Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Engineer Bracketology: Week 4

We're doing Bracketology on Tuesday this week because of the women's game against Yale getting moved to tonight, and also because we have a special post coming this week (long-time WaP followers should know what that will be). So even though there's still two games tonight that we're (sort of) watching for that were attached to last week's edition, here's where we currently stand.

1. Quinnipiac*
2. St. Cloud State*
3. North Dakota
4. Providence*
5. Harvard
6. Michigan*
7. Boston College
8. Notre Dame
9. Omaha
10. Yale
11. Boston University
12. UMass-Lowell
13. Denver
14. Cornell
15. Minnesota
16. Penn State
17. Rensselaer
21. Minnesota State*
23. Robert Morris*
In since last week: none
Out since last week: non
Last in: Denver, Cornell
First out: Minnesota, Penn State
League breakdown: 5 HEA, 4 ECAC, 4 NCHC, 1 B1G, 1 WCHA, 1 AHA

1. Quinnipiac
2. Notre Dame
3. Omaha
4. Robert Morris

St. Paul
1. St. Cloud State
2. Boston College
3. Yale
4. Minnesota State

1. North Dakota
2. Michigan
3. Boston University
4. Cornell

1. Providence
2. Harvard
3. UMass-Lowell
4. Denver

A couple of potential bracket changes - again, could see the entirety of the Worcester and Albany regionals swapped for the sake of ticket sales as long as the committee doesn't mind sending Quinnipiac to a technically (but not by much) farther away regional. Probably would see Boston College and Notre Dame swapped, too for the same reason.

The RPI cliff:

16. Minnesota .541
17. Rensselaer .539
18. Dartmouth .538
19. Bowling Green .528
20. Minnesota State .526
21. Minnesota-Duluth .523
22. Miami .520
23. Michigan Tech .518
24. Robert Morris .518
25. Clarkson .509

Further down, there's St. Lawrence (#26) and Union (#30).

After taking a hard look at the Pairwise calculator, I've come to the conclusion that I was mistaken before - quality ties do add at least something of an RPI bonus, albeit only half what a win gets. With that in mind, I'm adding quality ties to our QWB tracker.

Quality wins
Boston College (#7, at home)
Yale (#10, at home)
Cornell (#14, at home)

Quality ties (half a quality win)
Quinnipiac (#1, on the road)
Harvard (#5, at home)

Missed opportunities
Harvard (#5, neutral ice)
Michigan (#6, at home)
UMass-Lowell (#11, on the road)
Dartmouth (#18, at home)

Upcoming opportunities
Yale (#10, on the road) - Jan 30
Harvard (#5, on the road) - Feb 12
Dartmouth (#18, on the road) - Feb 13
Quinnipiac (#1, at home) - Feb 19
Cornell (#14, on the road) - Feb 27

So, we can still use those SLU and Union quality wins, eh? Guess who we're rooting for (and Miami too, of course, since they're within striking distance of the Top 20).

Look. It's Union. Home of annoying fat rent-a-cops who threaten you if you sneeze let alone cheer. Home of insufferable bandwagon fans with a lame band. I get it. You love watching them struggle. But that's not going to help anything. In all honesty? Root for them to run the ECAC table. 10 wins to end the regular season. Why? Because that could be just what the doctor ordered for the Engineers to play in the national tournament. Three big quality wins added to the ledger would be glorious, and the higher they rise, the better the bonus (if it ever comes back). Does it look promising? Not particularly. But it would be a solid help.

More than a few comparisons worth examining right now.

Boston College (H2H win) - Very simple with this comparison this week. If Harvard beats the Eagles in the Beanpot, this comparison flips to Rensselaer for the time being. Right now, the only common opponent is New Hampshire (both 1.000), which makes this a 1-1 win for BC on RPI. Harvard becomes a COp on Monday, however, and by virtue of the Engineers' 0-0 draw with the Crimson in December, a Harvard win over BC moves COp to 1.250-1.000, and gives Rensselaer a 2-1 comparison win on COp/H2H.

Now, this would only be temporary, because UMass-Lowell becomes a COp in late February when the two Hockey East teams play each other during the final weekend of the regular season - which can only benefit BC, as the Engineers lost the only game they'll play against UML this year. Looking ahead, if BC does lose to Harvard, we'll be rooting extra hard for UNH to beat them as well on the following Friday. Best case scenario, in two weeks COp stands at 1.250-0.500 Rensselaer. At any rate, a Harvard win flips and keeps this comparison with the Engineers through the end of February at least.

