Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Men's ECAC Tiebreakers (4 Weeks Out)

We've reached the point of the season where we don't have to stand on our heads to figure out where teams "really" are in the standings. What you see is what you get. 14 games played each, 8 games left each. RPI is in a tie for 8th in the standings, that's where they are.

So we're starting to get deep enough into the season when the oh-so-important tiebreakers begin to play a factor.

Here are the seven ways the ECAC uses to break ties, in order.
  1. Comparison of game results between tied teams (head to head). There are four points up for grabs in any given season between two teams, it's essentially the first to three.
  2. ECAC league wins. Another way to put this is "the team with fewer ties," since a team with the same number of points as another but more wins also has fewer ties (math tells us that both teams would have either an odd or even number of ties). This makes it easier to compare two teams that aren't currently tied in the standings. Generally, we expect that a team that has 2+ ties more than the team they're being compared to are likely to lose on this criteria if they're tied head-to-head.
  3. Comparison of results of games against the top four teams. This can get fluid depending on which team is currently occupying the top four spots and is difficult to hammer down until very late in the season.
  4. Comparison of results of games against the top eight teams. Ironically, the winner of this criteria necessarily has a worse record against the league's worst teams than the loser.
  5. Goal differential in head-to-head competition. Seems like this should be a higher-level tiebreak, but here we are.
  6. Goal differential in games against the top four teams.
  7. Goal differential in games against the top eight teams.
It's not listed on the website, but presumably the final tiebreaker if teams are hopelessly deadlocked would be the drawing of lots - basically a coin flip if it's just two teams.

If there are more than two teams tied for one spot, the tiebreakers are applied until a team is separated from the others, either up or down, and then the remaining teams then start again from the top. Let's say Clarkson, Cornell, and Yale are tied for 4th. Each has 4 points in games against each other, but Cornell has one more win than either Clarkson or Yale. Cornell is then 4th, then Clarkson and Yale are compared head to head in a tie for 5th. Conversely, if Cornell had one less win than the others, they would be 6th, and Clarkson and Yale are then compared head to head in a tie for 4th.

Current ties in the standings are broken as follows:
4th: Clarkson wins the first tiebreaker over Yale (3-1).
6th: Cornell wins the first tiebreaker over Colgate (3-1).
8th: RPI wins the second tiebreaker over Dartmouth (7-6).
11th: Princeton wins the sixth tiebreaker over Brown (-11 to -19).

We're too early in the process to really get into multiple-way tiebreakers, but we'll touch on those as potential 3-way, 4-way, and more-way ties become a possibility late in the season.

Below are the current states of the first tiebreaker. Teams are listed above tiebreakers that they have either won, are winning (with a game remaining to be played) or are tied.

The RPI-Union and Clarkson-SLU travel pairings have yet to face each other for the first time (which happens this coming weekend), so there's nothing listed for those tiebreakers yet. Irrelevant tiebreakers - those between teams that cannot tie in the standings - are listed at the bottom.

Quinnipiac
RPI, Union - Won, 4-0.
Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, SLU - Ahead 2-0.
Yale - Tied, 1-1. Unknown ECAC wins difference.

St. Lawrence
Cornell, Yale - Won, 4-0.
Dartmouth, Harvard - Ahead, 2-0.
Clarkson - Tied, 2-2, would likely lead on ECAC wins.

Harvard
RPI - Won, 4-0.
Dartmouth - Won, 3-1.
Brown, Clarkson, Colgate, Princeton, Quinnipiac - Ahead, 2-0.

Clarkson
Brown - Won, 4-0.
Yale - Won, 3-1.
Dartmouth, Princeton, Quinnipiac - Ahead, 2-0.

Yale
Brown - Won, 4-0.
Colgate, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, RPI - Ahead, 2-0.
Quinnipiac - Tied, 1-1. Unknown ECAC wins difference.

Colgate
SLU - Won, 4-0.
Clarkson - Won, 3-1.
Brown, Princeton, Union - Ahead, 2-0.
Dartmouth - Tied, 1-1. Unknown ECAC wins difference.

Cornell
Clarkson - Won, 4-0.
Colgate - Won, 3-1.
Brown, Harvard, Union, Yale - Ahead, 2-0.

RPI
Princeton, Union - Won, 4-0.
Colgate, Cornell - Ahead, 2-0.
Dartmouth - Tied, 2-2, would likely lead on ECAC wins.

Dartmouth
Union - Won, 4-0.
Brown, Cornell, Princeton - Ahead, 2-0.
Colgate - Tied, 1-1. Unknown ECAC wins difference.

Union
Princeton, Won, 4-0.
Harvard - Won, 3-1.
Brown, Yale - Ahead, 2-0.

Princeton
Cornell - Ahead, 2-0.
Brown - Tied, 1-1. Ahead on goal differential against Top 4.

Brown
RPI - Ahead, 2-0.

Irrelevant
Quinnipiac-Brown
Quinnipiac-Princeton
St. Lawrence-Brown
St. Lawrence-Princeton

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