in town for free camps
To begin the season Michigan has a win over a pretty good Long Beach State team. 4 wins against awful Sienna, and one from a not very good Tennessee Tech team.
In the national picture their hitting ranks 62nd in average and has been good enough to keep them in most of their games. Pitching hasn't been as bad as the numbers indicate, but since we're so early in the season the 7 run outing against Long Beach State and 16 in two games against TTU make them look worse than they are.
Players Of Note
- Jacob Cronenworth: 1st baseman and closer. Bats leadoff, holding opponents to a .077 average with 1 hit allowed.
- Jackson Glines: The team's best hitter and leader in most stat categories. Hits the ball a lot, gets on base and is driven in more than anyone else on the team
- Cody Bruder - Carmen Benedetti: RBI leaders. Middle of the order run producers
- Keith Lehmann: Starting pitcher. 5 walks, 13 stikeouts, 2.13 ERA
- Eric Jacobson: Cleanup hitter, Michigan's only consistent bottom of the order bat.
Batting order lists most recent lineup position.
Pitchers below 3 innings not charted
At Stetson Hatters (7-5)
Tuesday, March 3rd, 6:30PM
The Hatters have played every game save one at their home field in Florida, hosting CMU, LaSalle, FIU and Penn.
Since dropping 2-of-3 to LaSalle to open the year. Stetson is 6-3 and they've been tearing the cover off the ball.
Players Of Note
- Patrick Mazeika: A .250 hitter so far this year who doesn't stike out with 12 walks, 4 home runs and has been plunked 4 times. Mazeika was an All-American two years ago as a freshman and hit .382 last season.
- Josh Powers-Vance Vizcaino: Leading run producers, high average hitters
- Kevin Fagan: Hitting .288 with 9 batted in. Freshman All-American in 2013
- Brooks Wilson: 4-0 record as a starter, 2.76 ERA.
Friday, March 6th, 3:00pm
I know nothing about this team because they have had 5 games cancelled and 2 postponed. UMBC plays in the America East conference and has finished at or near the bottom for the last 5 years.
Saturday, March 7th, 11:00AM
The Rockets have played like your average midwest team trekking through the south. Their pitching staff gave up 33 runs in 3 games to start the season, then 11 against Winthrop, 9 to open their series against VT and another 9 to finish it. They haven't particularly hit well either.
Players Of Note
- AJ Montoya - Ryan Callahan - Matt Hansen - John Martillotta
All four players have 4 RBI, which is the most on the team.
Coastal Carolina (7-4)
Saturday, March 7th, 3:00PM
The tournament host, CCU has wins over Georgia Tech, NC State and an assortment of northern teams. Bad losses to Kent State, Illinois and Canisius. They can hit but stikeout a lot. Pitching has been shaky.
Players Of Note
- Connor Owings: A .351 hitter on the year with 10 batted in, 2 home runs and 8 walks. 1st Team All-Big South a year ago.
- Anthony Marks: Team leader in OBP (.487), 7 RBI, .295 average
- Michael Paez: Low average hitter. Leads the team in runs scored (10) and in doubles (5). 7 RBI.
- Alex Cunningham: Coming off elbow surgery, has started 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA. 17 strikeouts, 5 walks, holding batters to a .185 average.
Sunday, March 8th, 11:00AM
The Zips aren't off to a bad start. They took 2-of-3 from Furman and 2-of-3 from Charlotte, before going 1-of-3 at the Mercer Baseball Classic with a win over Belmont and losses to Notre Dame and Mercer.
They started the season hitting well but have cooled off. Pitching is alright.
Players Of Note
- Dom Iero: .313 hitter with more RBI than hits, .400 OBP
- Daulton Mosbarger: Hitting .303 with 3 doubles, 1 home run and 8 batted in. Leads the team in walks (6) and OBP (.439)
- Jon Pusateri: Lowest ERA of the Akron starters with a 3.00, 9 strikeouts, 3 walks in 15.0 innings thrown.
