"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Wolverine In Exile
So that happened.
In probably the worst case scenario, Michigan hockey dropped both games at Penn St, while other things in the conference have basically assured that the B1G will be a ONE BID CONFERENCE. Yes, you read that right-- the conference of multiple national champions Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Wisconsin will get a grand total of 1 team into the NCAA tournament this year. The breakdown:
- Michigan sits tied for 19th in PairWise Ranking (PWR). It would take essentially a 3-4 game win streak to get back into the 14th or higher PWR position, and with the results from this past weekend that's no guarantee since the teams above UM are all still alive in their conference tourneys and wil be playing meaningful opponents meaning their PWR will probably not take a huge hit at this point. BTW- a 4 game win streak means we won the BTT which makes the at-large bid a moot point anyway.
- Minnesota with their split against Ohio St, now sits on the hairy precipice of losing their at-large bid fallback plan (sound familiar?). They are tied for 14th in PWR and need a winning streak to stay up (remember the 16th slot in the tourney this year is already tabbed essentially for the Atlantic Hockey tourney champ, so any at large teams are going to have to finish at least 15th in PWR, more likely 14th or higher to absorb a cinderella tourney champ from another conference). A sweep for Minnesota next week against Penn St and a Semi final win in the BTT might still get them in as an at-large, but they're going to have to hope that 1 and 2 seeds in confernce tourneys win out so that the PWR 13-18 teams don't get a bump from a winning streak in their conference tourneys.
- It's basically cannibalism at this point in the B1G tourney. A cinderella run resulting in a tourney championship from a team not in consideration today (PSU, OSU, MSU, WIscy) will definately knock Michigan out of an at-large run, and possibly/probably Minnesota too (especially if it's two cinderella teams in the final, i.e. Michigan and Minnesota lose in the tourney semis).
- And oh BTW, in case you needed more depressing news, Michigan State is in the drivers seat to hang a banner as B1G Regulart Season champions. As if they needed more motivation for next weekend, MICHIGAN STATE can win the regular season conference title with a sweep against us, no matter what Minnesota does. A split with us and a Minnesota split gives Sparty the title too. Talk about depressing. Now I know how Tottenham fans feel. (apologies for the EPL reference)
Silver linings and bottom lines? A couple:
- Michigan's only viable path to a NCAA bid at this point is likely to win the tourney title. Not out of the realm of possibility at all, but with the consistency (and frankly coaching / testicular fortitude) questions overhanging the team, I wouldn't bet on it.
- We still can salvage some Europa League title like satisfcation next weekend. If we sweep, we win the B1G regular season and hang a banner next year. We would be at worst tied with Minnesota in points and we win the tiebreaker over the Gophers based on more wins in conference. (Insert tiny flag waving here). Maybe that motivation is tangible enough to get an inspired performance for two games in a row??? The way thigns are shaking out, I'd hope for a Michigan sweep and a split by Minnesota with Penn St so that Penn St stays out of our semifinal.
Side thought stream of consciousness: I mentioned it in a comment on the Saturday night open thread, but we may seriously need to think about sacraficing some sort of animal with an Al Montoya jersey on it. Every since he left the season early in 2005, Michigan has not had that 3-4 year recruited goaltender that the 90's - early 2000's powerhouses could rely on. We lucked into Tiny Jesus Shawn Hunwick after whiffing on / getting mugged by John Gibson and our goaltending has not been consistently adequate in going on 10 years... Is this the REAL failure of the contemporary Red Berenson era? Not being able to close the deal on a top flight goaltender?? Is this something that falls on Billy Powers or Josh Blackburn? Will I need a really big bottle of scotch next weekend??
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????
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.
UPDATE:: Changed projected to real BCS standings and corrected analysis after talking heads on ESPN clarified the 3 SEC possibility... it is as most people have written in the comments, a conference can only get 3 if BCS1 and BCS2 are not conference champs... aka the LSU v Ala even though one of the two lost to Georgia in the SEC championship game scenario...
