2014 WCHA Playoff Race, Week 21

Summary: there’s no significant change in the standings, a tiebreaker comes into play, some predicted 3-point weekends could turn the season, and the model is boring and goes for splitskies most of the time.  Oh, and UAH can play the spoiler.  That should be reason enough to stay tuned, Charger fans!

Okay, let’s not blow anything up this week, shall we?  There really isn’t any movement in the prediction save the changes resulting from Ferris and Mankato sweeping Northern and Bemidji; the model picked wins-and-ties for the sweepers.  This is admittedly a weakness in the model: it is going to land on 3-point weekends far more often than 4-point weekends. However, I think that this generally evens out, as a 3-point weekend can also be a 2-point weekend — in any regard, I’m bound for the rules that I made for the model.

No predictions for Weeks 21-24 changed, as the KRACH values didn’t change enough.  In fact, the gaps often narrowed, which is largely the result of the new comparisons being made against a league that mostly does the splits.  I don’t think that it’s likely to change too much, either, as things should generally regress to the mean.  What would change things?  Sweeps, for one, as the only sweeps picked by the model here on out involve UAH.  But sweeps also move KRACH, and that changes expected value calculations.  It’s entirely possible that a sweep will move the needle enough to make the model move.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a ready way to calculate KRACH week-over-week going forward or a Monte Carlo-based simulation that would give us answers like, “What’s the percentage chance that Mankato wins out and gets the #1 seed?”  These are things that I want going forward, and right now I’m in close to the right coursework to make that a possibility for next season.

All four possibilities involve Ferris State:

  1. A Ferris sweep of Bemidji, combined with other machinations, might move the model to pick a BG win-and-tie in the final weekend.  The Falcons could use that, as they will be fighting for third with Tech and Northern, which isn’t admittedly a big change (more on that in a sec).
  2. A Ferris sweep of Anchorage, which would push the Seawolves closer to 9th, although they start with a higher KRACH.
  3. Ferris again at Fairbanks.  The Nanooks will have their season on the line, and Ferris might have their foot off of the gas just ever so little.  A Bulldog sweep would very likely end the home squad’s season.
  4. A Ferris sweep of Lake State, which would put the Lakers into 8th and maybe out depending on what Alaska pulls off.

It’s obvious that there are four strata in the table: Ferris and Mankato fighting out for top spot; Tech, BG, and Northern fighting for home ice; Anchorage, Lake, Bemidji, and Fairbanks trying to not be the odd man out; and UAH kicking the can in the parking lot.

Below are the standings going into the 21st weekend of the season:

Team Record Points / Games Left
1 Ferris State 15-3-2 32 / 8
2 Minnesota State 15-7-0 30 / 6
3 Michigan Tech 10-8-4 24 / 6
4t Bowling Green 10-9-3 23 / 6
Alaska-Anchorage 10-9-3 23 / 6
6 Alaska 9-11-2 20 / 6
7 Bemidji State 8-10-4 20 / 6
8 Northern Michigan 9-10-1 19 / 8
9 Lake Superior 9-11-0 18 / 8
10 Alabama-Huntsville 1-18-1 3 / 8

Games Left is still key: with four weeks left, 60% of the league has just six more chances to win points.  It’s not just how many, too: Northern and Lake State have series at UAH where they can probably pick up four points, but fans of both schools probably shudder thinking about it.  UAH has gone winless at home only once (2011-12), and you can be sure the kids in White, Black, and Blue won’t want to repeat that.  In fact, the Nanooks have to be looking at the table and gritting their teeth over getting just one shot at the Chargers, as the three teams below them still have one more crack at them.

Here are the final predicted standings:

Team Record Points
1 Ferris State 19-3-6 44
2 Minnesota State 19-9-0 38
3 Michigan Tech 13-11-4 30
4 Northern Michigan 14-13-1 29
5 Bowling Green 13-12-3 29
6 Alaska-Anchorage 12-12-4 28
7 Bemidji State 11-12-5 27
8 Lake Superior 13-14-1 27
9 Alaska 11-14-3 25
10 Alabama-Huntsville 1-26-1 3

If you want to look at the spreadsheet that powers all of this, it’s available on Google Drive.  Tiebreakers do come into play for 4/5 and 7/8, as Bemidji won the season series (1st tiebreaker) with the Lakers, 3-1, while the Falcons and Wildcats only play twice, leading Northern to get home ice with more league wins (2nd tiebreaker).

For fun and history, you can see where we were last week and when we started this adventure.

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