Hockey Bubble Talk: CCHA Quarterfinals

MSU Hockey returns to the ice this weekend with a quarterfinal series at Miami. Friday night will be at 7:35 ET; Saturday and (if necessary) Sunday at 7:05. Miami swept us at Munn right after New Year's (2-1 (OT) and 4-0), and MSU will have to get revenge if they are to take part in the final rounds of the CCHA playoffs (and probably if they are to reach the NCAA tournament as well).

First round results in the CCHA playoffs: Notre Dame and Lake State swept at home, but Northern dropped games 2 and 3 to Bowling Green in a major upset. Bowling Green will now face Ferris State, while the Irish travel to Yost and Lake State goes to Western.

Last weekend resulted in a surprisingly small amount of movement around us: we dropped one spot to 12th as Northern Michigan fell apart (giving Denver the comparison point over NMU and lifting the Pioneers out of the tie with us). A full breakdown after the jump.

Comparisons

Assumed Lost

Boston College
Michigan
Ferris
Massachusetts-Lowell

Assumed Won (New Additions in Bold)

Ohio State
Colorado College
Harvard
Quinnipiac
Wisconsin
St. Cloud State
Northeastern
Air Force
Bemidji State
Northern Michigan (eliminated from CCHA playoffs, we should maintain the RPI edge even if we get swept and we have head-to-head)

In Play

Minnesota-Duluth (L)
RPI gap: -.0040
TUC: 14-15 (MSU) vs. 11.5-6.5 (UMD)
Common: Notre Dame (both 1-1), Michigan Tech (1-0 vs. 2-1-1), Western Michigan (both 2-0), Minnesota (1-0-1 vs. 0-2); guaranteed win for MSU.

Last week: 0-1-1 vs. St. Cloud State
This week: WCHA first round, hosting Minnesota State

Flipping RPI is enough. Given the gap in quality of opponents this week, a sweep of Miami might put us in front even if UMD also sweeps.

Boston University (L)
RPI gap: -.0063
TUC: 14-15 vs. 16.5-10.5
Common: Boston College (0-1 vs. 2-2), Notre Dame (1-1 vs. 0-1); currently tied.

Last week: split with Northeastern
This week: Hockey East quarterfinals, hosting New Hampshire

We need RPI to win this comparison, no matter what. If we draw Notre Dame at the Joe at any point, we must beat them. If we do not, and BU faces BC in the Hockey East final, we need BC to win. Otherwise we lose the common opponent comparison, and even flipping RPI wouldn't help.

Minnesota (L)
RPI gap: -.0048
TUC: 12.5-14.5 vs. 13-9
Common: Michigan Tech (1-0 vs. 1-1), Notre Dame (1-1 vs. 0-1); guaranteed win for MSU.
Head-to-head: +1

Last week: split with Wisconsin
This week: WCHA first round, hosting Alaska-Anchorage

We need to flip RPI. As with Minnesota-Duluth, it's possible that we catch them this week even if they sweep thanks to the difference in quality of opponents.

Union (L)
RPI gap: -.0017
TUC: 14-15 vs. 8.5-6.5
Common: Western Michigan (2-0 vs. 0-0-2), Michigan (1-3-1 vs. 1-0); guaranteed loss for MSU.

Last week: idle
This week: ECAC quarterfinals, hosting Rensselaer

With common opponents gone, we have to win both RPI and TUC. This could be tricky, as Rensselaer is not a TUC and losing this series won't hurt them there. Only chance may be to sweep Miami and win at least one at the Joe (win both and we're only worried about seeding anyway) and hope that Union wins this series but drops both games at the ECAC finals.

Miami (W)
RPI gap: Less than +.0001
TUC: 14-13 vs. 13.5-13.5
Common: Our entire conference schedule; we have a narrow lead here (+0.175).
Head-to-head: -2

Last week: idle
This week: CCHA quarterfinals, hosting MSU

We can't win the point if we get swept. Otherwise, there's the bizarre possibility that the winner of this series, if they lose both games at the Joe, will lose the comparison anyway. (Head-to-head games don't count toward TUC or Common, so the team advancing to the Joe could easily lose both of those if they lose twice there, and RPI should be extremely close if it's a three-game series.)

