Tag Archives: ecac

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.

How many teams will each conference put in the playoffs? (2016 edition)

This time of year always brings speculation about which teams are positioned for the NCAA tournament, which sometimes leads to discussions about each conference’s performance.

Looking at how many teams each conference has in the top 16 in PWR gives an interesting benchmark of performance to date. But, that occasionally raises questions of how the 2nd half schedules might reshape that field. Because we already know the rest of the regular season schedule, it’s pretty straightforward to simulate the rest of the regular season (assuming teams will continue to perform as they have to date) to 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?

Likelihood of each conference’s number of teams in the top 14 PWR at the end of the regular season
0 1 2 3 4 5
Atlantic Hockey 90% 10%
Big Ten 17% 70% 13%
ECAC 1% 19% 68% 12%
Hockey East 6% 51% 43%
NCHC 1% 44% 51% 5%
WCHA 96% 4%

Shaded cells represent the number of teams each conference currently has in the top 14. The Big Ten is most likely to make a gain (not surprisingly, since they hold positions 15 and 16), while Hockey East and the NCHC are  most likely to take a loss (holding positions 12 & 13, and 14, respectively).

How is each conference doing compared to its historical performance?

Looking back at 2014’s How many teams will each conference put in the playoffs?, ExileOnDaytonStreet on the USCHO forum had counted each conference’s current members’ average tournament appearances per year over the previous ten years:

Number of members that made that tournament per year
Atlantic Hockey 1.3
Big Ten 3
ECAC 2.3
Hockey East 4.1
NCHC 4.3
WCHA 1

Compared to their members’ historical performances–

  • Atlantic Hockey is on track, likely to just get its autobid.
  • The Big Ten continues to underperform, as it has since its inception. Of course, some of that can be attributed to its historically strong members now having to play each other instead of other teams.
  • ECAC is dramatically outperforming, with 4 at-large teams the most likely outcome based on performance to date.
  • Hockey East is right on track, likely getting 4-5 teams in at-large.
  • The NCHC is on-track to slightly behind, with 4 most likely but 3 much more likely than 5.
  • The WCHA, like Atlantic Hockey, is on track and likely to just get its autobid.

Keep in mind that the historical numbers are total tournament participants, whereas for forecasting purposes we just look at top 14 in PWR.

Is inter-conference play the key?

People sometimes speculate that inter-conference play is the key to a good PWR rating (though my own attempts to test that hypothesis have proven inconclusive at best).

Here is each conference’s current non-conference record (courtesy of CHN).

Inter-conference records (from CHN)
Atlantic Hockey .250
Big Ten .494
ECAC .606
Hockey East .545
NCHC .628
WCHA .458

The conferences likely to send the most teams to the tournament are indeed those with the best inter-conference records.

Methodology

Forecasts include the results of games played through Sunday of this week, unless otherwise noted.

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

Unlikely scenarios and how they might happen

How Yale could make the NCAA tournament

Here’s an example: http://goo.gl/VukVIh

The keys are:

  • A large number of conference tournaments being won by top teams. In this case 4 conference tournaments go to top teams so the top 14 in PWR will make the NCAA tournament.
  • Enough teams lose for Yale to climb to #14. In this case Quinnipiac, Bowling Green, Colgate, Minnesota, and Mass.-Lowell all fall below Yale. Passing five instead of four is needed to allow Vermont to pass Yale so it can absorb the autobid.

That set of conditions come together in only about 4% of scenarios to get Yale in.

How Boston College could miss the NCAA tournament

Here’s an example: http://goo.gl/lkricG

The keys are:

  • A large number of conference tournaments won by low ranked teams to take up more slots. In this example, all but 2 conference tournaments go to lower ranked teams so only the top 12 in PWR will make the NCAA tournament.
  • Move idle BC’s PWR down as much as possible. In this case, BC falls from #9 to #13 by losing the comparison to Bowling Green, St Cloud, and Colgate, to fall from 49 comparisons won to 46 (see BC’s PWR). It does so on a combination of their RPIs rising just a hair and a BC’s falling just a hair.
  • The intersection between the above two is what makes this scenario very unlikely — teams that pass BC must do so without winning the conference tournament so lower ranked teams can still take up spots. Looking back at all the possibilities, only a small number of teams have the potential to climb to #12 or higher without winning their conference tournaments. In this case, St Cloud St and Bowling Green are able to flip their comparisons with BC without too much success because they’re already so close in RPI to BC.

