Hello! A brief note for hockey fans on what yesterday's results (which were AWESOME save for
that Miami goal with 3 seconds left and their subsequent OT win):
- UND, UNH, and CC lost, which means Michigan can't be worse than the #2 overall seed no matter tonight's result. All my previous dire warnings about falling to #4 or #5 in scenarios where, like, the other three top teams didn't biff it in their playoffs.
- If ND wins or ties tonight, Michigan will be the top seed even with a loss. But...
- If ND wins or loses tonight they're in the tournament even if Vermont snatches a bid by beating BC. (A loss keeps Northern a TUC and helps out ND's TUC record enough to keep them ahead of Wisconsin.) However, in certain scenarios a tie knocks them out. If ND pulls its goalie in overtime tonight, that's why.
- Most setups have St. Cloud the #8 seed, but it looks split about 50-50 on whether Clarkson (yay!) or Michigan State (boo!) are the #9. I think the key combo for Clarkson is Vermont and Northern winning.
- Even with Notre Dame guaranteeing themselves a bid, Wisconsin can still get in. They need Princeton to beat Harvard in the ECAC final, BC to beat Vermont in the HE final, and Northern to beat or tie ND. (ND still gets in if they lose; Minnesota State gets the shaft there.)
Your rooting interests:
Harvard over Princeton.
Vermont over BC.
if (Vermont over BC && Harvard over Princeton)
Northern Michigan over Notre Dame
Notre Dame over Northern Michigan
The list. Baylor, Clemson, and Kansas State have all made the basketball tournament. What relevance does this have for Michigan basketball fans? Each of those teams was sporting a tourney drought of equal or greater length than Michigan, which cuts down The List. What is The List? An assemblage of ever-dwindling big conference (BE, P10, B10, SEC, ACC) teams with tourney droughts comparable to Michigan's. The new edition:
Florida State: 1998
South Florida: 1992
Oregon State: 1990
Six of 73.
Hockey. Last weekend couldn't have gone any better from the Michigan perspective. Most importantly, Michigan swept UNO. Bonuses from around the country:
- UND won its series against Tech but took three games to do it, dropping them from the #1 spot in the PWR and staking Michigan to a lead of what looks like a full game in the RPI.
- Wisconsin got swept and Clarkson lost its first round series, guaranteeing that a third autobid outside the top 16 spots gets in. Upshot: the Badgers are now the first team out of the tournament.
- State lost to Northern, removing the one team in the CCHA Michigan had a losing record against and providing Michigan an easier opponent for their game Friday.
- Notre Dame rose from the dead and is now in the tourney. (This last one is not so much a positive for Michigan, but it's good for the CCHA and everyone's sense of cosmic justice.)
Air Force and Niagara won their conference tourneys and autobids.
I haven't had time to check the nitty-gritty of the PWR, but some weird stuff went on. Miami leapt up to the #2 overall seed and Colorado College dropped to #4 despite CC's sweep of Alaska-Anchorage; I think this is because Michigan Tech's win against NoDak propelled them into the top 25 of the RPI, which makes them a TUC and brings CC's 0-1-1 record against them into play. Ferris also dropped from TUC status, removing their sweep of Miami from Super Special Consideration. It's all very complicated.
This week's completely useless bracket construction:
16. Air Force
9. Michigan State
7. Boston College
14. Minnesota State
13. ECAC Autobid
5. North Dakota
12. Notre Dame
(as always, this is as sturdy as a lean-to in a hurricane and was a waste of my time.)
The committee is not compelled to break first round all-WCHA matchups since they have six teams in the tourney, but they could swap Minnesota and Clarkson if they wanted and maybe the ECAC autobid with Minnesota State. Neither would hurt bracket integrity or attendance much, so I've made the switches above.
Could State please GTF out of our regional? No, probably not, since they're done for the year.
So, about this weekend. Since none of the chasers have imploded, Michigan hasn't locked up much. Michigan currently wins all comparisons but can lose out to Miami, CC, and North Dakota. Scenarios:
- Win the CCHA. The only team that could pass Michigan would be a WCHA-winning CC. Michigan would get a small conference autobid in Wisconsin-free Madison, which is excellent.
- Get swept. Much depends on the outcome of the other two games, but I think M loses at least two more comparisons and falls behind either North Dakota or Miami, which would allow one of those teams to head to Madison. Michigan would get shipped East as the #4 or #5 seed and probably have to deal with a high quality. Second round opponent. Bad news.