So when last I left you (two weeks ago), LSU had just defeated Alabama in the most underwhelming 1 v 2 matchup in modern times, Boise St was crusing towards a BCS at-large again but likely to get snubbed out of the national championship game, and the B1G was a muddled mess.....
Flash forward to today, and we have utter complete and no-shenanigans chaos erupting in BCS land. Only one more step friends until we have SEC on SEC violence due to one of their beloved conference teams being shut out from a chance at the national championship... or will there be?
First, the official BCS standings as of tonight, via ESPN:
Official BCS Standings: 1. LSU, 2. Alabama, 3. Arkansas, 4. Oklahoma State, 5. Va Tech, 6. Stanford, 7. Boise St, 8. Houston, 9. Oklahoma, 10. Oregon, 11. Kansas St, 12. So Carolina, 13. Georgia, 14. MSU, 15. Michigan, 16. Wisconsin, 17. Clemson, 18. Baylor, 19. Penn St, 20. TCU, 21. Nebraska, 22. Notre Dame, 23. Georgia Tech, 24. Auburn, 25. Texas.
Note:: No Big East teams in Top 25, meaning Houston will be a mandatory pick should they win their conference and stay in the Top 16. The BCS selection rules say that a non-AQ gets a mandatory BCS at-large slot if they win their conference and:
A) are in the top 12
B) Are in the top 16 and are higher than a AQ conference champion (i.e. the Big East sucks rule)
Houston's good anyway since they're in the Top 12-- non-AQ's in the top 12 don't have the "we're better than the Big East" clause. If Houston should stumble, TCU is going to have some work to do since they'll have to get in the Top 16 to get a mandatory non-AQ slot.
- The SEC is poised to blow the 2 teams in the BCS from a single conference rule out the window... the BCS bylaws state:
"No more than two teams from a conference may be selected, regardless of whether they are automatic qualifiers or at-large selections, unless two non-champions from the same conference are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the final BCS Standings ."
This means that should the SEC get two teams in the NCG, they wuold have the possibility of getting a third in the BCS games as an at-large. As we'll see, this is possible.
- Michigan is poised well to get in a BCS game as an at-large.
- The Big12 and ACC crapped their pants and liklely lost their shot at both conferences getting a 2nd team in.
- The biggest benficiaries of the two weeks of chaos are Michigan & Houston.
- The Big East still sucks.
Now the projections.. we'll use the projected standings as our basis. The teams that are GUARANTEED a slot per the BCS rules are LSU (BCS1), Alabama (BCS2), Ok St (B12 chmp), MSU/PSU/Wis (B1G chmp), VaTech (ACC chmp), Louisville (BE chmp per ESPN standings), Houston (non-AQ in top 12 & conf chmp-- Boise is NOT MWC chmp so even though they're higher than Houston, Houston qualifies) :
NCG: LSU v. Alabama
Fiesta: Ok St (B12 champ) v. Stanford (at-large)
Sugar: Houston (non-AQ mandatory) v. Michigan (at-large)
Orange: Va Tech (ACC champ) vs. Lousiville (BE chmp)
Rose: Mich St / Wiscy / Penn St (B1G champ) v. Oregon (Pac12 chmp)
- LSU v. Alabama... I'm going say for simplicity sake, they both win out meaning LSU is the SEC champ, and 'Bama is the #2 team in the BCS.
- The Sugar gets one pick to replace LSU.... they take Houston who as commenter Mat points out, is a 40k member school just hours away from New Orleans.
- Then the regular slotting for 2012 takes over (fiesta, Sugar, Orange).. Fiesta takes a 1-loss Stanford with potential Heisman winner Andrew Luck in a regional play, the Sugar goes again and takes a 10-win Michigan team with three quality wins in a row and a fan base itching to get back to the big time. Orange takes the last at-large and gets Lousiville by default.