This comparison gets much harder to flip without BC's RPI coming down a lot (which probably won't happen) if the Eagles beat the Crimson. Since the Beanpot game can't end in a tie (they can and do go to multiple overtimes), it's an either/or proposition. If BC wins, COp goes to 2.000-1.250 BC, and the lowest BC's COp would be able to get would be 1.500, assuming they lose to New Hampshire next Friday and then get swept by UML. That would require Rensselaer to have beaten the Crimson in February for COp to be at 1.500-1.500 before considering playoff series/games that would have impact (BC/UNH, Rensselaer/Harvard). So in other words, a BC victory on Monday all but certainly makes this a nut too tough to crack - but a Harvard victory leaves the barn door wide open.

Total COp: 1.000-1.000
Harvard: To be added (.250 for Rensselaer)

UMass-Lowell (H2H loss) - This comparison is brought back into view thanks to three games this week that influence COp.

As of now, the Engineers trail UML on COp thanks to the River Hawks' win over Clarkson (while Rensselaer has just a tie). The combined winning percentages are 2.000 to 2.500 in UML's favor in games against Brown, Clarkson, and New Hampshire. This week adds Arizona State to the mix as the Sun Devils return east to face the River Hawks. That'll add a full 1.000 to the Engineers' side of the ledger, so anything less than a two game sweep for UML helps Rensselaer out here. Even a tie would be kind of an upset for ASU, but it's good to know that there's nothing UML can really do here to get a leg up.

The Engineers also face Brown on Friday, which is another opportunity to improve COp. UML won't see Brown again, and the only game they had against them was a draw in the Friendship Four Championship in Northern Ireland. If Rensselaer can defeat the Bears on Friday, the Brown portion becomes a net benefit for the Engineers (.750 to .500). If it's a tie, it keeps Brown a wash as it is now. If it's a loss, it makes Brown a net benefit for UML (.500 to .250). Of course, this could change again should Rensselaer and Brown meet in the playoffs.

The Clarkson element of COp can be improved at the Freakout!, but it can't be overcome since UML also doesn't face Clarkson again. A win would help offset any future discrepancies in the Brown element. For UML's part, they do still have another game against New Hampshire (1.000 for the Engineers) which can only hurt them, and Boston College (1.000) is added on the last week of the regular season, which also can only hurt them (although it's possible by that time we'll be rooting for UML if the BC comparison can be won). And, once more, the whole COp comparison is meaningless if UML's RPI doesn't decrease, too.

Total COp: 2.500-2.000 UML
Brown: 0.500 each
Arizona State: To be added (1.000 for Rensselaer)

Yale (H2H win) - Might as well mention this one since the second H2H matchup is on Saturday. A win or a tie for the Engineers keeps COp in play as a manner of flipping this comparison, while a loss reverts it to being solely RPI based.

Yale's been an interesting case to look at. On one hand, they're providing Rensselaer with a quality win bonus, so we want them to be as high in the RPI as they can be to provide a better bonus. On the other hand, they're kind of within the realm of "teams the Engineers can catch in the Pairwise," so losses are good too. It's a Catch-22 situation.

Looking at COp, the only non-conference common opponent is Arizona State, and both the Engineers and Bulldogs were perfect against ASU. So in a nutshell, COp will come down to whichever team does better within the ECAC (outside of head to head matchups) by the end of the season, including playoffs, with three exceptions: Princeton (who Yale beat in a non-conference game), Harvard (who Rensselaer lost to in a tournament) and Union (the Mayor's Cup). Therefore, the remaining games that these teams have against these three schools (Princeton and Harvard for Rensselaer, all three for Yale - including Union at Yale on Friday) have a little extra meaning for this comparison.

Unless, of course, Yale beats the Engineers on Saturday night, and then COp doesn't matter anymore. A win or a tie would keep the COp/H2H comparison win scenario alive, which is the best case scenario since we'd also like Yale's RPI to be as high as possible, too.

Total COp: 8.000-6.750 Yale
Brown: 1.000-0.500 Yale
Union: 1.000 each

Cornell (H2H win) - The Big Red have not had a good last two weeks. They've gone 0-3-1 in their last four games and have dropped considerably in RPI and the Pairwise. Not a good thing necessarily for the Engineers, as they're currently a quality win, but it does make them similar to Yale in that they could be caught. There's an added wrinkle here - the comparison with Cornell could be flipped as soon as Friday.

