The ECAC keeps winning in non-conference play and in recent weeks it has picked up in regularity. Last weekend both Harvard and Dartmouth took home holiday tournament titles, while Union also went undefeated at the Ledyard Bank Classic and missed out to its conference rival on goal differential. Brown took down one of the best teams in the nation, defending national champion Providence, looking good in the process. RPI also split a non-conference series with Miami. Clarkson did the same against Bowling Green. All told, the league is now second in inter-conference record with a .620 winning percentage against the other leagues.
ECAC teams have played strong schedules, partly because they have played each other but it is furthered by the fact it has played strong non-conference schedules. Dartmouth played a pair at Michigan, Brown played Providence twice, Quinnipiac hosted St. Cloud twice and so on and so forth. This helps the overall strength of schedule and because the league has won a good portion of these games, the ECAC is doing really well in the Pairwise. Quinnipiac and Harvard are one and two in the Pairwise, while four other teams join them in the top 15. All told, there are six teams in NCAA tournament positions (QU, Harvard, Cornell, Yale, SLU, RPI), five league teams in the top 10 of Pairwise and eight in the top 20. You can see how strong the schedules have been in the league, in CHN’s Krach ratings.
The most interesting addition in the top 20 is Dartmouth, who played a murderous schedule in the first winter and is 5-7-1, but because of its strength of schedule it is right in the thick of a tournament bid if it goes on a run in the second half. It could be a monumental year for the league in terms of the NCAA tournament and how many teams make it, if the trends continue. There will be no easy games in the second half of the conference slate. It seems as though there is a high probability of at least five teams, but six is a possibility. The worst case scenario seems to be four. (more…)