Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Engineer Bracketology: Week 7

If you're still among those muttering "well, I'll just root for the Engineers and everything else will sort itself out" after reading our weekly Bracketology, consider this. After Friday, when Rensselaer dropped a 5-3 decision to St. Lawrence, they ultimately moved up one spot in the PairWise Rankings after being as high as 10th at one point during the course of the night before all the results were in. Then, following Saturday, where the Engineers picked up a big 5-1 victory over Clarkson, they didn't budge an inch, still sitting 13th in the PairWise, though technically now tied for 11th with Miami and New Hampshire. Why did that happen? Well, it's because you can't "just root for the Engineers and everything else will sort itself out."

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

In: Western Michigan
Out: Dartmouth

In: Ohio State, Northern Michigan, Bemidji State
Out: None

So the Engineers currently find themselves as the highest of the 4-seeds, very close to moving back up into 3-seed territory given their tie with Miami and UNH. Here's the bracket.

1. Yale
2. Union
3. Nebraska-Omaha
4. RIT

Green Bay
1. North Dakota
2. Minnesota-Duluth
3. Notre Dame
4. Western Michigan

1. Boston College
2. Michigan
3. New Hampshire
4. Wisconsin

St. Louis
1. Merrimack
2. Denver
3. Miami
4. Rensselaer

Amazingly, this is the natural bracket (1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, etc.) with no intra-conference matchups and no needing to accomodate hosts. The St. Louis bracket is a little worrisome as far as ticket sales are concerned, but the other three brackets are pretty solid money-wise. I suppose the NCAA could try to swap the Green Bay and St. Louis brackets completely, and then swap Wisconsin for the Engineers (putting Rensselaer in Manchester against Boston College). That might make each bracket good for ticket sales, even if it would confirm that the NCAA cares more about selling tickets than bracket integrity.

Yes, that is Merrimack as a 1-seed. It's been a wild season around the nation, for sure.

Time to take a look at the TUC cliff. It's getting crowded, which means there is a lot of potential for change.

23. Ferris State (.5096)
24. Robert Morris (.5095)
25. St. Cloud State (.5094)
26. Alaska (.5087)
27. Cornell (.5085)
28. RIT (.5071)
29. Bemidji State (.5035)
30. Ohio State (.5029)
31. Alaska-Anchorage (.5029)
32. Northern Michigan (.5004)
33. Quinnipiac (.4981)
34. Michigan State (.4946)
35. Niagara (.4932)
36. Air Force (.4931)
37. Lake Superior State (.4927)
38. Northeastern (.4919)
39. Clarkson (.4907)

We know some of these are good TUCs or potentially good TUCs from previous editions of EB (Ferris State, RIT, Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Niagara, and possibly Quinnipiac). We know some of these are bad TUCs or potentially bad TUCs from the same (Cornell, Robert Morris, Cornell, Alaska, Michigan State, Cornell, St. Cloud State, Clarkson, and, oh yeah, Cornell).

Does Rensselaer's win over Clarkson this weekend change our attitude toward them? No. It does make them less of a problem if they do become a TUC, but their would still negatively impact the Engineers' TUC record.

Northeastern pops in as a potential TUC down the road. How do we feel about them, given the lone game against them was a tie? Much like Clarkson, it wouldn't be horrible, but we'd rather not. Adding ties into a winning TUC record weakens that record.

But here's the bigger question. Where's Brown? We've been lobbying hard for Brown in this space practically since the beginning, but they've been abysmal. Since the Engineers completed the season sweep, the Bears are 1-4-1 and are not in a position to become a TUC unless they manage a minor run through the ECAC playoffs. We'll still root for them for the time being, but we need to have the mindset that they're not likely to come to the rescue and boost Rensselaer's TUC record.

As far as Cornell is concerned - the Big Red dropping out as a TUC would flip the Engineers' comparison with Nebraska-Omaha. Given nothing else, that would move the team from 13th to 11th in the PWR. Here's what we're looking at with the Engineers' comparisons - ones that seem to have the possibility to flip in the next week. Rensselaer is currently winning comparisons with the first four, and losing them to the last two.

New Hampshire: This one's razor thin, but a Rensselaer win right now. The Engineers have a pretty solid COp lead, and are winning the comparison on a TUC lead. Cornell dropping out would shore this win up significantly (drop 2 losses for Rensselaer, drop 1 win for UNH), but barring that, the Engineers are going to need to beat Princeton on Friday in order to keep this one a win.

Notre Dame: Rensselaer wins this comparison 2-1 right now on TUC/COp. They've clinched COp, but TUC is close. Much like New Hampshire, this comparison needs a win over Princeton on Friday and Cornell to drop out to be shored up.

