Week 23: College Hockey Rankings/Preview + Bracketology

Gambling Gophers Hockey NCAA

Some people have been playing with bracketology for a month already. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. We don’t kink shame here. I’m just saying that’s a little early for me. Now that the required foreplay of every conference beginning their respective playoffs is out of the way, I’m ready to dive in. Face first.

The playoff picture will look wildly different come Monday, but it’s still fun to play around with the “what if” timeline. It’s even more fun as an NCHC elitist who’s currently got five teams in playoff positions! Even more so with Omaha being one of those teams and hosting the Sioux Falls regional. It wreaks havoc on the bracket, but not in the annoying way that UMass did. In a fun way that would lead to incredible matchups.

Bracket Breakdown

There’s been a lot of comments on the brackets produced, so let’s just touch on the hot topics for a second. THIS IS NOT THE FINAL BRACKET, IT IS MERELY HERE FOR DISCUSSION. STOP BEING AN IDIOT.

Providence, RI

Boston College will be the 1-seed at the end of the year barring some catastrophic collapse against UConn in the Quarterfinals and a Hockey East Championship run from BU. That means they’ll be playing closest to home which (and I just found this out) is NOT in their home state of Massachusetts, but in Providence, RI. Forgive me, there’s like a 15-minute drive-time difference and I’m an idiot. That means they’ll draw the 16-seed.

I know, I have RIT (15) in that spot right now, but just calm down, OK. RIT (in my mind) simply represents Atlantic Hockey as a bookmark. I sincerely think that, like many years, the number 1 seed (Tigers) could lose out and the team that ends up winning the Riley Trophy will fill that spot. If RIT does win it all, I’ll have some adjusting to do.

Springfield, MA

Boston University will be #2 at the end of the year and the top-seeded team in Springfield. I don’t know the dynamics of the East Coast. That means I’m oblivious to how or why these communities choose which team to cheer for when they’re all 10 minutes away from one another. All of that to say I couldn’t tell you if this location is a huge advantage or disadvantage for the Terriers.

Normally this would mean BU gets the 15th seed in the tournament, but not this year. Because UND and Denver currently sit at numbers 3 and 4, and other NCHC teams make up 11 through 13, AND Providence (another Hockey East team) is at 14, we have to shuffle things around within the bands. There are four bands in the rankings. 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, and 13-16. Western can’t play NoDak or Denver and you’re not going to pair them up with BC, so they have to play BU. That means Providence would shift to the 4th overall team (Denver) and North Dakota would get the 15-seed. *See Below for more*

Sioux Falls, SD

As it stands right now, I’ve got Bemidji playing North Dakota as the top team in Sioux Falls. Yes, they’d be the 16-seed TECHNICALLY, but I’m using Bemidji as a bookmark for the CCHA the same way that RIT is a bookmark for Atlantic Hockey. PLUS, there’s not that big of a difference between these two teams, AND keeping them in regionals “close to home” would generate MASSIVE revenues for the regional sites and create a MUCH better atmosphere. Would be nice to see that for once. Note: Bemidji took UND to OT earlier this year, so it would be an incredible rematch.

Omaha, as the host program would have to be switched out of the MD Heights bracket and into the Sioux Falls bracket. This move is easy to do by swapping them with CC. They’re back-to-back in the pairwise and from the same conference so it eliminates a bunch of potential headaches. The most obvious move the committee would ever have to make. Pity we wouldn’t get a CC vs Minnesota rematch though.

Maryland Heights, MO

Finally, Denver is the last 1-seed (4th overall) to place and they’d draw Maryland Heights, MO. Because of all the shuffling, they’d (in my eyes) get Providence instead of Western Michigan. That means a team with a worse PP, worse PK, lower FO percentage, lower save percentage, and fewer goals. TALK ABOUT A HUGE WIN FOR DENVER!

The most fun matchup in this regional would be Sparty vs CC though. Two goalies up for the Mike Richter award facing off against one another is enough to get anyone interested. I could easily see the Tigers trying to control the puck and pace of play while Michigan State attempts to capitalize on explosive plays. It makes me wish JG Wentworth were a hockey fan so he could advocate for the sport with, “It’s my matchup, and I want it now!”

