Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Engineer Bracketology: Week 2

If you're going to win one game in a weekend, do it against a TUC - that's the lesson of the PairWise. The other lesson this week - other games definitely play a role as to whether you're in the tournament or not. This week, the Engineers are in the tournament thanks more to Brown's 3-point weekend than their own 2-point showing.

1. Quinnipiac*
2. Minnesota
3. Miami*
4. Boston College*
5. New Hampshire
6. North Dakota
7. Minnesota State
8. Niagara*
9. Western Michigan
10. St. Cloud State*
11. UMass-Lowell
12. Denver
13. Dartmouth
14. Notre Dame
15. Yale
16. Rensselaer
17. St. Lawrence
18. Robert Morris
19. Alaska
20. Union
21. Nebraska-Omaha
22. Merrimack
23. Boston University
24. Ferris State
25. Ohio State
26. Providence
27. Northern Michigan
28. Wisconsin
29. Colgate
30. Colorado College
31. Holy Cross
32. Brown

In: Dartmouth, Rensselaer
Out: Boston University, Merrimack

TUCs
In: Brown
Out: none

Well, there it is. For the first time this season, the Engineers are in the tournament field, even if it's just barely and it's contingent upon having ZERO upsets in the conference tournaments. Here's what the bracket would probably look like:

Providence
1. Quinnipiac
2. Niagara
3. St. Cloud State
4. Notre Dame

Grand Rapids
1. Minnesota
2. Minnesota State
3. Western Michigan
4. Rensselaer

Toledo
1. Miami
2. North Dakota
3. UMass-Lowell
4. Yale

Manchester
1. Boston College
2. New Hampshire
3. Denver
4. Dartmouth

If the season ended today, the Engineers are almost certainly playing Minnesota - there's not much of a reason for them to be playing anyone else. So, once again, there's making the tournament, then there's getting a favorable draw, and this certainly isn't one.

The problem? Well... there's not much space for upward mobility right now for Rensselaer. That's a big issue, one that doesn't leave much room for error.

Here's another problem - the TUC cliff.

25. Boston University (.5099)
26. Alaska (.5063)
27. Ohio State (.5040)
28. Colgate (.5033)
29. Colorado College (.5025)
30. Holy Cross (.5017)
31. Northern Michigan (.5014)
32. Brown (.5005)
--
33. Cornell (.4995)
34. Air Force (.4969)
35. UConn (.4960)
36. Bowling Green (.4936)

The Engineers' current record against TUCs is 9-9-4. That's a .500 record, which has really helped propel them into the tournament field. The problem is, they are 3-0-1 against Colgate and Brown, and both of those teams are hanging right there on the cliff. If they fall out, the Engineers will tumble down the PWR in a hurry.

Cornell hanging out on the outside of the TUC cliff is intriguing, but as of now they're of no help to the Engineers. Because they went 1-1-0 against the Big Red this season, adding them to a TUC record that's already at .500 will have zero impact. However, it's good to have them there as a backup if Brown or Colgate falls out. Then there's BU at the top of the TUC cliff. They're not in major danger yet of falling out, but they've entered the cliff zone. It would be nice to get rid of that TUC loss.

Anyway, as part of the limited upward mobility for the Engineers, there are only four comparisons out there that they currently lose that would have a shot at being flipped in the near future:
Nebraska-Omaha - As mentioned last week, this is another one of those comparisons that hinges exclusively on RPI (Union, Wisconsin, Providence, and Niagara are the other major cases), and it's getting closer despite the fact that UNO didn't play last weekend. Need UNO losses and Rensselaer wins.

Yale - The two H2H wins are the only points the Engineers have right now, but this is razor thin due to a COp tie at the present. Yale has tiny leads in RPI and TUC. That makes a Colgate win over Yale huge for Rensselaer - it would drop Yale's RPI, TUC record, and COp record all at once, not to mention shoring up the Raiders' position as a TUC. If Colorado College were to fall off the TUC cliff, Yale would lose a TUC win there too, so we can toss that onto our to-do list, and Holy Cross being a TUC gives them an extra TUC loss.

Dartmouth - The Big Green lead 3-2 on RPI, TUC, and H2H, while the Engineers have COp and H2H. Pretty simple here, we're rooting against Dartmouth, especially against Quinnipiac. The tricky part comes in with Dartmouth's 3-0-0 record against Brown, which means Brown as a TUC actually helps the Big Green more than it does Rensselaer. For this comparison and this comparison only, we would want Brown out as a TUC, but the problem is that the Bears help the Engineers win other comparisons (see below). However, Cornell could help out as well if they became a TUC, as DC was 0-1-1 against the Big Red.

Western Michigan - I threw this in not because of anything either team can do to impact this comparison this week, but because the TUC cliff could benefit the Engineers here. WMU is 2-0-0 against Northern Michigan this season, which helps bolster their TUC record for a 2-1 comparison win right now. Dumping NMU as a TUC would help make this closer in TUC, and the Engineers are already winning COp. Not likely to flip this week, but it could be made very, very close.