Last week went about as well as you can hope for as a Michigan fan looking for some positivity regarding an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney. As discussed in last week's diary, Michigan is in a dog fight for one of the last at-large bids into the NCAA hockey tourney if they do not win the B1G Tournament, the victor of which gets an auto-bid.
Again, as detailed last week, the Pairwise Rankings (PWR) are your Harry Potter-esque sorting hat for entrance into the NCAA tournament. PWR, in basic terms, compares every team in Div-I hockey against each other based on three factors: RPI (a computer metric taking into account your record, winning % of your team, your opponents, and your opponents' opponents- bonus points are awarded for wins against Top 20 opponents and road wins), record against common opponents, and head to head record. This then gives each team a PWR "score" or how many of those indiviudal bi-lateral PWR comparisons a team has an advantage in.
The tournament accepts 16 teams: autobid conference tournament champions from Hockey East, ECAC, Atlantic Hockey, B1G, WCHA, and NCHC; at-large bids from the remaining top PWR teams until a 16 team field is created. Many many moons ago, ECAC and the predecessor to Atlantic Hockey were considered "bid stealers" since non-regular season champions of their tournaments were typically well outside the at-large bid range in PWR but thee regular season champ would still get an at-large bid because of a ridiculously high PWR. This year (and frankly the last couple), only Atlantic Hockey is a bid stealer conference-- and even then, since their regular season champ is already still low in the PWR (Robert Morris, 25th), if a team not named Robert Morris wins their tournament for the auto-bid, the conference is still only getting in one team. Consider the Atlantic Hockey autobid as slot #16 in the NCAA tournament-- so for practical purposes, there are at most 10 at-large slots left. At minimum, the last at-large team will be the 15th slot in PWR; at worst, 12-13 could be the cut-off line.
In Michigan's case, they sit tied for 15th with UMass-Lowell with 44 comparisons won. Ultimate tiebreaker between two teams tied in PWR is RPI, and Michigan leads here by a slim margin. The relevent teams around us in PWR as of Monday:
TEAM, PWR SCORE (UMich centric), RPI, comparisons won vs. Michigan
11. Minnesota, 2-4, .5435, RPI/Common opponents (tied 2-2 in head to head)
12. Quinnipiac, 1-1, .5481, RPI (overall comparison to Quinnipiac since RPI is higher)
13. Yale, 0-1, .5433, RPI (tied in common opponents)
14. Bowling Green, 0-2, .5407, RPI / Common opponents
15. Michigan, RPI = .5404
16. UMass-Lowell, 2-1, .5394, Common opponents (Mich won head to head & RPI)
17. St Cloud St Fighting Mollies, 1-0, .5369
18. Colgate, 2-0, .5339, (Mich wins RPI & common opponents)
19. Vermont, 2-0, .5357 (Mich wins RPI & common opponents)
Ok, first caveat: PWR is very volatile in this grouping. Every team from 14-19 is basically within one weekend of each other in RPI, and one RPI flip can shuffle standings around significantly. Second caveat: Atlantic, ECAC and Hockey East start their tournaments this weekend, so some teams like Vermont are on life support, and other teams like Colgate, UM-L, Yale, and Quinnipiac may only have 1 more game left before Selection Sunday.
- I'm surprised how well Michigan is positioned for an at-large. We essentially sit in the last at-large slot now if chalk holds in conference tourneys, and with a 4-0 finish to the regular season we probably can absorb a loss in the BTT semi and still get in as the 13 or 14 slot. We finish 4-0/3-1 in the regular season and lose in the BTT finals, we're challenging for a 3-seed. We finish 4-0/3-1 in the regular season and win the BTT, we're a high 3 seed no doubt.
- This next weekend against Penn St will bascially tell us our tourney fate. We win both, we're probably in good position for an at-large team barring a sweep by MSU. We split, we need a sweep against Sparty to keep at-large hopes alive. We drop both against PSU, we're sweating bullets and probably at a win-to-get-in situation in the BTT.
- Minnesota is probably in no matter what barring a complete collapse the next two weekends. They may slip from a 3 to a 4 seed, but they're probably feeling safe if they sweep this weekend.
