It’s a reasonably mild schedule at present for what’s normally the primary weekend of convention playoffs. These Making an attempt Instances have led to a number of conferences shifting to a single-site single-weekend single-elimination codecs with extra mid-week video games. So as an alternative of seeing nearly all of faculty hockey dealing with off in elimination video games in best-of-three collection, we’ve solely obtained a small handful of video games to be performed this Saturday.
However there are some intriguing ones. There are two particularly that I will probably be retaining a detailed eye on as they may have doubtlessly huge impacts on the NCAA Match discipline choice.
The primary is within the NCHC the place fourth seed Omaha is ready to tackle fifth seed Denver. Typical knowledge, together with our tackle the scenario, says that Omaha might be in okay form, maybe much more so since Clarkson has crossed themselves off the listing within the interim.
However Omaha’s scenario may be a bit extra precarious than it seems on preliminary look. Pull up the NCHC standings and Omaha sits at 14-9-1, which is definitely the third-best report within the league half a sport forward of presumed event lock Minnesota Duluth.
That mentioned, 4 of Omaha’s 14 wins this season have come by way of 3-on-3 extra time, which, for exasperating causes, solely counts as 55% of a win. The committee, not as beholden to math this yr, might or might not view it that means. However any exhausting information they do take a look at goes to say Omaha’s report is extra like 10-9-4. One other loss day and their report is barely above .500. Now, they’re in a tricky convention—although once more, the committee might or might not see it that means—and didn’t play any non-conference video games in order that report isn’t essentially disqualifying, however I feel they’d be in a reasonably harmful place in the event that they lose at present’s sport, particularly if just a few groups outdoors of the locks begin successful convention tournaments.
Denver’s scenario, in the meantime, is sort of the reverse, although maybe not as excessive. The Pioneers sit at 9-12-1 on the season and have largely been written off as a possible at-large staff. However once more, issue within the extra time video games and Denver’s report is nearer to 9-10-3.
Technically, the notorious ‘Wisconsin Rule’ that groups should have a report above .500 to obtain an at-large bid, isn’t in impact this yr, although I’ve a sense the committee will probably be extraordinarily detest to try this. But when Denver wins at present and of their NCHC semifinal, however loses the championship sport, I feel there’s a very compelling case to be made for them.
They’d have the identical report as Omaha with a successful season report towards the Mavericks. 12 of their 25 video games in such a state of affairs could be towards surefire-NCAA event groups, plus one other 5 relying on how you are feeling about Omaha.
The opposite sport to keep watch over at present is Sport 2 of the collection between Bowling Inexperienced and Northern Michigan. The Wildcats blitzed the Falcons within the second interval of final night time’s collection opener with 4 targets within the body, and a livid third interval comeback by the Falcons fell a goalpost brief.
Bowling Inexperienced is a type of groups that’s squarely on the bubble. With restricted choices this yr, I’m starting to really feel extra comfy that the WCHA will get a second staff into the event behind Minnesota State, particularly if there aren’t any convention event upsets. However I additionally doubt the WCHA will get a 3rd staff into the sector. I don’t essentially suppose the committee ought to care about convention illustration when making the sector, but it surely’s in all probability one thing that will probably be thought-about.
The battle for that subsequent bid is a three-team race between Bowling Inexperienced, Bemidji State, and Lake Superior State. I had it as a toss-up earlier this week between Bowling Inexperienced’s stellar out-of-conference play, Bemidji State’s stellar outcomes towards Minnesota State, and Lake Superior having a coach on the advisory committee, which hey, it could actually’t damage.
That mentioned, if Bowling Inexperienced loses once more this weekend, I feel you’ll be able to nearly rely Bowling Inexperienced out. By no means say by no means as a result of who is aware of what’s going to occur within the committee assembly, however a collection this weekend, mixed with head-to-head struggles towards the opposite two groups of their cohort competing for an at-large bid and I don’t see a option to argue Bowling Inexperienced into the event.
That may be excellent news for each Bemidji State and Lake Superior. It additionally units up an fascinating state of affairs, offering all of final night time’s winners shut out their collection, wherein Bemidji State and Lake Superior would meet in Mankato subsequent weekend within the WCHA semifinals. They primarily break up the season collection with every staff successful one sport and the opposite two determined in extra time. A fifth sport between the 2 may find yourself being a tiebreaker for an NCAA bid.
If Bowling Inexperienced have been to return again to win the collection, and the opposite prime seeds held, they’d face Lake Superior State within the semifinals and would possible must win there to proceed their season.
There are nonetheless a number of unknowns and I don’t suppose the NCAA Match image will probably be a lot clearer after tonight. However we will probably be getting some very priceless data that may go a protracted methods in figuring out the sector.