February has flown by and now we enter the best month of the college hockey season. This weekend is the final set of conference games for the Big Ten and WCHA, so teams still in the hunt in those conferences have one final opportunity to situate themselves in both the pairwise and conference standings. There is still plenty of possible movement and lots of home ice up for grabs (especially in the Big Ten), so look to enjoy some of this season’s most intense hockey thus far (with plenty of it televised)!
Tier 4: Hoping for Postseason Games
26. Alaska-Anchorage (Last Week: 26)
25. Alabama-Huntsville (LW: 25)
24. Ferris State (LW: 23)
23. Alaska (LW: 24)
Tier 3: Battling for Home Ice
22. Nebraska-Omaha (LW: 22)
21. Wisconsin (LW: 18)
20. Miami (LW: 21)
19. Michigan Tech (LW: 20)
18. Bemidji State (LW: 16)
17. Michigan State (LW: 17)
16. Northern Michigan (LW: 19)
The West’s Second Tier
Penn State, Lake State, and Western Michigan all deeply hurt their chances of making the tournament at-large with critical losses last weekend. Michigan and Colorado College helped themselves in their conference standings by combining for 10 of 12 points against top ten opponents but it is too little too late to have any at-large chance. Bowling Green was the only western bubble team to really help themselves this weekend (it was a good weekend for East Coast teams), increasing their odds by 10 percentage points. It seems likely that this group, full of powerhouse programs, will combine for only one at-large bid when Selection Sunday arrives, something that seemed impossible before the season started.
15. Penn State (LW: 13) 5% at-large chance; 17% overall
14. Colorado College (LW: 15) 0% at-large chance
13. Lake Superior State (LW: 10) 3% at-large chance, 10% overall
12. Michigan (LW: 14) 0% at-large chance
11. Minnesota (LW: 12) 0% at-large chance
10. Notre Dame (LW: 10) 10% at-large chance, 23% overall
9. Bowling Green (LW: 9) 37% at-large chance; 55% overall
8. North Dakota (LW: 8) 7% at-large chance; 10% overall
7. Western Michigan (LW: 7) 57% at-large chance; 68% overall
6. Arizona State (LW: 6)
ASU plays their final game of the regular season on March 2 and then is off until March 29th/30th. While this weekend series in Minneapolis may be an interesting barometer of how they look against a not-quite-tournament team, that four-week layoff will erase whatever positive or negative momentum they generate against the Gophers. It will be a heck of a test for the coaching staff to get them ready to play a top ten team in the national tournament.
5. Ohio State (LW: 2)
OSU is in a two-week winless stretch after losing to and tying Michigan in Ann Arbor this weekend. With most of the top of the country splitting this weekend the Buckeyes did not move much in the Pairwise, but they will need to turn things around to return to the Frozen Four.
4. Minnesota State (LW: 5)
MSU was shut out in Fairbanks on Saturday night, which is a forgettable result that I don’t think will affect the team or their postseason outlook much at all. They host Bemidji State this weekend.
3. Denver (LW: 4)
The Pioneers will play North Dakota this weekend after beating Colorado College on Tuesday (This game was not included in the rankings). Denver currently holds a top seed spot after Tuesday and can keep it with a strong finish.
2. Minnesota-Duluth (LW: 3)
Duluth can solidify its claim to the last 1-seed with a sweep of Miami this weekend and a deep run in the NCHC final. The defending champs started the season relatively slow but have played extremely consistent hockey since the calendar flipped. The Bulldogs are a legitimate contender to win another national title.
1. St. Cloud State (LW: 1)
St. Cloud stays in the top spot with an easy sweep at Omaha where they allowed one goals. Their four losses is three less than the next best teams and have an extremely large RPI gap from 2nd-ranked UMass. The Pairwise Probability Matrix has them at a 100% chance of a 1-seed.