- We are within a 1 game difference of flipping RPI with Bowling Green. Getting into the 14 slot at least is a HUGE difference. Atlantic Hockey has already killed the 16 slot as an at-large bid this year. As I mentioned in a comment to another post this weekend, a non-regular season champ in the tourney from an ECAC, Hockey East, or NCHC school probably isn't a game killer since they have so many teams in the running above us in PWR now anyway, unless its a true Cinderella (team in the mid 20's in PWR) making a run. Even then, they're probably knocking out a team from their own conference who's in the 13-19 PWR slot now.
- There's an interesting scenario developing though where you could possibly get 3 B1G teams in, as crappy as the conference is. You'd need: (1) Michigan and Minnesota to sweep out the regular season keeping Minnesota as a border 2/3 seed team in PWR going into the BTT. (2) Minnesota would lose in a semi. Pick your team, it doesn't matter. (3) Michigan would need to get to the BTT Finals and then lose to the team Minnesota dropped a semi to. This would possibley cause: (A) MSU/PSU/OSU/Wiscy to get an auto-bid as a 4-seed, (B) Minnesota would dropoff a 2 line to a 3 or 4 seed, and (C) Michigan would slip in as one of the last two at-large teams.
- You could also have the converse though where the B1G regular season champs don't make the NCAA tourney if say Michigan and Minnesota played mediocre hockey to close out the season with Michigan winning the conference by a game or tie-breakers and then losing a semi-final or final to a cinderella B1G team, essentially getting its at-large bid stolen by the B1G tourney champ. On paper if you said the conference regular season champ of a league with Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan St didn't get a NCAA tourney bid 4 years ago, Jim Delaney would have choked on his ham sandwich. But such is life in the B1G Hockey.
I'll leave the results from last week and this week's cheering primer to Canadian, who I'm sure will be chipping with his part in a day or so. SPOILER ALERT-- Cheer, cheer for Ol'... ALABAMA-HUNTSVILLE????
For 21 years, this car won about 80% of its races. Nobody in Michigan could beat it, and it stood toe to toe with the best car from the worst state ever. Never once did Bo cut corners or try to cheat. He took pride in running a fair race. Not even two heart attacks could keep Bo away from his car.
Alas, it was time for someone else to take the wheel. Bo had driven the car as hard and as long as he could. He would still come around the garage every now and again, but he was giving the car to his brother, Gary.
Gary drove the car for a few years. He made a couple tweaks here and there, but for the most part, kept the car original and in tip top shape. He even added a "Best in Show" Award at a national event in 1991. Sadly, Gary got busted for a DUI one night and was forced to reluctantly sign over the title to the car. Bo's other brother, Lloyd, was now the owner of the family's prized possession.
It took a few years for Lloyd to grasp all that went into owning a car with such a proud tradition, but he finally did. In 1997, he won 'em all. Every race the car entered, it took the checkered flag, including the big race in Pasadena. That race was a nailbiter, right to the very end. It looked like the other car, a Cougar, might pull off the upset but it slipped its wheels and never made it to the finish line. Victory was Lloyd's and the 1969 Camaro was THE best car in the country.
For another 10 years Lloyd took care of the car but couldn't quite capture its past glory. Blemishes started to appear on the body, under the hood, and in the interior. The engine missed a few times, a rust spot developed in the quarter panel, and there was a tear in the console. These were small issues, but ones that could turn into major concerns if not addressed immediately. Lloyd loved that car but he wanted to do other things. He had been around the car almost from the time it was bought new. He was ready to walk away and let someone else take over. There were no other brothers to pass the car on to, so Lloyd put it up for sale.
