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Figuring Out the Bubble

College Hockey News has their PWR Widget up and running. There's a lot of different scenarios out there, and I'm not a math whiz, but I'll go over a few things.

First and foremost, this is looking like a year where an automatic qualifier from a major conference will get in despite being outside the top 14. Blame it on a year where the ECAC is pretty much guaranteed at least three bids.

In the WCHA, Wisconsin more than likely needs to win the whole thing to get into the NCAA tournament picture. They can get in to at-large territory, but that would require winning the tournament. They've got a pretty nice chance to do it though. They'll play a shorthanded Denver team on Friday night. Tyler Bozak's return from injury was delayed a week, and last Friday night, Tyler Ruegsegger's season ended with a knee injury. If the Badgers win that, they'll either draw North Dakota or a gassed Minnesota/Minnesota-Duluth team. The Badgers are playing excellent hockey right now and I wouldn't be surprised if they won the Final Five.

In the CCHA, there's a potential bubble-burster in each semifinal with Alaska and Northern MIchigan. If they each win on Friday, the at-large bubble shrinks. Alaska is going to have to try to put Michigan to sleep and then hope to sneak in a goal or two to pull off the upset, while Northern Michigan is as hot as anybody right now, and could give Notre Dame a serious run.

One thing to watch in the CCHA tournament is that it is technically still possible for Michigan to pass Notre Dame in the PWR, but probably not likely. That could be huge because whoever finishes higher is likely playing at Grand Rapids, while the lower finisher is likely going to Bridgeport, with the possibility of ending up at the dreaded Mariucci regional.

Out east, Boston College and UMass-Lowell can get into the NCAA tournament if they win the Hockey East title. Boston College is scary because even though they've been pretty average all year, there's more than enough talent on their roster to put things together for two straight games.

St. Lawrence is the only ECAC team left that isn't already in the tournament, and I think they have to win the ECAC tourney to get in, though if they do, they could get a high 3 seed in the tournament.

The Thursday Final Five game will have a lot of drama, since both Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth are on the bubble. Pretty much everyone wants Minnesota out of the tournament since they'll be a low seed playing on their home ice(Who decides who hosts regionals anyways?). People can correct me if I'm wrong, but what I'm basically seeing is that if Minnesota loses Thursday, they're probably done, if they win two games at the Final Five, they're probably in, and if they win one and lose two, they're probably sweating all the other results. Duluth probably needs to win Thursday and then pick up another win or tie along the way.

Meanwhile, Ohio State is on the outside looking in and Miami is clinging to the 14th spot in the PWR, and neither play next weekend. Both can kind a way to sneak back into the tournament, but they'll need a lot of results to go their way, starting with the winner of Thurday's Final Five game losing their next two, and hoping nobody on the outside of the bubble wins their conference tournament.