We're down to the final day of the regular and the last games before the NCAA Tournament field is selected. Saturday will have There are six championship games(and an NCHC consolation game, which means little).
The NCAA Tournament field is mostly set with St. Cloud State, Boston College and Quinnipiac earning bids today, and Minnesota moving close to a guaranteed tournament bid. But there are still some teams that will be sweating out the results of the final day of the season, hoping to secure the final bids to the NCAA Tournament field.
We'll start with the Pairwise Rankings as they look heading into Saturday. As a reminder. the PWR is the only criteria the NCAA considers in making the field. If you need a refresher on how they work, here's a quick explainer.
We're down to about 350 possible scenarios, though it's really only about half of that since the Atlantic Hockey result doesn't affect the rest of the field at all.
Here's what we already know:
These teams will play in the NCAA Tournament: Minnesota State, North Dakota, Boston University, Michigan Tech, Minnesota Duluth, Miami, Denver, Nebraska-Omaha, St. Cloud State, Boston College, Quinnipiac
These teams can still make the Tournament with an at-large bid: Minnesota(still eligible for autobid), Harvard,(still eligible for autobid), Providence, Yale, Bowling Green
These teams need to win their conference tournament tomorrow to get into the tournament: RIT, Mercyhurst, Colgate, UMass Lowell, Michigan
Here is a look at tomorrow's games as we try to fill in those last five available spots in the tournament.
North Dakota vs. Denver-- NCHC Consolation Game
Be thankful that you won't be watching this one. These two teams have little to play for and will likely just want to get through this game healthy for next weekend's NCAA Tournament. North Dakota did fall out of the top spot in the Pairwise Rankings tonight with a loss and a Minnesota State win. They'll need a win and a Minnesota State loss to regain the top spot.
Denver dropped to 7th in the Pairwise with tonight's loss, but that appears to be their floor. St. Cloud State can't pass them with an SCSU win/DU loss. The Pioneers can get back to a 1 seed with a win and the right combination of results, but more than likely they'll be a two seed in next week's tournament.
Mercyhurst vs. RIT--Atlantic Hockey Championship
The winner of this game gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and the loser goes home. Robert Morris getting upset in the Atlantic Hockey semis and Michigan State losing in the Big Ten Tournament guarantees that the Atlantic Hockey winner will be the 16th overall seed in the field.
UMass Lowell vs. Boston University-- Hockey East Championship
UMass Lowell is right outside the bubble, but obviously would move down with a loss, so they need to win this game to advance to the NCAA Tournament. All the bubble teams will be rooting for Boston University in this one.
Boston University is playing for a one seed in the tournament. A win likely secures it, a loss leaves it up to other results.
St. Cloud State vs. Miami-- NCHC Championship
A win in the championship game likely gets St. Cloud State up to eighth. A loss drops them no lower than 12th. They're likely a three seed, maybe squeezing into that final two seed.
Miami would need a win and a loss from either Boston University or Michigan Tech to sneak into a one seed in the tournament. Otherwise, they'll be a two seed.
Minnesota State vs. Michigan Tech--WCHA Championship
Minnesota State can secure the #1 overall seed in the tournament with a win over Michigan Tech. Michigan Tech can potentially earn a one seed in the tournament with a win.
This game, among others, appears to be a key for bubble team Bowling Green. All the scenarios I find with Bowling Green sneaking into the tournament involve Michigan Tech winning, which gives them just enough RPI juice to pass Providence by the slimmest of margins(literally .0001 RPI difference in one scenario).
Colgate vs. Harvard--ECAC Championship
Colgate can't receive an at-large bid. They'll need to win to get in, so bubble teams are rooting against them. Harvard appears to be in pretty good shape even with a loss.
The best case scenario I've found for Harvard gets them up to 8th in the Pairwise and the final two seed if all results go their way.
Minnesota vs. Michigan--Big Ten Championship
Michigan needs to win the Big Ten title to get into the tournament. Bubble teams are cheering hard against the Wolverines.
Minnesota is obviously in the tournament with a win, but is still in pretty good shape even if they lose. Looking close, I'm only finding two scenarios where Minnesota doesn't make the field: both require six specific results and then either result in the Atlantic Hockey game. It looks very good for the Gophers.