A few guys looked but there were no takers. Finally, a guy from West Virginia named Rich flew up to Ann Arbor, checked the car out, and bought it on sight. He never even took it for a test drive. This guy was used to driving tuner cars. He'd never had a muscle car before, and he was going to do something radical: take this American Classic, which had been so successful for so long, and turn it into a drift car. He replaced the Holley carbs with fuel injection. The chrome wheels with raised white letter Goodyears were replaced with aluminum alloys and low-profile Yokohamas. The cowl induction steel hood was exchanged for a carbon fiber version that was lighter. He stripped everything out of the car that was considered dead weight in exchange for parts that were made of new-age material that would help the car run faster. It was a difficult and expensive transformation. A lot of races were lost as Rich waited for new parts to arrive. Unfortunately, some parts weren't available and Rich's mechanics couldn't manufacture their own. Folks who had watched this car race for nearly 40 years were disgruntled and angry. They wrote articles in Muscle Car Magazine about the fall of the once proud Camaro. Rich started winning a few more races, but after 3 years, it wasn't enough and Rich was forced to sell.
The new buyer was a guy who grew up watching the Camaro run in Ohio. He was even part of the crew for a little while during its run in 97. He was a big fan of the original muscle car and was stunned to learn that he could buy it. He damn near walked from his house to buy it. His plan was to restore it to its original glory. He wanted everything back the way it was. Unfortunately, as much of a fan as he was, he really didn't have experience restoring cars. He could do the bolt-on stuff - change the wheels back, slap on the carbs, bolt on the old hood - but he wasn't a qualified technician, and neither were he mechanics. They had no experience with dynomometers and other computer technology that could help them fine tune the engine. They wrenched on it themselves, slapped back a couple beers in the garage, and waxed the hell of out the paint that was blistering underneath. The car had success early on, but over the next 3 years, it would lose more and more races. The once promising restoration project was now stalled and going no where.
There was one buyer that everyone hoped would step up to the plate. He was Bo's son, Jim. He'd been around cars his whole life and grew up handing his dad wrenches and washing the car as a kid. He learned how to drive and eventually sat behind the wheel for Bo, winning a lot of races. He got so good he went on to have a successful pro career. After he was done driving, he joined a couple crews around the country to learn all he could about power and speed and handling. He started with old beaters that barely ran and turned them into competitors. He moved up from street racing, to the local tracks, and all the way to the pro circuit. He quickly became the most sought after crew chief in all of racing. People back in Michigan wanted Jim to come home in the worst way possible, but word around the racing world was that he'd never leave the pros. He was married to a lady who wanted to stay out west, and other pro teams were willing to pay him more. His kids were native Californians. There was no way, they said.
As we know now, Jim DID want to own that car. It had been a dream of his since he was a little boy. He had worked his way up the circuit in hopes of one day purchasing the car his dad once proudly owned.
Jim knows this car like the back of his hand. He's hired mechanics he's worked with before and who have experience rebuilding muscle cars. This will be a frame-off restoration. Every last bolt, gasket, belt, and hose will be taken off and repaired or replaced. If they can't find a stock replacement, they'll fabricate one themselves. They have computers, gauges, and testing equipment to make sure every single part can eek out another mile per hour. They are aiming for the holy grail of muscle cars: 1000 horsepower. It's going to take a reinforced frame, beefier suspension, oversized cam, tungsten steel push rods, a huge blower to get more air into a brand new engine block machined from a solid piece of aluminum. It won't happen overnight. Some parts just won't hold up to the pressure. Some of them will crack along the way. They'll lose some races, but from every loss another answer will be revealed about how they can get just 1% better.
I think we all know that recruiting rankings improved under Hoke and that we finally have some more experienced depth. I thought, however, it might be helpful to lay out the presumed depth chart with the corresponding 247 Composite ratings. What it shows is that we finally have a roster full of experienced talent that we were used to in the 90's and early 2000's.
247's rating system basically breaks down as follows:
98 and above = 5 star.
89-97 =4 star
82-88 = 3 star.
I like the numerical ratings more than the straight stars because you can get a better sense if someone is a generic three star or someone closer to a 4 star, etc. I rounded the numbers after the decimal point.
