Saturday, February 23, 2013

Where We Stand (23 Feb)

Hey everybody.  There are just seven games remaining on the women's schedule before the playoffs start and there are just three full days (or eighteen games) on the men's side.  As usual, everything is coming down to the wire!  With that out of the way, let's get down to the nitty gritty.

(If you want to skip to the men's explaination, click here)

RPI (8-11-2) has locked themselves into 7th place, but we already knew that.  Just like last night's game against Cornell, tonight's game against Colgate is purely a practice playoff game.  The more amazing part is that each of Clarkson, Cornell, and Harvard can still be the playoff opponent for the Engineers.

Here, the interest definitely lies in the tiebreakers and the race for the ECAC Championship.

If we assume that Cornell (17-3-1) wins against 0-17-4 Union and Harvard (16-2-2) defeats Yale (3-14-3), then it all comes down to the Harvard / Clarkson match-up today.  Cornell would be guaranteed to finish ahead of Clarkson, so they couldn't finish in 3rd, but the placement of the three teams would vary depending on today's game at Bright.

Harvard win: Harvard wins the ECAC Regular Season crown while Cornell finishes 2nd (vs RPI) and Clarkson finishes 3rd (vs Dartmouth)
Tie: Cornell and Harvard tie, with Cornell winning the tiebreaker on ECAC wins.  That means RPI heads to Harvard and Clarkson still finishes 3rd.
Clarkson win: Cornell wins the ECAC Regular Season crown while Clarkson and Harvard tie for 2nd.  Clarkson would sweep the season series and host the Engineers.

If you want a more in-depth breakdown, it is as follows:

Potential tiebreakers:
1st-3rd Place
Cornell / Harvard - Cornell wins this tiebreaker except under one condition.  If the Big Red ties Union (which isn't going to happen) AND Harvard beats Clarkson and loses to Yale (which is the only way that the tiebreaker comes into play) AND Quinnipiac earns more points in their game tonight against Brown than St. Lawrence does against Dartmouth.  In that case, the Crimson and Big Red would have split the season series with each team having won at home and both teams would have 17-3-2 records, rendering the ECAC wins comparison moot.  Harvard would then win based on Record vs Top 4 having gone 4-2-0 while Cornell would have been 3-3-0.

If, instead, Harvard loses to Clarkson and beats Yale, then Harvard would lose on either Record vs Top 4 (if Quinnipiac doesn't make it into the home-ice position) or Record vs Top 8.

In the other case where these two teams meet at 36 points (all three games remaining involving the two teams result in ties), then Cornell would win the tiebreaker on ECAC wins (17-3-2 vs 16-2-4).

If Cornell beats Union (as expected) and Harvard earns three points, then Cornell would win based on ECAC wins (18-3-1 vs 17-2-3).  So, this tiebreaker is almost guaranteed to be a Cornell win.

Clarkson / Harvard - Since the teams are currently tied, Clarkson does not have a game-in-hand, and Clarkson won the matchup in Potsdam in January, if this tiebreaker comes into play, then Clarkson wins the tiebreaker on the season series.

Clarkson / Cornell - If Cornell loses to Union (which definitely isn't going to happen) and Clarkson ties Harvard, then it comes down to whether St. Lawrence or Quinnipiac makes up the last of the Top 4 teams, since they would have split the season series and would both have 17-4-1 records.  If it's the Saints, then Cornell's sweep would give them the tiebreaker.  If it's the Bobcats, then it's Clarkson's sweep that would win the tiebreaker.

If Cornell ties Union (still isn't going to happen) and Clarkson defeats Harvard, then Clarkson wins the tiebreaker on ECAC wins.  Clarkson's 18-4-0 record would best Cornell's 17-3-2 record.

Clarkson / Cornell / Harvard - If these teams finish in a three-way tie, then Clarkson would win the three-way tiebreaker.  It would also only come into play if Harvard does not defeat Clarkson today at Bright Arena, so Harvard could not win the head-to-head tiebreaker against Cornell.  The tiebreaker would split exactly as listed above.

4th-5th Place
Quinnipiac / St. Lawrence - Quinnipiac won the season series by winning at home and then fighting the Saints to a draw last Friday.

8th-11th Place
Colgate / Princeton - Colgate won the season series by earning a draw at home in the second week of the season and then crushing the Tigers in Princeton on February 8th.

Colgate / Yale - Yale swept the season series over Colgate and would win a head-to-head tiebreaker

Brown / Yale - They split the season series with each team winning at home, so it would go down to ECAC wins.  Brown is dominating that comparison right now.  They would either win 5-16-1 vs 3-14-5 or 4-15-3 OR 6-16-0 vs 4-14-4 OR 5-17-0 vs 3-15-4.

