Archive for March, 2014

Thoughts on the Big Ten Tournament

Monday, March 24th, 2014

After Wisconsin beat Ohio State in overtime, Mark Zengerle said the game-winning goal was a blur.

That’s how I feel about the entire weekend.

Unfortunately I missed the first two games of the tournament, but flew in on Friday to catch the semifinals. It was a long day at the Xcel Energy Center, but everything was organized well, from game notes to press conferences.

But it was nothing compared to Saturday.

At the same time the Badgers and Buckeyes were playing each other for the Big Ten title in St. Paul, Minn., North Dakota was waiting and watching in Minneapolis, Minn., hoping for a Badger win. Their fans were watching there as well, as North Dakota had played in the NCHC consolation game at the Target Center earlier in the day.

If Ohio State won the Big Ten title, North Dakota would miss the NCAA Tournament.

Oddly, we checked Twitter from the Xcel Energy Center for reactions from the North Dakota camp as the Wisconsin-Ohio State game continued.

When Wisconsin’s Mark Zengerle scored the championship-winning goal on Saturday, the Xcel Energy Center went insane. And so did Minneapolis, where North Dakota fans were following the game (Brad Schlossman, North Dakota reporter, put together a great piece on what that situation was like).

Blur, yes. (more…)

NCHC Prediction: Winner Will Be…

Friday, March 21st, 2014

The inaugural NCHC Frozen Faceoff kicks off this afternoon from the Target Center in Minneapolis. Denver and Western Michigan, both of whom won on the road last weekend, will square off in Semifinal #1, and will be followed by North Dakota and Miami in the primetime semifinal tonight.

A full preview of the NCHC championship weekend is here, featuring a breakdown of all four teams and exclusive thoughts from North Dakota captain Dillon Simpson, Western Michigan head coach Andy Murray, and Denver head coach Jim Montgomery.

Predictions (though not to be taken seriously, given my lack of success in my March Madness bracket pool so far)…

Denver 3 Western Michigan 1

North Dakota 4 Miami 2

Denver 3 North Dakota 1

Denver looked like a different team over the last two games, outscoring NCHC Player of the Year Josh Archibald and Nebraska-Omaha by a combined 7-1 score in games two and three of their quarterfinal series last weekend. They also boast the NCHC Goaltender of the Year and Richter Award finalist Sam Brittain, who will need to continue to play well if the Pioneers are to win two games this weekend. Of note, a potential Denver/North Dakota championship game would be interesting, as it would feature two of the top defensive units in the country. Five of the six North Dakota starters on the blueline are NHL draft picks.

In speaking with Denver coach Jim Montgomery on Tuesday, he felt that his team finally came together last week in Omaha, away from the distractions of the Mile High City, where his team struggled this season.

“We’ve been a very good road team,” said the first-year coach. “As far as our execution and our effort every night, we’ve been much more consistent on the road than at home. Right now, being on the road is a good thing for Denver hockey.”

Denver and Western Michigan play at 5 p.m. ET, followed by North Dakota and Miami at 8 p.m. ET. Both games will air live on CBS Sports Network.

CHN’s 2014 Pairwise Live Blog

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

All weekend, we’ll be keeping you up to date with the latest Pairwise scenarios. Along with following our analysis here, you can go to our Pairwise Primer, which gives you an education on just how the whole system works. You can checkout the current Pairwise and also play with our “You Are The Committee” tool, which allows you to plug in different results for this weekend’s games and get a look at what the final Pairwise would look like.

Saturday, 11:48 p.m. ET – OK, here is what I think they’ll go with:

West — St. Paul, Minn.
1. Minnesota vs. 16. Robert Morris
8. Notre Dame vs. 9. St. Cloud State

Northeast — Worcester, Mass.
2. Boston College vs. 15. Denver
7. Mass.-Lowell vs. 10. Minnesota State

East — Bridgeport, Conn.
3. Union vs. 13. Vermont
6. Quinnipiac vs. 11. Providence

Midwest — Cincinnati
4. Wisconsin vs. 14. North Dakota
5. Ferris State vs. 12. Colgate

Saturday, 11:29 p.m. ET – Everything is set.

At this point, there are two possible brackets we’re mulling over, and it only involves changing two teams: Vermont and North Dakota.

OPTION A
West — St. Paul, Minn.
1. Minnesota vs. 16. Robert Morris
8. Notre Dame vs. 9. St. Cloud State

Northeast — Worcester, Mass.
2. Boston College vs. 15. Denver
7. Mass.-Lowell vs. 10. Minnesota State

East — Bridgeport, Conn.
3. Union vs. 14. North Dakota
6. Quinnipiac vs. 11. Providence

Midwest — Cincinnati
4. Wisconsin vs. 13. Vermont
5. Ferris State vs. 12. Colgate

OPTION B
West — St. Paul, Minn.
1. Minnesota vs. 16. Robert Morris
8. Notre Dame vs. 9. St. Cloud State

Northeast — Worcester, Mass.
2. Boston College vs. 15. Denver
7. Mass.-Lowell vs. 10. Minnesota State

East — Bridgeport, Conn.
3. Union vs. 13. Vermont
6. Quinnipiac vs. 11. Providence

Midwest — Cincinnati
4. Wisconsin vs. 14. North Dakota
5. Ferris State vs. 12. Colgate

Saturday, 10:50 p.m. – Wisconsin wins the Big 10 … North Dakota will make the NCAA tournament

Saturday, 10:13 p.m. ET – Both the Big 10 and NCHC games are tied. Vermont is in as an at-large, and wants Miami to win the NCHC for travel purposes. Miami is hosting in Cincinnati, so it’s guaranteed to go there. Vermont is likely the 4 seed in Cincinnati if Denver wins and Miami is eliminated.

A Miami win likely means Vermont is in Bridgeport.

If Wisconsin and Miami win, that moves Lowell all the way down to 7, but that’s OK. Would mean it’s in Worcester with a 2 Boston College.

