Week 22: College Hockey Rankings/Preview + Bracketology!

Gambling Gophers Hockey NCAA

Now that we’ve got updated College Hockey Rankings in March, we can officially start talking about postseason bracketology! Before the idiots online have an aneurysm, OBVIOUSLY the cover photo of this blog is not how its going to be laid out. That’s simply there for a starting point on conversations. UMass sponsoring the Springfield, MA regional but not being ranked 8 or 9 is annoying because that means that either BC (the number one overall team in the country) doesn’t get the closest regional tournament, or we have to swap UMass into their bracket.

St Cloud obviously cannot be matched up against North Dakota in the first round either, but the BU and Hockey East fans would throw an absolute FIT getting RIT taken away from them for St Cloud (or a similarly ranked opponent). Michigan and Michigan State ALSO can’t play in the opening games because they come from the same conference. You can see where the committee has their work cut out for them every year. For what it’s worth, they wouldn’t be boxed into such a stupid corner if they just held regional tournament games at the higher-seeded teams facility. I can see one notable College Hockey writer shaking his fist with neck veins bulging just thinking about such a logical change happening.

For a more in-depth look at how the brackets are developed, the rules about what can and can’t happen, and another person’s interpretation of how they could shake out, I encourage you to check out the Bracketology column from Everything College Hockey. They’ve got more patience and a far better written tone than I do.

Updated Weekly Picks

No fancy intro for the picks this week. They are what they are and that’s what I’m feeling this week. Vibes only. ZERO research outside of common knowledge. It’s worked so far, let’s hope it works again. We ride.

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 β€œ10K” at sign-up.

National College Hockey Rankings Roundup

The College Hockey Rankings are getting even more interesting and have to be checked after every game to see how it impacts your team. Everyone from Boston College to Providence on the list below should feel comfortable with where they’re at, but nobody else is “safe”. Denver and North Dakota bow out of the NCHC tournament early and if they do, that means teams like Western Michigan, Omaha, and St Cloud State could climb into an at-large spot a little easier. They would need a little help in UMass and Michigan dropping out of their respective conferences early, but if that happens and the lowest of those three teams wins the NCHC tournament, the NCAA playoffs could go from three NCHC teams to SIX in the blink of an eye.

Mar 4th 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

Penn State @ #8 Minnesota – Fri & Sat, Mar. 8-10

Nittany Lions vs Golden Gophers

Stats:

20.3 β€“ PP% – 23.8
76.5 – PK% – 78.8
49.3 – FO% – 49.8
0.902 – GF/GA – 1.379
.870 – SV% – .915

Vibes: This year we’ve seen A LOT of games where one team should win handily on paper, but finds a way to lose. That will not be the case in this series. Some people know that the Gophers only have ONE sweep in the Big 10 all season. The smart people know that sweep came against Penn State the last time these two faced off, with Minnesota winning 3-0 both nights. Listen, Penn State is not a “bad” team…they’re just not “good” either.

The Nittany Lions continue to put up more shots than anyone in the country. They’ve got 31 more than the second place team (Wisconsin) and have done it in two fewer games. Does that mean that should worry teams? Not necessarily. Their shooting percentage is a measly 8.4 which is only better than 10 teams…one of which is Stonehill. The Gophs have a Mike Richter finalist between the pipes and if he plays like one, it won’t be an issue for Close.

Prediction: Minnesota Moves On.

#16/17 St Cloud State @ Minnesota, Duluth – Fri & Sat, Mar. 8/9

Huskies vs Bulldogs

Stats:

22.0 β€“ PP% – 26.0
79.6 – PK% – 81.6
50.4 – FO% – 42.8
1.100 – GF/GA – 0.835
.896 – SV% – .894

Vibes: If you made me guess how many times these two played each other since Covid, I’d say a couple dozen, easy. After this weekend, it will officially be eleven times in the last two seasons. That’s fifteen percent of all games in that timeframe. That’s insanity. The people clamoring for more of this are sick and need to seek medical attention.

I’m not saying any of that because the games are boring. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Every one of these games feels like a back and forth heavyweight bout. 7 of the 9 games that have been played in the last two seasons finished within 2 goals. There’s been plenty of physicality and I fully expect that to continue. I just hope we get to see some hockey in the middle of it all. St Cloud NEEDS wins to climb above the NCAA cut line and if they don’t get them here, they’ll be in full on panic more.

Prediction: UMD stumbles their way into a split.

Ferris State @ Bemidji State – Fri & Sat, Mar. 8-10

Bulldogs @ Beavers

Stats:

13.1 β€“ PP% – 15.0
75.7 – PK% – 75.2
49.7 – FO% – 46.4
0.681 – GF/GA – 0.990
.895 – SV% – .887

Vibes: The Beavers are the best team in the CCHA. They won the MacNaughton Cup! They’re a great hockey program in an incredibly hockey city. Now that I’ve gotten all that out of the way…how did they do it? How do you win any conference with a sub .900 goaltender tandem? A 75% effective penalty kill certainly doesn’t help. I didn’t even know it was possible with a 15% efficient power play either! Bemidji managed to win the CCHA regular season title with ALL of those combined in addition to losing more faceoffs than they won and giving up more goals than they scored. Bananas.