Updated Weekly Picks

Too many people bend the truth about their gambling record and implied profits. I couldn’t tell you where I’m at overall this year. I would think it’s got to be positive for sure, but until I run the final calcs at the end of the season, I won’t be able to speak confidently on it. What I CAN tell you is that I don’t always pick the favorites. This week, not one of the lines chosen would be considered the easy way out. I love that. Much like the teams in the playoffs, the time to play it safe is gone. You’ve got to leave it all out there and go for it! Responsibly, of course.

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 most difficult part of Bracketology is having to wait to see who’s in and who’s out. Everything I said to open the blog this week is true. But it’s only true to me and as of the time this blog was written. Long-story-short, it means absolutely nothing. We likely won’t know every single team that’s in or out until the final conference tournament champion is crowned. That’s what makes the College Hockey playoffs so goddamn exciting.

What’s shown below paints a nice picture, but every single team that’s still playing in their respective conference tournaments is technically still alive and could make a run. You want proof? Look at Canisius and Colgate from last year. Just one of MANY examples.

March 11th 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

#11 Michigan @ #6 Minnesota – Sat, Mar. 16

Wolverines vs Gophers

Stats:

35.6 β€“ PP% – 23.6
78.0 – PK% – 79.8
52.2 – FO% – 50.2
1.400 – GF/GA – 1.422
.899 – SV% – .918

Vibes: These two teams have combined for thirty goals through four games this year. The Gophers have two regulation wins, an OT loss, and a tie in those games. They’ve looked like the more complete team by a long shot. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean a damn thing come playoffs. Minnesota will be in the NCAA tournament no matter what. If Michigan loses, they could lose their right to a playoff spot quickly with every team immediately below them alive and fighting to advance themselves.

Prediction: Gophers win in a blow for blow shootout.

Minnesota, Duluth @ #3 Denver – Fri-Sun, Mar. 15-17

Bulldogs vs Pioneers

Stats:

26.9 β€“ PP% – 24.0
80.3 – PK% – 75.8
42.7 – FO% – 49.5
0.871 – GF/GA – 1.600
.896 – SV% – .891

Vibes: These two teams always seem to find a way to play one another in the postseason. It’s typically a back-and-forth affair that could be decided by something as simple as a funny bounce. Denver’s had the dog’s number lately and they’re the landslide favorite this time around too. The Pios swept UMD earlier this season, but both games were closely played (for the majority) with one requiring overtime and a defensive lapse to be decided. People saying UMD is dead in the water are idiots and didn’t watch last weekend. On the other hand, UMD fans saying they’re confident are delusional. Anything is possible.

Prediction: Denver in three.

#12/14 Western Michigan @ #18 St Cloud State – Fri-Sun, Mar. 15-17

Broncos vs Huskies

Stats:

21.6 β€“ PP% – 23.5
85.0 – PK% – 78.5
53.6 – FO% – 50.9
1.519 – GF/GA – 1.060
.906 – SV% – .891

Vibes: Western definitely has the edge when it comes to the stat lines for these two teams. For what it’s worth, they’ve got the edge when it comes to fashion and fanbase too. Does any of this matter? No. St Cloud has outscored Western 12-6 this year including two shutouts, taking ten of the twelve available conference points. Despite both of these teams being ranked, whoever loses this series is done for the season. Tensions are high, the stakes are higher.

Prediction: St Cloud State rights the ship and makes the Frozen Faceoff.

Lake Superior State @ #20* Bemidji State – Sat, Mar. 16

Lakers vs Beavers

Stats:

22.6 β€“ PP% – 16.7
83.3 – PK% – 74.8
45.9 – FO% – 46.5
1.037 – GF/GA – 1.037
.906 – SV% – .889

Vibes: Bemidji State has had a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde persona this season. They’ve had enough on the roster to keep pace with North Dakota and Wisconsin. Unfortunately, they’re the same team that’s fallen to the likes of Ferris State and D1 newcomer, Augustana. The Lakers are 3-1 against Bemidji despite being 14 places lower in the pairwise. A lot of the Beavs struggles this season can be attributed to extended absences from Kyle Looft and Mattias Sholl. Can having them in the lineup at the end of the season be a difference-maker?

Prediction: Beavs advance.