Saturday, 9:54 p.m. ET – Union wins the ECAC. Colgate is still in the tournament, and probably will be the 12 overall seed.

Saturday, 9:39 p.m. ET – If Wisconsin rallies in the third period, it will not only get North Dakota into the NCAA tournament, it will also mean the Badgers will be the No. 1 seed in Cincinnati.

Saturday, 9:35 p.m. ET – The situation is simple now.

If Ohio State wins, it will claim the last spot in the NCAA tournament with an auto bid and will eliminate North Dakota.

If Wisconsin rallies in the third period, it means North Dakota claims the last tournament berth as an at-large.

Saturday, 9:34 p.m. ET – Minnesota State wins, and they’re in.

Saturday, 9:32 p.m. ET – Robert Morris wins Atlantic Hockey. That guarantees that the Colonials are headed to St. Paul next weekend for a date with No. 1 Minnesota.

Saturday, 9:27 p.m. ET – Lowell wins Hockey East, claiming its second title in two years.

That guarantees that Providence and Vermont will make the NCAA tournament.

Saturday, 9:11 p.m. ET – Wisconsin has battled back to tie Ohio State, 2-2, in the Big 10 title game. That helps North Dakota considerably. North Dakota’s easiest road to a tourney berth is with Wisconsin winning the Big 10.

Saturday, 8:39 p.m. ET – Working under the assumption that Lowell wins the Hockey East championship – it leads 4-0 entering the third period – it looks like there will be only one spot left in contention.

Minnesota, BC, Union, Ferris State, Wisconsin, Quinnipiac, Lowell, Notre Dame, St. Cloud and Colgate have already locked up spots. Providence and Vermont would join with a Lowell win. Minnesota State is also a near lock, meaning the last spot will likely go to either Ohio State, if it wins the Big 10, or North Dakota, if Wisconsin comes back to win that game.

There’s still a chance North Dakota edges out Mankato for the last at-large spot, assuming Ohio State wins the Big 10, but it’s slim given current scores, and would require Canisius, Ferris State and Miami to all win.

Saturday, 8:09 p.m. ET – Lowell takes a 3-0 lead in Hockey East. That one is probably over given how well the River Hawks defend. Let’s assume that game is a final, here is what a Lowell victory does for other contenders:

From what best we can tell …

Providence: Locks up a spot.
Vermont: Locks up a spot.
North Dakota: Locks up a spot as long as Wisconsin wins the Big 10 OR Canisius, Ferris State and Miami ALL win.
Minnesota State: Locks up a spot unless Ferris State, Canisius, Ohio State and Miami ALL win.

Saturday, 7:34 p.m. ET – Lowell leads New Hampshire, 2-0, nearing the end of the first period at TD Garden. If this score holds — and Lowell doesn’t typically allow three goals — it guarantees a spot in the NCAA tournament for Providence and Vermont.

The only way PC and UVM miss would be if UNH wins Hockey East and moves the cut line.

Saturday, 7:09 p.m. ET – Michigan has been eliminated thanks to North Dakota’s win. No scenarios left for the Wolverines to qualify. That loss to Penn State looms large.

Saturday, 7:03 p.m. ET – That North Dakota game has gone final: UND 5, Western Michigan 0.

That means North Dakota keeps its NCAA hopes alive, qualifying in about 28 percent of the remaining scenarios. Had it lost, its season would be over.

That hurts Michigan. North Dakota’s win makes the Wolverines the first team out (currently). Had Western Michigan won, Michigan would currently be the last team in at No. 14.

Saturday, 6:52 p.m. ET – We’re just about set to drop pucks around the country in conference title games.

Elsewhere, in the NCHC, North Dakota is winning its consolation game in the third period against Western Michigan. That will keep North Dakota in the conversation for the final at-large bid.

Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET – Lowell jumps into a No. 1 seed in 2.1 percent of the remaining 192 scenarios. So it’s not likely. But, it can still happen, and that’s bad news for the River Hawks. If Lowell is a No. 1 seed, it’s virtually guaranteed to go to Cincinnati.

Here’s one scenario that results in Lowell becoming a No. 1 seed.

Saturday, 11:22 a.m. ET – Jim Dahl updated his projections, which confirms most of what we thought yesterday, mainly that Colgate is in regardless of today’s ECAC final and Cornell and Northeastern are both eliminated.

Dahl also updated with percentage chances for the teams needing at-large bids. Providence shows up in 94% of the remaining scenarios, Vermont in 93%, Minnesota State in 75% (assuming it loses the WCHA final), North Dakota in 28% (assuming it wins the NCHC consolation) and Michigan in 17%.

Most important for the bubble teams at this point is the cut line. Obviously, in the case of North Dakota, it also needs a win. But teams on the edge of that cut line can’t afford for it to move any higher, which means it needs favorites – Lowell and Wisconsin – to win conference championships today.

There’s a small chance Lowell could still be a No. 1 seed, which as we were discussing last night, would send the River Hawks to Cincinnati. It’s a small chance, though. Technically the River Hawks could still be sent to Cincinnati as the No. 5 seed, but that would mean that Wisconsin is the 6 in Bridgeport or Worcester, depending on what Union does, and I’m pretty sure the committee would switch Lowell and Wisconsin for attendance.

Here is what remaining teams in contention need for today:

North Dakota: First, North Dakota needs to win the NCHC consolation game. If it does, then UND still needs Lowell to win Hockey East and either Wisconsin to win the Big 10, or if that doesn’t happen, it needs Ferris State, Canisius and Miami to all win tonight.

Michigan: The situation for the Wolverines is pretty simple. It needs Wisconsin and Lowell to win, and North Dakota to either lose or tie in the NCHC consolation.

Minnesota State: The Mavs are in with a win, obviously. If they lose the WCHA final, things get a more complex but the Mavs still qualify in roughly 3/4 of remaining scenarios.

Vermont: The Catamounts are near a lock. They’ll only miss if New Hampshire and Ohio State both win conference titles, which would move the cut line. But even if that happens, Western Michigan, Ferris State, Robert Morris and Miami all might still need to win, or a combination of Minnesota State and Union.

