Monday, January 10, 2011

WCHA 2nd Half Strength of Schedule

W/ the series between St Cloud and Michigan Tech last weekend, every team in the WCHA has played 14 games, and have 14 games left over the next 8 weeks to decide the MacNaughton Cup. The current standings can be found here. North Dakota, Denver, Duluth and UNO are separated by 3 pts for 1st. Everyone else in w/ in 5 pts of home ice, except Tech who isn't even in the basement, they have taken refuge in a bomb shelter.

Looking at the 2nd half strength of schedule, I merely added together the points obtained by each team's seven opponents at the halfway point. About the only thing this doesn't account for is home/away, as we all realize the value of home ice (generally) in a WCHA series. What was the old saying, sweep at home and split on the road to win the WCHA. Something like that.

2nd half SOS (most difficult to easiest)

1) St Cloud - 114 pts
2) Nebraska Omaha - 110 pts
3) Michigan Tech - 109 pts
4) CC - 105 pts
5) UAA - 104 pts
6) Mankato - 100 pts
7) minnesota - 98 pts
8) Bemidji State - 97 pts
9) Wisconsin - 93 pts
10) Duluth - 87 pts
11) Denver - 83 pts
12) North Dakota - 82 pts

A few things, obviously this type of comparison lends the top teams having the "easiest" schedule because they can't play themselves, the same is true of Tech on the other extreme. Looking through the schedules, the one thing that jumped out to me, the front runners (DU, UND & UMD) do not play each other the rest of the way, so there will be no head to head between these teams down the stretch. So if North Dakota keeps winning, and I see no reason why this won't continue, DU and UMD can't afford to trip up if they want the MacNaughton, as they can't take out UND on the ice.

The other thing that jumps out at me, the three teams ahead or tied w/ the Badgers (UNO, CC & um) all have to play DU, UMD and UND down the stretch. UW only has this weekend's series at Duluth left, and as you can see UW has the 4th easiest schedule based on 1st half WCHA results. UW merely needs to play smart, 60 minute hockey, and getting some home ice shouldn't be a problem. Right now Playoff Status has UW w/ a 66% chance at home ice.

Also fun, is the WCHA calculator, I did this earlier today and had UW finished tied for 4th w/ UNO, playing St Cloud or Mankato at home in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. I'd take that result considering all the freshman and massive losses to pro hockey. Also, I think a 4th place finish and winning the 1st round series would get the Badgers into the NCAA tourney again, hopefully in Green Bay to save on my travel.