Tag Archives: Boston University

How Boston University can make the NCAAs without winning Hockey East

An example of Boston University making the NCAA tournament at-large (that is, without winning the Hockey East tournament) follows:

Generalizing that individual scenario, two things need to happen for Boston University to make the NCAAs at-large:

  1. Game outcomes need to be such that BU gets pushed up to #14 PWR, despite a loss
  2. Only two conference tournaments can be won by low PWR teams, so the #14 PWR team gets selected at-large

Getting BU to #14

One mandatory outcome for the Terriers to advance without winning the conference tournament seems to be North Dakota losing two games. Any win or tie by the Hawks, even if it doesn’t result in UND getting a bid, eliminates any chance of BU getting an at-large bid.

Beyond that, it takes one of a few particular combinations of outcomes to land BU at #14. There are 41 such combinations in the 12,288 possible outcomes in which Boston University wins the opening game versus Boston College but loses the Hockey East championship.

Getting #14 into the tournament

Even if Boston University gets to #14 in the PWR, as described above, only two conference tournaments can be won by teams ranked #15 or lower for the #14 team to get an at-large bid.

Because the WCHA (#17 Northern Michigan vs #24 Michigan Tech) and Atlantic Hockey (#20 Mercyhurst, #43 Robert Morris, #30 Air Force, and #34 Canisius) can only be won by teams that will finish #14 or lower, all other conference tournaments must be won by teams that finish in the top 14.

That’s guaranteed in the Big Ten, where only #2 Notre Dame and #4 Ohio State are vying for the championship. Also in a Hockey East tournament in which BU doesn’t win, a winner from among #15 Boston College, #9 Providence, and #7 Northeastern is guaranteed to be in the top 14.

So, from the ECAC, #3 Cornell or #11 Clarkson must take the championship rather than #22 Princeton or #26 Harvard. And, in the NCHC, #1 St Cloud St, #5 Denver, or #8 Minnesota Duluth must win (though #14 North Dakota losing is already a mandatory condition to get BU to #14, as stated above).


To get to #14 but not win the Hockey East championship, Boston University needs to win vs. Boston College but lose the championship game. The Terriers also need some help from North Dakota, which must lose in both the semifinal and consolation games.

Also, for the #14 team to advance to the NCAA tournament, the above must hold and Cornell or Clarkson must win the ECAC tournament.

  • BU wins 1 game, loses championship
  • North Dakota loses two games
  • Cornell or Clarkson wins ECAC tournament

Those conditions leave 1024 remaining possible scenarios, in which 41 of them see BU hold onto the #14 slot and get an NCAA bid.

What to watch for in PWR this weekend

This article looks at the most interesting outcomes of games this weekend, with a focus on what PWR might look like next Monday. If you want a more general analysis of the remaining regular season and NCAA tournament likelihood, check out the article, NCAA tournament outlook as conferences enter final regular season weekend, and the table, Wins needed to likely end regular season at PWR rank.

Biggest upside potential

#20 Wisconsin, visiting the red hot #4 Gophers in Minneapolis, has an opportunity to surge. The Badgers could climb to the 9-11 range with a sweep (as high as 7 is realistic), but will likely just stay put if swept. Of course, in the long run staying put is not good enough for the Badgers who needs 3-4 wins in their final 6 games to climb to the bubble (see NCAA tournament outlook).

#18 Boston College has a similar opportunity facing #8 Mass.-Lowell for a home-and-home series. Sweeping would provide a broad range of possible outcomes, from #8-#15 quite possible. Getting swept would likely result in a modest decline to the 19-20 range.

Biggest downside potential

As past readers of these articles know, just as teams around #20 usually have the most upside potential, teams around #10 usually have the most potential to fall.

#10 Cornell faces the most downside potential, with ranks 15-21 possible if swept by Rensselaer and Union. Given that these are the last two games of the regular season for Cornell, that would put the Big Red firmly on the bubble.

#9 Providence faces a similar outlook, with ranks 15-20 possible with a pair of losses to Massachusetts.

All of #8 Mass.-Lowell, #11 Penn State, #12 St Cloud St, #13 Ohio St, and #14 North Dakota face similar chances of a slightly more modest plunge with a pair of losses. Only Mass.-Lowell’s regular season ends this weekend, so others would have some opportunity to recover.

Top seeds?