Obviously, the depth chart will change a bit after the spring and some players may move positions, but this gives a good sense of the talent on the roster.
|POSITION||1ST TEAM||2ND TEAM||3RD TEAM|
|QB||Morris (97)||Speight (87)||Malzone (90)|
|RB||Green (99)||Isaac (97)||Smith (92)|
|FB/HB||Kerridge (NR)||Houma (86)||Shalman (90)|
|WR1||Darboh (91)||Ways (87)||Cole (96)|
|WR2||Chessun (86)||Harris (97)||Jones (85)|
|SLOT||Norfleet (92)||Canteen (89)||Dever (NR)|
|TE||Butt (93)||Bunting (89)||Williams (89)|
|OT||Braden (88)||LTT (93)||Newsome (90)|
|OG||Kalis (97)||Fox (95)||Samuelson (88)|
|C||Miller (85)||Kugler (97)||Runyan (84)|
|OG||Glasgow (NR)||Dawson (95)||Bars (86)|
|OT||Cole (94)||Magnuson (96)||Bushell-Beaty (90)|
|DE||Charlton (94)||Strobel (92)||Poggi (94)|
|DT||Glasgow (NR)||Wormley (94)||Hurst (90)|
|DT||Henry (84)||Mone (94)||Pipkins (97)|
|DE||Ojemudia (91)||Marshall (93)||Johnson (89)|
|SLB||Bolden (96)||McCray (94)||Gant (85)|
|MLB||Morgan (83)||Gedeon (91)||Furbush (87)|
|WLB||Ross (95)||Jenkins-Stone (94)||
|CB||Lyons (95)||Countess (93)||Dawson (85)|
|FS||Wilson (91)||Clark (87)||Kinnel (92)|
|SS||Peppers (100)||Hill (90)||Thomas (97)|
|CB||Lewis (95)||Stribling (86)||Watson (85)|
|87 or above||16/24||20/24||16/24|
Of course stars are not a gaurantee of individual performance, and we have seen a lot of guys on our roster play above or below their ratings, but on the whole the ratings provide a decent measure of the overall talent on the roster.
We now have a ton of 4 stars and high three stars in the three deep, many of whom have game experience and/or years in the program. I don't see one freshman in the 2-deep at this point unless Malzone or Cole really impresses this spring.
I fully expect this staff to start developing the talent this year and next. Hopefully the results on the field will bear that out.
With Three weeks remaining in Michigan's regular season the playoff picture hasn't really cleared up, in fact the loss last Friday night was thought to be a knockout punch when in reality it just made the road a little rougher.
A diary posted by Wolverine in Exile on Monday asked the question if the at-large bid was dead or not, well I'm going to show here that it is in fact not dead and still a very possible goal. I will save this for the end though and provide updates from around the country last week and a quick look at some big games this weekend.
Michigan suffered an upsetting loss on Friday night thanks to some sloppy play in their own zone (sound at all familiar???).and came back with a win on Sunday on home Ice. Sunday's game featured some great passing in the offensive zone (Larkin showing he is the best player on the ice) but still had some horrendous defensive zone play. The first period in particular featured some awful breakout passes that led to scoring opportunities which forced Racine to step up and play one of his better games this season.
Around the B1G: The standings remain the same! Minnesota splits at Pegula winning 2-1 Friday night and dropping a 4-3 overtime contest Saturday. Michigan State splits out at Kohl losing 2-1 Friday night and a 3-0 bounce back victory Saturday.
Our Non-conference opponents: RPI goes 0-1-1 on the road at Cornell and at Colgate. UMass-Lowell picked up a road tie at Boston College in their only game of the weekend. BC had the tie and an overtime victory in the Beanpot 3rd place game over Harvard. Boston University had a 1-1-1 weekend with a 0-1-1 home series with Notre Dame and the overtime win in the Beanpot Final over Northeastern. New Hampshire swept Connecticut in a home and home series. Ferris State swept Alabama-Huntsville on the road.
Michigan (#19) hosts Wisconsin (#55) for a two game series Friday (7:30 FSD+) and Saturday (4:00 BTN). Obviously a MUST SWEEP SERIES. Wisconsin is entering the series as the #55 team (out of 59 teams) in the country and sit dead last in the B1G standings.
