Archive for the 'Big Ten' Category

Thoughts On The Big Ten Tournament Attendance And How To Fix It

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

With the Big Ten programs so spread out, attendance may never be as great as we want it to be. But the attendance from the Big Ten tournament in Detroit were embarrassing.

Michigan played in all three games this weekend, including two weekend nights. Despite the local program’s presence, fans didn’t come out the Joe Louis Arena. Not even when Michigan and Michigan State faced off on Friday night.

If two local teams, featuring players like Zach Hyman, Dylan Larkin (a Red Wings prospect), Zach Werenski, Jake Hildebrand, Josh Jacobs, can’t draw fans of teams in their own state, there’s a problem.

Attendance was much better last year in St. Paul, with Minnesota as the local team. Wisconsin is a little further away, but Badgers fans still came out to support their team. And some Gophers fans took the trip to see the championship game on Saturday.

After this weekend, I assume the Big Ten tournament will not draw well outside of St. Paul. I loved last year’s tournament, from Minneapolis to the X. But having the tournament in MSP each year isn’t fair to the other four teams that have to travel.

Which is why they should move it to Chicago.

I’m biased towards Chicago because I love that city. But it’s central to the core of the conference (sorry, Penn State). It has easy-to-use public transportation, is a great city, provides opportunities for fan engagement and it’s where the conference is headquartered. There’s more to do in Chicago on a Saturday than there is in Detroit or Minneapolis, giving fans an added reason to travel (Most fans, would have to travel anyway).

Honestly, I’m not sure if the attendance issue can ever be fixed. But there are steps the conference can take to make the tournament more fan-friendly, easier to get to, and more fun to attend. Because right now, there’s not much incentive to go.

The B1G has to work for it

When the conference was founded for hockey, it threw a bunch of brand-name programs together. But having historic, winning schools doesn’t equal attendance success – especially if the conference is having a down year. The conference can’t expect fans to spend money and time on travel to see Big Ten hockey. It’s expensive as is, but especially for college students. If fans are going to go, it needs to be worth their time.

Take the Frozen Four. Yes, it’s a more important event, but they do a great job of keeping fans entertained with a fun atmosphere before the games. This would be great for the Big Ten – hosting an event or two around the city for fans to attend.

And then there’s marketing. Last year I didn’t see much advertising around the city, and this year all I saw were sporadic posters with the conference colors and logo. This is a conference that’s shown hockey isn’t a big priority, but they need to make it one. Spend some money on advertising. Draw in the local crowd.

(Side note: I saw more advertising from the Red Wings for the Big Ten tournament than I saw from the conference.)

Take away the Thursday game

Both years the Big Ten has drawn poor attendance for the Thursday game. Traveling for a first-round game is a low priority for fans, especially when they’re traveling far. But even when they’re not traveling far. Michigan fans didn’t show up on Thursday. But I don’t blame them, since they were almost a lock to beat Wisconsin.



I said this before the tournament, and it seems others have similar opinions. The Thursday game, featuring the four lower seeds, is better suited to a best-of-three series played at the home of the higher seed a week before the actual tournament. The schools, as hosts, have a much better chance of drawing attendance for that game than an NHL arena does, especially when it’s far away.

PairWise Possibilities

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

With the conference tournaments approaching, I’ve been running a lot of scenarios through CHN’s PairWise calculator. It started with my interest in Minnesota’s chances (since I cover Big Ten hockey) but has expanded since then.

According to the Pairwise Probability Matrix, there are about nine teams that are locked into the NCAA tournament, and two others (Providence and Quinnipiac) that have very high chances of making it. North Dakota, Minnesota State, Boston University, Denver, Michigan Tech, Minnesota-Duluth, Miami, Nebraska-Omaha and Boston College are all most likely making the NCAA tournament.

Regardless of the results this weekend, the NCHC will have five teams make the NCAA tournament -North Dakota, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Miami and Nebraska-Omaha. Very few scenarios have Nebraska-Omaha – the lowest-ranked NCHC team – moving to ninth on the PWR list. I’ve encountered none that have the Mavericks dropping below ninth.

So below I ran through some points of interest, different scenarios, the likelihood of certain teams making it and what they need for that to happen. I will periodically add to this as I calculate more scenarios.  (more…)

Three Things I Think: Big Ten, March 15

Monday, March 16th, 2015

After a crazy final weekend in the regular season, the Gophers swept Penn State to claim the Big Ten regular season title. Michigan State split its series with Michigan, securing the No. 2 seed and a very important bye day. Michigan is the No. 3 seed and Penn State is No. 4.

The Buckeyes and Badgers were cemented to the fifth and sixth seeds, so their series didn’t factor into the standings. Ohio State swept Wisconsin, and the Badgers have now been shut out in five of their last seven games.

On Thursday, Penn State will face Ohio State and Michigan will play Wisconsin. The winner of the Penn State-Ohio State will play Minnesota in the semifinals, while the other game’s victor will face Michigan State.

With the conference tournament fields set and CHN’s You Are The Committee tool, I’ve been messing around with scenarios. Michigan can only make the NCAA tournament if they win, but things are different for Minnesota. The Gophers could lose on Friday and still make the NCAA tournament, but there are scenarios where the Gophers can win on Friday and still miss the NCAA tournament. So, it’s in Minnesota’s best interest to take the Big Ten championship.

If Minnesota doesn’t make the NCAA tournament, both teams who played in last year’s championship game will be out.

