2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament Preview

2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament Preview

Submitted by NastyIsland on March 22nd, 2018 at 9:15 AM

2018Bracket

Hello Plinko, my old friend death. [uscho.com]

After the Michigan preview, there will be a breakdown of the remaining seven games, starting with the opposite game in Michigan’s Regional. I’ve asked Adam and MGoHockeyReference Anthony Ciatti to give a take as well.

Probabilities. If you’re looking for some game-specific numbers, Ed Feng has released his predictions based upon his new rankings.

The Field

Northeast Regional

(3) Cornell, (8) Michigan, (9) Northeastern (13) Boston University: What a crazy regional for Michigan. Cornell ain’t played nobody never but has only given up 49 goals in 32 games. BU has more NHL talent than the Arizona Coyotes, but might be coached by Also Herm Edwards. Northeastern never has the puck but has two Hobey finalists and an ace freshman legacy goalie. So, they’re Notre Dame with goal-scorers. Oh, and the #3 and #4 seeds are playing in their backyard. What even. Can we do this, please? 

(8) Michigan vs (9) Northeastern

Team

PWR

Corsi Rank

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Record in last 5 games

Northeastern

9

37

27%

82%

7

6(5)

1.88

.932

4-1

Michigan

8

22

18%

75%

7

3

2.79

.910

4-1

Things Michigan Needs to Do Against Northeastern:

1. Stay Out of The Box. Every week, this is #1. In past weeks, its been a direct reflection of Michigan's penalty kill. While that is still the case, Northeastern has a top-3 power play. Gaudette, Sikura, and Stevens have a combined 35 of their 75 goals for the season on the man advantage. Yikes. Matching penalties can be acceptable, but giving the Huskies more than three power plays could easily mean a short return to the NCAA Tournament for the Wolverines.

2. Wisely Use the Last Change. Being the #2 seed instead of the #3 seed makes Michigan the 'home' team (yes, I am also laughing). Because of that, the Wolverines will get the last change. This could/would mean being able to match-up the Hughes/Cecconi pairing with Northeastern's version of the CCM line: Adam Gaudette, Dylan Sikura, and Nolan Stevens. While this could temper some of Hughes's ability to go forward, tell me two other defensive options that would be preferred on the ice against two Hobey Baker finalists. 

3. Win via Depth. Once you get past the top line for the Huskies, the scoring drops off rather suddenly; their fourth through sixth forwards have five, five, and seven goals on the season. The two post-DMC lines for Michigan aren't exactly explosive, but Slaker and Norris have had a productive second half. Also, the Pastujovs and Becker have turned up their output, as well. Given each team's possession rates, Michigan should be able to control the puck, and getting some depth-scoring will go a long way to offset Northeastern's top line.

Final Thoughts: Man, I don't know. This was the mid-seed that I was hoping to avoid. Northeastern has two Hobey Baker finalists, a top-5 freshman goalie, a wicked-awesome power play, and a ridiculous top line. They also have a poor possession rate, little scoring depth, and a weakish schedule. Michigan might have the more complete team, but Northeastern has higher peaks in key spots and looks like they might be a tough matchup for the Wolverines. If Lavigne plays towards his higher end, though, Michigan has a good chance...assuming they can keep the game at even strength.

Adam’s Take: Things look pretty bleak in some key spots for Michigan, but I think they've got just enough going their way to squeak out a win. As David mentioned, having the last change will help match top pair against top line; this isn't likely to neutralize one of the best top lines in the country, but there's comfort in putting out a solid pairing that features a defenseman who excels at playing keepaway. One caveat to my prediction: they only squeak out said win if they take fewer than three penalties. Michigan can probably kill one or two peanlties and use the second and third lines to make up the difference at even stregth, but more than three penalties and Northeastern creates a chasm Michigan can't bridge.

Anthony’s Take: I watched the Beanpot and came away thinking NU was a good team.  Their high-end talent and goaltending is something I hadn't seen a lot of this season and I did not want Michigan to draw them in the tourney. Northeastern is 16-4-4 since the start of December, so they are equally as hot as Michigan  They had a goal differential in conference of over 1.5 goals per game, and were best in their league in both goals for and against.

Obviously I think UM can win this game as it is a one-game knockout, but I would favor Northeastern. For Michigan to win they will have to avoid bad penalties and high-danger scoring chances. Northeastern has the special teams and goaltending advantage so that worries me. Unfortunately I think UM's achilles heel (PK and Goaltending) will be their demise here.

 

[Predictions for the rest of the field after THE JUMP]

it's the most wonderful time of the year [JD Scott]

Michigan Hockey Rooting Guide: Week 24

Michigan Hockey Rooting Guide: Week 24

Submitted by NastyIsland on March 8th, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Cutler Martin has never shied away from crushing Buckeyes [Bill Rapai]

Corsi Table

 

Game 1

Game 2

Game 3

Game 4

Michigan

57(17)

53(19)

43

55

Ohio State

69(25)

57(21)

23

31

Hmmmm. What can we extract from all of this? Michigan is 0-4 against the Buckeyes this season. During the first couple of games, Michigan was in the midst of its defensive crater. As you can see, in the second series in Columbus, Michigan had a much better possession rate. In Game 3, they gave up two power play goals (surprise!) and at least one odd-man-rush goal. The final game was pretty even, but Lavigne had a woofer or two. Also, Michigan has scored on Sean Romeo six times in four games. Eeeeeeck. So, where are we now?