Around the B1G: Michigan State (t#33) goes on the road again this time out to Minnesota (#10) for a Thursday (9:00 BTN) and Friday night (9:00 BTN) series. State needs to pick up some points if they want to keep themselves close to the top teams in conference and potentially grab a bye to the second day of the B1G tournament. Penn State (t#25) goes down to Columbus for a Friday (6:30 BTN) and Saturday (7:00) series against Ohio State (#43) and they need to win both to keep their conference title hopes strong.
Non-conference foes: American International (#58) has a home and home series with Army (#57), RPI (#48) welcomes Clarkson (#38) in on Friday night and St. Lawrence (#20) Saturday night. BC (#9) goes on the road to South Bend for a rivalry series with Notre Dame (#32) Friday and Saturday. BU (#6) has a home and home series with Northeastern (#t#21) (the same team that they beat 4-3 in overtime Monday night). Lowell (#16) stays at home to take on Vermont (t#17) in a series of top 20 teams who are fighting for a chance at an at-large bid. New Hampshire (#35) hosts Merrimack (t#29) for a two game series Friday and Saturday. Ferris State (#37) hosts Bemidji State (t#25) for 2. Michigan Tech (#5) goes on the road with a solid chance to help Michigan's RPI as they travel to Mankato to take on the #1 team Minnesota State for two games.
Other games of note: Harvard (t#17) hosts Quinnipiac (t#11) Friday. Yale (#15) hosts Colgate (t#21) Friday and Cornell (31) Saturday. Miami (#4) travels to Denver (#7) for two games. Nebraska-Omaha (#8) travels up north to take on Minnesota-Duluth (#3) twice.
1. Michigan 27pts 9-5-0-0
2. Minnesota 27pts 8-3-3-0
3. Michigan State 25pts 7-5-2-2
4. Penn State 25pts 8-5-1-0
5. Ohio State 12pts 4-10-0-0
6. Wisconsin 10pts 2-10-2-2
1. Minnesota State
2. North Dakota
5. Michigan Tech
6. Boston university
9. Boston College
13. Bowling Green
14. St.Cloud State
20. St. Lawrence
t25 PENN STATE
t33 MICHIGAN STATE
35. New Hampshire
37. Ferris State
43. OHIO STATE
58. American International
Points (B1G rank)
t3 (1) Zach Hyman 43
t11 (2) Dylan Larkin 38
t11 (2) Zach Hyman 18
t6 (2) Dylan Larkin 26
t10 (3) Zach Hyman 25
Team Offense #1 (1) 3.96 Goals per Game
Team Defense #40 (4) 3.00 Goals per Game
Power Play #5 (2) 23.23%
Penalty Kill t#33 (2) 81.9%
I ran some tests on a Pairwise simulator and if Michigan sweeps Wisconsin it looks like worst case scenario (non-conference opponents lose, teams around Michigan win) Michigan remains #19 and one of the better case scenarios (with help of some reasonable upsets and favourable outcomes from non-conference opponents and teams around Michigan) the Wolverines could move up into the 15th spot. A reasonable outcome this weekend would leave Michigan a couple spots shy and rank #17 before next weeks series at Penn State. The hopes for an at-large ARE NOT DEAD!
In the glow of Sunday's gloriousness, one disturbing item was nearly washed out, the hockey team's inconceivable loss to Ohio St on Friday night. Needing a strong finish to the season to ensure an at-large bid chance, majority opinion was that a non-sweep this weekend was life-threatening (see "Sweep or Die" in Brian's preview).
With the split instead of a sweep, the predicatble happened. Michigan dropped a couple slots all the way down to 20th in Pairwise Rankings (PWR) and are by first blush out of consideration for an at-large bid (see PWR here http://www.uscho.com/rankings/pairwise-rankings/d-i-men/grid/#Michigan). With the way the NCAA tourney works, you basically have to be higher than 14th to have any confidence of an at-large bid. 16 teams are taken and usually the 15th and 16th slots if not more are taken by conference tourney winners outside the Top 16. This year, there's guaranteed to be one bid stolen from the Top 16 PWR teams, the spot going to the American Hockey champion (right now Robert Morris has secured the regualr season title, and sit at 23 in the PWR).
