Friday, March 18, 2011

Two Down, 17 to Go

We went 0-for-2 in our cheering section last night. Minnesota-Duluth, a team that could help ensure a non-upset in the WCHA, lost out to Bemidji State, a team that would be a potential upset winner, but more importantly, Colorado College defeated Alaska-Anchorage. This had two end results, one good, one bad. The bad news is that Colorado College has essentially guaranteed their place in the tournament, in part because the comparison with the Engineers is now permanently in their favor. The good news is that UAA is no longer a potential problem champion.

The bad does outweigh the good. By virtue of the two unfortunate results, the Engineers' chances of making the NCAA tournament are down about 13%. They now stand at 68.5010% according to Reilly Hamilton's KRACH-weighted prediction program. Before you start to worry, remember... that's still better than 2 in 3. This time last week, you would have been ecstatic at that figure.


So RPI can no longer finish in 10th, but we knew that wasn't probably going to happen anyway. They can no longer be 18th or 19th either, but that wasn't ever going to matter either.

RPI remains 16th in the PairWise, but that can and will change if we can flip one or more of the remaining flippable comparisions: Notre Dame, Dartmouth, and/or Maine.

So here's our new cheering section, with explanations to follow.
Denver over Bemidji State
Colorado College over North Dakota

Michigan over Western Michigan
Miami over Notre Dame

Cornell over Dartmouth
Yale over Colgate

Hockey East
Merrimack over New Hampshire
Boston College over Northeastern

Atlantic Hockey
RIT over UConn
Air Force over Holy Cross

So there it is. I have highlighted the four most important games of the day for the Engineers.

Wait, you say. Aren't CC and Cornell supposed to be sworn enemies of ours?

Well, they were. But not anymore. In CC's case, again.

We've bounced back and forth on the Tigers because they're a previous opponent who happened to be very close to us in the PWR. After last night's win, they are almost certainly going to be in the tournament, which is disappointing from our perspective, but there's also nothing we can do about it. Since they're also not a potential upset champion in the WCHA, we can fall back to our original position that we dwelled on in Engineer Bracketology for the last three months: you root for teams you played outside the conference during the season.

In this case, a CC victory over North Dakota would help the Engineers' RPI to an extent that it would flip the comparison with Maine - which right now, the Black Bears are winning by a margin of .0001. Additionally, the Fighting Sioux played Maine twice earlier this season as well, so there's a double bonus here. Colorado College vs. North Dakota is a proxy game between Rensselaer and Maine, with CC playing the role of the Engineers and North Dakota taking on the part of the Black Bears. The winner wins the comparison, most likely.

So when it comes to the WCHA, we're actually big Tigers fans now. If they win the Broadmoor Trophy tomorrow, it's hard to see the Engineers not playing next weekend, and it's all because of the mere existence of the first two games of the year.

Cornell? We've been harping on how bad Cornell is for the Engineers practically the entire span of Engineer Bracketology. And yes, if they lost twice this weekend, their RPI could fall below .5000, but from where we're sitting right now, that's not something we absolutely need. Yes, it would flip the Notre Dame comparison back, but Notre Dame losing twice or losing tonight and tying tomorrow would accomplish the same thing. Meanwhile, we want a crack at flipping that Dartmouth comparison, and the only way for that to happen is for the Big Green to lose twice.

That's playing with fire, because Dartmouth is a potential upset stifler, while Cornell would be an upset champion if they won twice. We definitely don't want that. So Cornell, for one night only, gets our support, but then we become Yale fans, assuming that they beat Colgate. If Cornell and Colgate both win... gulp.

The other ones, you know about. UNH gets bounced, that locks our comparison with the Wildcats, which we really need now that we can't flip the CC comparison. If Western Michigan loses twice, the Engineers are probably going to move ahead of them in the PWR by virtue of WMU losing comparisons to other teams. And of course, we want Notre Dame to lose twice. That can't happen in conjunction with WMU losing twice, of course, but if we can get one or the other to happen, that's fantastic for the Engineers. Basically, if Miami and Michigan both win tonight, the CCHA will turn out positive results.

Oh, and you want to know about the Atlantic Hockey part? Meh. Mr. Hamilton's KRACH machine tells us that these two results incrementally help the Engineers, while the opposite result incrementally hurts them. Every little bit helps at this point, but generally they're not too important. If RIT (or UConn) were playing, say, Holy Cross, it would be a little more important, because they could help boost the Engineers' RPI with a win, but as it is they're playing another previous opponent in UConn (or RIT), so it cancels out.

Northeastern, as a previous opponent, could help us out, but we don't want them becoming a TUC or an upset champion. That supersedes the benefit we could get from them beating Boston College.

That's it. Keep those fingers crossed and keep an eye on our Twitter feed tonight. We'll have live updates on what's going on and how it effects RPI.

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