As we enter the home stretch of the college hockey season, it's time to start paying closer attention to the Pairwise Rankings, the computer rankings that choose the field for the NCAA tournament.
Here is how the grid stands after Monday's Beanpot games. If you're new to the experience, here is a primer on how the Pairwise Rankings, used to the select the NCAA tournament field, work.
There were some minor changes in positioning in the Pairwise this week, but no teams moved in or out of the NCAA tournament bubble, meaning we have the same potential tournament field this week as we did last week.That makes for a relatively quiet week, but there were still a few notes of interest.
-In addition to earning the number one ranking in the polls, Quinnipiac has all but locked up the number one overall spot in the Pairwise rankings. Say what you will about the Bobcats playing quality opponents, but they have an outstanding 13-2-2 record against Teams Under Consideration. Minnesota seems to be the only team with a prayer of catching them in RPI, but it's going to be near impossible for Minnesota to reach that .8235 percentage against TUCs, and Quinnipiac went undefeated against Nebraska-Omaha, the only common opponents between the two, so it's impossible to flip that, even if Minnesota met UNO in the WCHA playoffs.
Individual seedings don't matter all that much in the NCAA tournament, but finishing first overall does open the possibility of facing a weaker team if somebody from outside the tourney bubble breaks through to win a conference tournament.
-In this week's Niagara watch, the Purple Eagles were upset on Thursday by Canisius in some MAAC-on-MAAC violence. Niagara rebounded with a win on Saturday, and the loss didn't hurt them all that much. In fact, Niagara actually moved up a spot thanks to Boston University Beanpot implosion against Harvard. Niagara is starting to look pretty secure in the Top 16, which means nearly everybody is rooting for them to win the Atlantic Hockey tournament.
-At the bottom on the PWR on the TUC cliff, Colorado College snuck above the .5000 RPI mark with a win over Denver, while UMass dipped just below. Colorado College getting that bump helps Nebraska-Omaha and St. Cloud, while hurting Wisconsin. Providence and Colgate lost some TUC wins with UMass' drop, though it's going to take more than a game here or there for either to be in the tourney mix.
-Even the outlying comparisons that are making me seethe aren't that bad this week . Colgate(24th RPI) wins the comparison against Niagara (11th RPI), though I'm less inclined to complain about that because Colgate beat Niagara head-to-head once, and Niagara is nowhere near the ten games needed for their TUC record to count, which explains how something weird happened. The other is Minnesota State(10th RPI) losing the comparison to Northern Michigan(25th RPI), but that's explained by the weird PWR glitch that no matter either teams record, Northern Michigan will always win a comparison against Minnesota State. I don't know, that's just how the computer works.