Right now, U-M sits 9th in the Pairwise (up from t-12th to start the day), tied with UNH and losing that tiebreaker, so effectively 10th. There are a lot of games left, and the Pairwise is notoriously shifty, so here's a look at the easiest path upward in the rankings.
Comparisions that M currently loses:
1. Yale: unflippable comparison
2. BC: Surprisingly flippable. The difference is the record against Teams Under Consideration (TUC). BC is 9-5-0 (64.3%), while M is 9-6-3(58.3%). There are two teams lurking just below the cutoff (LSSU and OSU) that would help us if they were bumped up. Coincidentally, they play each other next weekend. Looking at their schedules, I would guess that OSU will end up a TUC and LSSU will not, adding 3 wins and a loss to our TUC, for a winning percentage of 61.4%. If both make it, the percentage would be 64.6%. Both teams have two games left against current TUCs (BC vs. UNH, M vs. Western), as well as their conference tournaments, which might swing this entire comparison one way or the other.
3. North Dakota: unflippable comparison
4. Denver: Surprisingly flippable. Again, the difference is TUC record, and Denver's is very similar to BC's, with a current percentage of 64.6%. Their remaining games against TUCs are two at home to St. Cloud St. and two at UNO. St. Cloud is close enough to the cutoff, and have such a difficult remaining schedule, that they might drop under the cutoff, and UNO is a tough opponent at home. Denver will also have to negotiate a tough WCHA tournament field, so there is a good chance that their percentage will drop.
5. Merrimack: unflippable comparison. I know, right?
6. Minn.-Duluth: flippable. U-M would need to win both TUC record (currently ahead by a whisker) and record against common opponents (COp). The latter is currently fairly close, and will undergo changes in the next two weeks and both teams play opponents that also appeared on the other's schedule. UMD has two games at Colorado College and two at home against UNO, while we have two against Northern Michigan. Adding the games against those teams makes our current COp percentage 68.8%, compared to 75% for UMD. A sweep over Northern (theoretically) would bump our COp percentage to 75%, so UMD would have to win 3 out of those four games (or win two and tie two). This will probably come down to who does better in their conference tournament.
7. Neb.-Omaha: Flippable. They have a big lead at the moment in TUC, but have previously-referenced games against UMD and Denver, to go along with two at Alaska-Anchorage. The good news is that if we can't flip them, there is a good chance it's because they made it possible to flip either Denver or UMD.
8. New Hampshire: Flippable. We just have to pass them in RPI. So we have to win, and they have to...not. They have two road games at Vermont followed by home-and-homes with Northeastern and BC, then the Hockey East tournament. We would certainly need for them to take zero or one point from BC in that series, or a major slip-up against the others.
9. Notre Dame: Very flippable. The deciding factor right now is COp percentage, but both teams play conference opponents in the next two weeks that they have not yet played, but the other has. Once those games are factored in, the COp percentage is a tie. This one will simply come down to who has a better record down the stretch (or whoever wins if they face off at the Joe).
A strong finish should get us a 2 seed, which is where I think we'll end up. I think a couple of these comparisons will flip simply by virtue of teams beating each other. A 2-2 finish and a loss in the semis at the Joe would probably still get us a 3 seed, but we could drop to a 4. Of course, it is possible for a bad finish to knock us out totally, but it would take a massive implosion (like losing three of the next four, and not even making the semis at the Joe), and maybe having non-tournament teams win their conference tournaments. Failing that second step, we would have to drop to 16th to fall out, and there are really only 5 teams in range of passing us unless we lose out from here.
Who to root for/against:
1. Michigan (duh)
2. OSU and LSSU
3. Sweeps in the Denver-UNO, UMD-UNO, BC-UNH series. If you want to pick teams in those series, pick UNO and UNH, because their comparisons are probably harder to flip.
1. Michigan State. Not just because you hate them, but because you don't want them becoming a TUC. Hopefully they'll drop games in Alaska next weekend and it won't matter.
2. Notre Dame. Not just because you hate them, but becauseyou want to flip their comparison.
3. Anyone directly below us in the pairwise. Union, Dartmouth, RPI, Miami, Wisconsin.
4. St. Cloud State. If you have this much time to care about how St. Cloud State fares and how that affects Michigan, perhaps you should reevaluate your life. As should I.