Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hacking the Pairwise, 2013

You may remember that, two years ago, with the Engineers sitting out for two full weeks waiting to find out what their fate would be, RPI junior Reilly Hamilton, in part spurred by impatient RPI fans, decided to go ahead and calculate what the odds were. We found out after the conference quarterfinals were all over that the odds were actually pretty decent - one week out, the Tute was sitting on an 81% chance of playing in the NCAAs, a result that was borne out by the end.

This year, the calculations are easier (the CCHA has ditched their consolation game, significantly dropping the number of potential scenarios) but the slog is significantly higher.

According to Reilly's calculations this year, (that would now be RPI grad Reilly) the Engineers currently sit at a 20.9488% chance of picking up an NCAA bid.

That's not stellar. But on the other hand, it's actually not that bad when you look at the full collection of at-large bubble teams - underscoring the need to have as few tournament upsets as possible.

So how does it work? We can do the heavy lifting to simply determine what the percentage is on the number of scenarios that put the Engineers in the tournament - the figure is under 10% - but that presumes that each and every scenario is equally likely. Instead, Reilly weights potential scenarios using KRACH, perhaps the best option out there for comparing teams to each other. As he mentions, there's no really good way of using KRACH to determine the odds of a tie, but with only one game left that can end in a tie - the ECAC consolation - it's not an overly major concern.

Here's what it says.

There are seven teams, as we mentioned on Tuesday, that will be in no matter what happens as of right now (teams with no games remaining are in italics):
Quinnipiac (#1)
Minnesota (#2)
Miami (#3-#6)
UMass-Lowell (#3-#10)
Boston College (#3-#10)
North Dakota (#3-#11)
New Hampshire (#5-#11)

Then there are five other teams that are at over 99% in terms of scenarios that have them in. These teams are functionally in the tournament:
Minnesota State (#3-#13)
Denver (#9-#13)
Niagara (#4-#14)
Yale (#3-#14)
St. Cloud State (#4-#15)

So that's 12 teams that are in. The odds of teams on the bubble for an at-large:
Notre Dame - 87.9112%
Western Michigan - 86.8950%
Union - 60.1731%
Rensselaer - 20.9488%
Boston University - 19.7945%
Providence - 18.7914%
Wisconsin - 9.9528%
Robert Morris - 3.1676%
Alaska - 0.0324%

This is where we start to see why it's important to have favorites (especially teams in that 12 team group that are already in the tournament) winning this coming weekend. Especially if we can get losses as soon as possible by BU, Providence, and Wisconsin, the Engineers actually stand a decent chance of being that last team in as long as upsets are kept at a minimum.

For teams that must win their tournament to make the NCAAs:
UConn - 23.5290%
Mercyhurst - 17.4484%
Ohio State - 14.3688%
Canisius - 13.1246%
Michigan - 11.7761%
Brown - 10.3210%
Colorado College - 3.7661%

So, where do we go from here? Well, Reilly has already done the calculations for tonight's WCHA Final Five games.

The most important one, as we expected, was the game taking place at 3pm Eastern time between Minnesota State and Wisconsin. If the Mavericks win, the Engineers will see their odds boosted almost 5%. If the Badgers win, the odds go down over 5%. That makes this one of the weekend's key games.

As far as the Colorado College/North Dakota game, it doesn't seem to be all that important, since the changes are not that big - though for some reason, a Colorado College win provides a small boost, while a North Dakota win provides a small hit. Not overly important, but if that's the case we probably prefer CC, although if UND does win, it helps end the very slight possibility of an upset champion from the WCHA (completely ending it if MSU and UND both win). That should be more important in the long run.

We'll have more updates as Reilly reruns his program after each night's activity.

As for today:
Minnesota State over Wisconsin
North Dakota over Colorado College

It's not an optimal situation, of course - but it's better than being where the other three ECAC quarterfinal losers are now: knowing there's no hope for an NCAA bid.

Go Mavericks!

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