Minnesota State @ Michigan Tech – Sat, Mar. 16

Mavericks vs Huskies

Stats:

20.3 β€“ PP% – 22.4
82.3 – PK% – 77.9
51.2 – FO% – 49.6
1.174 – GF/GA – 1.097
.908 – SV% – .911

Vibes: Michigan Tech and Minnesota State have been battling for supremacy over the CCHA for the better part of the last decade. The Mike Hastings departure before the season crippled the Mavs locker room, but the Huskies have not capitalized on that fall from grace. Many people, including myself, thought the CCHA was their conference to lose with Blake Pietila returning in net and the late transfer addition of Austen Swankler. Oh how wrong we were. Fitting that these two will have to battle it out for the right to play in the conference championship.

Prediction: Tech’s Tendy Trumps Tidy Tactics.

Other College Hockey Games to Watch

#12/13 Omaha vs #10 Colorado College – Fri-Sun, Mar. 15-17

Mavericks vs Tigers

Stats:

16.8 – PP% – 15.6
78.9 – PK% – 83.1
54.7 – FO% – 55.6
1.042 – GF/GA – 1.235
.905 – SV% – 
.916

Vibes: These two teams have each held the title of “hottest team in College Hockey” at some point in the second half of the season. Colorado College started their run after Thanksgiving with only one regulation loss in ten games, including a sweep of (then #1) North Dakota. Omaha’s incredible run is still going on as we speak. They only have one loss in their last TWELVE games. In my opinion, BOTH of these teams deserve a playoff spot. This will go down as the most impactful series of the weekend, without a doubt. If either gets swept, they probably don’t make it. If this series goes to three games and there’s some help elsewhere, they could both make it. Theoretically, at least.

Prediction: Omaha in a 3-game classic.

#16 UMass @ #13/14 Providence – Sat, Mar. 16

Minutemen vs Friars

Stats:

20.9 – PP% – 19.0
77.7 – PK% – 82.1
50.9 – FO% – 51.3
1.096 – GF/GA – 1.238
.905 – SV% – 
.898

Vibes: A week ago, the Minutemen were a 3-seed in the regional tournament they’re hosting. Now, they’re fighting just to make it to the postseason. Luckily they’re matched up against an opponent that they swept this season in the Providence Friars. I mention it every single year, but Providence ALWAYS feels like they belong as a 3-4 seed in a regional tournament. They’ll never blow you away, but they’re rarely out of a game either. As sure as the sun rises in the East, Providence will be on the bubble in March.

Prediction: Coinflip. Providence…because I want it.

#17 New Hampshire @ #8 Maine – Sat, Mar. 16

Wildcats vs Black Bears

Stats:

19.1 β€“ PP% – 20.8
81.0 – PK% – 81.4
51.4 – FO% – 51.9
1.262 – GF/GA – 1.287
.898 – SV% – .901

Vibes: How lucky are we as hockey fans to be treated to this border battle rivalry for a third time this year! TECHNICALLY, Maine holds all the cards with the upper hand in every statistical category. If you look for more than 5 seconds, you’ll notice it’s not by much. Across the board, these two teams are nearly identical. Maine is just the better team at home and that’s been the difference-maker this year. I think that continues this weekend.

Prediction: Black Bears advance, but I’m not confident.

Harvard @ #17 Cornell – Fri-Sun, Mar. 15-17

Crimson vs Big Red (Bear)

Stats:

23.4 β€“ PP% – 17.1
79.0 – PK% – 78.7
45.1 – FO% – 53.7
0.673 – GF/GA – 1.741
.900 – SV% – .915

Vibes: Cornell’s powerplay is one of the least intimidating in the country. That doesn’t matter when they’re able to dominate puck possession and control the flow of the game. Harvard has issues offensive issues of their own to worry about. The Crimson have a harder time scoring than an injured virgin at bible camp. Yale, Stonehill, and Brown are the only teams who have fewer goals than Harvard’s 66 on the season. There’s a reason the over/under for these games is set at 5. Most people think it’s Ian Shane, but it’s really all the boys wearing an “H” on their chest.

Prediction: Big Red with a couple of big wins to advance.

Previous Rankings/Reviews

Week 22: College Hockey Rankings/Preview + Bracketology

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

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