Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Engineer Bracketology: Week 5

Last week, we warned that Brown and Niagara were on the edge of the TUC cliff, and why it would be bad for the Engineers if they fell off. Those fears were realized on Friday, when both teams lost and fell off that cliff. Despite Rensselaer's tie against Quinnipiac, they fell all the way to 10th in the PairWise after Friday's games. They have since rebounded, and we'll explain why. Where are they now? Well, let's have a look.

1. Yale*
2. Boston College
3. Minnesota-Duluth*
4. New Hampshire*
5. North Dakota
6. Denver
7. Rensselaer
8. Wisconsin
9. Union
10. Merrimack
11. Notre Dame*
12. Michigan
13. Western Michigan
14. Nebraska-Omaha
15. Dartmouth
16. Miami
17. Boston University
18. Colorado College
19. Ferris State
20. Princeton
21. Minnesota
22. Maine
23. Alaska
24. Minnesota State
25. Alaska-Anchorage
26. Ohio State
27. Cornell
28. Michigan State
29. RIT*
30. Robert Morris

In: Nebraska-Omaha
Out: Boston University

TUCs
In: Cornell, RIT
Out: Brown, Niagara, St. Cloud State, Quinnipiac


As you can see, the Engineers aren't too far off of where they were last week. That's great news. That means their position in the PWR is stabilizing a little bit - also evident from the fact that for the second straight week, only one team is different from the previous week's field. Things are looking very good, but we're not out of the woods yet. At this time last year, Colorado College was 7th overall in the PairWise, followed by Maine and Minnesota-Duluth. None made the final tournament field, and that's coming from two of the most powerful conferences out there. Gotta keep plugging away and winning, because nothing's set in stone.

Let's see the bracket projection.

Bridgeport
1. Yale
2. Rensselaer
3. Merrimack
4. RIT

St. Louis
1. Boston College
2. Denver
3. Notre Dame
4. Nebraska-Omaha

Green Bay
1. Minnesota-Duluth
2. Wisconsin
3. Union
4. Dartmouth

Manchester
1. New Hampshire
2. North Dakota
3. Michigan
4. Western Michigan


The Engineers' bracket actually looks exactly the same as last week, even though there has still been a good amount of movement within the tournament field. Ultimately, it comes down to the belief that the NCAA will want to put Wisconsin in Green Bay. As long as the Engineers are lined up or nearly lined up with Yale in the natural bracket, the more of a likelihood there will be that they'll get swapped to Bridgeport. That's probably a best-case scenario for Rensselaer fans, it is the closest regional to Troy.

Enough of that. Still too early to draw a bead on likely regionals. Let's look at something substantive - the TUC cliff.

25. Alaska-Anchorage (.5095)
26. Ohio State (.5063)
27. Cornell (.5045)
28. Michigan State (.5039)
29. RIT (.5012)
30. Robert Morris (.5003)
--
31. Quinnipiac (.4986)
32. St. Cloud State (.4982)
33. Bemidji State (.4971)
34. Brown (.4964)
35. Northern Michigan (.4926)
36. Niagara (.4905)
37. Lake Superior State (.4903)


This is where we see what the problem is - and why watching the TUC cliff is so important. The Engineers lost a net of one TUC win (Princeton +1, RIT +1, Niagara -1, Brown -2) and gained one TUC loss this weekend (Cornell +1). Only one of those, Princeton, directly happened because of something Rensselaer did this weekend. The rest had to do with favorable or unfavorable results from the Engineer Cheering Section.

We know why we want Brown, Niagara, and RIT as TUCs. We know we don't want Cornell as a TUC. The others around the cliff are hit and miss. We know that, due to their positive impact on Western Michigan, we don't want Michigan State, Bemidji State, and Northern Michigan as TUCs.

Quinnipiac? Not right now. A tie is useful for your TUC record if it's under .500 - it brings it up. It drags it down if it's over .500. If the Engineers get a win over the Bobcats on senior night, however, a 1-0-1 record becomes desirable to add in most situations.

What ultimate impact did the loss of Brown and the addition of Cornell (the net effects since Niagara and RIT kinda cancel each other out, plus the Princeton win) have? Well, if Brown were a TUC right now instead of Cornell, the Engineers would win comparisons they are currently losing to New Hampshire and Western Michigan. That doesn't move them back up to sixth, but it does shore up their claim to seventh.

There's no team out there (with the exception of the Engineers, natch) that we want to win more frequently than Brown. They make a big difference in the TUC comparisons. Now, if Rensselaer beats Princeton in three weeks, the Tigers could essentially replace Brown, but it would be best to have them both. Same goes for RIT and Niagara.