Maine (L)
RPI gap: +.0006
TUC: 14-15 vs. 12.5-11.5
Common: Boston College (0-1 vs. 2-1); this is lost.

Last week: win over New Hampshire (just a single game, oddly)
This week: Hockey East quarterfinals, hosting Merrimack

With common opponents lost, we need both RPI and TUC.

Denver (L)
RPI gap: +.0019
TUC: 14-15 vs. 13-10
Common: Air Force (both 1-0), Boston College (0-1 vs. 1-0), Minnesota (1-0-1 vs. 2-0), Michigan Tech (1-0 vs. 0-1-1), Miami (0-2 vs. 0-1); currently trailing by 0.500.

Last week: swept Nebraska-Omaha
This week: WCHA first round, hosting Wisconsin

If we can sweep Miami, we swing common opponents back to a tie (assuming Denver does not end up drawing Michigan Tech at some point). That would allow RPI to decide the point. If we win the Miami series in three, we have to either catch up in TUC or (more likely) hope Denver loses to Minnesota at some point.

North Dakota (W)
RPI gap: +.0034
TUC: 14-15 vs. 14-12
Common: Air Force (both 1-0), Boston College (both 0-1), Minnesota (1-0-1 vs. 1-3), Michigan Tech (1-0 vs. 1-0-1). This is a lock for us.

Last week: swept Minnesota State
This week: WCHA first round, hosting Bemidji State

We need either RPI or TUC; the former will be easier to keep.

Cornell (W)
RPI gap: +.0099
TUC: 14-15 vs. 6.5-5.5
Common: None.

Last week: idle
This week: ECAC quarterfinals, hosting Dartmouth

With no common opponents, RPI will decide the point.

Merrimack (L)
RPI gap: +.0109
TUC: 14-15 vs. 12-11
Common: Boston College (0-1 vs. 0-2-1). Can't win this.

Last week: split with UMass
This week: Hockey East quarterfinals at Maine

We need TUC as well as RPI thanks to the silly single-common-opponent comparison.

Western Michigan (W)
RPI gap: +.0143
TUC: 12-15 vs. 13-11
Common: -0.700
Head-to-head: +2

Last week: idle
This week: CCHA quarterfinals, hosting Lake State

Had this listed as an assumed win last week, but RPI really isn't far enough apart to call it clinched yet - although if we manage to lose RPI, we're probably in deep trouble in a bunch of other comparisons too.

Notre Dame (W)
RPI gap: +.0146
TUC: 13-14 vs. 12.5-14.5
Common: -0.575
Head-to-head: Even.

Last week: swept Ohio State
This week: CCHA quarterfinals at Michigan

Have to keep RPI and TUC (RPI alone would do it if we meet and beat them at the Joe). Much closer than it was last week.

Lake Superior State (W)
RPI gap: +.0221
TUC: 12.5-12.5 vs. 9.5-12.5
Common: +1.050
Head-to-head: -1

Last week: swept Alaska
This week: CCHA quarterfinals at Western

Relatively safe; it's likely that Lake State would have to win the auto-bid in order to get the point over us (and even that might not do it). But because of head-to-head, it's still a remote possibility.

Colgate (W)
RPI gap: +.0363
TUC: 14-15 vs. 5-8
Common: Robert Morris (2-0 vs. 1-0), Ferris State (both 0-2), Miami (0-2 vs. 1-1)

Last week: idle
This week: ECAC quarterfinals, hosting Quinnipiac

Sweep Miami and we lock this up by making common opponents no worse than a tie; otherwise, we need to maintain TUC (or beat Miami in three and beat Ferris at the Joe).

Massachusetts (W)
RPI gap: +.0427
TUC: 14-15 vs. 10-15
Common: Boston College (0-1 vs. 2-1)

Last week: split with Merrimack
This week: Hockey East quarterfinals, at Boston College

I could probably call this one safe, as we would have to drop the TUC record (unlikely without some movement at the cut line) to lose this. But this is another case that would be an easy win if not for the single-game common-opponents comparison.

New Hampshire (W)
RPI gap: +.0437
TUC: 14-15 vs. 9-16
Common: Boston College (0-1 vs. 0-3)

Last week: lost to Maine (single game)
This week: Hockey East quarterfinals, at Boston University

No threat unless UNH meets BC and wins, and even then I think the TUC record advantage is prohibitive. But we'll keep it on the list for now anyway.

