About a month ago, I started the process of developing an Excel-based pairwise predictor because I was really wondering about Michigan Tech's chances, and while College Hockey News (CHN) has a nice predictor, it didn't incorporate conference tournaments and it was a little difficult to input data and tweak those results and see how it changed the rankings.
It took me about two weeks and a bunch of emails with Jim Dahl, the man behind the rankings on siouxsports.com and the great work at collegehockeyranked.com, but I was finally able to reproduce all of the components and get an accurate pairwise ranking that matched all of the other sites and matched whatever day I selected on the CHN site. My spreadsheet and all of it's pivot table took some time (about 20 seconds), but I was happy to be able to fiddle with the schedule to figure out who Michigan Tech could have scheduled with their unused games and what effect that would have on their RPI/PWR (their best option was Army, but that probably wasn't worth it).
The other think I missed was having all the customization of the old what-if-calculator at Slack.net created by Joe Schlobotnik. I know I'm not alone in my pining for the days of Joe's site, so I had always hoped that Tech Hockey Guide could someday have our own. I never expected it to come together so quickly because our publisher, Brandon Maurisak, definitely didn't have time to put this all together. But then something wonderful happened.
I made the trek to Bemidji last month to watch the Huskies play the Beavers and there were these two Tech fans who were making a ton of noise and almost getting in trouble with security. My friends and I invited them to meet up with us after Saturday's big win for food and drinks. We got to talking and I was trying to recruit them to help with content here because we definitely could use some help from people in Houghton and both of these guys lived in the area. Neither of them seemed very thrilled with the idea of writing but I also found out that Tyler Schwartz worked in IT at the university.
A few days after the trip, I sent him a message on Facebook and here we are, two weeks later, with a fully-functioning pairwise predictor that allows you to predict the rest of the games in the regular season (just the for the Big Ten), fill out all the results for each conference's tournaments (including whether a series goes 2 or 3 games), the NCHC third place, and automatically-populated seeding for the Big Ten tournament based on the results you select for this week.
How It Works
We'll add more "what-if-calculator" type features in the future, but for now, you're not able to go back and change results from before this weekend. There are three different types of games that have slightly different options for you as the predictor. Below is an image of this week's Big Ten schedule to visually show most of the variations.
As you can see, there are four radio buttons for each game and a fifth if the game is Final. In the below example, all of this Friday's games have already occurred and that result is listed inside the "Final" dashed box (Michigan State winning in a shootout, Michigan win in regulation, and a Wisconsin win in overtime). The top row of radio buttons are designed to allow you to select to ignore a game (far left), choose a win for the first team listed (2nd from left), choose a tie according to the NCAA (2nd from right), and choose a win for the second team listed (far right) for each game where the first team listed is the road team unless the game is at a neutral site. The button for a tie will not be available for most playoff games.
If you choose a tie in a regular season game in the Big Ten or NCHC, an additional selection will be required for who wins the shootout and gets the extra point in conference standings. As you can see to the right, the top row of results has changed to red because the Final results were overridden by choosing PSU to win in a shootout instead of a Michigan win in regulation and a Minnesota win instead of a Wisconsin win in overtime.
For all playoff games except the NCHC third place game, the only options will be ignoring the game and choosing a winner. The predictor also won't display the third game of a best of three series unless your inputs for the first two games necessitate a third game. It also won't properly seed the Big Ten tournament until you input all 6 results for this week's games. The neutral-site conference tournament games next weekend for all other conferences won't be properly filled in until you select results of this week's quarterfinal series. The conference finals automatically populate based on your semifinal results and all you have to do to see your predicted final pairwise rankings is hit the refresh button above the rankings on the right side of the page. Finally, there is a "Reset all selections..." on the bottom of the page to allow you erase everything and start off with whatever games are final (final results refresh approximately every 10 minutes throughout game nights).
Tyler worked very hard to understand all the minutia and make everything calculate properly, and hopefully later we'll publish a full primer explaining many of the little details that make it so hard to reproduce what the other major sites are displaying and I'm thrilled to present this crazy fast pairwise predictor for your enjoyment. Soon enough, we'll have each team's pairwise details clickable from our predictor, but for now, enjoy the freedom to see what things will look like based on what you think or hope will happen over the next two weeks:
Special thanks to Jim Dahl for all his help in explaining where I was making mistakes along the way in trying to use his data on Sioux Sports as my guide to properly calculate RPI, which made explaining each step to Tyler far easier. If there is anything you'd like to see in our predictor for the future, feel free to contact us with your suggestions.