KRACH predicts the NCAA tournament

One of the neat things about everyone’s favorite college hockey ranking scheme, KRACH, is that it can be easily applied to predict the likelihood of the winner of a game. I took the current KRACH and used to predict each team’s chances of winning it’s opening round game, advancing out of the regional, winning the semifinal at theFrozen Four, and winning the national championship.

The full data is below, but here are a few interesting observations:

  • Though Mankato’s KRACH is only a bit higher than North Dakota’s, the Mavericks are given a much better chance of both emerging from the regional (62%) and winning the national championship (23%) due to significantly weaker competition in the Midwest than in the West.
  • In fact, Mankato is the only 1-seed given a better than 50% chance of emerging from its region.
  • The regions all have strong teams and weaker teams. This same analysis last year featured a region where each team had between a 20-30% of emerging; no region is even close to that parity this year.
  • All four 2 vs. 3 opening round games are very tightly contested with KRACH prediction ranges of only 58-62% vs. 42-38%.


KRACH East Game 1 Game 2 (Region Champ) Game 3 (Frozen four semifinal) Game 4 (National Champ)
386.382 1. Miami (OH) 65.19% 36.49% 18.05% 9.39%
206.325 4. Providence 34.81% 14.15% 4.94% 1.82%
364.441 2. Denver 61.96% 33.38% 16.04% 8.12%
223.772 3. Boston College 38.04% 15.99% 5.86% 2.28%
523.143 1. Mankato 92.36% 62.16% 38.54% 22.89%
43.2923 4. RIT 7.64% 1.13% 0.14% 0.02%
289.538 2. Omaha 57.94% 22.92% 10.93% 4.92%
210.181 3. Harvard 42.06% 13.80% 5.51% 2.06%
487.207 1. North Dakota 69.05% 40.59% 24.86% 13.96%
218.395 4. Quinnipiac 30.95% 12.13% 5.06% 1.87%
399.556 2. Michigan Tech 59.87% 30.61% 17.30% 8.88%
267.776 3. St Cloud St 40.13% 16.67% 7.78% 3.24%
375.473 1. Boston University 66.36% 37.22% 18.57% 9.25%
190.328 4. Yale 33.64% 13.26% 4.49% 1.52%
339.557 2. Minnesota Duluth 58.76% 31.18% 14.79% 7.01%
238.363 3. Minnesota 41.24% 18.34% 7.15% 2.78%

Odds and ends – .500, ties, consolation game and SCSU

There are a few oddities in this year’s tournament outlook and structure that have been the subject of numerous comments—

  • The .500 rule (teams must have a record of at least .500 to get an at-large bid)
  • The tie possibility (the NCHC consolation game, unlike all the other tournament games, can end in a tie)
  • The consolation game (the NCHC consolation game is now the only one of its kind)

I examined the effects of each of these on the possible scenarios and found that none of them are a very big deal. While each can, of course, result in a different team making the tournament in some situations, none distort the outcomes in particularly unusual or undesirable ways.

The .500 rule will keep one otherwise eligible team out of the tournament in a handful of scenarios, the tie possibility will give its participants the opportunity for an outcome a bit better than a loss (but a bit worse than a win), and the consolation game will give an additional opportunity for some movement to two teams that would be done playing without it.

On the .500 rule

For the first time in recent memory, it’s possible for a team with an under .500 record to be in PWR position for an at-large bid. St Cloud St could lose two games to earn an 18-19-1 record, but still be ranked high enough for an at-large bid.

I ran the scenarios a second time, tweaking the rules to let SCSU into the tournament from that position despite the <.500 record to see how much that rule changed things. While it will clearly be a big deal to the teams affected if it happens, the overall impact is pretty small. Without the .500 requirement, SCSU would make the tournament in about 21% of its win 0 scenarios (which include the possibility of a consolation game tie), compared to 19% with the .500 requirement in place. So, absent that rule, SCSU would make the tournament at-large in about 4% of its two loss scenarios and bump another team. The potential victims of that bump would be other bubble teams, primarily Minnesota, Harvard, Colgate, Mass.-Lowell, and Yale.

On the possibility of a tie in the NCHC consolation game

There is only one game in the remaining conference tournaments that can end in a tie — the NCHC consolation game. Though like any game it could definitely change who makes the tournament, it doesn’t throw a huge wrench into the process. Other than St Cloud St’s .500 situation described above, no team can achieve a different ranking this year due to the existence of the tie than they could achieve without it.