Ohio State Preview

 

PWR

Corsi

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Michigan

7th

23rd

18%

76%

8

3: Marody, Calderone, Hughes

2.78 (Lavigne)

.910 (Lavigne)

Ohio State

4th

16th

24%

91%

3

4: Jobst, Laczynski, Weis, Joshua

2.08 (Romeo)

.925 (Romeo)

Ohio State is really good. They do not give up goals; they’re 4th overall in goals/game. To pair with that, they’re 11th in scoring goals (Michigan is 7th!). So, they put pucks into the net, they keep pucks out of the net, they convert on the power play, and they do not surrender goals on the penalty kill. Also, Sean Romeo is Cale Morris Lite. What is this, football?

So, what is there to do? I don’t know, man. It’s encouraging that Michigan was able to control play in the last couple of games down there. They’re going to need to play their best, most well-rounded game of the year. Also, as much as I disagree with the single-game semi-final format, hooray that Michigan doesn’t have to beat them twice!

[After THE JUMP: qualifying Michigan's most well-rounded game of the year and a look at PWR and relevant teams around the country]

Michigan Hockey Rooting Guide: Week 23

Michigan Hockey Rooting Guide: Week 23

Submitted by NastyIsland on March 1st, 2018 at 8:00 AM

WHAT? [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Corsi Table

 

Game 1

Game 2

Game 3

Game 4

Michigan

58(24)

69(23)

38(14)

52(30)

Wisconsin

45(15)

53(22)

56(18)

34(15)

Michigan has a 1-2-1 record against Wisconsin this year. They’ve dominated a couple of games that they lost due to trailing on the scoreboard and Wisconsin sitting back (Games 1 and 4). They also gave away a point in Game 2 with a goal in the final minute of regulation. Michigan won Game 3 thanks to great (!!) special teams play. So, what does that mean? Well…

Wisconsin Preview

 

PWR

Corsi

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Michigan

10th

18th

15%

76%

7

2: Marody, Calderone

2.61 (Lavigne)

.912 (Lavigne)

Wisconsin

24th

12th

18%

81%

7

2: Wagner, Frederic

2.89 (Berry); 2.97 (Hayton)

.903 (Berry); .894 (Hayton)

During their first series, Michigan was in the midst of their defensive crisis. They also were rotating goalies. Both of those issues seem to have mostly been sorted out. In their last meeting, Hayden Lavigne had his worst game of 2018, though.

Everything about these teams seems to be relatively even. Michigan's overall offense and defense are statistically slightly better than Wisconsin's. Wisconsin’s Corsi and special teams play are slightly better than Michigan’s. I would give Michigan an edge in net, though, especially since there seems to have been a sharp uptick in quality of play in the second half of the season for Hayden Lavigne; he has a .915 save % since January 5th.

[After THE JUMP: how to beat Wisconsin, a look at the rest of the conference tourney, and ways Michigan can stay in (or get bumped from) the big tourament]

Michigan Hockey Rooting Guide: Week 21

Michigan Hockey Rooting Guide: Week 21

Submitted by NastyIsland on February 16th, 2018 at 10:49 AM

Ol’ Dex wants to know what to watch [Bill Rapai]

I know Brian just did a Bracketology Update on Monday, so I decided to look at more of the specifics of what/when/who to watch this upcoming weekend.

Notre Dame Preview

 

PWR

Corsi

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Michigan

15th

17th

16%

77%

7

2: Marody, Calderone

2.76 (Lavigne)

.905 (Lavigne)

Notre Dame

2nd

47th

20%

88%

6

3: Evans, Oglevie, Burke

1.75 (Morris)

.950 (Morris)

Things That Michigan Will (Probably) Need to Do to Get Points This Weekend:

1. Stay Out of the Box. This is where Michigan lost both games against the Fighting Irish last month. They didn’t take a ton of penalties (only five combined), but Michigan gave up three of their four total goals surrendered with ND on the man advantage. When the game was at even strength, the Wolverines played Notre Dame pretty even, and maybe even outplayed them a bit at Yost.

2. Don’t Get Caught. Michigan has done a better job lately of staying home defensively and covering for defensemen (Quinn Hughes) who skate the puck deep in the zone. Michigan is probably going to control the puck and get the majority of attempts. When that is the case, it is very important not to gift your opposition goals by getting too aggressive and giving up odd man rushes. Staying out of the box and defensively sound will give the Wolverines their best chance to grab points this weekend. Defensemen, pinch with care.

3. Finish. Just get the puck in the net. Over the last couple of weekends, Michigan has created some chances and given guys some opportunities, they just have not finished. This is the season's do-or-die series. It is time for Marody and Calderone–Michigan’s go-to scorers–to finish their chances.

Final Thoughts. I like how this series sets up for Michigan. As Brian stated earlier this week, they’re probably going to need a win this weekend to be in comfortable position in the Pairwise ranking. Michigan gets their Game 7 at home on Sunday, so Friday night kinda becomes found money. If they’re able to get something in South Bend, all of a sudden Sunday becomes a great opportunity. If not, they’ll have the friendly confines of Yost to fall back on for an all-or-nothing chance.

[After THE JUMP: dissecting the Big Ten standings and nationwide rooting interests according to Pairwise]

Hockey at-large bid... I'm feeling better?

Hockey at-large bid... I'm feeling better?

Submitted by Wolverine In Exile on March 2nd, 2015 at 12:46 PM

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.

OBSERVATIONS

- 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????

Hockey at-large bid... not completely dead? (UPDATED w/ MON RESULTS)

Hockey at-large bid... not completely dead? (UPDATED w/ MON RESULTS)

Submitted by Wolverine In Exile on February 23rd, 2015 at 11:48 AM

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.

BOTTOM LINE

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.