- Split. Almost as bad, I think. Miami would pass us if they won the league and one of the two WCHA teams would also; probably both. Would be a cluster of teams tied atop the standings (UNH complicates everything) and Michigan could go anywhere.
It's delightfully simple and mmmm caketastic if they win the CCHA; if not Michigan could get a relatively nasty draw.
Michigan plays Northern at 4:30 Friday; Miami and Notre Dame is the other semifinal.
Update: readers email to note that the M gametime has been changed to 8:05; it is so. Also, You Are The Committee is up at CHN if you feel like fiddling around with the the last weekend's results. I'm trying to figure out if Wisconsin can still get in... unfortunately the answer appears to be yes if all top seeds hold and ND loses two at the Joe. We really want ND to win at least one; the nice thing is that if we end up facing them they've already downed Miami and will be a tourney lock.
I think Michigan hockey is in one. There's so much jitter in the PWR -- one indication that it's not the world's most reliable system -- that the weekly "bracketology" columns that are all the rage are essentially useless, but we do know a few things: M, NoDak, CC, UNH, and Miami will be the top five seeds. Wisconsin and CC are both hosting regionals.
So I'm fiddling around with brackets and if you just set things up straight 1-16, you get this:
16 AH Auto
15 CHA Auto
This is pretty smooth, considering there are sixty WCHA teams in the field, but CC and Wisconsin absolutely can't be matched up against each other because they're both hosting and UW has to be in Madison. The switch with the most bracket integrity is to flip UW into the UNH bracket and send that to Madison, but that would strip Worcester of a #1 seed that plays its home games something like 25 or 50 miles from there and would probably send the M/Clarkson/SCSU/CHA bracket there, which would be attendance death.
The committee's other option: screw over either M or NoDak and bracket one of the top two seeds in Madison against a home team. Michigan is #2 and likely to remain there (at best) unless both CC and UND go belly-up. There's a long way to go and Wacky Things will no doubt occur, but I have a bad feeling that if Wisconsin is a four seed, we're going to play them in the first round no matter what.
Side note: All of these projections are overlooking the possibility of conference-tourney interlopers. With just two Hockey East teams and one ECAC team in the tourney right now, one or both of those conference tourneys is likely to be won by teams currently out of the field, so Wisconsin is about one slot away from being out of the tourney altogether, which is the best option for Michigan.
Side note #2: Western College Hockey takes issue with the WCHA-flood concerns expressed by Elliot Olshansky and Yost Built like so:
The Blog that Yost Built took a look at the WCHA's OOC performance. He brings up a ton of evidence against the WCHA, though all of it is still anecdotal. Wouldn't it be great if there was a system that took into account *every* game and objectively measured the quality of every opponent? Oh wait, you mean there already is a system like that? Ultimately, the beef here is with the ranking system that was agreed upon before the season started, not with the WCHA itself.
No one has questioned the WCHA's position as the preeminent college hockey conference, but I think it's fair to say that any system that says eighty percent of a particular conference should be in the tournament is broken. WCH cites the RPI as a system that "objectively measure[s] the quality of every opponent" -- and I guess you could cite KRACH as a similar system -- but RPI is a jerry-rigged ranking that gets fiddled with on a regular basis. The NCAA has changed the OOP percentage, win percentage, tough roadie bonus, and exclusion of RPI-hurting wins in the time I've been following college hockey. And they've done the same to the PWR, first increasing the length of the "L10" component to 16, then dropping it entirely, changing the TUC cutoff from a .500 record to a .500 RPI to the top 25 in RPI, and making the TUC record not count when you have less than ten games registered on top of all the fiddles with the RPI. College hockey is constantly dissatisfied with its system, and for good reason: like the BCS it regularly spits out nonsensical results.
Despite the NCAA's implicit acknowledgment that the PWR is unreliable, every year they hew to this rickety thing down to the letter, which makes no sense.
Another thrust from WCH:
I think we can all agree that North Dakota, Michigan, New Hampshire, Colorado College, and Miami are all solid tournament teams. If those six teams had formed their own conference prior to the start of the season, one of two things would have happened: Either everyone would have finished .500, or somebody would have had a losing record. Should they be excluded from the tournament because of that? The same is true in the WCHA, though to a lesser extent. If somebody wins a game, that means somebody else has to lose, even if both teams are good hockey teams.
Elliot said he'd rather see Notre Dame, Providence, and Princeton in the tournament than Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, and Wisconsin. But what is there, other than overall record, to suggest that any of those teams belongs in the tournament more than the three WCHA teams? If you're going to take that step, why even bother with strength of schedule at all?