Should Clarkson beat Cornell, a Rensselaer win or tie with Brown would flip this comparison to the Engineers, regardless of whether Cornell's RPI drops below that of Rensselaer. Whether that lasts the weekend depends largely on what happens on Saturday, when both teams play games that can only hurt their COp figure (Cornell with SLU, Rensselaer with Yale).

There are zero non-conference COps between these two teams, so as one would expect, COp is very close. Until these teams play each other again in February, we could be watching this one ping-pong a bit. Then again, if these teams keep having results like they've been having the last two weeks, with Rensselaer unbeaten and Cornell winless, this could flip quickly and stay that way for a while.

Total COp: 6.000-5.750 Cornell
Clarkson: 1.000-0.500 Cornell
St. Lawrence: 1.000 each
Brown: 1.000 to 0.500 Cornell
Yale: 1.000 to 0.500 Rensselaer

Michigan (H2H loss) - Real quick with this one. Michigan's going to be very tough because RPI has to be flipped as well (and that's unlikely), but the door is kept open thanks to the Engineers' victory in the Mayor's Cup. The Wolverines tied the Dutchmen, which leaves that element at 1.000-0.500 Rensselaer. With Dartmouth the only other COp (0.750-0.000 Michigan right now), a win over Dartmouth in a few weeks would flip COp to the Engineers, 1.500 to 1.250. But, again, RPI has to be flipped as well thanks to the H2H loss.

Union (3 H2H wins) - Another open and shut recap. This one now is guaranteed to be won by the Engineers as long as they don't face Union in the playoffs and lose. That is the only scenario in which this one could be lost - it probably still wouldn't be.

Not worth examining Dartmouth (H2H loss) this week because they can't overcome on COp, but they can certainly overtake Rensselaer on RPI. The Engineers winning their own games would be just fine here.

Time for the cheering section. Obviously, the games we're looking most closely at this week are Cornell at Clarkson/SLU, ASU at UML, Quinnipiac/Princeton at Dartmouth, Union at Yale, and the BC/Harvard Beanpot game.

The key for the cheering section:
1. Wherever there is direct COp assistance
2. For the ECAC out-of-conference
3. For improved quality win bonuses (QWB)
4. Against teams ahead of or just behind Rensselaer in the RPI or PWR
5. For non-conference opponents

Engineers Cheering Section
Princeton over American International - 2
Sacred Heart over UConn - would do some minor damage to Hockey East RPIs, not important

Clarkson over Cornell - 1
St. Lawrence over Colgate - 3
Union over Yale - 1/3/4
Quinnipiac over Dartmouth - 1/4
Merrimack over Boston University - 4
Boston College over Notre Dame - 3/4/5

Weekend series
Michigan over Penn State - 4/5
New Hampshire over Providence - 5
Miami over Denver - 4/5
Western Michigan over North Dakota - 5
Bentley over Sacred Heart - 5
Arizona State over UMass-Lowell - 1/4/5
Northern Michigan over Minnesota Duluth - 4
Michigan Tech over Bowling Green - 4
Colorado College over Omaha - 4
Alaska-Anchorage over Alabama-Huntsville - 5
Alaska over Wisconsin - 5

St. Cloud State over Minnesota State - 4
Bemidji State over Minnesota - 4
Princeton over Dartmouth - 1/4
St. Lawrence over Cornell - 1
Union over Brown - 3

Minnesota State/St. Cloud State over Minnesota AND/OR Bemidji State over Minnesota State - 4
Arizona State over Merrimack - 5

Harvard over Boston College - 1/2
Northeastern over Boston University - 4

Brown over UConn - 2

Important COp/H2H games for currently relevant comparisons
Friday, January 29: Arizona State at UMass-Lowell; Rensselaer at Brown
Saturday, January 30: Arizona State at UMass-Lowell; Rensselaer at Yale
Monday, February 1: Harvard vs. Boston College (Beanpot)
Friday, February 5: New Hampshire at Boston College; St. Lawrence at Rensselaer
Saturday, February 6: New Hampshire at UMass-Lowell; Clarkson at Rensselaer
Friday, February 12: Rensselaer at Harvard
Saturday, February 13: Rensselaer at Dartmouth
Friday, February 26: UMass-Lowell at Boston College
Saturday, February 27: Boston College at UMass-Lowell

Unwinnable comparisons (H2H loss, will lose COp)

Clinched comparisons (H2H win, will win COp)
Western Michigan, Bentley

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