Yesterday in our PairWise update, we detailed a few scenarios that could both help and hurt Wisconsin's chances of making the NCAA tournament. Wisconsin did its part, defeating Minnesota-Duluth, 4-1. In terms of the dominoes around them, the Badgers saw one fall their way and another go the other direction.
The Badgers needed Nebraska Omaha to win, which would keep them a Team Under Consideration, or TUC for short. They did just that, knocking off Minnesota State on the road, 2-1.
Wisconsin also needed Denver to defeat Colorado College, since the Tigers are 2-0 vs. Wisconsin. A loss for CC would knock it off of the TUC cliff, which would drop those two losses off of Wisconsin's record vs TUC's. Unfortunately, CC was able to pull off the road victory in Denver, virtually cementing its status as a TUC. Even if the Tigers lose tonight in game three, they are likely to stay as a TUC, as a loss would drop their RPI to .5014, which is above the .5000 threshold for the TUC cliff.
TUC is one of four categories the NCAA uses to compare teams against each other. The other factors are record against common opponents (COp for short), RPI and head-to-head results.
Colorado College started last night under the .5000 threshold, which is why the Badgers were tied for 14th in the PairWise (PWR for short). With its win over Denver, CC's RPI increased to .5039, knocking the Badgers back to 18th in the PWR.
There are nine games being played on Sunday, so how does that affect Wisconsin's chances at an at-large tournament bid?
Starting with the WCHA, the Badgers want North Dakota to defeat Michigan Tech. If the Huskies are able to win, they will advance to St. Paul and play Wisconsin on Thursday. Tech winning today doesn't affect Wisconsin, but the Badgers don't want to play them in St. Paul because the Badgers need to play teams who are TUC's so they can better their record in that category. Tech is not a TUC, so while a win over them would be nice and would advance UW one step closer to the WCHA playoff title, it doesn't do much for them in terms of the PairWise.
For reference, if North Dakota wins tonight the Badgers could play either Denver, Nebraska Omaha or Minnesota State, depending on who wins Sunday.
If Colorado College defeats Denver, the Badgers will play the winner of the UNO vs. Minnesota State game. If Denver defeats Colorado College, the Badgers will play the Pioneers Thursday afternoon. UNO, Minnesota State and Denver are all TUC's, which presents another opportunity for UW to better its record vs. TUCs.
Another game to watch on Sunday is the Cornell vs. Quinnipiac match up. Wisconsin is currently losing the comparison to Cornell, but just barely. A Cornell loss to Quinnipiac, and one Wisconsin win at the Final Five over a TUC, flips the comparison in UW's favor.
Another game to watch tonight from the ECAC is the Rensselaer game vs Brown. The Badgers currently own the comparison over Rensselaer, but only because Wisconsin has a higher RPI by .0001. Yes, it's that close. A win by Rensselaer tonight over Brown flips the comparison back to Rensselaer.
A game out of the CCHA to keep an eye on is Ohio State and Ferris State. A win for Ferris flips the UW/Rennselaer comparison to Rensselaer, as it slightly increases their RPI. A win for Ohio State actually moves the Badgers up one spot in the PairWise, as it would flip Ohio State's comparison against Alaska.
Similar to the Ohio State/Ferris State match-up, Wisconsin needs Miami to defeat Michigan State. If the Spartans win, it gives Rennselaer an RPI boost over the Badgers.
Same thing happens in the Atlantic Hockey game today. Badger fans should be rooting for Holy Cross. If Mercyhurst wins that game, the Badgers drop the comparison to Rennselaer, moving back to 20 in the PWR.
To wrap this up...
1. Wisconsin wants North Dakota to win so the Badgers have an opportunity to play a TUC Thursday at the Final Five in St. Paul.
2. Other games of interest to the Badgers on Sunday night:
- Quinnipiac vs Cornell (Wisconsin wants Quinnipiac to win)
- Rensselaer vs Brown (Wisconsin wants Brown to win)
- Ohio State vs Ferris State (Wisconsin wants Ohio State to win)
- Miami vs Michigan State (Wisconsin wants Miami to win)
- Holy Cross vs Mercyhurst (Wisconsin wants Holy Cross to win)
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