The “Welcome to the Club, UNO” Tier
26. Alaska-Anchorage (Last Week: 26)
25. Alabama-Huntsville (LW: 25)
24. Alaska (LW: 24)
23. Ferris State (LW: 23)
22. Nebraska-Omaha (LW: 22)
The “Trying to Win Points to Get in Better Conference Tournament Position” Tier
21. Michigan Tech (LW: 21)
20. Northern Michigan (LW: 16)
19. Michigan State (LW: 17)
18. Wisconsin (LW: 20)
17. Bemidji State (LW: 18)
16. Miami (LW: 12)
The “Get Hot Right Now and Anything Is Possible” Tier
15. Colorado College (LW: 19)
14. Penn State (LW: 15)
13. Minnesota (LW: 14)
12. Michigan (LW: 13)
11. Lake Superior State (LW: 11)
The Tournament Contenders
10. Arizona State (LW: 9)
The Sun Devils simply had to at least split with Boston University if they wanted to have a realistic shot at the NCAA tournament. They only have six games left, all of whom can help their Pairwise ratings: series against American International and RIT (first and third in Atlantic Hockey) before finishing with a series at the University of Minnesota. 4-2 might get them into the tournament, but 5-1 would make the long conference postseason much easier for them to stomach.
9. North Dakota (LW: 10)
It continues to be ugly, but the Fighting Hawks will not disappear from the bubble after yet another sweep, this time against St. Cloud State. At some point they need to go on a run, but in the NCHC splits make it easy to tread water. The schedule is still brutal: series against Denver, Western, and Duluth remain.
8. Bowling Green (LW: 8)
BGSU was sitting pretty in the Pairwise a few weeks ago but are now 16th because of losses to Alaska and Ferris State in the past two weeks. Without any games against Minnesota State to boost their strength of schedule, they cannot afford more than one loss in their final eight regular season games if they want to feel good about being in an at-large spot before the WCHA tournament begins.
7. Notre Dame (LW: 5)
Notre Dame will be disappointed by their tie at home against Michigan State, who have stolen a lot of points from the upper half of the conference lately. The Irish are not in a comfortable spot in the Pairwise: they sit 14th. A huge series against Ohio State will likely determine who wins the regular season title and will give some clarity to their NCAA hopes.
6. Minnesota State (LW: 7)
MSU put together a most road impressive sweep of Northern Michigan and are realistically in the hunt for a 1-seed in the national tournament if they run through the rest of WCHA play. Regardless, they are a near-lock for the NCAA tournament.
5. Denver (LW: 2)
The most interesting stat of the season? Denver is undefeated in 10 non-conference games but sit 5th in the NCHC because they are .500 through 13 games in conference play. The NCHC is once again a bloodbath.
4. Western Michigan (LW: 7)
For the last few weeks I noted that we would see what Western is made of during this stretch of January. They were swept by St. Cloud on the road but responded by sweeping Denver. They now have a 15-8-1 record and sit comfortably in 3rd place in the NCHC, 6 points ahead of Denver. There was no way I could say they are less powerful than the Pioneers, at least right now.
3. Ohio State (LW: 4)
OSU was off this weekend but move up because of Denver’s rough weekend. They return from their break with a home series against Notre Dame.
2. Minnesota-Duluth (LW: 2)
UMD took care of the worst team in the NCHC this weekend with a sweep of UNO. They seem to be on a collision course with St. Cloud on the final weekend of the regular season (March 8/9 in St. Cloud).
1. St. Cloud State (LW: 1)
The Huskies fought for a split in North Dakota, never an easy place to win even as the best team in the country. SCSU now has a sizable lead for first-place in the Pairwise after UMass lost to Maine this weekend.