That set of conditions come together in only about .8% of scenarios to keep Boston College out.

How St Cloud St could make the NCAA tournament without any more wins

Here’s an example: http://goo.gl/fVsULS

The keys are:

  • As discussed in Odds and Ends, SCSU is perilously close to a .500 record so must take advantage of the possibility of a tie in the NCHC consolation game to end up with exactly a .500 record without winning another game.
  • Have only 3 conference tournaments go to lower ranked teams so #13 makes the NCAA tournament.

That set of conditions come together in about 40% of the scenarios in which SCSU loses the semifinal but goes on to tie in the consolation game.

How Hockey East could send five teams to the NCAA tournament

Here’s an example: http://goo.gl/n0L3on

The keys are:

  • In addition to BU (which makes it for sure), we need four of Mass.-Lowell, Vermont, Boston College, Providence, and New Hampshire.
  • It’s easy to get BC and idle Providence highly ranked (that’s two).
  • Because Vermont and Mass.-Lowell are long shots who play each other, we can really only get one highly ranked (one more).
  • Give New Hampshire the conference championship (outbid for one more), but also give 3 conference championships to highly ranked teams so the HE teams we positioned in 11-13 all make it.

That set of conditions come together in about .3% of scenarios to get 5 Hockey East teams in.

How Hockey East could be limited to only two teams in the NCAA tournament

Here’s an example: http://goo.gl/JxVA6l

The keys are:

  • Because Boston University is going to make the tournament anyway, the conference championship either needs to go to BU or another team that’s going to make it at-large.
  • BC is exceptionally hard to push out (see above), so instead preventing any of Mass.-Lowell, Providence, or Vermont from climbing is easier. Vermont is coming from far enough behind that despite a first round win, it’s easy to keep their PWR low with wins by neighbors Harvard, Bowling Green, and St Cloud St.
  • Finally, enough conference tournaments (in this scenario, 3) go to low ranked teams to keep out any remaining Hockey East teams on the bubble.

Those factors come together to limit Hockey East to two NCAA bids in only about 5% of scenarios.

How the ECAC could send three teams to the NCAA tournament

Here’s an example: http://goo.gl/dp9e7S

The keys are:

  • Colgate, Harvard, and Quinnipiac are all on the bubble. But, because Harvard plays Quinnipiac in the first round, the winner of which plays the winner of St. Lawrence vs. Colgate, it’s really hard to get all three in. Both Harvard and Colgate are long shots, so in this scenario we sacrifice one to get the other in, sending Harvard all the way to the championship.
  • Advancing Harvard damaged Quinnipiac, so we then need to make sure as many conference tournaments as possible go to top teams. In this scenario, that’s 4, allowing #14 Quinnipiac in at-large. That requirement also allows Yale to slip in (see “How to get Yale in” above).

Those factors come together to get 3 ECAC teams in the NCAAs in about 6% of scenarios, so it can also happen without Yale being one of the teams

Conference participation possibilities for NCAA tournament

Even though Boston University is Hockey East’s only current lock for the NCAA tournament, they’re sure to get at least two entrants. That suggests that the only scenarios that knock Boston College out involve at least one Hockey East team other than BU making it (Mass.-Lowell, Vermont, Providence, or New Hampshire).

Hockey East is actually most likely to send 3-4, with 5 still possible.

image-6

 

The Big Ten is only guaranteed to place its conference tournament champion in the NCAA tournament. But, if Minnesota does well but fails to win the championship, the Big Ten could end up sending both the Gophers and the champ.

image-5

 

The NCHC is guaranteed to send five teams (Denver, Miami, Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota, and Omaha), but is most likely to send a sixth (adding St. Cloud St).

image-4

 

The ECAC is only guaranteed to send its conference tournament champion, though its likely to send a second from Colgate, Harvard, Quinnipiac, or Yale. Harvard, Colgate, and Yale are all reasonably long shots, so not all can make it resulting in a maximum of three participants from the ECAC.

image-3

 

Atlantic Hockey will only send its tournament champion to the NCAA tournament.

image-2

 

The WCHA is guaranteed to send two teams, Michigan Tech and Minnesota State. They’re quite likely to send three and possibly even four from those two plus Bowling Green and Ferris State.

image

How many teams will each conference put into the playoffs?