Providence: The situation is much simpler for the Friars, who will only miss the tournament if New Hampshire, Minnesota State, Colgate and Ohio State all win.

Saturday, 1:49 a.m. ET – Managing editor Adam Wodon posted his Bracket ABC’s column after Friday’s games. There are certain things heading into tonight that we’re sure of:

- Minnesota State is definitely in with a win (obviously). The Mavs are also likely in even with a loss in the WCHA title game, as long as New Hampshire and Ohio State do not both win on Saturday.

- Ohio State and New Hampshire will have to win on Saturday to make the NCAA tournament. The same is the case for the four teams in the Atlantic Hockey and NCHC title games.

- UNH or Ohio State winning tonight hurts North Dakota, Michigan and Vermont. For North Dakota, it needs to win its NCHC consolation game first. Then, if it does, it needs to hope Wisconsin and Lowell both win its games.

- Vermont is in the tournament as long as UNH and Ohio State both lose. There are other scenarios that see the Catamounts make the NCAA tournament even if those two teams win, but the easiest route for UVM is for UNH and Ohio State to lose.

- Mass. Lowell can’t catch Ferris State or Wisconsin for the last No. 1 seed, which is good news for the River Hawks, actually. If UML finished as the No. 4 overall seed, it would mean a trip to Cincinnati. Now, that’s still a possibility for Lowell if it finishes as the No. 5 overall seed and the committee doesn’t decide to move it to Bridgeport or Worcester. Depending on what other teams naturally fall in those regionals based on serpentine ordering, the committee might choose to keep Lowell in Cincinnati if it’s No. 5 overall.

- Notre Dame seems locked in as the No. 8 overall seed, which means it is likely headed to St. Paul for a date with St. Cloud State, which seems to be locked in at No. 9.  Minnesota is locked in as the No. 1 overall seed and will face the Atlantic Hockey champion.

- Michigan is still alive, but it needs North Dakota to do no better than a tie in the NCHC consolation game, and it also needs UNH and Ohio State to lose, to avoid the cut line moving any higher.

- The locks are Minnesota, BC, Union, Ferris State, Quinnipiac, Lowell, Notre Dame, St. Cloud State, Wisconsin and Colgate. Providence and Minnesota State aren’t technically locks, but their chances for qualifying are more than 95 percent.

- If we assume Providence and Minnesota State qualify, that leaves two spots with the NCHC and Atlantic Hockey champions coming from outside the top-16. That leaves two spots being fought for by Vermont, Michigan and North Dakota.

But again, those three teams cannot afford any upsets in other conference tournaments, meaning Ohio State and New Hampshire need to lose.

Saturday, 1:08 a.m. ET –Let’s take a look at what the pairings could look like if all of the higher seeds win later tonight.

St. Paul
1. Minnesota vs. 16. Robert Morris
8. Notre Dame vs. 9. St. Cloud State

Cincinnati
4. Ferris State vs. 14. North Dakota
5. Wisconsin vs. 12. Vermont

Bridgeport
3. Union vs. 13. Minnesota State
6. Quinnipiac vs. 10. Providence

Worcester
2. Boston College vs. 15. Denver
7. Mass. Lowell vs. 11 Colgate

Friday, 11:35 p.m. ET – There’s still a possibility that Union can jump Boston College and become the No. 2 overall seed. It requires UNH winning tomorrow, and Union winning the ECAC.

It won’t matter much, though. BC is going to be the No. 1 seed in Worcester and Union is going to be the No. 1 seed in Bridgeport regardless.

Friday, 11:23 p.m. ET – There are currently 10 locks to make the NCAA tournament: Minnesota, Boston College, Union, Ferris State, Wisconsin, Quinnipiac, Lowell, Notre Dame, Colgate and St. Cloud State.

Other at-large contenders include Providence (very likely), Michigan, Minnesota State, North Dakota and Vermont.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire and Ohio State will move the cut line back even more by winning conference championships. The NCHC (Denver vs. Miami) and Atlantic Hockey (Canisius vs. Niagara/Robert Morris) will already be qualifiers outside of the top-16.

Friday, 11:21 p.m. ET – Here are some other things we know … Colgate is 100% in the NCAA tournament, and Cornell is 100% out.

Things are looking bleak for North Dakota as well. If North Dakota wins in the NCHC consolation tomorrow, and higher seeds win elsewhere around the country, North Dakota will be eliminated.

Friday, 11:12 p.m. ET – Miami has beaten North Dakota. That means the new cut line is 14. NCHC and Atlantic Hockey will have automatic qualifiers outside of the top-16.

Friday, 11:04 p.m. ET – Colgate beats Quinnipiac in overtime, which will lock up an NCAA tournament spot for the Raiders. It also delivers a serious blow to North Dakota, which is losing to Miami 3-0 in the third period and is now clinging to the last at-large spot with plenty of opportunities for upsets in the conference finals tomorrow, including no matter who wins the NCHC championship game.

The NCHC situation, with Miami about to beat North Dakota, will move the cut line to 14, which will eliminate Northeastern after Colgate’s win.

Friday, 10:25 p.m. ET – Ohio State beats Minnesota in the Big 10, which throws a wrinkle into some of the things we were talking about earlier.

That Quinnipiac-Colgate game, which is in OT, still carries some huge weight, but Northeastern now can’t lay claim to that No. 15 spot tonight – at least not if Miami holds on to beat North Dakota.

The top-10 doesn’t change no matter who wins, but 11-15 could look much different.

If Quinnipiac wins:
11. Minnesota State
12. Vermont
13. Michigan
14. Ohio State
15. North Dakota

If Colgate wins:
11. Colgate
12. Minnesota State
13. Vermont
14. Michigan
15. Ohio State

Quinnipiac remains the No. 6 overall seed in both scenarios.

Friday, 9:59 p.m. ET – Ferris State wins in overtime over Anchorage, ending its season. New Hampshire leads Providence, 3-0, heading into the third period in Boston.