#1 Denver and #2 Minnesota-Duluth each look unlikely to leave the weekend outside of the 1-3 range, regardless of outcome, and one of the two is almost certain to come out #1. Denver doesn’t quite control its own destiny, as Minnesota-Duluth stands about a 10% chance of sneaking into #1 even if both sweep. Other teams fighting for spots in the top 4 this weekend are #3 Harvard, #4 Minnesota, #5 Western Michigan, and #6 Boston University.


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.


Six teams have an opportunity to dramatically increase NCAA at-large odds this weekend

Likely in—#7 Yale, #8 Michigan, #9 Boston University, #10 Notre Dame

These teams are in good shape and likely to get an at-large bid if they win more than they lose in the coming two weekends.

If swept this weekend, their worst likely outcomes are falling to the 11-12 range, which would require keeping an eye out for potential additional downward movement and the cutlines (that is, how many of the at-large spots are taken away by autobids ranked lower than 16 in the PWR).





Of course, for Yale, Boston University, and Notre Dame, a pair of wins means another game. A loss in that game would probably result in giving back up some ground. But, that would still probably result in a safe position unless a lot of low ranked teams win their conference tournaments.

Note that Michigan’s position is slightly different because the Big Ten is still in regular season play. Even if swept by Penn State this weekend, the Wolverines would still have an additional game in the Big Ten tournament to either climb or fall. That worst possible outcome this weekend could drop Michigan as low as #12, from which another loss could push them out of position for an at-large bid.

Likely in if they win—#11 Harvard, #12 Mass.-Lowell

These teams would be in trouble if swept this weekend. Harvard’s likely fall could be to as low as 16, and Mass.-Lowell as low as 15. While it’s possible to climb a little bit while idle and have the cutline low enough to sneak into an at-large bid, it would be a bit of a longshot. I’ll also note that there are some extremely unlikely cases that could push these teams as low as 18 and 17 respectively if swept.

Sweeping, on the other hand, has the possibility of putting either in great shape — as high as 8 or 9 (though 9 to 11 more likely) with only 1 potential loss remaining.



With two weeks until conference tournaments begin, teams on the bubble need to get hot

Picking up where I left off yesterday, in A few top teams are starting to look like locks for the NCAA tournament, those teams currently ranked #10 and below in the PWR need to do some work to ensure being positioned for an NCAA tournament bid.

If #10 Yale and below lose more than they win, they risk going into conference tournaments in the teens and having to glue themselves to this blog. #11 Boston University and #12 Harvard have very similar outlooks to Yale, each with 4 scheduled regular season games remaining, and each wanting two wins to maintain their current position.


#13 Mass.-Lowell can also maintain its current position, or slip slightly, with a pair of wins. But, that would leave them squarely on the bubble going into conference tournament play.


Because the Big Ten regular season extends later into March, #14 Penn State has 6 games remaining. But, the Nittany Lions need 4 wins to make maintaining their #14 ranking the most likely outcome.


#15 St. Lawrence has kept me in business this year, with a wild ride from #10 in my inaugural January article, down to as low as #27 at the end of January. I noted back in January that they would need to win about 9 of their last 10 to go into the conference tournament on the bubble. After a 5-0-1 run, the Saints are still positioned for a #13-14 ranking with no more losses, or a #15-16 ranking with one loss.



The #16 Minnesota Gophers have 6 games remaining, and most likely need 5 wins just to maintain that ranking going into the conference tournament.

That should be no surprise, as all the way back on January 6, I published a chart on Minnesota that suggested Minnesota needed to win about 12 of its remaining 16 to end up ranked #15-16. Including two additional tournament games, Minnesota has gone 8-4 over that period, leaving them little room for additional losses.


#17 Rensselaer, #18 Cornell, #19 Michigan Tech, #20 Miami, #21 Dartmouth, and #22 Clarkson all need to win out to be most likely to end the regular season in the #13-14 range.



#23 Minnesota-Duluth has a bit more wiggle room, with a finish in the #14-16 range likely with even just 4 wins in its remaining 6 games. The Bulldogs have the notable RPI improvement possibility, and challenge, of playing #2 St. Cloud and #3 North Dakota on the road.

In late January, I suggested that the Bulldogs would need to win 8/9 out of their final 11 to end up in the 14-16 range. In the interim, they’ve delivered a 3-2 performance, so it’s a modest upside surprise that they might be able to afford two more losses.