Week 12: College Hockey Rankings, Betting Lines, & Weekend Preview

Hockey NCAA

With just one weekend left in 2023, it’s officially time to take the College Hockey Rankings seriously! It doesn’t matter what rankings you think of when that’s said because it’s true for them all. The USCHO and USA Hockey/Rink Live polls finally have a good enough sample size to factor in the talent on paper compared to what we see on the ice. The computer models, most importantly the Pairwise, have a chunk of data with a healthy dose of inter-conference play and results to calculate away.

Is there an argument that last-second losses, fluke goals, and other things should be factored into those computer based results for a true hybrid-ranking? Sure. But that’s how you end up with the College Football Playoffs and we’ve all been witness to one of the great injustices in all of amateur sports with Florida State being left on the outside looking in. The Pairwise isn’t PERFECT, but it’s the best we’ve got. If you’re somewhere between 10-20 right now, you’re in a dog-fight with everyone else in that range to sneak in above the bubble. If you’re 21-35(ish), all hope is not lost. You’ve still got 2/3 of your conference play schedule to climb the rankings and make a statement. If all else fails, there’s the conference tournament championship route for an automatic bid…unless of course you’re an independent. The point is, NOW is the time to put your head down and put in work.

Updated Weekly Picks

There were no reliable Week 11 lines put out. Because of that I’ve had to wait two weeks to brag about going 4-1 including a +300 Colorado College game in Week 10! None of those home-run plays this week, but we do have some World Juniors action thrown in for good measure! The lines are a bit heavier in those games, but you’re not gonna catch me betting against the boys! U-S-A! U-S-A!

If you think you’re smarter than me, prove it. You can go on BettorEdge and either set your own lines or pick up one that someone else (me) has already thrown out there. I’ll be putting affordable lines out there on each of these if you’re just looking to “dabble” a bit. Just make sure to use โ€œ10Kโ€ at sign-up.

Explaining the Minnesota Rankings:

I think that these rankings should be OBVIOUS at this point, but lets review. The Gophers are still a force to be reckoned with, but we’ll see how that plays out with FOUR players out for World Juniors. St Cloud is atop the NCHC and has already swept UMD, so that’s an easy 2-3 seeding. After that, it’s as simple as trusting the rankings just like I told you to start the blog. UMD is undefeated against the CCHA, including a sweep over their conference leader Bemidji who has, themselves, swept St Thomas. It’s simple.

1. University of Minnesota โ€“ Gophers
2. St. Cloud State โ€“ Huskies
3. University of Minnesota, Duluth โ€“ Bulldogs
4. Bemidji State โ€“ Beavers
5. St. Thomas University โ€“ Tommies
6. Minnesota State โ€“ Mavericks

National College Hockey Rankings Roundup

Here it is. The first rendition of the most fair AND accurate College Hockey Rankings on the planet. Kind of. You see, with the holidays, there are a lot of lingering rankings that haven’t been posted in a while, mine included. Even so, there hasn’t been enough shifting and games played to change any of them anyways.

Dec 29th College Hockey Rankings Roundup

Note: The National Rankings Roundup weighs each of the ranking sources instead of treating them all as equal. This takes into account the credibility of the source, potential committee influence, what data they utilize, evident bias, and amount of teams ranked. USCHO and USA Hockey still remain the drivers.

Minnesota College Hockey Games

Minnesota, Duluth vs Air Force โ€“ Sat, Dec. 29

Bulldogs vs Falcons

Stats:

30.2ย โ€“ PP% โ€“ 16.3
80.2 โ€“ PK% โ€“ย 85.3
45.2 โ€“ FO% โ€“ย 54.5
0.893 โ€“ GF/GA โ€“ย 0.817
.898 โ€“ SV% โ€“ย .884

Vibes: Going into this weekend, the Bulldogs looked like they were poised to make a run at getting their demons exorcised. After giving up yet another 3rd period lead (a recurring issue for this team) they lost 4-3 to Northeastern in OT to start the tournament. Friday, they’ll be taking on an Air Force team that is MUST WIN.

The Dogs know that this isn’t a championship team, but if they were to lose to Air Force, who is 51st in the Pairwise Rankings, some REALLY hard looks would have to be taken at the roster. They’ve had some flashes of brilliance and while many of their losses have been incredibly close, they’re still losses. A win doesn’t do much, but it gets you ready to play through the gauntlet that is the remainder of the NCHC schedule.

Prediction: Bulldogs get a semi-meaningless win.

#14 St Cloud State vs Bemidji State โ€“ Fri & Sun, Dec. 29/31

Huskies vs Beavers (Home & Home)

Stats:

19.7ย โ€“ PP% โ€“ 17.5
86.4 โ€“ PK% โ€“ย 71.7
51.4 โ€“ FO% โ€“ 46.8
1.243 โ€“ GF/GA โ€“ย 0.841
.911ย โ€“ SV% โ€“ย .867

Vibes: The Huskies have had a tough time with the Beavers in recent memory. Hell, when the pups were a top-five team last season, they still split with Bemidji. With that said, there’s no reason they SHOULDN’T sweep them this weekend. They dominate every single meaningful category on paper and Bemidji is missing two key players at the Wold Juniors tournament.