Boston College: Rensselaer dodged a bullet when the Eagles beat BU last night. Even though we are normally inclined to root for our non-conference opponents (BU), in this case it was better that BC not end up playing Harvard. The Engineers, provided that they beat Colgate (a common opponent) on Friday, could flip this comparison with a Northeastern win (in fact, any Northeastern win in the three games they have with BC) and Brown returning to the TUC ranks.

New Hampshire: Believe it or not, Rensselaer is destroying the Wildcats in the COp criteria, thanks in large part to the season sweeps over Brown and Dartmouth and the win over BU. UNH is pretty comfortably ahead in RPI for the time being. That means this comparison hinges on TUCs, and Brown not only provides a 2-win boost for Rensselaer, they also provide a slight hit for UNH by adding one tie. Brown is definitely the difference right now.

Union: Nothing really has changed here except for that Union is now winning the comparison. It's still just a matter of being very close in RPI, so we just continue to root against Union when we can.

Western Michigan: The Broncos have the nation's longest unbeaten streak with 13 in a row, but many of those have been ties. Their abnormal RPI/TUC difference has largely been blunted, and Rensselaer is now the only team ahead of them in the PWR that they win the comparison with (except for Union, which is based on two H2H wins). Thus, their RPI/TUC difference is no longer doing any good whatsoever. Brown moving back up, or Michigan State moving out would flip this comparison.

Merrimack: Just to clarify from last week. The 10 TUC rule is in effect. Therefore, Merrimack, who has only nine games against TUCs right now, does not have a TUC criteria in its comparisons at the moment. When they play New Hampshire on Friday, that will be number 10 assuming that RIT doesn't drop out, and they could potentially win it. Right now, Rensselaer wins this comparison 2-0 on RPI, which is close, and COp, which interestingly has seven different teams but will not change until the playoffs begin, if then. So what do we want here? Brown could help again. Assuming Merrimack picks up the 10th TUC, everything could revolve around RPI. Losses from the Warriors help out.

So who do we root for this week? I'm sure you're starting to get the hang of this if you've been a regular reader.

Engineer Cheering Section
Friday
Rensselaer over Colgate
Brown over Clarkson
Union over Cornell
Princeton over Harvard
Dartmouth over Quinnipiac
Providence over Boston College
New Hampshire over Merrimack
Northeastern over UMass-Lowell
Bentley over American International
RIT over Canisius
UConn over Sacred Heart
Mercyhurst over Robert Morris
Niagara over Air Force
Alabama-Huntsville over Ferris State
Northern Michigan over Michigan State
Bowling Green over Notre Dame
Miami over Western Michigan
Ohio State over Michigan
Michigan Tech over Bemidji State
Minnesota over Denver
St. Cloud State over Minnesota-Duluth
Alaska-Anchorage over North Dakota
Colorado College over Minnesota State
Nebraska-Omaha over Wisconsin

Saturday
Rensselaer over Cornell
Dartmouth over Princeton
Brown over St. Lawrence
Colgate over Union
Yale over Clarkson
Merrimack over New Hampshire
Bentley over American International
Niagara over Air Force
Mercyhurst over Robert Morris
Alabama-Huntsville over Ferris State
Northern Michigan over Michigan State
Bowling Green over Notre Dame
Miami over Western Michigan
Ohio State over Michigan
Michigan Tech over Bemidji State
Minnesota over Denver
St. Cloud State over Minnesota-Duluth
Alaska-Anchorage over North Dakota
Colorado College over Minnesota State
Nebraska-Omaha over Wisconsin

Sunday
UConn over Sacred Heart
RIT over Canisius

Monday
Boston University over Harvard
Northeastern over Boston College


UC/Cornell: Once again, we have a game involving Cornell that is difficult to pick, because we need both teams to lose. A tie? Maybe. But looking at the bigger picture, a Colgate upset on Saturday over the Dutch would accomplish the same thing. Cornell, meanwhile, might require a pair of losses to get booted from the TUC ranks. Incidentally, an Engineer win on Saturday would make Cornell less of a problem, but we'd still want them out.

Merrimack/UNH series: Very, very tough call here. In all honesty, a split might be the best case scenario, which is why you see us rooting for UNH on Friday (at home) and Merrimack on Saturday (at home). Why? We want both of these teams to lose, but a split at least hurts both a little. Naturally, if Merrimack wins on Friday, we root for UNH on Saturday instead.

UAH/FSU series: This is the last hurrah for the Chargers, as their season ends this weekend. Thus, it's their last chance to help provide some minor RPI bump for Rensselaer.

1 comment:

  1. Tom -- great analysis...we're watching it closely at Merrimack too. When MC hits 10 games vs TUC this weekend it will help them because they currently have the third best record vs TUC. In fact they could split with UNH and still rise in the Pairwise. If they sweep, they can take the comparison with RPI (and a few others) and move up as high as 4th.

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