I think there's a terrific argument for including strength of schedule, but what we're talking about here is overrating SOS to the point where a team ten games over .500 in one of the top three conferences is in a position to be passed over by a team below .500. Does that make sense? Is there any evidence that the WCHA is so far superior to the CCHA that we should prefer the eighth-place WCHA team to the fourth place CCHA team, especially when that CCHA team has a split against #6 seed Denver?
The problem: the NCAA vastly overrates the importance of nonconference games. They form the basis for virtually all the SOS rankings and the COP category. Then they double-count SOS in a terribly arbitrary way by declaring games against the top 25 teams to be a special category all their own (thus eliminating UNO, NMU, and BGSU from consideration because each is three points adrift of the top 25!).
It's common sense: if you are one of the worst teams in your conference, you are not one of the best teams in the country and should not be afforded the opportunity to win a national title in a nigh-random pinball machine like a single-elimination hockey tournament.
Kolarik. It's not a groin, it's a hamstring, and it will keep Kolarik out 4-5 weeks if all goes according to plan. We won't see him until at least the Joe and maybe not even then, as these sorts of injuries have a tendency to linger. I am mildly encouraged that it's not Kolarik's groin -- groin injuries are about the nastiest ones you can get in hockey.
The weekend. Michigan held serve with a pair of 4-2 victories over Lake State and Miami did us the great favor of getting inexplicably swept by Ferris State, staking Michigan to a five point lead in the CCHA. Michigan can go 2-2 in the final two weekends of the regular season and still win the league; sweep Michigan State and Michigan locks the title up.
HOWEVA, the Kolarik injury and Michigan's recent struggles against tight-checking teams makes that latter scenario doubtful. Michigan won both nights against the Lakers but in terms of overall level of play this weekend was actually a step down from the two ties against Northern. In that series, Michigan significantly outshot and outchanced a mediocre CCHA team only to be undone by bad luck and a couple of horrific goals yielded by Brian Hogan on Saturday; this weekend one of the worst teams in the league was close to even in shots and chances but for a two-minute five on three Friday.
The upcoming pair against MSU will help clarify whether Michigan's difficulties against defensive-minded, neutral-zone-clogging opponents are a burgeoning trend or just a couple bad weekends. Another poo weekend against MSU and I'm officially concerned-ish.
Yost Built has its take, too.
Hokay. It's like this. By virtue of Michigan's performance to date they have locked up a tournament bid and will be no worse than a two seed no matter what happens from here on out. Michigan could go 0-6 the rest of the way and be a two seed.
Full PWR here.
There are six teams out there that can wrest their comparisons from Michigan:
Real Moonbat Stuff
Miami: Miami's really hurt by their closing schedule. Wins against OSU and WMU aren't likely to count at all in their RPI and will not help them with common opponents, which is currently favoring Miami because Michigan hasn't played Ferris State yet. As long as M wins the conference they'll win COP and RPI. If Michigan somehow blows it, Miami will have an opportunity to wrest the comparison away from M by outperforming them in the playoffs.
Denver: Michigan would have to really implode and DU would have to win out in the regular season or, failing that, win the WCHA playoffs. And that's just to get past Michigan in RPI; even then Michigan might win the comparison.
UNH: Loses COP (barely and unfairly... 6-0-1 for them to our 4-0) and that won't change, but is close in TUC. Way back in RPI, though, and would need a really poor performance from M coupled with a win in the HE playoffs.
Michigan State: State is way far back and normally would not be within striking distance, but they have two, maybe three games coming up against Michigan and could take the comparison if they win two more games than Michigan does against them. MSU would have to sweep next weekend or take three points and beat Michigan in the CCHA playoffs.
North Dakota: The streaking Sioux have a COP edge on Michigan they'll keep unless they manage to lose to Wisconsin or Minnesota in the WCHA tourney -- doubtful. Michigan will hold their RPI edge into the conference playoffs unless UND wins at least five of six and Michigan splits down the stretch -- UND has to win three more games than Michigan does, basically -- but if it's close by the time the league playoffs roll around M could get passed.
Colorado College: CC also holds COP and is about two games back in RPI.
Note that CC and DU finish the regular season with a series, so both passing Michigan is virtually impossible.
The upshot: Root against all these teams, very little else matters. Michigan will be in danger of losing its top two seed if they get swept by State this weekend, giving them that comparison.
Michigan State on the road and then the annual game at the Joe. Last time the two teams met, Michigan lost 1-0 in a nearly unwatchable game and tied 2-2 in a nearly unwatchable game. No even strength goals were scored the entire weekend except for Matt Schepke's "Sparty, no!" own goal with two minutes left in Saturday's third period.
