2014 WCHA Playoff Race: Week 22

Let’s get this over with first: here’s the methodology/model, where things stood after week 19, and where things stood after week 20.  There’s also the Google Drive spreadsheet, which you’ll want to look over if you’re of a mind to see how this progresses.

Here are the final predicted standings:

Team Record Points
1 Ferris State 20-5-3 43
2 Minnesota State 20-8-0 40
3 Northern Michigan 14-13-1 29
4 Alaska-Anchorage 12-11-5 29
5 Alaska 13-13-2 28
6 Bowling Green 12-12-4 28
7 Bemidji State 12-12-4 28
8 Lake Superior 13-15-0 26
9 Michigan Tech 11-13-4 26
10 Alabama-Huntsville 1-26-1 3

What a difference a week makes: Tech was looking to have home ice before last weekend’s sweep by Alaska; now they’re on the outside looking in!

As a reminder: here are the tiebreakers, all with “if two or more teams …” language.  All three tiebreakers are used this week.

  1. Head-to-head results if the teams have all played four games against each other.  In a three-team setup, they’d all need eight games against the other two teams to count.
  2. Conference wins.
  3. A comparison of winning percentages against all teams above them, team-by-team down through the table.

What happened with the model when it hit reality?

  1. Alaska went into Houghton and took all four points from a team that was 7-3-3 coming into the weekend, while the Nanooks were 4-6-2.  Sports, man.
  2. Bemidji upset Ferris, where they’d been expected to come away with just a tie.  That extra point may be the difference for them, even though it’s not terribly important in the model, as you can see: they jump up a spot, but mainly because Tech free-falls.
  3. Anchorage stormed back from 2-0 with two-period goals and then saw Rob Gunderson stop all the overtime shots to get a point out of Friday night’s game; they then took it to BG the next night, winning 5-2.  An extra point gets them out of the morass at 28 points, one which now includes BG.

How does Tech fall so far?  As anyone knows, this is a very close-packed league.  The predicted win totals are 20, 20, 14, 12, 13, 12, 12, 13, 11, 1.  This season has been just as much about hanging on for a tie as it has been winning games.  Michigan Tech went from an expected points total of 30 to 26, and that’s enough of a difference, as you can see above.

About those tiebreakers:

  1. Northern Michigan and Alaska-Anchorage played just twice this year, so conference wins breaks the tie at 29 points, and the Wildcats get 3rd.
  2. Alaska, Bowing Green, and Bemidji State all have 28 points.  BG played the other schools just twice, so it falls to conference wins, which means Alaska gets 5th, and the Nanooks and Seawolves will play for the second straight weekend, this time in Anchorage.  Hoo boy.
  3. To break the tie between BG and Bemidji: again, the teams played just twice, and they have the same conference record, so the comparison goes to win percentage, team-by-team.  Let’s go: Ferris is a .250 split (1-3-0 for Bemidji, 0-1-1 for BG), Mankato is a 2-2-0 for Bowling Green and 1-3-0 for Bemidji.

Lastly, let’s look at the other reason why the model is different: I made a two hand predictions.

  1. I have Ferris State splitting with Alaska next weekend.  For one, the travel is hard, and it’s the first time that the Bulldogs have gone to Alaska this year.  They were in a close game against UAH one night when they were in the other far-flung league destination.  For another, Ferris is dominant in Big Rapids (10-1-1) and less so on the road (10-5-2).  Lastly, it’s unlikely that the Bulldogs are going to have their foot 100% on the pedal.  They probably cinch up the #1 spot this weekend against the other team from the 49th state.  They may want to spread minutes around and get guys healthy for the full series in two weeks.
  2. The one that may prove controversial in Houghton is Mankato sweeping the Huskies in Week 24 because the Mavs are 13-1-0 at home while the Huskies are a) a bit of a mess, if you listen to their fans, and b) 5-10-2 on the road.  That point does mean that the Huskies make the playoffs, and that may not make me Mayor of Houghton, but it is a strong likelihood.  The only team to win in Mankato is BG (assuming you except the U-18 team) in a 4-3 result in early November.  The Mavs have seven league losses: three in Alaska, the 4-3 loss v. BG, a 4-1 loss at Bemidji, a 4-3 OT loss in Bowing Green, and a 5-2 loss in Marquette.  You’ll have to be good to take a point off of the purple guys at the Verizon Wireless Center.
  3. I have Ferris sweeping Lake Superior State.  The seniors will want to go out winners.  This will mean a lot to the Lakers, for sure, but the Dawgs’ only home loss was to St. Lawrence early in the season.  The only team to take a point off of the Bulldogs in WCHA is Bemidji.

I have steeled myself for the hate mail from Houghton.  As always, I welcome comments, criticism, etc.  But I will make this final observation to my beloved Chargers: the model has you losing the last six games.  I believe that you could win any of them on any given night.  Pick off Lake State this weekend?  They miss the playoffs.  Bump off Bemidji?  They then get into Tiebreakersville of a different sort.  Knock off Northern at home that last weekend?  Well, two things happen then: Northern misses the first round, and two first round series would happen in Alaska.  Two.  All aboard the train to Bonkers.

We’ve been discussing this as a staff.  If you could win just one game, where would you like to win it?  We feel that winning at home would be best, but winning upsets the entire apple cart, and our #2 team behind the guys in the BlackBlue and White is Team Chaos.  But when it comes down to it, we really hate Bemidji.  If Bemidji got an early tee time because of a UAH win, well, that would be awesome, even if that win came on the road.

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