I want to say something nice about Ferris State, but it’s hard when they’re the last team in the pairwise before Stonehill. All hope is not lost though. They won one of four games against Bemidji this year and took another to OT. That proves winning CAN be done, but history has shown it’s going to be an uphill battle.

Prediction: Beavs stay hot & advance.

N. Michigan @ Minnesota State – Fri & Sat, Mar. 8-10

Wildcats vs Mavericks

Stats:

23.3 β€“ PP% – 20.3
75.4 – PK% – 81.7
51.9 – FO% – 51.2
0.835 – GF/GA – 1.111
.894 – SV% – .904

Vibes: Minnesota State went from a potential MacNaughton Cup winner to barely keeping home ice seemingly overnight. Regardless, they’re hosting Northern Michigan in the first round this weekend. MSU is 12-10-2 in conference play while NMU is 10-10-4 so you can’t say that this should be an easy win for the home team. It’s a coin-flip at best, but give me the team that scores more, gives up less, and has the better goalie.

Prediction: Mavericks Advance.

Lake Superior State @ St Thomas – Fri & Sat, Mar. 8-10

Lakers @ Tommies

Stats:

24.5 β€“ PP% – 16.5
84.4 – PK% – 77.1
45.9 – FO% – 50.1
1.020 – GF/GA – 0.938
.905 – SV% – .905

Vibes: Similar to Bemidji, I’m not sure how St Thomas was on top of the CCHA standings for so long. Their PP and PK are ABYSMAL and their scoring in general has tanked lately too. It all fell apart when the Tommies started to get injured and just kept losing pieces along the way. It’s hard to score when you’ve got defenders playing forward for the first time since Bantams. These two teams split the only series they played one another this year and Lake State won one more game than the Tommies, despite finishing second to last in the conference. I think the Tommies are the better team, but it’s a lot closer now that they’re playing with one arm tied behind their back in a sling.

Prediction: Tommies scrape just enough together to get past the Lakers.

Other College Hockey Games to Watch

Notre Dame @ #13/14 Michigan – Fri & Sat, Mar. 8-10

Fighting Irish vs Wolverines

Stats:

18.3 – PP% – 35.2
82.9 – PK% – 78.5
54.8 – FO% – 52.2
1.056 – GF/GA – 1.408
.923 – SV% – .
901

Vibes: Does anybody know the answer to that unstoppable force vs immovable object question? How would that apply to a moderately impressive force and a pretty decently sturdy object. That’s what we’ve got here. Michigan’s powerplay (best in the nation) and scoring prowess are impossible to ignore. Notre Dame and their stellar goaltender Ryan Bischel were able to solve the puzzle and stop the scoring in the first game of the year. Since then, the Wolverines have won three in a row against the Irish, including a sweep just two weeks ago.

Prediction: Notre Dame puts up a fight, but sees their season end as Michigan advances.

#11/12 UMass @ #9 Maine – Fri & Sat, Mar. 8/9

Minutemen vs Black Bears

Stats:

21.1 – PP% – 19.1
79.4 – PK% – 81.3
50.8 – FO% – 52.1
1.125 – GF/GA – 1.277
.905 – SV% – 
.898

Vibes: Maine owning the better side of the stats is not the biggest factor in this series. Having only lost two games at Alfond Sports Arena all season is. This group is a different beast at home and I hope that continues. It’s not that I hold any ill will against the Minutemen, it’s just that they’re currently ruining any semblance of bracket integrity by hosting in Springfield. If these teams split, they’re both in the postseason.

Prediction: Maine does the hockey world a favor and sweeps UMass at home.

#3 North Dakota @ #16/17 Omaha – Fri & Sat, Mar. 8/9

Fighting Hawks vs Mavericks

Stats:

25.2 β€“ PP% – 16.5
81.7 – PK% – 79.4
51.7 – FO% – 54.5
1.512 – GF/GA – 1.000
.904 – SV% – .901

Vibes: These two teams are fighting. Not in the literally sense of the word (at least not yet) and they’re fighting different battles, but they’re fighting nonetheless. North Dakota is fighting to keep a #1 seed in the regional tournaments. If successful, they’ll get favorable placement and likely end up in Sioux Falls to open the NCAA tournament. Omaha is fighting to crack the Pairwise top 14 and get a grip on an at-large tournament bid. Without that, they’ll need to make a decent run in the NCHC tournament starting next week. Wins for NoDak don’t help as much as losses hurt Omaha. I think that factors in to how these games play out.

Prediction: Split Series.

Previous Rankings/Reviews

Week 21: College Hockey Rankings, Betting Lines, & Weekend Preview

Week 20: College Hockey Rankings, Betting Lines, & Weekend Preview