Assuming New Hampshire holds on, the PWR look like this:

1. Minnesota
1. Boston College
1. Union
1. Ferris State
2. Wisconsin
2. Quinnipiac
2. Lowell
2. Notre Dame
3. St. Cloud
3. Providence
3. Minnesota State
3. North Dakota
4. Vermont
4. Colgate
4. Michigan
4. AHA champion

Now, if Quinnipiac beats Colgate – that game is headed to OT in Lake Placid – Colgate drops out, Michigan moves up and Northeastern will be in position to grab that last at-large bid.

If Colgate wins, it would deliver a serious blow to Northeastern’s hope of grabbing that last spot.

It would be nearly impossible for Colgate to make the NCAA tournament without beating Quinnipiac. The Bobcats are in regardless.

Friday, 9:32 p.m. ET – Thanks in part to Cornell losing this afternoon, it appears that Providence is a lock for the NCAA tournament no matter the result of its Hockey East semifinal, which the Friars currently trail 1-0 to UNH in the second period.

Meanwhile, Ferris State is headed to OT in the WCHA with Anchorage. We explained below the situation with Lowell, and how they could become a No. 1 seed and travel to Cincinnati.

Well, even if Ferris State wins this game, there is still a possibility that Lowell beats out Wisconsin for a No. 1 seed. The easiest scenario for that would involve Ohio State (tied 1-1 with Minnesota in the 3rd period) to win the Big 10 over Wisconsin tomorrow.

Friday, 8:34 p.m. ET – Anchorage is beating Ferris State, 4-2, in the WCHA. That could have HUGE implications on UMass Lowell. Here’s why:

There are scenarios where a Ferris State loss, plus a Wisconsin loss tomorrow in the Big 10 final, could result in Lowell becoming a No. 1 seed if it beats either UNH or Providence in the Hockey East title game.

Becoming a No. 1 seed is usually a good thing, but not for Lowell. Boston College is locked up as the No. 1 seed in Worcester and Union would finish ahead of Lowell in the PWR, putting the Dutchmen in Bridgeport. That would mean that Lowell, by virtue of winning, would have to travel to Cincinnati.

As a No. 2 seed, it’s likely the River Hawks could be kept in either Bridgeport or Worcester.

Story developing …

This scenario here makes Lowell a No. 1, and also gets both Northeastern and Michigan into the tournament:

  • Atlantic Hockey Semifinal #2: Robert Morris def. Niagara
  • Atlantic Hockey Championship: Canisius def. Robert Morris
  • Big Ten Semifinal #1: Minnesota def. Ohio State
  • Big Ten Championship: Minnesota def. Wisconsin
  • ECAC Semifinal #2: Quinnipiac def. Colgate
  • ECAC Championship: Union def. Quinnipiac
  • Hockey East Semifinal #2: Providence def. New Hampshire
  • Hockey East Championship: Mass.-Lowell def. Providence
  • NCHC Semifinal #1: North Dakota def. Miami
  • NCHC Championship: North Dakota def. Denver
  • NCHC Consolation: Western Michigan def. Miami
  • WCHA Semifinal #1: Alaska-Anchorage def. Ferris State
  • WCHA Championship: Minnesota State def. Alaska-Anchorage

Friday, 8:17 p.m. ET – It’s still possible that Wisconsin jumps Ferris State for the final No. 1 seed.

Ferris State is beating Anchorage, 2-1, right now in the second period in the WCHA semifinals. The easiest way for Wisconsin to become a one seed is for Anchorage to comeback and beat Ferris State.

That would put the Badgers ahead of the Bulldogs tonight, and a win in the Big 10 championship game tomorrow would clinch a No. 1 seed.

The biggest game for the bubble teams right now is Quinnipiac vs. Colgate in the ECAC.

Friday, 7:45 p.m. ET – Denver holds off Western Michigan, 4-3. That will end WMU’s season and Denver will need to win the NCHC title tomorrow in order to make the NCAA tournament.

The current qualifiers look like this:
1. Minnesota
1. Boston College
1. Union
1. Ferris State
2. Wisconsin
2. Quinnipiac
2. Lowell
2. Notre Dame
3. Providence
3. St. Cloud
3. Minnesota St.
3. North Dakota
4. Vermont
4. Colgate
4. Michigan
4. AHA champ

Northeastern
Cornell (minuscule possibility)
Denver (if it wins NCHC)
New Hampshire (if it wins HE)
Miami (if it wins the NCHC)
Anchorage (if it wins the WCHA)
Ohio State (if it wins the Big 10)

Friday, 6:57 p.m. – Let’s take a look at Northeastern, which is off this weekend.

The Huskies are in an odd spot with New Hampshire. The Wildcats beating Providence in tonight’s semifinal helps the Huskies. But, New Hampshire winning the Hockey East title tomorrow hurts the Huskies.

Confused?

Here are a few scenarios for Northeastern …

Getting in the tournament: goo.gl/8FwoFp

Here is that same scenario, with UNH winning Hockey East (Northeastern is left out): goo.gl/gkIbd7

Lastly, here is a scenario where Northeastern gets in without UNH winning tonight:  goo.gl/ZrR2OT

So the Huskies are still alive, as all three of these scenarios aren’t requiring any historic upsets. Still, their chances are probably only around 20 percent.

Friday, 7:14 p.m. ET – Looking closer at Union’s win … it seems to have helped Michigan considerably. Finding many scenarios where Michigan gets in now with Union winning its semifinal. Still not likely, but I’d put the chances at about 50/50 and the Wolverines were at about 20 percent entering today.

Friday, 6:27 p.m. ET – Union beats Cornell in the ECAC. Cornell’s loss is going almost certainly eliminate it from the NCAA tournament (it will only qualify in less than 1 percent of remaining scenarios), and helps North Dakota, Vermont, Colgate, Minnesota State and even Michigan in quests for at-large bids.

