Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Formula, Revisited

First things first.

Chase Polacek didn't have great games against Clarkson or Cornell, and honestly wasn't stellar last night in Hamilton either, but when you do something like this... can kind of get a pass.

Meanwhile, we thought we'd share the updated look at "the formula" that we brought earlier this year. Recall that we said that in usual years, 3 points for home weekends and 2 points on road weekends would usually be enough to get you a first round bye. Well, let's see where we are with that so far.

The Formula (expected): earned (total deviation)
at Dartmouth/Harvard (2): 2 (0)
at Union/Union (0): 2 (+2)
at Yale/Brown (2): 2 (+2)
Clarkson/St. Lawrence (3): 2 (+1)
at Cornell/Colgate (2): 2 (+1)
Harvard/Dartmouth (3):
Brown/Yale (3):
at Quinnipiac/Princeton (2):
Colgate/Cornell (3):
at St. Lawrence/Clarkson (2):
Princeton/Quinnipiac (3):

Yale: +8
Union: +6
Dartmouth: +3
Princeton: +2
RPI: +1
Clarkson: +1
Brown: -3
Cornell: -3
Quinnipiac: -3
St. Lawrence: -4
Harvard: -6
Colgate: -12

Well, even with a .500 record, the Engineers are still on pace for that magic 25 point mark as long as they can stick to earning an average of 3 points at home and 2 on the road. But there are a few questions that need to be answered.

Why, for instance, is Cornell, who has the same record as RPI in the ECAC, trailing RPI's pace by four points? Two reasons - first, the Big Red have had more home games (and they've been swept at home), and second, they have yet to play their travel partners, Colgate, and RPI does have 2 "bonus" points from beating Union.

And of course, if RPI's still on pace for a bye, how can there be six teams on pace? Well, a couple of reasons for that, too. First, there's a pretty distinct gap right now between the top teams and the bottom teams, so there are more points being gobbled up by the better six squads. That might require an extra point or two by the end of the season to get the bye - remember, occasionally teams have required 26 or 27 points instead of 25 to finish in the top four. Second, as we get farther into the season some teams will probably drop back a bit, given that in any four games between travel partner pairings in a single week, there will be 2 points lost - for instance, this week in Central NY, Union was +2, RPI +0, Cornell -1, and Colgate - 3. Add it all up, and it's -2. So as we have more league games played, either the gap between the top and the bottom of the league will increase and teams will ultimately require more points for the bye, or the gap will decrease and 24 points will be more likely to get the bye.

We've also devised a formula for women's hockey. Generally, a team has needed 28 points over the years to finish in the top four and play at home in the first round of the playoffs. Building off the men's formula, we figure that a team needs to get 3 points in each of its home weekends, 2 in its road weekends, earn a split with the travel partner, and then pick up one other point along the way (either sweeping a home weekend or earning 3 on a road weekend). So to signify this formula, we simply start each team at -1 instead of at 0. Here's where the women stand now:

Cornell: +8
Harvard: +1
RPI: -1
Quinnipiac: -2
Dartmouth: -3
St. Lawrence: -3
Princeton: -3
Yale: -5
Clarkson: -6
Colgate: -7
Brown: -9
Union: -14

Now, this puts some teams at distinct disadvantages. Colgate has to get 2 points against Cornell? Yeah, good luck with that (this coming weekend). We can use this also to figure out which teams are in danger of missing the playoffs. With 18 points as the median cutoff for 8th place, that simply means that any team that is at -11 or lower is in serious danger of missing out. Lookin' at you, Union, but we didn't need a formula to figure that out.

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