What does this all mean?
Harvard controls their own destiny for 1st as of now.  However, if they lose today against the Lady Knights, then the only way that they don't finish 3rd is if Union pulls the upset of the century over Cornell at Messa Rink (and yes, Union would have to beat Cornell, not just tie them).  A tie against Clarkson presumably leaves Harvard's women in 2nd.  However, a loss at home against Yale on Tuesday would drop the Lady Crimson to 3rd.  Harvard would not be able to win the tiebreaker against Cornell, so they would have to earn more points against Yale then Cornell does today against Union to take home the crown and the #1 seed.

Cornell will presumably defeat Union at Messa today, putting the pressure on Harvard to sweep their two remaining games.  If, by some chance, Cornell ties Union, then they lock themselves into the #2 seed and a playoff date against Rensselaer.  Either Harvard will pass Cornell and then Clarkson can't catch the Big Red OR Clarkson and Cornell will be tied at 36 and Clarkson will win the tiebreaker on ECAC wins OR it will be a three-way tie, Clarkson will win the head-to-head portion and Cornell will win the tiebreaker against Harvard.  In the extremely unlikely event that Cornell loses to Union, then Cornell's placement depends on not only the Harvard / Clarkson game, but potentially the Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence placements, too.  If they lose against Union, they're guaranteed to not finish 1st, though.

Clarkson doesn't control their own destiny, but a win today against Harvard means that they can't finish in 3rd.  If Cornell doesn't beat Union, then Clarkson wins the ECAC Regular Season crown.  A tie against Harvard could (in extreme circumstances) still let the Lady Knights take home the crown (Cornell would have to lose to Union and Harvard would have to lose to Yale at home, knowing that the crown was on the line), but they would most likely finish 3rd.  A loss against Harvard definitely sends Clarkson to the #3 seed and a date against Dartmouth.

St. Lawrence controls their fate for 4th place, but they will be playing against Dartmouth (a team who has nothing to play for) and will need to earn at least as many points as Quinnipiac does against Brown.

Quinnipiac needs to earn more points against Brown (who is locked out of the playoffs but can still fight for bragging rights over their travel partner for 10th place) than St. Lawrence does to play host next weekend.

Dartmouth is locked into the #6 seed.

Rensselaer is locked into the #7 seed.

Princeton controls their destiny for the #8 seed.  They need to earn at least as many points in their game against Yale (who is locked out of the playoffs but can still fight for bragging rights over their travel partner for 10th place) than Colgate does against Rensselaer.

Colgate needs to earn more points against Rensselaer (a team who has nothing to play for) than Princeton does to get the last playoff spot.

Brown not only has to play Quinnipiac, they also don't have any control over where they will finish.  They do, however, have control of the tiebreaker over Yale.

Yale CAN finish in 10th, but would need to get more points in games against not only Princeton, but also Harvard than Brown earns against Quinnipiac.  A winnable match-up against the Tigers while Brown has to face a team fighting for home-ice means that it wouldn't be impossible, but isn't a guarantee.

Union is locked into the #12 "seed."

RPI's loss last night to Cornell dropped the Engineers (9-7-3) from sole possession of 2nd to sole possession of 3rd place.  But, never fear. Since the team is facing the North Country pair next weekend, they still control their destiny for 2nd.  What's the mantra?  Win, baby, win!

What results tonight would help the Engineers climb / firm up their standings?  This doesn't take PairWise effects into consideration, it's only looking at the ECAC standings.  Obviously, the first thing is to take care of business today against Colgate.  Around the rest of the ECAC:
Cornell over Union since Cornell would no longer be able to catch the Engineers with an RPI win or tie anyway
Harvard over Clarkson since Harvard can't catch RPI
Quinnipiac over Brown since nobody can catch Quinnipiac
Dartmouth over St. Lawrence to put RPI back into 2nd place by themselves
Princeton not losing to Yale.  Princeton is further behind, but they won the season series over RPI while the Engineers swept Yale

The first three games are pretty easy calls and it would certainly be better to have St. Lawrence behind Rensselaer than in front of them heading into next weekend, but RPI will have their chance to take care of business on Senior Night.  And, Princeton / Yale is nearly a toss-up with positives and negatives to be taken out of any result.

The Engineers have the ability to put Colgate, Cornell, Brown, and Princeton firmly behind them tonight. The first two they can do on their own with a win or a tie, the other two would occur by taking more points than the Bears and/or Tigers.