Friday, 6:20 p.m. ET – If Lowell (up 3-0 in the second), Union (up 4-2 in the third) and Canisius (up 4-3 in the third) all hang on to win, that would bring Michigan from No. 18 back up to No. 15, and put the Wolverines back into an NCAA spot for the time being.

Given those results only, Notre Dame would stay at No. 8 despite losing. Union would remain No. 3 and Canisius has no PWR bearing, as it needs to win the AHA tournament.

These results would also result in Ferris hopping over Wisconsin into the last No. 1 seed, and the Bulldogs haven’t hit the ice for their game yet tonight.

Friday, 5:39 p.m. ET – To take that Michigan analysis a bit further, what helps the Wolverines most seems to be wins by Union, Quinnipiac and Miami. They also would have been helped, as we pointed out below, if Bowling Green had beaten Minnesota State.

Friday, 5:35 p.m. ET – Union leads Cornell, 2-0, at the end of the first period in Lake Placid. Teams on the bubble are hoping for Union to hang on and win this game, including North Dakota, Vermont, Colgate and now, Michigan.

Cornell, if it fails to make a comeback in the final 40 minutes, will likely see its season come to an end.

Friday, 5:22 p.m. ET – Wisconsin wins its semifinal against Penn State, ending PSU’s season.

The win also gave the Badgers a No. 1 seed, at least for now. Ferris State plays later today and can reclaim that spot with a win over Anchorage.

Wisconsin’s win

Wisconsin’s win did hurt Michigan, which dropped from No. 16 to No. 18. There are still scenarios where Michigan can make the tournament, including this one, which would actually see the Wolverines jump from their current No. 18 spot all the way up to No. 14.

  • Atlantic Hockey Semifinal #1: Mercyhurst def. Canisius
  • Atlantic Hockey Semifinal #2: Robert Morris def. Niagara
  • Atlantic Hockey Championship: Mercyhurst def. Robert Morris
  • Big Ten Semifinal #1: Minnesota def. Ohio State
  • Big Ten Semifinal #2: Wisconsin def. Penn State
  • Big Ten Championship: Minnesota def. Wisconsin
  • ECAC Semifinal #1: Union def. Cornell
  • ECAC Semifinal #2: Quinnipiac def. Colgate
  • ECAC Championship: Union def. Quinnipiac
  • Hockey East Semifinal #1: Mass.-Lowell def. Notre Dame
  • Hockey East Semifinal #2: Providence def. New Hampshire
  • Hockey East Championship: Mass.-Lowell def. Providence
  • NCHC Semifinal #1: North Dakota def. Miami
  • NCHC Semifinal #2: Western Michigan def. Denver
  • NCHC Championship: North Dakota def. Western Michigan
  • NCHC Consolation: Denver def. Miami
  • WCHA Semifinal #1: Ferris State def. Alaska-Anchorage
  • WCHA Championship: Ferris State def. Minnesota State

Friday, 4:13 p.m. ET – It appears that Minnesota State is going to beat Bowling Green in the WCHA, leading 3-0 midway through the third period. That’s good news for the Mavs, who otherwise would have been almost guaranteed of being eliminated from the NCAA tournament.

Even still, they may need to win tomorrow’s WCHA title game in order to get in.

The presumed loss will eliminate Bowling Green, who needed to win the WCHA.

The win will move Minnesota State up a spot to No. 11, jumping North Dakota. This is also going to bounce Notre Dame back to No. 8, with Quinnipiac and UMass Lowell hurdling the Irish. But as we pointed out earlier, Notre Dame is in regardless (so is Quinnipiac and Lowell).

With the changes to the Pairwise, in many of these scenarios we’re seeing less volatility with just one game result being input, which was the goal. Elsewhere, Wisconsin and Penn State are tied in the Big 10. Wisconsin is in the tournament regardless and Penn State needs a win for its season to continue. If Penn State were to pull the upset two days in a row, we’ll see some movement in that 5-8 range, but all of those teams are still in the tournament and are, at least now, all likely to be No. 2 seeds. It could have a bearing on where each team is sent, however.

If you’re a team on the bubble – Colgate, Cornel, Vermont, Northeastern, Michigan, Minnesota State, North Dakota – the easiest thing to root for right now is those other bubble teams to lose. Northeastern, for example, only qualifies in nine percent of the possible scenarios, however their chances are actually a bit greater, as some of the scenarios that play out in their favor aren’t as far-fetched as others. Coming into today, if all of the higher seeds won, Northeastern would qualify as the last at-large team.

Friday, 2:15 p.m. ET – Cornell and Union get underway soon in the ECAC semifinal. We’ve known for a while that Union is a lock for the NCAA tournament, and no matter what will likely be the No. 1 seed in the Bridgeport regional. Cornell, on the other hand, almost certainly needs to win this game today in order to remain in the hunt for the NCAA tournament. Jim Dahl projects that Cornell shows up in less than one percent of the scenarios should they lose this semifinal game, while a win brings their qualifying chances all the way to 84.7 percent.

Isolating only this game, a Union win jumps North Dakota over Minnesota State and helps both Michigan and Northeastern.

Cornell, with a loss, would fall to No. 17.

A Cornell win will jump it to No. 11 in the Pairwise, while simultaneously dropping Notre Dame back behind Quinnipiac and Lowell to No. 8.

Friday, 9:36 a.m. ET – Jim Dahl’s calculations are huge on weekends like this. He posted an update this morning that looks at the results of yesterday’s Big 10 games.

He now projects St. Cloud State as a lock for an at-large bid. Michigan, as we told you yesterday, qualifies for the tournament in roughly 20 percent of the remaining scenarios – it would have been more than 95 percent if the Wolverines beat Penn State – with Minnesota State, Vermont, Colgate, Cornell and North Dakota all seeing their at-large chances improve by about 10 percent.

One point I wanted to clarify from last night: I said that Ohio State’s win helped Quinnipiac and Lowell, which is true. But it helped in seeding only. The River Hawks and Bobcats are both locks to make the NCAA tournament, as is Notre Dame, which was “hurt” by Ohio State’s win after jumping two spots earlier in the day when Penn State beat Michigan.

