Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Looking inside the PWR w/ 6 weeks to go

Last week I put together a LONG post about where the Badgers sat in the PWR. Moving forward, I’m going to have a much more condensed version (hopefully), and as the weeks tick away (there are 6 weekends left to selection Sunday) the picture should become cleaner.

Since last week, a few comparisons have flipped for the Badgers. The Badgers are now beating Merrimack, largely because Merrimack currently does not have enough TUC games (they have played 9 and you need 10 for the comparison to count). Merrimack holds the advantage in TUC once that qualifies, and this comparison would flip back. Merrimack beat UMASS last weekend as well to help their COP, and their RPI is increasing. The Badgers need to keep winning to keep this one green.

While this comparison flipped for the good, two flipped into the red. New Hampshire swept Maine, moved ahead of UW in RPI and they continue to win the TUC, taking the comparison. They were the big mover on the weekend, after the Beanpot games last night, UNH moved all the way up to 4th, and last week they were 8th. The other comparison that flipped was Union. Their RPI creeped ahead of UW and they continue to win the TUC. Both TUC and COP are close, so the Badgers can flip this back by winning.

At the bottom of the PWR, five teams no longer qualified, while two other schools made the .5000 RPI cut. Brown, Niagara, N. Michigan, Quinnipiac and St Cloud fell off, and RIT and Cornell jumped up. This hurts a few ECAC teams feasting on the bottom of the TUC, and doesn’t currently affect the Badgers unless Bemidji jumps back in by the end, which would be a positive.

Overall, the Badgers continue to lose the following and it is very unlikely they can flip them: Yale, BC, Denver, North Dakota and Duluth. Their other loss is against RPI, who also increased their RPI above the Badgers. This can still be flipped down the road, it might take a few weekends, but this is one the Badgers should win finishing the season strong.

Previously, I listed the following as ones the Badgers could lose: Alaska, Maine, Miami, Michigan and Notre Dame. I could still see these being flipped, but the Badgers have a decent cushion in the RPI over all of them as Michigan begins to stumble. Maine getting swept by New Hampshire further hurts their TUC, and depending how the next few weeks go that comparison might go into the lock box. I would add Dartmouth into this mix. W/ no common opponents, whoever wins the RPI wins the comparison; currently UW has a strong lead, but Dartmouth has gained ground.

The next four series are all big; a sweep puts another in the lock box, and one step closer to WCHA home ice.

Currently in the PWR lock box: UAA, BU, Ferris State, Mich State, Mankato, Ohio State, Princeton, Robert Morris, Western Michigan, RIT and Cornell.

Looking at things for the WCHA, both North Dakota and Denver fell to #2 seeds after last night’s Beanpot games. Both are really close to flipping their comparisons with New Hampshire and could be right back up there. If New Hampshire keeps winning, there should be a good battle for the #1 seeds between UNH, BC, Yale, North Dakota, Duluth and Denver down the stretch. No one else is in the running. As much as the PWR is flawed, the transparency is something I like, taking human judgment out of who gets a #1 seed or any seeding, just where they play. The overall #1 seed is Yale’s to lose right now. One other WCHA note, Omaha is back in the field, and no offense to them, but I hope after this weekend that they are again on the wrong side of the line after the Badgers feast on the Mavericks.

Each week I’ll re-visit this and see how the Badgers are doing. This week, they again return to controlling more of their own destiny instead of watching everything shift around them on a bye week. Again the Badgers are in good shape, and this will get old, but the more they win in the next 6 weeks, the more comparisons they can flip back or secure. A poor performance in the next 5 or 6 weeks, and this whole picture could fall apart.