How the hockey team ends up passing Notre Dame

Submitted by mfan_in_ohio on March 5th, 2009 at 7:56 PM

Obviously, it would be a big boost to Michigan to wind up as the top seed in the Grand Rapids regional. Besides the kind-of-home-ice advantage, there would be a decent chance that the first-round game would be against a team like Air Force or Bemidji State if U-M can pick up a top-two seed.

Unfortunately, there is one little problem: Notre Dame. We have to finish ahead of the Irish in the Pairwise rankings to get that spot. Thanks to some interesting officiating a few weeks ago, we are far behind the Domers in the Pairwise, and have really no hope of passing them in a head-to-head comparison.

So how do we pass them? Well, we let a few "friends" do it for us: Vermont and Denver. Right now, we win 21 out of 24 comparisons among the top 25, while ND wins 22. We don't need to win 2 more as long as the Irish lose 2 more.

The key is in Notre Dame's TUC record -- that's Teams Under Consideration for those not steeped in Pairwise nerdness. The Irish are 6-5-0 against teams in the top 25 in the RPI; a hair better than Vermont's 7-7-3. Currently, Vermont loses the RPI and TUC comparisons, and wins against common opponents. A swing in the TUC lifts the Catamounts over Notre Dame. Vermont has two home games this weekend against UNH, followed by the Hockey East tournament. If they get a sweep this weekend and get to the finals of the Hockey East tourney and lose, they will have a record of, at worst, 10-8-3 against TUC for a percentage of 0.548. If ND gets to the Joe and splits either way, their record will be 7-6-0,for a percentage of 0.538. Vermont wins the comparison without even winning their conference tournament.

That gets us into a tie with ND, but we need one more. Denver has a head-to-head win over ND, but that doesn't count in the TUC. They are currently tied against common opponents, and ND wins the RPI. Denver is 13-9-3 in TUC compared to 6-4-0 for ND. Denver has a home game left against Colorado College, followed by the WCHA tourney. Let's say they beat CC, then lose in the finals of the WCHA. That boosts their TUC record to 15-10-3, for a percentage of 0.589. If ND again gets to the Joe and splits, they fall to 7-5-0, or 0.583. Denver wins the comparison.

The only fly in this hypothetical ointment is the Common Opponent comparison. Denver and Notre Dame have common opponents in Ohio State and Minnesota-Duluth. If Notre Dame beats OSU in the CCHA tournament (very possible), or Denver loses to Minn.-Duluth (very unlikely), that gives common opponents to ND, and they tie the comparison. With ND ahead in RPI, they get the win, and the Grand Rapids Regional.

So here's what we root for:

Michigan wins the CCHA tournament, or at least splits at the Joe. You were probably rooting for that before anyway.

Vermont and Denver win this weekend and at least make their conference tournament finals.

Important: Ohio State loses without getting to the Joe.

And, oddly enough, Notre Dame gets to the Joe and loses. I don't think getting knocked out in the quarterfinals, as unlikely as it is anyway, drops their RPI low enough that they get passed.

If all of this happens, we are looking at a probable 3rd overall seed, possibly second overall, at Grand Rapids. Winning the CCHA would probably give us 2nd.



March 5th, 2009 at 8:37 PM ^

but if Denver does all the winning won't they pass us? I know they're close but I am not a pairwise nerd that would be able to actually figure this stuff out


March 5th, 2009 at 9:43 PM ^

That's the difference between us getting 2nd or 3rd overall, but either way they'd be in Minneapolis and we'd be in Grand Rapids. They'll probably pass us, but Grand Rapids is a better place to go than Bridgeport, where Yale is hosting the regional and could be a tough 2nd round opponent.


March 5th, 2009 at 9:47 PM ^

Denver is tied with us, but owns the comparison against us, so they are already ahead.

However, what could throw a wrench in is Northeastern. if Notre Dame swaps the comparison with Northeastern, it kinda makes this whole thing moot. NE has the edge in both TUC (8-6-4 to 6-5-0) and COp (6-0-1 to 5-0-1). But NE has Boston College this weekend (falls in the COp category), and anything less than a sweep by Northeastern flips that comparison to Notre Dame.


March 5th, 2009 at 10:45 PM ^

Somebody on USCHO posted that if even if Denver wins all their remaining games, as long as Michigan makes the CCHA final they'll stay ahead. No idea how accurate that is though.


March 6th, 2009 at 9:21 AM ^

would winning the CCHA tournament over ND give us any shot at the GR regional? I was under the impression that a head-to head win in the last game of the season would mean a lot more in any comparison, and IMO should give us the edge. Maybe I am naive to how the pairwise actually works


March 6th, 2009 at 10:25 AM ^

While it would not flip the comparison between us and ND (at best we would make the comparison 3-3, but they'll still have the higher RPI), the committee could give us the GR regional for attendance purposes. They aren't required to give Notre Dame the GR regional strictly because they are a higher #1 seed in the PWR.

With both hosts in the eastern regionals likely to make it, and Minnesota a bubble team to make it in the west regional (Minneapolis will sell out regardless), the NCAA may want to put us in GR to fill Van Andel, since I'm still not convinced that ND fans travel that well for hockey. Then again, since Notre Dame would be a higher seed than us, they may also want to shield them from host teams.

Unless of course Western somehow Cinderellas their way to a CCHA title...


March 6th, 2009 at 1:54 PM ^

If it's #2 vs. #4, my bet is ND gets GR to limit travel for the CHA winner.

What I would really be interested to see is the following scenario:

BU/DU are 1/2, ND is 3, UM is 4 (by the way, it's next to impossible for us to pass ND regardless of what the OP says). Minnesota and OSU are the 13/14.

In this case, Minnesota has to play in Minneapolis. As the #1 overall, I doubt they'd ship BU away from the east, and they'd give them the AH autobid. Denver can't play in Minneapolis, but as the #2 they deserve the CHA winner. I doubt they'd put Denver and the CHA winner in Grand Rapids because Miami's the only midwest team between 5-12 who would bring any sort of contingent with them. However, since OSU is a #4 and UM/ND are #1s, they can't be in the same regional. I think it'd be really interesting to see how they'd handle something like that - my guess is they'd have DU-OSU in Manchester, ND-CHA in GR, and UM-Minnesota out west.


March 6th, 2009 at 3:38 PM ^

i guess i would just hope that the committee would see a final game for the conference tournament title on, ehem, "neutral" ice as the be all end all comparison. I certainly do, and yes i am biased. games are more important than some formula, just look at the BCS...


March 7th, 2009 at 1:22 PM ^

I completely disagree. The BCS is complete BS. The PWR is actually a viable option to place teams into games. It factors in common opponents, teams under consideration, and head to head where the BS just says "a bunch of these guys think this team is better than that, so we'll go with that."

The BCS just sort of randomly throws up numbers regardless of how difficult or weak your schedule is (unless you're in a mid major/non BCS conference). The PWR, while not perfect, looks at your entire season of work and if you're only playing cupcakes in the NC to boost your'll get exposed.