hockey East 2% 63% 35%
NCHC 49% 51%
WCHA 96% 4%

Big Ten

Michigan is in for sure. If the Big Ten tournament is won by anyone else, that will be a second representative for the Big Ten.

NCHC

North Dakota, St Cloud St, and Denver are in for sure. Minnesota-Duluth can make it at-large or by winning the conference tournament.

Atlantic Hockey

Only the Atlantic Hockey tournament winner will get a bid.

WCHA

Michigan Tech can make it at-large, and the conference tournament tournament winner will get a bid.

Hockey East

Boston College, Providence, Mass.-Lowell, and Boston University are in. Notre Dame and Northeastern each stand a chance at-large, and Northeastern is the only team that can win the conference tournament that isn’t already guaranteed a bid.

It’s possible for neither Notre Dame nor Northeastern to make it, limiting HE to four teams, but far more likely that they send five or even six.

ECAC

Quinnipiac is the only ECAC team guaranteed a spot. Yale, Harvard, and Cornell each stand a chance of an at-large bid. The tournament winner, if not Quinnipiac or Harvard, also gets a spot.

Though it’s possible for the ECAC to only send two teams, three or even four are more likely. Perhaps the biggest surprise of this article is that five is possible in about 1 in 1700 scenarios (each of Yale, Harvard, and Cornell must make it at-large despite the conference tournament being won by either St. Lawrence or Dartmouth).

January forecast follow-up

Back in January, I published a forecast of how many teams each conference was likely to put in the NCAA playoffs. That forecast has held up remarkably well, confirming that PWR in January is a pretty good predictor of PWR in March.