The NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams

Barring some sort of disaster, I think Boston College, Minnesota, and Wisconsin can be penciled in for the NCAA tournament, and the CHA is going to put someone in.  After that there are four spots left for a bunch of teams that have decent claims and while the ECAC is also going to put in an autobid and Boston University has probably done enough at this point to secure their spot, things are a little murky.  Going by the RPI we have:

  • #4 Quinnipiac
  • #5 Harvard
  • #6 Minnesota-Duluth
  • #7 Boston University
  • #8 Clarkson
  • #9 St. Lawrence
  • #10 Cornell
  • #11 North Dakota

I could go a little further down, but I think that’s stretching things.  The ECAC is likely going to put in one of Quinnipiac, Harvard, Clarkson, Cornell, or St. Lawrence with it’s tournament winner getting an autobid.  Heaven help us if Dartmouth, Princeton, or Yale somehow walk away with it.  Here’s how the ECAC’s top five look against one another:

Ecac contenders

 

And examining the rosters leaves little in the way of clues.  Who plays their system the best?  Probably Quinnipiac.  Who has the most scoring depth?  Definitely Harvard.  Who has the best top line?  Probably Clarkson.

The last month of the season plus the tournaments will determine a lot and there’s not much that can be said now, but let’s try anyway.  Ignoring that the ECAC is definitely putting a team in the tournament, here are my picks in order from best to worst claim for a tournament spot.

Boston University

bu

Record: 16-6-2

Record vs. 50%+ Shots Opponents: 6-3-1

Remaining Opponents’ Records: 86-66-19 (.558) (not counting the second round of the Beanpot)

The Terriers already have two wins over Clarkson, one over Quinnipiac, and a tie versus Harvard.  They have a tendency to play bizarrely poor games at times (losses to Northeastern (6-3), Cornell (6-2), and Vermont (2-0)) but I don’t think you can justify ranking any of the other teams above them.

They’ll make it if:

They go 4-0 against Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Providence (2x) and don’t get completely handled against Harvard, Northeastern, or Boston College.

They’ll miss it if:

They go worse than .500 in their final 8 games and the other teams win some key matchups.

Harvard

hu

Record: 14-3-2

Record vs. 50% + Shots Opponents: 3-3-2

Remaining Opponents’ Records: 104-86-16 (.544)

I really need to see them play Quinnipiac and Clarkson again to get a good feel for things, but Harvard is riding high with wins in 12 of their last 13.  Aside from a 10-2 blowout loss to Boston College, they’ve done well against their ranked opponents and have taken care of business elsewhere.

They’ll make it if:

They finish top 3 in the ECAC and have a strong tournament showing.

They’ll miss it if:

They don’t do that.

Quinnipiac

qu

Record: 20-3-3

Record vs. 50% + Shots Opponents: 2-3-2

Remaining Opponents’ Records: 82-80-13 (.506)

There was a time when Quinnipiac seemed unbeatable, especially within the ECAC, now with a handful of losses against good teams they’re sinking fast.  They haven’t beaten a quality opponent since their November 29th win against Clarkson with losses to Harvard, Boston University, and Boston College and a tie against Dartmouth in the meantime.  You can make a case that they really only have three impressive wins, Clarkson twice and Cornell, and that’s it.

They’ll make it if:

They basically have the same road as Harvard, though with their recent performances probably a bit more pressure to play well down the stretch.

They’ll miss it if:

They continue to support the notion that they’re a paper tiger that has taken advantage of a soft schedule.  That would probably mean winning four games against the likes of Harvard, Dartmouth, Cornell, St. Lawrence, and Clarkson.

Clarkson

ckn

Record: 15-7-3

Record vs. 50% + Shots Opponents: 5-6-2

Remaining Opponents’ Records: 90-94-19 (.490)

The Knights lack firepower with their #1, #3, #4, and #5 scorers having departed in the offseason and that’s been evident in a more calculated defensive strategy and left them wanting for key goals in games against good opponents and outmatched by the likes of Boston University and Wisconsin.  They need to take more chances and try to dictate play more against good teams.

They’ll make it if:

They finish their weak remaining ECAC schedule strong, beat one of Quinnipiac or Harvard, make it to the ECAC finals, and don’t get overshadowed by an impressive Minnesota-Duluth run.

They’ll miss it if:

They lose games they should win, can’t beat a ranked opponent, or have an early exit from the ECAC tournament.

Minnesota-Duluth

umd

Record: 17-6-3

Record vs. 50% + Shots Opponents: 2-4-2

Remaining Opponents’ Records: 140-50-20 (.714)

Nothing against the Bulldogs but they’re going to get wrecked down the stretch.  Their remaining opponents: North Dakota, at Wisconsin, at Minnesota, and Ohio State, all twice.

They’ll make it if:

They somehow manage 5 wins out of that schedule OR the ECAC teams beat up on one another and make themselves look less impressive in the process OR the selection committee doesn’t hold their remaining schedule against them.

They’ll miss it if:

They can’t sweep North Dakota and Ohio State and at least take one of their Minnesota/Wisconsin games to overtime.

North Dakota

und

Record: 14-10-2

Record vs. 50% + Shots Opponents: 5-7-2

Remaining Opponents’ Records: 96-96-16 (.500)

UND has been weird, at times they look like they’ve got it together this season, and others they look inept.  If they had fared better against Bemidji State they might be in Minnesota-Duluth’s position right now, but instead they occupy the middle ground of just not enough impressive wins to be a tournament shoo-in.

They’ll make it if:

They make themselves impossible to ignore by sweeping Minnesota-Duluth next weekend and taking a game from Minnesota after that.  Their last two opponents are at St. Cloud State and Minnesota State which they should sweep, but they’ll probably still need a good tournament showing.

They’ll miss it if:

Minnesota-Duluth buries them, Minnesota blows them out again, or St. Cloud State or Minnesota State manage to beat them.

Cornell

cor

Record: 10-7-3

Record vs. 50% + Shots Opponents: 5-6-3

Remaining Opponents’ Records: 78-113-23 (.418)

Cornell is mostly riding their 8-3 and 6-2 blowouts of Clarkson and Boston University respectively plus a little bit their win and tie versus St. Lawrence.  They’re not going to dominate many games, but they play mistake-free hockey and capitalize on their opponents’ miscues.  Having a six foot tall goalie in Paula Voorheis doesn’t hurt either.

They’ll make it if:

They sweep their remaining ECAC schedule which is at Colgate, at Quinnipiac, at Princeton, Harvard, Dartmouth, and Rensselaer and Union twice.  That would put them pretty close to a regular season ECAC title which might be enough, but they’d probably also have to show well in the tournament.

They’ll miss it if:

They finish outside the top 2 in the ECAC and don’t make the tournament finals.

St. Lawrence

slu

Record: 14-8-3

Record vs. 50% + Shots Opponents: 5-6-2

Remaining Opponents’ Records: 91-93-19 (.495)

It’s an uphill climb for the Saints, although blowing out Mercyhurst twice was a good start.  Playing a lot of good teams tough (they’re Boston College’s lone tie) and getting blown out by Minnesota isn’t the most impressive resume.

They’ll make it if:

Basically the same road as Cornell’s, win out.

They’ll miss it if:

They finish outside the top 2 in the ECAC and don’t make the tournament finals.

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About Alex

I am awesome.
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