The State of the Tiebreakers Address (how RPI would fare in a head-to-head tiebreaker against each team in the ECAC):
Brown - Won season series: 3 vs 1.  Clinched.
Clarkson - Winning season series 2 vs 0.  If it comes into play, more likely than not it would end up 2 vs 2.  ECAC ties are currently equal, so it could potentially come down to Record vs Top 4 (or 8).  Yale is a good team to have in the Top 4 and RPI has the advantage in points earned vs Quinnipiac, but St. Lawrence could swing either way and Union cannot work in RPI's favor
Colgate - Winning season series 2 vs 0.  If it comes into play, RPI will have lost each of their last four games of the regular season while Colgate will have won each of their last four.  Clearly, there would be bigger issues to worry about.  However, for the sake of it... it would come down to Record vs Top 4 (or 8).  The Engineers would win season series comparisons against Cornell, Princeton, Quinnipiac, and St. Lawrence, but would lose comparisons between Colgate and themselves on the basis of Brown, Clarkson, and Union.  If Union stays in the Top 4, it would be difficult to win this tiebreaker.  Again, bigger issues.
Cornell - Split season series 2 vs 2.  If it comes into play, RPI will have lost each of their last four games of the regular season while Cornell will have won each of their last four and they would have idential 9-10-3 records.  RPI would win point-by-point comparisons between themselves and Cornell against Brown, Princeton, Quinnipiac, Yale, and Harvard (who is guaranteed not to be a Top team).  They would lose comparisons against Dartmouth, Union, and Colgate.  If Union stays in the Top 4, it would be impossible to win this tiebreaker.  If the Dutchmen also fall out of the Top 4, then it would be doable.  However, again, bigger issues.
Dartmouth - Split season series 2 vs 2. Both teams are currently equal on ECAC ties, so it could potentially come down to Record vs Top 4 (or 8).  In case you needed any more excuses, it would pay to root against Union here as Dartmouth won the season series with the Dutchmen 3-1.  Dartmouth has chances against both Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence before the season is over, so those advantages can be erased.  This wouldn't be an easy tiebreaker to win.
Harvard - Doesn't matter.  They can't finish tied.
Princeton - Lost season series 1 vs 3.  Anti-clinched.
Quinnipiac - Doesn't matter.  They can't finish tied.
St. Lawrence - Winning season series 2 vs 0.  This one is tough to call.  RPI could still lose their Senior Night game and finish tied, but it would take an odd set of circumstances, especially for this not to be immediately won by RPI on ECAC wins.  St. Lawrence actually defeated Quinnipiac (instead of tying them) and also beat Union in Appleton, so if this goes to Record vs Top 4, it's not looking good for Rensselaer.
Union - Was swept in season series 0 vs 4. Anti-clinched.
Yale - Swept season series 4 vs 0. Clinched.

As far as potential multiple tiebreakers after tonight's games (as calculated by Tom)

SLU/Union: Union, RPI, SLU
Union/Yale: Union, RPI, Yale
Union/Dartmouth: Dartmouth, Union, RPI
Union/Clarkson: Union, RPI, Clarkson
Dartmouth/Yale: RPI, Yale, Dartmouth
Dartmouth/Clarkson: RPI, Dartmouth, Clarkson
Clarkson/Yale: RPI, Yale, Clarkson
Union/Yale/Dartmouth: Union, RPI, Yale, Dartmouth
Union/Yale/Clarkson: Union, RPI, Yale, Clarkson
Union/Dartmouth/Clarkson: Dartmouth, Union, RPI, Clarkson
Yale/Dartmouth/Clarkson: RPI, Yale, Dartmouth, Clarkson
Union/Yale/Dartmouth/Clarkson: Dartmouth, Union, RPI, Yale, Clarkson

As far as the rest of the league is concerned...

Quinnipiac (16-1-2) clinched 1st place last week and will host the lowest remaining seed in the ECAC Quarterfinals. Their three remaining games are relevant for trying to keep their #1 position in the PairWise only, although they do have the opportunity to toy with the playoff destinies of Brown, Harvard, and Dartmouth.

St. Lawrence (9-6-4) is in sole possession of 2nd place and even they haven't clinched a home playoff series yet, which illustrates well how close things are. They are one point ahead of RPI in 3rd. They can clinch a first-round bye tonight with a win over Dartmouth AND losses or ties by Yale and Clarkson.

Union (8-7-4) is in sole possession of 4th place, one point behind RPI and one point ahead of 5th place. They cannot clinch a first-round bye tonight, but they control their own destiny for the bye.

Yale (9-9-1), Dartmouth (8-8-3), and Clarkson (8-8-3) are tied for 5th. All three teams have four points in the head-to-head tiebreakers, Yale takes 5th on ECAC wins, Dartmouth 6th on the fourth tiebreaker (record against Top 8 teams). All three control their destiny for home ice, none do for the bye.

Brown (6-8-5) and Princeton (7-9-3) are tied for 8th, two points behind 7th. Brown wins the tiebreaker on a season sweep of the Tigers. Despite the current advantage, Brown does not control their own destiny for home-ice, while Princeton does.

Cornell (6-10-3) and Colgate (6-10-3) are tied for 10th, two points behind 9th. Cornell wins the tiebreaker on a 3-1 season series win over the Raiders. Both teams must win out to have a shot at the first-round bye, and even then it is unlikely.

Harvard (4-13-2) are alone in 12th and will be on the road in the first round of the tournament. A loss to Clarkson and Colgate/Cornell victories would lock them into last place.

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