Our Situation

12th place right now, winning 19 of 30 comparisons. 7 of our 11 losing comparisons, and 9 of our 19 winning, are still in play.

Sweep Miami: Colgate, UMass, and UNH all move to "safe", and we have a good chance to flip Denver and the Maine-Merrimack loser. Depending on how everything else plays out, Minnesota, UMD, and BU are all plausible candidates to flip as well.

Win in 3: UNH will likely be safe; UMass will be bordering on safe. Need Denver to meet, and lose to, Minnesota to take that point. Beating the Maine-Merrimack loser probably requires a split at the Joe. Flipping Minnesota, UMD, and BU is somewhat less likely but still definitely possible.

Lose the series: Kiss the Miami point goodbye, North Dakota and Cornell have a good chance of catching us, Western's odds are somewhat worse. TUC record edges into dangerous territory for UMass, Colgate, and UNH.

Rooting Interests

CCHA Quarterfinals

  • (5) MSU over (4) Miami. Obviously.
  • (1) Ferris over (11) Bowling Green. We can't realistically catch Ferris, but this eliminates a bid thief possibility and gives us a shot at an extra chance to lock up common opponents on Colgate if we win our series 2-1.
  • (2) Michigan over (8) Notre Dame. I don't like it any more than you do, but I'd prefer to see the team definitely in (and has already guaranteed the point over us) win instead of the one that could conceivably catch us.
  • (7) Lake State over (3) Western. Western has a realistic chance of taking the point from us with a good showing at the Joe; Lake State would need miracles.

WCHA First Round

  • (12) Alaska-Anchorage over (1) Minnesota, or at least force a third game. Minnesota is entirely catchable; this would make it easy.
  • (11) Minnesota State over (2) Minnesota-Duluth. Same reason as Alaska-Anchorage.
  • (10) Wisconsin over (3) Denver, assuming that we sweep our series (this would give us the point on Denver). If we don't, we may be better off knocking out the bid thief (and, if Minnesota does not fall prey to a major upset, gives us a second chance to win the point if Denver reaches the final and falls to Minnesota while we win the Miami series 2-1 and do enough to keep RPI).
  • (9) Bemidji State over (4) North Dakota. The RPI hit to North Dakota would keep that comparison for us.
  • (8) Michigan Tech over (5) Colorado College. Ideally we'd like to get Tech above the .5000 RPI cut line so we can count our win over them as a TUC win.
  • (6) St. Cloud State over (7) Nebraska-Omaha. Keeping UNO out makes the Colgate comparison safer.

(None of the upsets are especially critical, but it would be nice if the tournament does not go all chalk.)

Hockey East Quarterfinals

  • (1) Boston College over (8) Massachusetts. This would put an end to the slim threat from UMass.
  • (2) Mass-Lowell over (7) Providence. Since we can't catch Mass-Lowell anyway, may as well make it hard for other bubble teams to do so.
  • (6) New Hampshire over (3) Boston University. UNH is a very marginal threat; we can take the point from BU by flipping RPI (assuming common games stays as-is).
  • (4) Maine and (5) Merrimack: I'm not sure we really care that much, as we probably can't catch the winner in TUC record but may be able to catch the loser. Better if this is a sweep. Lean slightly toward Maine because they're a little safer than Merrimack; even if we take the point from Maine there's no guarantee we'd jump them in the overall standings.

ECAC Quarterfinals

  • (1) Union over (10) Rensselaer. Oddly enough, our only chance to flip the Union comparison is for Union to win now and get stomped later.
  • (9) Dartmouth over (2) Cornell. Open up a bigger RPI gap.
  • (6) Yale over (3) Harvard. The comparison with Harvard is safe anyway, but Yale is significantly less likely to sneak the auto-bid than Harvard.
  • (5) Quinnipiac over (4) Colgate. Finish off Colgate by bringing their TUC record down.

Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals

We don't really care about anyone other than Air Force, who we'd like to see remain a TUC (since we beat them). I don't think Robert Morris can sneak into the TUC list, but it would be even better if they do.

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