(After the jump: The bye day is very important, Michigan State will win the tournament, Michigan’s season is very close to being over.)


Weekend Preview: Big Ten, March 13

Friday, March 13th, 2015

The last weekend of Big Ten play features the top four teams fighting for the regular season championship and a bye. Michigan State is first, but just by one point over Michigan and Minnesota. The Nittany Lions are in fourth with 31 points.

Two series this weekend features those four teams, as Michigan and Michigan State will spar, while Minnesota hosts Penn State for two games. This weekend has huge PairWise implications for both Michigan and Minnesota, who may not be able to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

Penn State hasn’t been hampered from the loss of Taylor Holstrom, and just swept Michigan. It’ll be a big matchup for Minnesota, which has to win both games to help its PairWise position.

The last series features Wisconsin and Ohio State. Both teams will finish fifth and sixth, regardless of their results. The Buckeyes may be fifth, but they’ve been one of the better teams in the conference lately.

With four teams so close and six points at stake in each series, there are a number of scenarios that could happen. I delved into some tie-breaking scenarios here, along with thoughts from some of the coaches.

While a bye day is different than a bye week, it could bode well for the inconsistent Big Ten teams. Especially because Michigan State is the only team with goalkeeping that’s consistent enough to win three games in three days.


Three Things I Think: Big Ten, March 9

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Michigan State is first in the Big Ten. That’s not a typo. After sweeping Wisconsin, the Spartans hold a one-point lead ahead of Michigan and Minnesota. The Gophers and Wolverines are tied for second, both fighting for a first-day bye.

With two games left, Ohio State – which will face Wisconsin – can’t earn a bye. The Spartans will try to preserve their spot with a home-and-home against a struggling Michigan team, while Minnesota has a two-game set with Penn State. The Nittany Lions are two points behind the Gophers and Wolverines, and could potentially earn a bye.

The Nittany Lions entered the weekend without Taylor Holstrom, who might be out for the rest of the season. But Penn State swept Michigan, sending the Wolverines outside the PairWise bubble and leaving the Big Ten championship as its best bet to the NCAA tournament. Right now Michigan is 19th and Minnesota is 14th in the PairWise. Even if Michigan sweeps – not including other results – the Wolverines would be 16th in the PairWise.

With the Big Ten regular season championship on the line, the top four teams are separated by three points. And all four teams will face each other this weekend, as Michigan State and Michigan spar in a home-and-home and Minnesota hosts Penn State.

(After the jump: The one-bid league, how Michigan State got here, and the tournament frontrunners.) (more…)

Weekend Preview: Big Ten, March 5

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

With just two weekends left in the regular season, Michigan is first in the Big Ten.  Minnesota currently holds the second spot, but only eight points separate the top four teams. Penn State and Michigan State are the other teams in play for a bye.

Minnesota is No. 11 in the PairWise, and Michigan is 15th. While Michigan is in a more dangerous bubble position, the Gophers still have to win a couple of tough series ahead of them if they want to keep their spot.

Ohio State is ready to move up in the standings, and will face the Gophers this weekend. A struggling Penn State team will face Michigan, and the Spartans and Badgers square off. Remember – each win counts for three points. A shootout win counts for two, and a shootout loss is one.

There were some big injury announcements this week, as Travis Walsh is out for the rest of the season after blocking a shot in the face. He needed to have surgery on his jaw. Penn State’s Jonathan Milley’s playing career is over, and Taylor Holstrom is definitely out for this weekend, and most likely for the season.


Three Things I Think: Big Ten, March 2

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

After sweeping Wisconsin, Michigan has a three-point lead for first place in the conference. The Gophers split with the Spartans, dropping Minnesota to second and giving Michigan State third. Penn State is in fourth, thanks to a sweep by Ohio State. The Buckeyes are now eight points ahead of Wisconsin in the standings.

There’s more separation between the top four teams, which are now separated by eight points. Remember – because of shootouts, a win equals three points. And there are four games left in the season, so that means 12 points are at stake.

The Badgers were swept by Michigan. While the Wolverines aren’t scoring as many goals as earlier in the season, they appear more consistent than earlier in the year. And they dominated the Badgers in possession on Saturday (I’m saying this after watching, but the Corsi stats back it up).

(After the jump: Who can finish where, the best Big Ten goalkeeper and Ohio State is poised for a surge) (more…)

BigTen: A Look Into Corsi, Week 20

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Michigan has sole control of the Big Ten after sweeping Wisconsin, and the Wolverines have a three-point lead. Minnesota is second, while the Spartans are now in third after the teams split last weekend. Ohio State is now eight points out of the basement after sweeping Penn State, and could move up in the standings.

There were no real Corsi surprises this week, save that Michigan State pushed Minnesota in possession. The Gophers haven’t had great possession numbers all season, but neither have the Spartans.

The Corsi stats are listed below: (more…)

Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Week 19

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Here are this week’s Corsi stats:


Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Feb, 26

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

The top of the Big Ten standings are still tight, and two of the top four programs – Minnesota and Michigan State – will battle over a two-point difference between first and third. With the season almost ending, these are important weeks for both Minnesota and Michigan. The Gophers are currently on the inside, but Michigan is out.

Two good teams, Michigan and Penn State, will have tough contests in Wisconsin and Ohio State this weekend. The two bottom Big Ten teams have been playing better, or in Ohio State’s case, finally healthy.

It’s late in the season, but there are still so many question marks, mainly of consistency, with all of these teams.