PWR is essentially a 3-part process where you compare your selves against other teams: RPI (a percentage measure of a team's strength based on record, road wins, and strength of schedule), Common Opponents, and Head-to-head.
While the situation is bad, it's not impossible to see Michigan *even at this point* getting an at-large bid. Assuming Michigan needs to get to at least 15 for an at-large slot, looking at Michigan directly on the PWR matrix, there are 5 teams ahead of us. I list them below with the PWR score, and what they're winning the comparison on:
14. St Cloud St, 0-1, RPI, .5349-.5457
15. Yale, 0-1, RPI, .5349-.5441
16. Harvard, 0-2, RPI & Common opponents
17. UMass-Lowell, 1-2, RPI (.5349-.5374) & Common opponent- note we win head to head
18. Vermont, .0-1, RPI, .5349-.5388
19. St Lawrence, 0-2, RPI (.5349-.5364) & common opponent
So realistically, a delta more than 0.02 in RPI at this point in the season is too much to make up and a common opponent comparison is pretty much set in stone at this point unless you're talking about someone else in your own conference. But Yale, UMass-Lowell, Vermont, and St Lawrence are all only 1 comparison flip away from us jumping them, and it's so bunched up with the difference in RPI so low, there's still a chance. Since we stil have 2 away games against Penn St coming up, the bonus points for a road win that go into RPI still put us in play. If Michigan St keeps improving, we might even be eligilble to gaba bonus road win point adjustment from that Friday night game at Munn on the last regular season weekend.
Basically there's a multi-part formula that's still in play for us to get an at-large slot. It is:
- Go 5-1 / 6-0 to end the regular season. A sweep against Penn St is a necessity. No more room for error.
- Hope Harvard loses to BC tonight (common opponent) and then everybody else from St Cloud St through St Lawrence play middling hockey to end the regular season
- We need to beat Penn St (more likely after this weekend they're going to be a 3 seed) in a BTT Semifinal. We could lose in the final, but only to Minnesota as long as they're sufficiently high in the PWR (and they are right now). Any other B1G team wins the tourney besides Minnesota and we're out for at-large consideration.
- Hope everybody on that list from 14-19 above lose early in their conference tournaments. No semi or finals appearances for them.
We probably can make up enough ground with a winning streak and a BTT finals appearance to flip a single RPI against msot of these teams. The bugaboo would appear to be Harvard-- but they may play themselves into an at-large if they get up to 14. An American Hockey cinderella story isn't going to affect us, and one possible advantage of the B1G being so down, is that each other "big" conference (Hockey East, ECAC, NCHC, WCHA) have most of their contending teams already significantly above us, so it'd have to be a REAL cinderella run by a lower team from those conferences to "steal" another slot. I think we're looking at a tournament this year where the 15 team in PWR gets in as teh last at-large slot.
This is stil highly volatile and Michigan does not have its destiny in its own hands. I'm still of the belief that if we would have swept this weekend, we probably would be at 16 or even 15 in PWR and could have essentially controlled our destiny to an at-large. Now we need help. But it's not impossible.
UPDATE (2/24): With Harvard's loss to BC in the Beanpot 3rd place game, that helped us in two ways:
1. Harvard losing knocked their RPI down a little
2. BC and BU winning actually bumped up our RPI from .5349 to .5352. My back of envelope math shows we're probably within a 1 game difference of Harvard and UMass-Lowell (important for UML since we won head to head). Not sure if we can jump Vermont yet. A Vermont - UML split this weekend probably is the preferred result.
Revised bottom line is that from this point out, beside Michigan finishing 6-0 or 5-1 with a BTT Finals appearance, cheer like hell for Michigan Tech (easy), BC & BU (not so easy) to make huge runs from here on out. Their (BC & BU) improvements in winning percentage alone bumped us up Monday. They're the only OOC opponents we've played that have a realistic shot of helping us by winning a lot the rest of the season. Plus, all three are already ahead of us in PWR significantly, so a conference tourney win by either of the three helps with addition / maintenence of another at-large slot. It's still going to be tight, but the road to slot #15 is still open.