Who got screwed:
- Arkansas, a 2-loss SEC team who only lost to the #1 & #2 teams and is in the top 5 of the BCS can't go to a BCS game b/c of LSU & Alabama.
- Oklahoma, Boise St, Clemson... these teams were poised to take an at-large from Michigan.
- 2nd B1G team not named Michigan... Sparty could be in the unenviable spot that even though they beat Michigan in the regular season and got to the conf championship game, if they get spanked by, say Wisconsin on a revenge tour game, they do not look good as an at-large Michigan on awin streak against high profile programs (no, I'm not talking about you, Zooker)
Remaining items for Chaos:
- LSU v Arkansas: this has the most potential for upsetting the NCG, but in reality if Ark does beat LSU, all that means is that the one that emerges from the Ark/LSU/Ala triumverate to the SEC champ game goes to the NCG if they win and the 2-nd team in that threesome likely gets the 2 seed in the BCS standings. The SEC tiebreakers are so screwy (go read http://www.sbnation.com/ncaa-football/2011/11/20/2574943/bcs-rankings-standings-projections-predictions-week-13 for detailed explanations), it's going to a lot of backroom talking between voters to see who gets that little bump in BCS standings.
- Iron Bowl: Auburn could throw an even bigger monkey wrench in this if they somehow take down their rivals.... Bama loses and Arkansas wins, its chaos.
- SEC championship: If Georgia somehow beats the SEC West champ, no matter who it is, the entire system crashes into the goddamn mountain- aka the other conference commissioners might band together to change the system so one conference doesn't get 3 slots. This is the 3 SEC team scenario... let's say:
** LSU wins over Arkansas huge and 'Bama mops the floor with Auburn. Going into the SEC championship game, LSU and 'Bama are the undisputed #1 & #2 BCS teams by a wide margin in human polls and computers.
** LSU loses a controversial game in the SEC championship game. Think Spartan Bob type screwing in the Georgia Dome to a Georgia team. Finebaum show is packed for weeks with "Louie from Natchodoches" claiming LSU is still the #1 team in the country and it was a conspiracy by the state of Georgia to screw LSU. Legend and Jim from Crestwood counter with calls taunting LSU fans for losing that game and jumping LSU in the polls because 'Bama has 47 national titles (35 awarded from the Montgomery Free Press & Girl Scout Newsletter).
** Ok St loses to Oklahoma in Bedlam, eliminating the only real 1-loss contender from jumping 'Bama or LSU.
** LSU and Bama in some order come out #1 & #2 in BCS standings after all this, with Georgia the SEC champ. This means the SEC champ gets the automatic Sugar Bowl bid (UGa), LSU & Bama are in the NCG, and like Emeril saying 'BAM' you have 3 SEC teams in BCS bowl games, all played in New Orleans.
** If this happens, the variation to the BCS slots from above would see either Michigan or Houston getting shipped to the Fiesta and the other in the Sugar with Stanford booted out. Since Fiesta goes first with no team that the Sugar has to replace in the NCG, Fiesta picks Michigan over Stanford, and Houston goes to NOLa to play Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Even without my maize & blue glasses, I think Michigan is more attractive than Stanford.
- Houston losing: If Houston drops a game, then it will be dogfight between Stanford, a 2nd B12 team, and maybe Va Tech if Clemson upsets Va Tech in the ACC championship for the open at-large slot vacated by Houston. TCU would need help to jump 4 BCS slots to get to #16 and clinch the BigEast sucks clause spot.
Per the sage words from Doc Saturday... rooting interest in the BCS? Chaos... always Chaos.
Well with Iowa in our rear view, and the "Game of the Century" (cough) over, the BCS picture is clearer... The main points:
- LSU is in the drivers seat for the Nat'l championship game. They can probably even absorb a defeat vs Arkansas and still make it in so long as they beat the SEC East rep in the SEC champ game.
- LSU's opponent is likely Ok St or Stanford in that order if they both go undefeated. Ok St has one more chance to impress voters big time with a win over OU, and if Stanford beats Oregon, they will likely leapfrog Alabama.