Here are the ones they flipped in the last week:
Union - All about RPI, and the Engineers moved ahead of the Dutchmen in RPI over the weekend, but it's close enough to be keeping an eye on. Still rooting for Union to lose - although their game against SLU on Friday is problematic. More on that in a minute.

Merrimack - TUC was flipped thanks to Brown's TUC accession and Merrimack's loss to Boston College on Sunday. RPI flipped as well to give the Engineers a 2-1 comparison lead. The RPI lead is slight enough that we still need to root against the Warriors, however.

Northern Michigan - This flipped entirely because of Brown's move into the TUC ranks - it had nothing to do with how Rensselaer played over the weekend whatsoever. That gives the Engineers a 2-1 comparison lead, but the TUC edge is razor thin. Fortunately, NMU is even closer to the TUC cliff than they were last weekend. If they fall out, there's no need to worry about their comparison, and that's probably the easiest route.

Finally, the comparisons Rensselaer presently wins, but could lose in the short-term:
Notre Dame - All on TUC and COp. COp can't be lost, but TUC is close. We need Colgate and Brown to stay up, we need Alaska and Ohio State to stay up (ND was 0-3-1 against the Nanooks and Buckeyes) and NMU falling out would help here as well (ND was 2-0-0 against them). RPI beating St. Lawrence is important, too, since SLU is a TUC.

St. Lawrence - Speak of the devil. The Engineers could make this rather solid with a win over the Saints on Saturday, which would give them two H2H wins. It's 2-2 right now and a Rensselaer win on RPI and H2H, but TUC and COp are close enough to get pushed. Thus, we may need to hope Union knocks them off on Friday to shore up TUC and COp, and if the Engineers add another H2H win on Saturday, that would make things pretty solid.

Robert Morris - This isn't really that close, but Holy Cross as a TUC gives RMU 10 games against TUCs, which kicks that part of their comparisons into consideration. Otherwise, it's a 2-0 Rensselaer advantage, though RPI is close. Just something to keep an eye on for the time being, and engage in some preventative rooting against the Colonials.

Providence - The Friars are solid on COp, the Engineers solid on TUC. This hinges on RPI, and the 'Tute is just barely ahead of PC there. Definitely need to root against Providence.

Wisconsin - The Badgers' loss to Penn State last night had some seriously bad repercussions for UW. They tumbled in RPI and subsequently the PWR. This one is also on RPI, and while it's not as close as Providence, it's close enough that we need to keep rooting against Bucky - problem is, they play UNO this week.

Further adding to the Engineers' problems, there's a great deal of flux going on just below the tournament field. Losses by Merrimack and Wisconsin in the last week sucked them way down the chart. Rensselaer's loss to Cornell actually put them down in 23rd for the night. It's simply going to be difficult for any of these teams to lose games going forward and still have a decent shot at an at-large bid.

They have to keep winning games, especially Saturday's game since it's the last one they're guaranteed to have against a TUC.

With all of that in mind, this week's Engineer Cheering Section. Notable games include tonight's BU-Merrimack game (we prefer Merrimack losing to BU despite the TUC loss to the Terriers in order to shore up the Merrimack comparison), Friday's Brown-Cornell game (we need Brown more than we need Cornell) and SLU-Union (Union can help us shore up the SLU comparison as long as the Engineers win too in order to mitigate negative impacts on the Union comparison). In the WCHA, we look at the UW-UNO series (take Bucky this week, then hope they lose next week to St. Cloud) and we are watching BU-UVM (now is the time to root against the Terriers to drop them as a TUC).

Tonight
Boston University over Merrimack
Boston College over UMass-Lowell

Friday
Holy Cross over Army
Sacred Heart over UConn
Air Force over Niagara
Mercyhurst over Robert Morris
Michigan State over Western Michigan
Bowling Green over Notre Dame
Ferris State over Michigan
Lake Superior State over Northern Michigan
Ohio State over Miami
Alaska over Alaska-Anchorage
Colgate over Yale
Rensselaer over Clarkson
Brown over Cornell
Princeton over Dartmouth
Quinnipiac over Harvard
Union over St. Lawrence
Boston College over Providence
UMass-Lowell over Merrimack
New Hampshire over UMass
Vermont over Boston University
Wisconsin over Nebraska-Omaha
Alabama-Huntsville over Minnesota-Duluth
Minnesota over Denver
Minnesota State over Colorado College
St. Cloud State over Michigan Tech
Bemidji State over North Dakota

Saturday
Sacred Heart over UConn
Holy Cross over Army
Mercyhurst over Robert Morris
Air Force over Niagara
Michigan State over Western Michigan
Bowling Green over Notre Dame
Ferris State over Michigan
Lake Superior State over Northern Michigan
Ohio State over Miami
Alaska over Alaska-Anchorage
Colgate ties Brown
Clarkson over Union
Cornell over Yale
Quinnipiac over Dartmouth
Rensselaer over St. Lawrence
Boston College over Providence
New Hampshire over UMass
Vermont over Boston University
Wisconsin over Nebraska-Omaha
Alabama-Huntsville over Minnesota-Duluth
Minnesota over Denver
Minnesota State over Colorado College
St. Cloud State over Michigan Tech
Bemidji State over North Dakota

Sunday
UMass-Lowell over Merrimack

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