We’ll be back later with an update on some afternoon games.

Thursday, 10:49 p.m. ET – Ohio State beats Michigan State in overtime in the second Big 10 play-in game.

Ohio State remains at No. 21 with the win (the Buckeyes need to win the Big 10 in order to make the NCAA tournament).

Ohio State’s win did help Quinnipiac and UMass Lowell. The Irish jumped all the way to No. 6 in the Pairwise after Penn State beat Michigan earlier today, leapfrogging both, but the Irish fell back to No. 8 after Ohio State’s win.

If all of the higher seeds win for the remainder of the weekend, which is unlikely, the NCAA qualifiers would look like this:

1. Minnesota
2. Boston College
3. Union
4. Ferris State
5. UMass Lowell
6. Wisconsin
7. Quinnipiac
8. Notre Dame
9. Providence
10. St. Cloud State
11. North Dakota
12. Colgate
13. Vermont
14. Minnesota State
15. Northeastern
AQ. Mercyhurst

Thursday, 8:02 p.m. ET – So how about that result to kickoff our weekend festivities?

Penn State beat Michigan, 2-1, in double-overtime in the Big 10 tournament. That severely hurts Michigan’s chances of qualifying as an at-large, but doesn’t quite kill it.

The Wolverines qualify in 22.7 percent of the remaining scenarios. If they won, that would have jumped to more than 95 percent.

Penn State’s win moved Notre Dame up to No. 6 from No. 8 and North Dakota up to No. 11 from No. 13. It also helps some of the teams on the outside, looking to grab one of those last at-large bids. Michigan drops to No. 16 and obviously can’t win another game this weekend, putting them in the same both as a team like Vermont which now sits ahead of the Wolverines.

Now let’s take a look at tonight’s second game between Michigan State and Ohio State.

Both of these teams need to win in order to make the NCAA tournament.

We’ll take a closer look at things after tonight’s second Big 10 play-in game.

Thursday, 9:23 a.m. ET – Let’s take a look at the first game of the weekend, which drops the puck at 3 p.m. ET today in the Big 10 between Michigan and Penn State.

For Penn State, the situation is simple: It’s win, or the season is over.

According to our friend Jim Dahl, Michigan makes the tournament in 22.7% of the over 3 million scenarios if it loses this game today. By beating Penn State, the Wolverines will nearly guarantee themselves a spot in the tournament, qualifying as an at-large in 95.9% of the remaining scenarios, despite remaining at No. 11 with a win.

A Michigan win this afternoon doesn’t seem to move the needle much for other teams, but teams on the bubble need to be hoping for a Michigan win, knocking a potential upset-winner out of the conference tournament.

A Penn State win knocks Michigan all the way down to No. 16 in the Pairwise. It also moves Notre Dame up to No. 6 from No. 8 and North Dakota up to No. 11 from No. 13.

We’ll be back later today with a look at the late game in the Big 10, as well as the Michigan-Penn State results.

Welcome to our annual Pairwise live blog.

Throughout this upcoming weekend, as games are happening, keep it locked in right here for all of your Pairwise analysis. We’ll keep you up to speed on all the different scenarios and what these games mean to your team’s chances, as they happen.

The Pairwise is the mathematical system the selection committee uses to select teams for the NCAA tournament. It’s not subjective. How teams are seeded and selected are based entirely on this mathematical model.

To get us started, CHN managing editor Adam Wodon posted his Bracket ABC’s column on Wednesday, giving you a synopsis of each team’s status heading into this championship weekend.

We also have our Pairwise Primer gives you an education on just how the whole system works. You can checkout the current Pairwise and also play with our “You Are The Committee” tool, which allows you to plug in different results for this weekend’s games and get a look at what the final Pairwise would look like.

In short, there are a few things we know no matter what the results are this weekend:

1) Minnesota will be the top overall seed in the tournament. Boston College (likely the No. 2 overall seed) and Union (likely the No. 3 overall seed) have also locked up No. 1 seeds in their regionals. Minnesota will be the No. 1 in St. Paul, Boston College will be the No. 1 in Worcester and Union will be the No. 1 in Bridgeport.

2) Along with the three teams mentioned above, Ferris State, Wisconsin, Quinnipiac, UMass Lowell and Notre Dame are all guaranteed spots in the NCAA tournament.

3) Providence and St. Cloud State are virtual locks, with better than 95% chances of qualifying.

We also know that the Atlantic Hockey champion will be the No. 16 seed, which leaves us with five open spots for the tournament (No. 11-15), assuming there are no upsets in the other conference tournaments. Teams in contention for those at-large spots are Michigan, Minnesota State, North Dakota, Vermont, Colgate, Cornell and Northeastern. New Hampshire is still alive in the Hockey East tournament, but will need to win it in order to qualify.

Along with UNH, all of the other remaining bidders – Miami, Ohio State, Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Anchorage, Denver, Michigan State and Penn State – will need to win their conference tournaments this weekend to extend their season into the NCAA tournament.

This is the post to bookmark. Make sure you have it saved on all of your devices and keep checking back and refreshing whether at home or on the road as we’ll keep you posted on who’s in, who’s out and who’s still alive.

Have questions? Put them in the comment section, and we’ll do our best to get them all answered.

Three Things I Think: Hockey East, March 18, 2014

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Boston College will go a second straight season without winning a Lamoriello Trophy. The Eagles won’t even be in the championship game, nor will they be at TD Garden. It’s not mind-boggling from a hockey standpoint. Notre Dame’s a great team. Hockey East is a hard league to win — parity and stuff. But, thinking over the last decade in Hockey East, a Championship Weekend without the Eagles in plainly weird.

Massachusetts-Lowell’s win of Hockey East last season ended a three-year title reign for Boston College. Notre Dame’s defeat of the Eagles on Sunday afternoon, to complete a 2-1 series win, clinched the first semifinal group without BC since 2004. That year, the Eagles also lost to the No. 8 seed (Boston University) as the No. 1 seed in three games.