- Your at larges at this point (in order) are probably Alabama, Boise St, and maybe Oklahoma??
- The Big East is only getting one team in the BCS.
- The projections for the BCS are (based on Fiesta-Sugar-Orange order for this year):
BCS championship: LSU vs. Ok St.
Rose (B1G v Pac12): B1G champ vs. Stanford
Fiesta (Big 12 v at large): Oklahoma (2-loss, 1st choice at large) v. Boise St (3rd at-large)
Orange (ACC v. at large): Clemson v. Houston/Oregon/B1G runner up
Sugar (SEC v at large): Ala (2nd choice at-large) v. West Virginia (4th at-large)
The biggest factor here is the order of the bowl selections. That will make a HUGE difference as you'll see:
- First the locks by contract: LSU & OkSt in the Nat'l Champ Game, aka the Les Miles Bowl; B1G champ (we'll say MSU for argument sake) and Stanford in the Rose; Clemson (ACC champ) in the Orange. That's it.
- The Fiest goes first to replace OkSt... Alabama isn't as attractive to them as a Big 12 team, so they take a Big 12 team eligible and even with two losses, a sure draw. they take Oklahoma.
- Next, the Sugar goes, and they take another SEC team to replace LSU. Alabama.
- Now we get back to the regular bowl selection order for this year, meaning the Fiesta goes first. they chose between the Big East champ (probably West Va), Boise who gets the non-AQ autoqualify slot, and a bunch of unattractive teams with 2 losses or more from power conferences or Houston. I think the Fiesta goes for undefeated Boise in a BSU v OU rematch.
- Next the Sugar gets an at-large pick, they get their choice of West Va, the same 2-loss teams as before or an undefeated Houston. Since an SEC team just played Oregon last year in the BCS, and teh Sugar doesn't want to take a flyer on Houston, it basically comes down to West Va, a 2nd B1G team (Wiscy? Penn St? Nebraska?), or an ACC at large, the highest ranking would be Va Tech. I think the Sugar goes West Va, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's Wisconsin if the Badgers win out from here on and lose tiebreakers to Penn St to get into the B1G champ game.
- Finally the Orange gets to select their at-large team. Basically, they can't take an ACC team since Clemson is already there. So they chose between Oregon, 2nd B1G, undefeated Houston. Probably they take a Wisconsin or Penn St (JoePa's last game?) over the non-AQ Houston or the cross country traveling Oregon.
- If a 1-loss MSU gets to the B1G champ game and loses to Penn St or Wiscy, they probably become a good Orange at-large team... not Sugar since Saban blew their doors off last year.
- If Penn St gets to the B1G game and loses with the Sandusky cloud hanging over them, they might not be a good at-large candidate... this could cause a B1G trickle down with no 2nd B1G team in the BCS and everybody getting slotted one game lower.
- LSU can probably absorb an Arkansas loss, but an Arkansas loss with a loss to Georgia in the SEC title game??? Would the voters keep Alabama or LSU in the #2 slot knnowing that Boise blew out Georgia in the Georgia Dome to open the season? This will be the litmus test for SEC backlash.
- If Stanford gets to the BCS title game via a Ok St stumble against OU, look for Oregon to be the Rose fill-in for Stanford and no 2nd B1G team in the Orange or Sugar.
Could Michigan stil get in?
- Probably not but maybe.... it would take
1) us winning out including convincingly against Neb and OSU.
2) Wisconsin dropping another game, probably to Penn St
3) Penn St to lose in the B1G champ game in a blow out and have turmoil in the coaching / AD as a result of the Sandusky scandal.
At that point, we're a 2-loss team competing with a 2nd ACC team and the Big East champ for the right to go to the Sugar against Alabama. We might be prettier than West Va or Va Tech to the Sugar, although with the 2012 season game against Alabama, we're probably a better bet as an at-large to the Orange vs Clemson with West Va facing Alabama in an SEC sacrifice game.
