We have reached the midway point of the conference season. Every team has played 10 games and has 10 remaining. Michigan is your front runner with Penn State close behind. In an unexpected turn of events, chaos ruled out east. Thanks to a plethora of upsets, Minnesota finds itself back in the NCAA tourney picture sitting tied for 13 in the PairWise Rankings.
Wisconsin @ Penn State
Wisconsin traveled to Happy Valley this weekend for a pair against the Badgers. Wisconsin jumped out to a 2-1 lead after the first period Friday but the Nittany Lions answered with 2 goals in each of the last two periods to win 5-2. On Saturday afternoon, Penn State won 4-1 completing the season sweep. Last season, Wisconsin swept Penn State so this was a swing of 24 points in the standings relative to last year. Many expected Penn State to be better in their third year as a D-1 program but I don't think anyone saw them improving this much. Penn State throws a lot of pucks on net and have been finding pay dirt at an increased rate (3.7 vs 2.1 GF/G) and playing much better defense (2.7 vs 3.75 GA/G). I can't ever remember seeing a Wisconsin team play this poorly. It is worse than just youth and lost production, If Mike Eaves doesn't show an improvement next season, his job may be gone.
Ohio State @ Minnesota
The Buckeyes visited Mariucci Arena for a pair against Minnesota. Minnesota entered the weekend needing to win 10 of their final twelve to have a shot at making the NCAA tournament as an at large and took care of business. Ohio State was outclassed in both games losing 4-2 and 6-2. The Gophers lines finally started clicking, the defense was clearing pucks and exiting their zone effectively, Willcox finally looked like Wallcox again. The good news for the Gophers didn't end there. Losses by multiple teams out east vaulted Minnesota into a tie for 13th in the PairWise Ratings (14th after the tie break). If Minnesota can split with Michigan next week and win out, they will be sitting comfortably in the 10-14 range before conference tourney time. The preseason favorites for the National Championship may have found their stride. They are a dangerous team that no one will want to play if they make the big dance. Ohio State is in the midst of a 6 game losing streak in the conference and will need to play better next week against Wisconsin to stay out of the cellar.
Michigan @ Michigan State
Hockey City Classic
After a lengthy delay thanks to the balmy 45 degree weather in Chicago, Michigan and Michigan State faced off under the lights at Soldier Field. Michigan took a 3-0 lead into the third and got an empty net goal to win 4-1. Michigan regained its position atop the conference and has a chance to knock Minnesota out of the conference race and likely the NCAA at-large picture next week. MSU was able to get a lot of shots on net but couldn't solve Zach Naglevoort. MSU lost a chance to make this a 4 team race but still has 6 against the Wolverines to pull back into it.
An overtime loss counts as a loss and no points are earned. If both teams are tied after the five minute OT period, the game goes down as a tie and both teams earn a point. A shootout follows a tie with the winner earning a second point. A shootout "win" counts as a tie, not a win in the standings and for NCAA Tournament seeding purposes. The Maximum wins will be used as a tie breaker. I'll look into if it's the primary or if pts earned head to head comes first later in the season.
KRACH Ratings, KRACH Rank, Pairwise Rank
Update on 2/8/2015 @ 5 PM CST
There are 59 teams in college hockey. The pairwise is an approximation of the selection process for the NCAA tournament (click link for explanation). The top 16 teams are selected for the tourney. Conference tournament champions get auto-bids so teams rated near 16 can be displaced if a lower ranked team wins it's conference tournament.
Points, Elimination numbers, KRACH Projections, and Last Years Points
Change in expected conference wins:
Pts earned by team on the left are shown in the boxes
Green boxes mean that the team in the row is ahead of the team in the column. Red means the team in the column is ahead. Blue means the teams have split points. Once a season series is completed, the color will be darker, the points will be bold, and the box will have a thicker border. Column on the right shows the points gained by a team. Row on the bottom shows the points lost by a team.
KRACH Projection Review
Let's see how the projections went this week:
|Team||KRACH Projection||My Prediction||Actual||Updated KRACH|
This weekend went about as expected. We had no ties, and no overtime games this week. Minnesota has to be happiest after a sweep and finding themselves back in the thick of the NCAA at-large picture. Penn State is slowly climbing into the at-large picture. Unfortunately, there isn't enough time for three at large teams but there is now an outside chance of 3 B1G teams in the tourney if Michigan and Minnesota can win out and split there series. Look for a Midseason report on the B1G later this week!