A more in-depth look at the at-large chances for teams on the bubble

With this year’s simplification of PWR (primarily moving the good wins bonus into RPI), there are far fewer fluky outcomes that push teams up or down. Teams trying to make the tournament from the #12-16 range are looking for two things:

  • maximizing the number of teams that make the tournament on the basis of PWR
  • maximizing their own PWR

The first is accomplished by minimizing the number of autobids that go to teams with lower PWRs.

Because of the new PWR’s simplicity, the second is usually accomplished by teams with rankings near the team in question is losing. If the team in question wins, it is helped by teams around it losing to clear a path. If the team in question loses, it is mostly focused on teams below it also losing so as not to be overtaken.

PWR Rankings (SiouxSports.com)

Autobids to high ranking teams

If you think of the tournament as having 6 autobids (for conference tournament winners) and 10 at-large bids, then each autobid that goes a team that would have made it at-large essentially frees up the at-large bid for the next lower ranked team.

So, if four autobids go to teams that otherwise would have made the tournament, then #14 in PWR will get a bid. If only two autobids go to teams that otherwise would have made the tournament, then only through #12 in PWR will get a bid.

So, the teams on the at-large bubble of #12-#16 want as many conferences tournaments as possible to be won by teams that were going to make the tournament regardless. Those are:

Big Ten

  • #1 Minnesota
  • #5 Wisconsin

ECAC

  • #3 Union
  • #6 Quinnipiac

WCHA

  • #4 Ferris State

Hockey East

  • #7 Mass.-Lowell
  • #8 Notre Dame
  • #9 Providence

#2 Boston College and #10 St Cloud St are idle.

As teams like #11 Michigan and the teams featured in this article advance to the point that they’re pretty much guaranteed a tournament spot, it may similarly benefit the featured teams for those teams to continue to succeed and claim conference championships. However, the Atlantic Hockey tournament autobid guarantees that at most the top 15 in PWR will make it, so teams featured in this article have to be cheering for at least some of the others to lose.

Minnesota State

#12 Minnesota State makes the tournament in 54% of scenarios in which it wins 1 game and 6.4% of scenarios in which it has no wins.

Minnesota State is most helped by #16 Cornell, #17 New Hampshire, #13 North Dakota, and #15 Colgate losing (note that #14 Vermont is not playing).

Minnesota State, like all teams featured in this article, is also helped by autobids going to highly ranked teams as described above.

North Dakota

#13 UND makes the tournament in 42% of scenarios in which it wins 1 game and .5% of scenarios in which it has no wins (a tie in the consolation game seems to be required).

Because the NCHC has a consolation game, UND could exit the tournament with one win either by winning then losing, or by losing then winning. The two have slightly different outlooks.

If UND wins its first game, it makes the tournament in about 46% of scenarios in which it loses the championship game. Most useful to UND in this situation seems to be #12 Minnesota State, #16 Cornell, #15 Colgate, and #11 Michigan losing (note that #14 Vermont is not playing).

If UND loses its first game, it makes the tournament in about .5% of scenarios in which it ties the consolation game or about 36% of scenarios in which it wins the consolation game. Most useful to UND in this situation seems to be #17 New Hampshire, #21 Ohio State, #16 Cornell, and #15 Colgate losing (note again that #14 Vermont is not playing).

North Dakota, like all teams featured in this article, is also helped by autobids going to highly ranked teams as described above.

Vermont

#14 Vermont has no opportunity for an auto bid but makes the tournament at large in 69% of scenarios.

Because Vermont is idle, it’s counting on others to clear it a path. Its own PWR is most helped by losses from #11 Michigan, #15 Colgate, #16 Cornell, #12 Mankato, and #13 North Dakota.

Vermont, like all teams featured in this article, is also helped by autobids going to highly ranked teams as described above.

Colgate

#15 Colgate makes the tournament in 77% of scenarios in which it wins a game, but only 2% of scenarios in which it has no wins.

Colgate is most helped by #12 Minnesota State, #16 Cornell, #13 North Dakota, and #17 New Hampshire losing (remember that #14 Vermont is idle).

Colgate, like all teams featured in this article, is also helped by autobids going to highly ranked teams as described above.

Cornell

#16 Cornell makes the tournament in 85% of scenarios in which it wins a game, but under 1% of scenarios in which it has no wins.

Cornell is most helped by #15 Colgate and #13 North Dakota losing (remember that #14 Vermont is idle).

Cornell, like all teams featured in this article, is also helped by autobids going to highly ranked teams as described above.