Yes, the Beavs have dealt with adversity and went on a really tough stretch without their top goaltender Sholl between the pipes. He can be a difference-maker, without a doubt. I just don’t see him being the difference maker in these games, even on home ice. The Huskies play a suffocating game in the offensive zone that I don’t think the Beavers have played or would match up with. They WERE able to take North Dakota to OT, but have yet to win against an NCHC opponent this season.

Prediction: St Cloud wins both.

St Thomas @ Vermont โ€“ Fri & Sat, Dec. 29/30

Tommies vs Catamounts

Stats:

15.3ย โ€“ PP% โ€“ 10.8
74.6 โ€“ PK% โ€“ย 83.1
50.1 โ€“ FO% โ€“ 50.3
1.174 โ€“ GF/GA โ€“ย 1.139
.911ย โ€“ SV% โ€“ย .918

Vibes: This is the forgotten matchup of the weekend in terms of national attention. You’ll never hear about St. Thomas on the East coast and you never get updates on Vermont here in Minnesota. The Tommies are near the top of the CCHA while the Catamounts are 3rd from the bottom of Hockey east. Despite that, these two teams should put together one hell of a series.

Neither are particularly lethal on the powerplay, but the Tommies hold the edge in competency for sure. Vermont is much more stout playing a man down, but the Tommies have a better goal differential overall. You get the picture. To say that you know for certain or have any confidence in predicting this matchup is a lie. All I know is that it will be one of the key pieces in comparing the two conferences moving forward.

Prediction: Tommies split on the road.

Other College Hockey Games to Watch

Great Lakes Invitational (Alaska/Ferris State/Michigan State/Michigan Tech) – Dec. 28/29

Vibes:ย The Thursday games went about as you’d expect them to. Alaska was the better team, but gave up an early lead and let Michigan Tech win in OT. Michigan State DOMINATED Ferris from start to finish and the title matchup is exactly what you thought it’d be at the beginning of the season.

Alaska is, once again, RIGHT on the border of relevancy, but keeps shooting themselves in the foot. Beating Ferris wouldn’t do much for them in the 3rd place game, but a loss would have them PLUMMETING down the pairwise. As for the Championship game, I want to say there’s going to be a battle…but I don’t think I can. Michigan State has been one of the best teams in the country all year long and Tech has been nothing but a shell of what they were the past two seasons.

Prediction: Michigan State wins easy

Kwik Trip Holiday Face-Off (Air Force, Northeastern, UMD, Wisconsin) – Dec. 28/29

Vibes:ย As previously mentioned, the Dogs blew a 2-goal and a separate 1-goal lead to Northeastern on Thursday and surrendered the right to play in Friday’s championship game. Wisconsin, on the other hand, took care of business and toyed with Air force for a few periods after coming out to an early lead. For the sake of emphasis, UMD absolutely CANNOT lose to Air Force if they want to be thought of as a competitor in any games moving forward.

The championship game should be a lot more fun to watch. Wisconsin has all the firepower in the world and a goalie to bail them out when needed. Northeastern’s tendy survived a BARRAGE of shots from UMD in the third period of the tournament’s opening game, giving his team the confidence they needed to win. If he can stay hot and stand on his head again, this could be a real contest. If he’s just average, I’m afraid the Huskies don’t have much of a shot.

Prediction: Wisconsin takes the trophy home

Adirondack Winter Invitational (Arizona State, Clarkson, Cornell, UMass) – Dec. 29/30

Vibes:ย The last of the tournaments may be the most exciting of them all. Hell, it’s the only one with THREE ranked teams participating. Arizona State and Clarkson should end with the Sun Devils advancing, but don’t overlook the back end of the Golden Knights team. They’re humming with an 87.5% PK and a .916 save percentage while winning 52.4% of all draws. If they can play the puck-possession game, they could find a way to win. That said, if they get into a sprint, I don’t know if they have enough gas in the tank.

Cornell and UMass could turn into a dog-fight early if there’s any tension the boys need to work off from the Holidays. Both teams dominate draws, play a structured defense and have solid goaltending. Cornell’s one weakness would be if they give the Minutemen’s 23.4% PP too many opportunities. Stay out of the box and keep the scoring to a minimum HAS to be the game plan for Big Red going into every game of the weekend.

Prediction: Cornell & AZ State in the final w/ the Sun Devils taking it all.

Previous Previews & Picks:

Donโ€™t know whether you can trust the picks or input regarding the College Hockey Rankings? I donโ€™t blame you. Iโ€™m not anywhere near a โ€œBig Jโ€. In fact, Iโ€™m just some idiot with an outlet. An idiot who watches more college hockey than 99% of the nation, but an idiot nonetheless. Take that how you will.

Week 9: College Hockey Rankings, Betting, & Weekend Preview