Repeating a similar post that was inspired by message board chatter last year, I ran simulations of the remaining games and tracked how many teams each conference had in the top 14 at the end of the regular season (a reasonable guess as to the PWR rank that would guarantee an invitation to the NCAA tournament).

Let’s start with the current PWR.

Number of teams in top 14 of PWR right now
Atlantic Hockey 0
Big 10 1
ECAC 1
Hockey East 4
NCHC 5
WCHA 3

A far cry from last year when the post was inspired by inquiries about whether the NCHC was underperforming.

Now for the results of the simulations. Each chart shows the likelihoods of how many teams a conference will have in the top 14 at the end of the regular season.

aha

b10

ecac

he

nchc

wcha

Remember that the simulations assume each team will continue to perform similarly to how it has to date. So, it’s not surprising that each conference is predicted to finish with about the same number of teams in the top 14 as they have today.

More interesting is seeing how easy (or not) it is for conferences to move up or down. Atlantic Hockey is pretty unlikely to get an at-large bid. The Big Ten is more likely to fall to 0 at-large bids than climb to 2.

Methodology

Forecasts include the results of games played through Sunday of this week, unless otherwise noted.

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

How many teams will each conference put in the playoffs (and is the NCHC really underperforming?)

There has been a lot of discussion about the NCHC seemingly having a down year based on its current poor performance in the Pairwise Rankings. A comment by Goon on a different blog asked whether Hockey East and ECAC might fall as additional conference play leads them to beat up on each other.

To help assess the NCHC’s performance and answer Goon’s question, I ran simulations of the remaining games and tracked how many teams each conference had in the top 14 at the end of the regular season (a reasonable guess as to the PWR rank that would guarantee an invitation to the NCAA tournament).

First, here is the current distribution of the top 14 PWR ranks by conference:

Number of teams in the top 14 in PWR right now
Atlantic Hockey 0
Big Ten 3
ECAC 3
Hockey East 5
NCHC 2
WCHA 1

Next, ExileOnDaytonStreet on the USCHO Forum calculated each conference’s current members average tournament appearances per year over the past ten years:

Number of members that made that tournament per year
Atlantic Hockey 1.3
Big Ten 3
ECAC 2.3
Hockey East 4.1
NCHC 4.3
WCHA 1

When comparing the numbers across the two tables, keep in mind that the first table only includes the top 14 while the second includes all tournament participants. To directly compare across the two tables, two auto bids that wouldn’t make the tournament at large need to be added to the first table.

Finally, here are the results of the simulations:

chart_1

With 0 teams currently in the top 14 and a historic average of 1.3 in the tournament, AH is about on par as it is almost certain to end with 0 teams in the top 14 so one participant in the tournament as an auto bid.

chart_2

With 3 teams currently in the top 14 and a historic average of 3 in the tournament, the Big Ten is about on par with 2-3 teams in the top 14 a likely finish.

chart_3

With 3 teams currently in the top 14 and an average of 2.3 in the tournament, the ECAC is outperforming with 3-4 teams in the top 14 a likely finish.

chart_4

With 5 teams currently in the top 14 and a historic average of 4.1 in the tournament, Hockey East is about on par to slightly outperforming with 4-5 teams in the top 14 a likely finish.

chart_5

With 2 teams currently in the top 14 and a historic average of 4.3 in the tournament, the NCHC is definitely underperforming with 2 teams in the top 14 a likely finish (though 1 or 3 distinctly possible).

chart_6

With 1 team currently in the top 14 and a historic average of 1 in the tournament, the WCHA is about on par with 1 team in the top 14 a likely finish (though 2 distinctly possible).

The projections are KRACH-weighted, so implicitly assume that teams will continue to perform as they have to date. That helps isolate the specific effects of the remaining schedule. The remaining schedule is not likely to push Hockey East or the ECAC down from their current levels, though individual teams’ performances certainly could.

The conclusion — even if its members outperform and its auto bid goes to a team that wouldn’t qualify at large, the NCHC seems quite likely to finish with a down year relative to its members past performances.