Ultimately, BC’s chances as a national title contender are still as strong as they were before the loss. There aren’t many teams in the country that can stifle BC like Notre Dame did on Friday and Sunday. The Irish are an uncommonly sound defensive team with the type of scoring talent that makes their possession-focused attack so effective. It’ll take a similar effort to prevent BC from coming out of Worcester and advancing to the Frozen Four in Philadelphia.

Even as BC ran away with the Hockey East Regular Season Championship, some problems still existed for BC. Like last season, the club’s young and talented defensive corps just never looked like a championship-level group. At different times, Mike Matheson has been great. At other points, it seemed like he took a step back in his development. Freshmen Steve Santini, Ian McCoshen and Scott Savage have all been great in their first seasons, but they’re still just rookies. Beyond Isaac MacLeod’s consistently strong play, the Eagles have serious issues on the blue line, especially when it comes to defensive breakdowns. The group moves the puck well  and regularly dominates the physical side of the game. It also can make life awfully difficult for BC’s goaltenders.

Losing to Notre Dame won’t change much for BC in terms of tournament locale. The Eagles will still be the No. 1 seed in Worcester (more than likely) and will play a team they’re probably better than. However, a better performance in the Hockey East Tournament may’ve meant the difference between playing the Atlantic Hockey Champion and a strong team from one of college hockey’s power conferences.

BC is as much of a contender as it’s been at any point this season. That level seems to have been greatly exaggerated, though. (more…)

Three Things I Think: Big Ten, March 18

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Minnesota clinched the first Big Ten conference title on Friday with an overtime win against Michigan. Kyle Rau scored the game winner, and Gophers’ senior class became the first at Minnesota to win three-straight conference titles.

The Badgers finished the regular season in second place, Michigan third and Penn State last. Ohio State split the series with Penn State while Michigan State also split with Wisconsin, leaving the Buckeyes with the fourth seed and the Spartans with the fifth.

After the weekend, Minnesota is No. 1 in PairWise rankings and Wisconsin is No. 5. While the rankings will change during the conference tournaments, the Gophers and Badgers should make the NCAA Tournament regardless.

The Wolverines have the most at stake this weekend, as they are currently 11th in the PairWise. If they defeat the Nittany Lions in the first game, the Wolverines should make the NCAA Tournament.

(After the jump: Big Ten Awards, playoff uncertainty, Michigan possibly getting hot)

Playoff uncertainty

The Big Ten officially released the matchups after the weekend.

Michigan and Penn State will face off and Ohio State will play Michigan State in the first round of the tournament. Wisconsin will play either Michigan or Penn State, and Minnesota will face either Ohio State or Michigan State. The winners will play on Saturday.

Because it’s a one-and-done deal — especially the first round of the tournament — anything can happen. I believe it’s likely Minnesota and Wisconsin will play for the Big Ten championship, but the first round will be interesting.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Penn State or Michigan State moved on to the second round.

While Wisconsin has played more consistently lately, there’s no guarantee they can win on the road. And Penn State — which could beat Michigan — played well against Wisconsin.

Michigan possibly getting hot

Minnesota sat a few players for Saturday’s contest against the Wolverines, including Adam Wilcox and Sam Warning. So Wilcox wasn’t in net when the Gophers surrendered six goals. It was only the second time this season Minnesota allowed that many goals, and the first time since Nov. 24.

But after watching Michigan’s first game against Minnesota this weekend and parts of the second, I was pretty impressed. I was also impressed when the Wolverines played Ohio State, but Minnesota is a better opponent.

I’ve said nice things about Michigan before, but it hasn’t stuck. I believe the Wolverines are playing better hockey now, but the key is consistency. After snapping a four-game losing streak, the Wolverines are 4-2-1 with wins over Ohio State and Michigan State.

The Buckeyes and Spartans might not have the best records, but they’re not pushover teams either.

But as I mentioned earlier, the Wolverines should be able to make the NCAA Tournament as long as they defeat Penn State in the first round.

Big Ten Awards

The Big Ten released its inaugural conference awards, which include the Player of the Year, Goaltender of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year.

I wasn’t one of the media members who voted, but I put together a set of my own.

A lot of the choices I agree with and a lot of them are close calls. Adam Wilcox earned a first team selection as well as the goaltender and player of the year awards. I would’ve put Wisconsin’s Joel Rumpel on the First Team and made him the Goaltender of the Year Award.

The All-Freshman Team consisted of JT Compher, Hudson Fasching, Nick Schilkey, Michael Downing, Drew Brevig and Christian Frey.

It’s surprising Frey earned the nod over Zach Nagelvoort, who was forced into Michigan’s starting job after Steve Racine went down. Frey had to join a tumultuous situation in Ohio State, but he played in half the season. I’ve seen both Frey and Nagelvoort.

Big Ten Hockey Releases Inaugural Awards

Monday, March 17th, 2014

The Big Ten released its inaugural conference awards, which include the Player of the Year, Goaltender of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year.

Some of the media (myself included) weren’t asked to vote, but I compiled my own awards.

A lot of the choices I agree with and a lot of them are close calls. Adam Wilcox earned a first team selection as well as the goaltender and player of the year awards. I would’ve put Wisconsin’s Joel Rumpel on the First Team and made him the Goaltender of the Year — but only by a very, very slim margin.

But I think Ohio State’s Ryan Dzingel should be the league’s Player of the Year. Overall he leads Big Ten players with 43 points, and he has a league-high 24 points in conference play. He’s also an extremely skilled and talented player.

The All-Freshman Team consisted of JT Compher, Hudson Fasching, Nick Schilkey, Michael Downing, Drew Brevig and Christian Frey.

It’s surprising Frey earned the nod over Zach Nagelvoort, who was forced into Michigan’s starting job after Steve Racine went down. I think Nagelvoort had to play in a very tough situation with the Wolverines.

Frey had to join a tumultuous situation in Ohio State, but he played less than half the season. I’ve seen both Frey and Nagelvoort playa little bit this season. I’ve seen good things from them and I’ve also seen them struggle.