The possibility of a tie has the biggest obvious impact on SCSU, giving them an opportunity to go winless on the weekend on still make the NCAA tournament (with a loss and a tie).

Not surprisingly, each of the other three NCHC teams with a potential for a loss and a tie also fare slightly better in that scenario than they would with two losses—UND can finish #1 more frequently, Miami can finish #7 more frequently, and Denver has significantly more potential to finish #3-6 then the #7 they’d likely finish with two losses.

On the existence of the NCHC consolation game

Similarly, the existence of the NCHC consolation game doesn’t have any unusual effects on the field this year.

By giving an extra game to two teams that have lost, each will have an additional opportunity to either make up some of the lost ground or lose even more ground than if the consolation game weren’t played.

By virtue of being on the bubble, SCSU is again most affected. Without the consolation games, they would advance in a decent share (about 30%) of scenarios in which they lost in the semifinals. Forcing them to play another game after such a loss puts them back in control of their own destiny, facing certain elimination if they lose or a much improved tournament outlook if they win.

Open post for questions about rankings

Let’s try something a little different this week — does anyone have any questions about rankings (PWR, probably being most interesting)?

The next two weeks are interesting because the schedules aren’t firm. Some conferences will begin conference tournaments, some have a week or two of regular season play left.

I’ll still try to make some regular posts later in the week, but this is your chance to find out what YOU really want to know.

Big PWR games of the week

#10 Minnesota appears in the Big PWR Game of the Week for a second time. Buoyed by a road split last weekend, the Gophers probably need a better performance hosting #33 Michigan State to avoid falling back down to the bubble.

Getting swept could incite numerous “Time to get rid of the stupid PWR?” forum threads, as Minnesota would likely fall 8-9 places.


The runner-up, #22 Northeastern, could provide a shock in the other direction by appearing on the bubble if they sweep #6 Boston University.


Finally, #1 Minnesota State faces the biggest threat to its ranking in weeks with a series hosting #5 Michigan Tech. The Mavericks need a sweep to hold off #2 North Dakota.



KRACH predicts the NCAA tournament

Everyone’s favorite college hockey ranking scheme, KRACH, can be used to predict game outcomes. Here’s what KRACH thinks of the NCAA tournament field.

  • KRACH thinks Minnesota has the easiest path to the Frozen Four, with a better than 60% of emerging from its regional.
  • SCSU vs Notre Dame is the most balanced game, with KRACH given about a 1% edge to St Cloud St.
  • Wisconsin is the weakest 1-seed facing the 2nd toughest 4 seed, resulting in only a 56-44 advantage over North Dakota.
  • The Midwest is also the most balanced regional overall, with each team having between a 20-30% chance of advancing.
KRACH West Game 1 Game 2 (Region Champ) Game 3 (Frozen four semifinal) Game 4 (National Champ)
359.406 1. Minnesota 93.19% 61.16% 40.70% 23.41%
26.2834 4. Robert Morris 6.81% 0.84% 0.11% 0.01%
190.458 2. St Cloud St 50.60% 19.36% 9.95% 4.20%
185.96 3. Notre Dame 49.40% 18.65% 9.47% 3.94%
198.286 1. Wisconsin 56.35% 29.51% 12.39% 5.35%
153.57 4. North Dakota 43.65% 20.08% 7.25% 2.70%
199.632 2. Ferris St 55.70% 29.49% 12.43% 5.38%
158.776 3. Colgate 44.30% 20.93% 7.71% 2.93%
352.088 1. Union 69.46% 45.44% 26.41% 15.61%
154.823 4. Vermont 30.54% 13.88% 5.35% 2.11%
197.646 2. Quinnipiac 53.26% 22.42% 9.93% 4.49%
173.439 3. Providence 46.74% 18.26% 7.52% 3.17%
350.585 1. Boston College 76.88% 49.23% 28.98% 17.10%
105.457 4. Denver 23.12% 8.11% 2.50% 0.77%
159.696 2. Minnesota St 41.36% 15.71% 6.28% 2.52%
226.442 3. Mass.-Lowell 58.64% 26.94% 13.02% 6.32%