Friday night's 3-1 win for Wisconsin over Minnesota-Duluth was important for the Badgers' NCAA tournament hopes. Obviously at this stage of the season, Wisconsin needs to keep on winning to have a chance at earning an at-large birth in the tourney.
Wisconsin entered the night 18th in the PairWise rankings, which mimic what the NCAA uses to select the tournament field. After the dust settled on Friday, the Badgers had moved up to 14th, in a tie with Notre Dame and Union (Wisconsin loses the tie-breaker to both, and is 16th overall). But it wasn't Wisconsin's win that moved them up the board.
So what happened?
Believe it or not a game played in Denver had a bigger effect on Wisconsin's PWR than the Badgers' win over UMD did. With Denver beating Colorado College, it knocked the Tigers off of the "Teams Under Consideration" cliff. All teams with an RPI of .5000 or greater are considered "Teams Under Consideration," or TUC's for short.
TUC is one of four categories the NCAA uses to compare teams against each other. The other factors are record against common opponents, or COp for short, as well as RPI and head-to-head results.
Colorado College was above .5000 in the RPI before the night started, but the loss to Denver dropped them off the cliff. That means that Wisconsin's 0-2 record vs CC no longer counts against the Badgers' record against TUC's.
With that in mind, who should Wisconsin fans be cheering for tonight?
The two most obvious ones are Denver and Nebraska Omaha. The Badgers need Denver to beat Colorado College to keep them below the TUC cliff so Wisconsin's 0-2 record against them won't hurt.
As for Nebraska Omaha, it's the exact opposite. Wisconsin is 2-0 vs UNO this season which helps the Badgers, but UNO is on the verge of falling off the TUC cliff. A loss by Nebraska Omaha tonight vs Minnesota State would push them off the cliff and would end their season.
Are there any additional outcomes that can help Wisconsin?
Certainly none as obvious as Denver and Nebraska Omaha, but basically any team above Wisconsin in the current PairWise losing will help as it will lower that teams' RPI, making it easier for Wisconsin to leapfrog teams.
Wisconsin is very close to passing Union, who currently leads the comparison 3-0. If Union loses to Dartmouth tonight, Wisconsin's RPI will likely pass Union, as will Wisconsin's record vs TUC's, provided the Badgers beat UMD.
Additional teams Wisconsin fans should be cheering for include Brown (over RPI), St. Lawrence (over Yale), and Bowling Green (over Notre Dame).
That said, all the help in the world means nothing if Wisconsin doesn't continue to win.
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