Western Michigan: The Broncos' big TUC advantage has pretty much completely dried up, which is good news for this comparison. Rensselaer has about a .0100 RPI advantage to go with the TUC edge, so they do need to keep winning to keep this one alive.

Dartmouth: This one flipped back in Rensselaer's favor this week due to RPI after the Big Green lost to Colgate and Cornell. We knew that was a potential silver lining to a Cornell win over Dartmouth, and that's what we got. The Big Green present an interesting challenge, because we don't get to use the Engineers' two wins over them in the TUC comparison. Losing Cornell actually doesn't do much good here, since that would help Dartmouth as well, though not as much. The biggest thing here, really, would be a win over Princeton on Friday. Quinnipiac as a TUC might hurt the Big Green a little too (1-1-0 against them), so especially if the Engineers beat the Bobcats on Saturday, QU as a TUC would help out a little. Bear in mind that if the Engineers and Big Green face each other in the playoffs, all bets will be off in this one, especially if that's before Atlantic City.

Nebraska-Omaha: As explained above, Cornell falling under .5000 RPI would flip this comparison back to the Engineers. The same holds true for St. Cloud State falling out, since they are a big boost to the Mavericks' TUC record. Quinnipiac is a COp, and while a loss on Saturday wouldn't kill the chances of winning this comparison by any stretch, it would certainly make things a little precarious.

Miami: Same as last week, since the Redhawks were idle last week. Engineers need to win, Miami needs to lose to flip RPI, which is going to be the sole determinant of this comparison.

So in the next week or so, it doesn't look like Rensselaer has the potential to move up too terribly far in the PairWise, but they can potentially move into a 3-seed position, and maneuver themselves to where they could possibly shoot for a 2-seed (their highest reasonable seeding) during the ECAC playoffs. More importantly, moving up the PWR at this point increases their likelihood of being in the tournament at the end of the day.

Here is this week's cheering section.

Engineer Cheering Section
Brown over Harvard

Ferris State over Ohio State

Rensselaer over Princeton
Quinnipiac over Union
Brown over Cornell
Harvard over Clarkson
St. Lawrence over Dartmouth
Northeastern over New Hampshire
Vermont over Boston University
Ferris State over Ohio State
Alaska-Anchorage over Alaska
Lake Superior State over Miami
Bowling Green over Michigan State
Western Michigan over Notre Dame
Wisconsin over St. Cloud State
Denver over Nebraska-Omaha
Colorado College over Minnesota-Duluth
Niagara over RIT
UConn over American International
Bentley over Holy Cross
Air Force over Robert Morris

Rensselaer over Quinnipiac
Brown over Colgate
Yale over Cornell
Clarkson over Dartmouth
Northeastern over New Hampshire
Vermont over Boston University
Alaska-Anchorage over Alaska
Lake Superior State over Miami
Bowling Green over Michigan State
Notre Dame over Western Michigan
Wisconsin over St. Cloud State
Denver over Nebraska-Omaha
Colorado College over Minnesota-Duluth
Bemidji State over North Dakota
Niagara over RIT
UConn over American International
Bentley over Holy Cross
Air Force over Robert Morris

Bemidji State over North Dakota

UNH/NU series: We don't want NU as a TUC, but we do want UNH to lose to more COps and drop in RPI. Advantage Northeastern.

UVM/BU series: Like last week, just keeping BU at arm's length in the PWR.

WMU/Notre Dame series: Tough one here since these are games between teams we have potentially volatile comparisons against. Root for a weekend split. If the Engineers sweep their weekend, it'll have a net benefit in both comparisons.

SCSU/UW series: There's no good answer to this one. We want SCSU to fall out as a TUC to help flip the UNO comparison, but we also don't want Wisconsin picking up TUC wins. The thing is, if the Badgers do sweep, SCSU may no longer be a TUC anymore (or at least be very close) - and we'd have even more reason to root against the Huskies. Go with UW for now (maybe for 3 points instead of 4), looking to the future when we hopefully get help from Colorado College in two weeks.

Niagara/RIT series: Blargh. This sucks. Here we have two teams that we really want as TUCs. RIT currently is one but is on the edge, Niagara currently isn't one but is close. We could root for RIT to sweep, firming them up as a TUC but making Niagara less of a likelihood. We could root for a split, which would probably maintain the status quo. Nah, let's go for it all. No guts, no glory. Take Niagara for both, and then hope RIT either stays a TUC or can regain TUC status down the road.

Cornell at Brown: I know I don't need to explain this one, but how cool is it that we can help get a lot of what we want if Brown beats Cornell in this game? From Brown's rising RPI to Cornell's falling RPI to helping the Engineers get a first round bye (of course, not at all related to Bracketology, but another concern at least). Obviously, this would be a big result for the Engineers.

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