My guess is it’s because Nagelvoort started four of the last 10 games, while Frey started seven of the last 10.

I also swapped JT Compher for Hudson Fasching as the Rookie of the Year.

Here are my Big Ten awards:

(more…)

A Quick Pairwise Look Heading Into Championship Weekend

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Conferences across the nation will crown their league champions, and NCAA automatic qualifiers, this upcoming weekend.

For some teams these will be do-or-die games. For others, there’s a trophy at stake but their tickets to the NCAA tournament have already been punched. Here’s what we know:

(more…)

The Takeaway: Northeastern Exorcises Demons at UNH To Send Series to a Decisive Game 3

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Durham, NH - Northeastern entered UNH’s Whittemore Center on Saturday night, without a win in seven seasons at New Hampshire last winning on the olympic sheet in 2007. To make matters worse, the Huskies haven’t defeated UNH in the playoffs since 1989. For much of the first two periods, it appeared to be much of the same for NU on its opponents ice. Grayson Downing opened the scoring for UNH at 11 minutes, 35 seconds of the first period, but NU answered just three minutes later off the stick of Ryan Belonger. UNH took another lead at 18:27 of the first when Nick Sorkin was left all alone in front of Clay Witt. UNH not only took the 2-1 lead into the first intermission, but it entered the second period with 1:34 of of 5 on 3 powerplay time. The powerplay ended up being the turning-point in the series.

UNH’s two-man advantage got plenty of opportunities, but was unable to capitalize. The Huskies caught UNH napping at the end, as Matt Benning exited the box and headed down the ice on a break-away. He was tripped and the Huskies were awarded a penalty shot, which Kevin Roy took and scored to tie the game. UNH would then dominate the middle portions of the second period and would take a 4-2 lead on goals by Kelleher and Agosta. The Huskies though were ever pesky and fought back. Colton Saucerman scored at the 16:29 mark of the second and Kevin Roy scored his second to send it into the third period tied at three.

The third period was a stalemate that saw NU control the possession on UNH, but NU did appear to score midway through the period to take a 5-4 but it was overturned by the guys in stripes to keep the game tied at 4. It was overturned for goaltender interference and the game would head into the overtime tied at four. Mike Szmatula broke the deadlock at 3:39 of the overtime to give NU the 5-4 overtime win. UNH and NU will faceoff in a crucial game three tomorrow at 4:30 at the Whittemore Center. See highlights courtesy of UNH Athletics. (more…)

The Takeaway: Kelleher Goal Leads UNH To 1-0 Victory Over NU and a 1-0 Series Lead

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Durham, NH - UNH entered the Hockey East tournament without an appearance at the TD Garden in three seasons.  It looked hungry to get there again. Both Northeastern and UNH had last week off with byes. UNH had the better of the play in the period but the two teams left the period scoreless. The second period was marked by a UNH parade to the penalty box, as the Huskies had five power-plays in the period, but the Huskies were unable to capitalize. UNH had the better of the five on five play in the period, but again the teams left the period scoreless.

The Third period was much like the first two in that UNH dominated the possession and quality opportunities. Freshman,Tyler Kelleher broke the scoreless tie at four minutes, 49 seconds of the third period when he found a Grayson Downing tip right in front of Witt that he roofed to give UNH the 1-0 lead. The Huskies struggled to get quality chances late and in game, it was held to just four Grade A opportunities in the contest. UNH defeated Northeastern, 1-0 in front of 3,135 fans at the Whittemore Center and improves its record 20-16-1, moving up a spot in the Pairwise to a tie for 17th, just outside tournament positioning. Northeastern is also in that tie for 17th place with a record of 18-13-4. See these Highlights courtesy of UNH Athletics. (more…)

Beyond Montpetit’s Goal

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Denver boasted the best penalty killing unit in the NCHC this season, thanks in large part to All-NCHC First Team goaltender Sam Brittain. Thursday night in the NCHC playoff opener, UNO converted on three of four power play chances and took a 1-0 lead in its quarterfinal series against Denver. Game 2 is tonight.

The lasting highlight of the game will be Brock Montpetit’s highlight reel goal that broke a 3-3 tie in the third period. Montpetit received a pass from Ryan Walters and beat Pioneer defenseman Joey LaLeggia, expertly slipping by him and sliding a backhander by Brittain.

“He makes a heck of a move,” UNO head coach Dean Blais told the Omaha World-Herald, “and then he goes in and beats an All-American goaltender who’s going to be playing in the NHL.”

Beyond Montpetit’s heroics, however, was perhaps a more important storyline — especially if Omaha plans on making a serious playoff run.

Consider that less than a week earlier, the Mavericks defense fell apart against Minnesota-Duluth, with the Bulldogs prevailing 8-2. Thursday, by contrast, UNO’s defense outplayed Denver’s, particularly in the third period — evidenced not just by Montpetit’s goal but by four blocked shots in the frantic final 60 seconds, and by playing the third period with just five defensemen. Captain Michael Young was ejected late in the second period after receiving a major penalty and game misconduct for a contact to the head infraction. In his absence, his teammates on the back end stepped up — most notably junior Jaycob Megna and freshman Ian Brady.

On the other end, Denver’s defense is among the most trusted in the nation, not just for their play on the blue line but also for their offensive output. After all, with the goaltender pulled late in the game last night, four of the six Pioneers on the ice trying to score the tying goal were defensemen — LaLeggia, in addition to Nolan Zajac, David Makowski, and Will Butcher. That foursome has combined for 32 goals this season.

The Pioneers have lost three of four and five of seven, and now face the end to their season if they lose either tonight or tomorrow. And their defense will have to return to form if they want to avoid that.

“The key was killing off the five-minute major,” continued Blais after last night’s game, highlighting again his team’s effort on defense in Game 1. “It might have switched the whole momentum.”

The question remaining is whether UNO carries that momentum to the inaugural NCHC “Frozen Faceoff” a week from today in Minneapolis.