- for chaos and death to the BCS: Stanford, Ok St, and Boise to win out with an embarassing LSU loss to Georgia in the SEC champ game.
- Michigan in the BCS: us to win out, Penn St to beat Wisconsin but lose another game
Now that we're within the sight line of the finish to the regular season, I thought tonight would be a good chance to post my inital (but still early in the process) BCS Outlook:
The main points:
- Barring unbelievable upset in the SEC championship, either Alabama or LSU will be in the BCS championship game.
- The SEC is getting two teams in the BCS.... again. The question is whether it will be either the Alabama-LSU loser, Arkansas, or the East Division winner (likely Georgia or South Carolina)
- Boise is in a BCS game unless they lose from here out. If Oregon beats Stanford and Ok St loses to Oklahoma, they might be playing the SEC champ for the title.
- The Big East and ACC are only getting one team each in the BCS. There will be significant competition for the at large slots
- The projections for the BCS are (based on Fiesta-Sugar-Orange order for this year):
BCS championship: Ala/LSU winner vs. Ok St.
Rose (B1G v Pac12): B1G champ vs. Stanford
Fiesta (Big 12 v at large): Oklahoma (2-loss, 1st choice at large) v. Boise St (3rd at-large)
Orange (ACC v. at large): Clemson v. B1G runner-up/Houston
Sugar (SEC v at large): Ala/LSU loser (2nd choice at-large) v. West Virginia (4th at-large)
- A 2 loss Oklahoma even if they lose to OkSt will still be ranked high enough to justify an at-large slot and will be attractive as a replacement pick for the Fiesta who loses OkSt to the NCG
- the Sugar will happily take LSU or Ala or even Arkansas as a replacement pick for the SEC champ in the NCG
- A Boise v Oklahoma rematch may be a good draw for the Fiesta.
- West Virginia as a Big East champ may be a better draw than a weakened Big ten 2nd team, especially in a Sugar Bowl.
- The last at-large for the Orange Bowl can't be an ACC team (sorry VaTech), SEC & Big12 already have their two teams, so that leaves either a 2nd Big ten team, a possibly undefeated Houston, or a damaged Oregon / Arizona St team. Pac12 teams don't travel well and a 2-loss Oregon isn't as sexy as a 1-loss Oregon. That basically means its either a 2nd B1G team (Mich St? Neb? Penn St? a Michigan that loses to Penn St or Wiscy in the B1G champ game?) or an undefeated Houston. My guess is a second B1G team.
Craziness in the NCG?
- How could the SEC winner not get inthe NCG? Well if it's not the SEC West winner ... a 1-loss LSU or 1-loss Ala who beats the SEC East winner is going to the NCG. But the only other craziness would be if the LSU/Ala winner loses to their rival (Ark for LSU or Aub for Ala) before the SEC championship allowing some weird tie-breaking formula to get Ark in the SEC championship game.
- Stanford is the next in line to take OkSt's place should OkSt slip up. If Stanford loses before the Pac12 champ game, good googily moogily.... Boise St is probably next in line given voter's likely backlash preventing an Ala / LSU rematch. We could have BCS armageddon if OkSt loses to Oklahoma, and Stanford loses to Oregon / Pac 12 champ game.
Could Michigan get in without winning the conference?
Yes, maybe in two situations:
1) Michigan wins out, but so does Michigan St including the B1G champ game meaning a 1-loss Michigan (who didn't get a chance in the B1G champ game) with wins against ND, Neb & OSU would be a mortal lock for at least the Orange if not Sugar Bowl.
2) Michigan wins out the regular season, Michigan St loses twice, and Michigan loses to Penn St / Wiscy in a B1G championship game closely. At that point, a "reborn" 2-loss Michigan team may be more attractive than even an undefeated Houston for a Sugar Bowl match against an SEC powerhouse or a Orange against Clemson to boost TV ratings.
More in weeks to come.....