Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Inside the PWR: Don’t burst the bubble

Right on time w/ Chuck posting his bracketology.

Things have changed significantly in the past two weeks. The first time I posted about the PWR, the Badgers were 8th and solidly in the field, last week they were 9th after a bye week moved them down one spot. Today, after being swept by the UNO Mavericks, our Badgers are just hanging on at the bottom of the bubble in 15th. Things are certainly worse, but it is far too early for panic. Solid results on the ice the next five weeks send the Badgers to the NCAA tourney, more stumbles against opponents fighting for WCHA home ice and trying to get into the NCAA picture, and the Badgers could sit home. W/ the changes, let’s take a look at how the Badgers can claw their way back up the PWR and get some breathing room.

The Badgers win 14 and lose 14 comparisons this week. In addition, this week’s TUC number is 29. Ohio State and Michigan State dropped off the cliff, for now, while St Cloud is back in after a strong weekend in Duluth.

Lost barring miracles: Yale, BC, DU, UND & UMD. These haven’t changed, but I’d add Nebraska Omaha to this column. The ONLY way for UW to flip this comparison would be to face them in the Final Five (which is certainly possible) and win, along w/ raising their RPI above UNO’s by Selection Sunday. While possible, if they don’t meet head to head again, I don’t see this comparison being won. UNO has a large lead in vs TUC, and while they have a tough road to finish the season, UW has to go 5-0-1 to finish just getting to .500 in that category. Bemidji becoming a TUC would help UW; they are currently at 0.4999 in RPI. UW went 2-0 against BSU; UNO went 0-3-1.

Of the other 8 comparisons lost, the Badgers “could” win all of them, but I find that unlikely w/ out UW finishing around 9-2, or a team or two tanking completely. The Badgers are really hurting in the TUC, currently sitting at 5-10-3 or 0.3611. They are losing this part to all but SIX teams. BSU and Michigan State as TUC’s help, but the Badgers need a strong finish, plain and simple. Bucky’s RPI dropped, merely improving it flips most of these. W/ only 5 weekends left, I’m going to break out what Bucky needs to do against each of these teams (in alphabetical order).

Dartmouth: Flip the RPI. W/ no common opponents, RPI is the tie-breaker if the overall comparison is tied 1-1 (or 2-2, 3-3, etc in a different comparison). Just keep winning.

Merrimack: UW needs Merrimack to blow this one. Merrimack has a good lead in RPI, and the TUC part is all but decided. Merrimack still has two games left against UMASS this weekend, if they lose one of those, UW wins that comparison (for now) giving them life to flip this comparison headed into conference tournaments. I might add this to LOST in the next few weeks.

Miami (OH): Miami is not too far ahead of UW in the RPI, and right now they are tied in the COP. In two weeks, the games against St Cloud count for Miami, dropping their COP record to 4-2-1. The Badgers taking three points from St Cloud makes this green, anything less makes it red. It is possible Miami faces Michigan or Michigan State in the CCHA playoffs or UW faces St Cloud adding more data into that part of the equation. Miami has a solid lead in the TUC, w/ currently no games remaining in that department until the CCHA tourney.

Michigan: Similar story to Miami (OH). Ahead in RPI, TUC flip is doubtful and the Badgers lead in COP. The Badgers have four games remaining in the COP (gophers & CC), where even a 2-2 record should lock that piece down for the regular season. Flip the RPI, win the comparison.

New Hampshire: This one is tough; UNH has a larger lead in the RPI and again a strong lead in the TUC. UW is currently winning the COP and there are no more games there left in the regular season, but if UNH faces BU or UMASS in the Hockey East post season and wins, UNH flips that part. Even if the Badgers catch them in RPI, they could still lose depending upon the Hockey East playoffs.

Notre Dame: The Badgers should be able to flip this one. Notre Dame has a decent lead in the RPI, but not much of an advantage in the TUC. UW is winning the COP, but this could change depending upon WCHA and CCHA playoff games for both schools with several common opponents.

RPI: Their lead in the RPI over UW is small, if UW flips that and takes at least 3 pts when CC visits town in three weeks to flip the COP, they can win this comparison. RPI only has one TUC game left in the regular season, and has a decent lead there right now.

Union: They have a strong lead in the RPI, and in the TUC. UW is currently winning the COP, and that will become clearer this weekend as minnesota is a common opponent. A split maintains that component of the comparison until the playoffs for UW.

All in all, if UW plays well, I think they can flip up to six of these comparisons back, but in my amateur PWR analysis opinion, Union and Merrimack could be tough. Five of the above teams were in my “could lose” part last week, and that list has gained a few members from the PWR lockbox (a dumb idea).

That Badgers could lose the following comparisons: Maine, Alaska, BU and W. Michigan. BU and W. Michigan have been added to the list from last week, and are only a threat if UW tanks in the RPI further.

The teams I’m really worried about are the Badgers next three opponents. UW can’t afford to lose any of these. In all three cases, UW has a solid RPI lead and is winning the COP, but losing the TUC. None of these teams have a strong TUC winning %, but what is most critical right now is getting the head to head PWR points. The Badgers have one point extra against the gophers from the 3 pt weekend early in the WCHA season. A sweep or 3 pts against any of these teams puts the comparison away for the regular season. A split against any of these teams, should maintain the Badgers advantage. A 1 pt weekend puts the comparison as a toss up, being swept puts UW on the wrong side of another comparison, for now. Unlike UNO, should the Badgers stumble, none of these teams have strong numbers in other categories that couldn’t be overcome, as things currently stand.

This leaves 8 teams that I’m not worried about right now, and I hope this numbers grows instead of shrinks next week.

One last note, Yale would really have to blow the ECAC tourney to NOT be the #1 in the PWR come March 20th. Their winning % in the TUC and COP over BC and North Dakota (the only teams currently close in the RPI) can only be hurt by their bad play. I don’t think there is enough TUC games left for either BC or UND to ever flip that, even if they won out. Goon, not sure if you read my posts about the PWR, but w/ your disdain of Yale being #1, I hope your head doesn’t explode.