The CCHA has a three-week playoff system, which means this weekend will be the final weekend of the regular season. For people not familiar with how the playoffs will work now that the league only has 11 teams, imagine last year's playoff system--top 4 get byes, 5 plays 12, 6 plays 11, and so on, and then the winners in the first round play one of the bye teams for a spot in Detroit--but this year instead of the 5th seed getting a figurative bye against the 12th seed, they get a literal bye by not having to play anyone. Teams are reseeded after each round, so the league champion will draw the lowest remaining seed in the second round.
Here's how the final standings look with everybody having two games left, except for Alaska, who has already played all of their games.
1. Notre Dame-56 points
2. Michigan- 55 points
3. Miami-49 points
4. Western Michigan-41 points
5. Northern Michigan-39 points
6. Ferris State-38 points
6. Alaska-38 points
8. Lake Superior-37 points
9. Ohio State-35 points
10. Michigan State-29 points
11. Bowling Green-15 points
The weekend's schedule is thus: Ferris State at Ohio State(Thurs/Fri), Miami at Lake Superior, Bowling Green at Michigan State, Michigan at Northern Michigan, Western Michigan vs. Notre Dame(home-and-home)
The CCHA's tiebreakers work like this: 1. Conference wins(I don't believe this counts shootout wins, just real wins) 2. Winning percentage against teams tied for that spot 3. Goal differential between the other teams tied for that spot 4. Best winning percentage against teams ahead of the tied teams in the conference. 5. Coin toss
Heading into Friday everyone besides Bowling Green, Miami, and potentially Michigan State, pending tonight's result, will be fighting for a playoff spot. If you don't feel like doing all the math yourself, I'll run through some of the scenarios for each team after the jump.
Notre Dame- Michigan is the only team that can catch Notre Dame heading into this weekend. Obviously taking all six points against Western Michigan guarantees them a league title. Anything less than that becomes dicey. Michigan has one more league win, so they'd have an advantage if Notre Dame took one fewer point than Michigan this weekend. If they take the same amount of points, or Notre Dame takes more, they'd win the CCHA.
Michigan- The same as above in terms of getting to first place. Miami can tie Michigan in the standings, but the Wolverines would hold the tiebreaker, so Michigan is guaranteed at least the second place spot.
Miami-The Redhawks are locked into the third place regardless of what happens, but are sitting in a somewhat tenuous tie for 11th in the Pairwise, and a couple wins would help ensure an NCAA tournament at-large bid.
Western Michigan-The Broncos can't get into t he third spot, but they're sitting in the all-important fourth spot, which not only gives them a first round bye in the playoffs, but also allows them to play at home in the second round. The bad news is that they're playing the league's best team, who has to win in order to lock-up a championship. The good news is that the team directly behind them, Northern Michigan, is playing the second best team in the league, also trying to win a league championship. The more bad news is that Ferris State, Lake Superior, and even possibly Ohio State, could all catch Western Michigan, and because Western Michigan has so many shootout wins, all pretty much all of them would have the tiebreaker advantage. The magic number to finish ahead of the teams behind them: Western needs one point to finish ahead of Ohio State, three points to finish ahead of LSSU, 4 points to finish ahead of Ferris, and five to finish ahead of Northern Michigan.
Northern Michigan- They need to gain two points on Western Michigan over the weekend to climb into fourth, and also hope the gaggle behind them doesn't gain on them.
Ferris State- The Bulldogs are three points back of fourth place, but draw 9th place Ohio State, while Western and Northern have tougher match-ups. They also control their own destiny with one of the teams chasing them in Ohio State. A win tonight knocks Ohio State out of contention and puts some serious pressure on the teams above Ferris in the standings.
Alaska-While the Nanooks are competing for the Governor's Cup this weekend, they'll also be hoping things swing in their favor to keep them on home ice for the first round of the playoffs. The Nanooks are in the 7th spot right now, and can't any more points. If both Lake Superior and Ohio State pass them in the standings, they'd have to travel in the first round. Ohio State would have the tiebreaker over Alaska, while Lake Superior would not, in the case of a tie.
Lake Superior-The Lakers can get up to fourth, but most likely, they'll just be hoping to keep spot in the top eight, earning them home ice in the first round of the playoffs. The Buckeyes need to gain two points on the Lakers to jump them, and even then, Lake Superior just needs two points to pass Alaska and keep home ice.
Ohio State-They're two points outside of the last home spot right now. In order to play at home in the first round of the playoffs, they need to get two points and hope Lake Superior is swept by Miami, or they need at least three points to pass Alaska.
Michigan State-Any combination of points won by Ohio State or points lost by Michigan State would keep the Spartans in 10th place.
Bowling Green-The Falcons are locked into 11th place regardless. Their players may be last in the league standings, but are among the most interesting to follow on Twitter, so they've at least got that going for them.