Since then, MSU has split against UNO, been swept by Northern, and swept Western... not particularly inspiring. But they know how to frustrate Michigan and Kolarik is out.
A split is okay, and is what I expect.
Last weekend we crushed NMU. MSU is next at the Joe and then either Notre Dame or Lake Superior, depending on the outcome of the early game.
- Michigan State. We have to go 0-2 at the Joe and State has to go 2-0 for the Spartans to pass us. Otherwise we'll win a tied comparison by virtue of our higher RPI.
- Dartmouth & St. Lawrence. Both are in the same boat as MSU: must win their conference tourney and hope we go 0-2 to flip the comparison. We cannot lose comparisons to both these schools because one has to lose.
- UMass. [was: lock we won.] I underestimated the ability of UMass to fly up the RPI with games against high-quality opposition. We can lose this comparison if -- say it with me -- UMass wins their conference tourney and we go 0-2 at the Joe.
Locks: LSSU, UNO, MSU-Mankato, Cornell, Vermont, Wisconsin, Michigan Tech, Maine [was: tossup... Maine got swept *again* by UMass], Miami [was: tossup... swept by Lake State], Denver [was: tossup... also swept.], Colorado College [was: solid win. They lost in three to MTU.]
- BC & BU. The two archrivals play in the Hockey East semis. If we win the CCHA, we will pass the loser of that game. If the winner of that game loses in the HE final, we will also pass them. A split at the Joe does nothing for us; we'll lose both comparisons.
- North Dakota. [was: tossup we lost.] NoDak did indeed sweep Minnesota State right out of TUC status, opening the door for us. Here's a weird math thing for you: since we have fewer games against TUCs, if we win the CCHA we will flip NoDak no matter what they do. We're currently winning COP but are behind on RPI and TUC, but our 8-7-1 becomes a 10-7-1 with a CCHA tourney win and NoDak's 12-10-2 can't win that race even if it becomes 14-10-2.
- Clarkson. We have to win the CCHA and have Clarkson go 0-2 this weekend to pass them.
Locks: SCSU, Minnesota, Notre Dame, UNH.
We are in. I have fiddled with every nightmare scenario available at TBRW -- 0-2 at the Joe, UMass and St Lawrence doing well, UNO's TUC status evaporating in a puff of smoke -- and the worst case appears to be #12. On the other side of the coin: believe it or not, with the right set of results Michigan can vault all the way to #5. Only four comparisons are completely gone, mostly thanks to UNO hanging on to TUC status by .0008 over RIT, Minnesota State, and a bunch of other teams. You might expect UNO is safely in the barn since all the teams near the TUC cliff are done for the season, but you would be wrong. Since RPI is 75% opponents' and opponents-opponents' schedule there will be some jitter down there and it's possible we could lose those two TUC wins. The above projections assume that this does not happen. If it does we cannot win the BU, BC, or Clarkson comparisons; North Dakota requires us to pass them in RPI; the rest of the comparisons still in play are unaffected.
Assuming UNO remains a TUC, Michigan controls its own destiny and can play themselves into 5-6-7 by winning the CCHA tourney. Michigan will hold all of the comparisons it currently does and will take at least two comparisons from NoDak, BC, and BU, escaping the dread Minnesota zone.
If Michigan splits they are locked into the 8-9 game and a bracket with the #1 overall seed unless they get swapped out because of an intra-conference conflict.
If Michigan gets swept at the Joe things will depend on how the other games go. Figure State is slightly less than 50-50 to win the CCHA tourney in that situation and that Dartmouth and SLU are collectively about 50-50 to win the ECAC tourney. UMass may be 10-20% to win HE, so we figure to lose slightly more than one comparison on average. That would put us either #10 or #11.
So the good news is that you can show up at the Joe and root for the Wolverines without any nagging concerns about Michigan getting boned by winning. A CCHA title probably means a two-seed in Grand Rapids, possibly with a Notre Dame team we (hypothetically) just beat.
Others of Note
Michigan State is on shakier ground than we are but is in with a split and is probably in even if swept. Miami is currently hanging onto its bid by the skin of its teeth at #14. They must root against LSSU, Wisconsin, MTU, Dartmouth, and Quinnipiac in their respective conference tourneys. Any autobid handed out to a team currently behind them dumps them from the tourney. The Redhawks dodged an enormous bullet last night when Minnesota and St. Cloud got late goals -- in St. Cloud's case, really really late: the third OT -- to boot UAA and UMD from the WCHA tournament.