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 today. 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.
And here are relevant notes about the big board this week.
-UMass-Lowell continued playing amazing hockey with a pair of wins over Boston University over the weekend. Lowell now sits 11th in the PWR and looks pretty solid in terms of getting into the tournament, while Boston University dropped to 23rd, and more than likely needs to win the Hockey East tourney to get into the tournament.
-Wisconsin's overtime loss to Penn State on Monday night dropped them from 19th to 28th in the Pairwise, and pretty much knocked them out of contention for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
-Rensselear felt the yo-yo effect the computer rankings can have in full force last weekend. On Friday, they lost 4-1 at Cornell and dropped six spots in the Pairwise down to 23rd. The next night, they beat Colgate, and finished the weekend one spot higher than they started. They now sit at 16th overall, hereby dubbed the "Go Niagara!" spot.
-The Niagara Watch has officially been redesignated as the Niagara Wait. The Purple Eagles swept Mercyhurst over the weekend and sit at 8th the Pairwise. They've basically secured a bid to the tournament. If they don't win the Atlantic Hockey tournament, then that league will take up two tournament bids.
-Meanwhile, another Atlantic Hockey team, Robert Morris, has crept up to 18th in the Pairwise. I think Robert Morris could have a tough time pushing their way into the top 16 for an at-large bid without winning Atlantic Hockey's tournament though. The Colonials, unlike NIagara, actually have the requisite 10 games against TUCs for that comparison category to count, and are a pretty stellar 5-3-2 against TUCs, including a win over #1 Quinnipiac on the first weekend of the season. That seems shaky though. Holy Cross, a team they're 1-0-1 against, is just barely on the right side of the TUC cliff, while Air Force, a team they're 0-3-0 against is just on the wrong side of the TUC cliff. Flip spots for those two teams, and Robert Morris likes drops back closer to 24th, where they're ranked in the RPI.
-This week in outlying comparisons that are making me seethe: Brown just barely crept over the TUC Cliff on the weekend, which gave Minnesota State an extra TUC victory, and flipped their comparison with Northern Michigan. The only really oddball one continues to be Colgate over Niagara, but Colgate has a head-to-head win, and Niagara doesn't have enough TUC games for that category to count. Otherwise, we cool this week, Pairwise.