Welcome back to the Power Rankings, where we are quickly approaching conference tournament season! Starting this week, we will make use of the Pairwise Probability Matrix from College Hockey News to predict the chances of teams getting into the tournament (both overall and at-large). While these rankings still won’t mirror that of Pairwise, this is a good place to note whether teams are on the right or wrong side of the bubble relative to their power. Also, this week has no individual write-ups, but rather a few notes about teams in the top three tiers. With next week going back to a full schedule across the country, it is time to buckle in for the stretch run.
The Bottom of the WCHA
26. Alaska Anchorage (Last Week: 26)
25. Alabama-Huntsville (LW: 25)
24. Alaska (LW: 23)
23. Ferris State (LW: 24)
Out of the Hunt, Praying to Get Hot in March
22. Nebraska-Omaha (LW: 22)
21. Miami (LW: 21)
20. Michigan Tech (LW: 18)
19. Northern Michigan (LW: 17)
18. Wisconsin (LW: 20)
17. Michigan State (LW: 19)
16. Bemidji State (LW: 16)
No At-Large Chance*, But Can Do Damage
15. Colorado College (LW: 14)
14. Michigan (LW: 11)
13. Penn State (LW: 10)
12. Minnesota (LW: 15)
A quick note on these last two teams: Minnesota swept Ohio State on the road, which gives them a great shot of hosting a playoff series and an outside chance of winning the Big Ten regular season title. They have a 0% chance of an at-large bid, so they need to take this momentum all the way to a postseason championship.
That brings us to Penn State, the reason for the asterisk in the heading. Penn State is the one team in this group with a chance of making the tournament at-large with a 14% chance of that happening (28% chance overall). I don’t see it happening because of their inability to put together a full weekend, but as I have said in this space many times, their offense is scary enough to be a tough opponent for anyone.
Still in the At-Large Hunt
11. Notre Dame (LW: 12) – 32% overall; 15% at-large
10. Lake Superior State (LW: 13) – 44%; 24%
9. Bowling Green (LW: 9) – 42%; 28%
8. North Dakota (LW: 10) – 12%; 10%
7. Western Michigan (LW: 6) – 89%; 78%
To varying levels, these teams all remain in the hunt to make the tournament. North Dakota is the outlier here, as they continue to stay in the hunt by getting splits pretty much every weekend. Lake State has played exceptional hockey since the start of 2019 and continue to chase their first tournament appearance since 1996. Notre Dame beat Michigan last Tuesday to regain that vital comparison which kept them in the hunt, but then splitting with Wisconsin did not help. Finally, Bowling Green has been slowly dropping in the rankings and are on the wrong side of the bubble currently. They may need to go 4-0 the rest of the regular season to make it (with an away series at Bemidji State then home against Alabama-Huntsville).
Clinched a Tournament Bid
6. Arizona State (LW: 8)
5. Minnesota State (LW: 5)
4. Denver (LW: 4)
3. Minnesota-Duluth (LW: 3)
2. Ohio State (LW: 1)
1. St. Cloud State (LW: 2)
All six of these teams have a 100% chance of making the tournament. Arizona State swept American International this week to lock up their spot. Minnesota State had the weekend off. Denver and Minnesota-Duluth played each other in a pair of highly competitive games that resulted in a split. Ohio State had their worst weekend of the year, getting swept at home by Minnesota. They only fall to the two spot this week, because I firmly believe they will be better off for that sweep, but I will need to see something impressive this weekend in Ann Arbor, or they will plummet. Finally, St. Cloud State was off this weekend but regained their spot at the top.