Note: I made a mistake here that needs correction. I’ll let the league handle it:
I know where the error came from — I had the maximum points for BSU wrong on Sunday, and that error propagated. As always: double-check your work at 4am.
I discussed the various groupings of teams on Monday, and today I’d like to look at best/worst outcomes for every team. I want to establish a few conventions:
- I will list team records in a (3)-(2)-(1)-(0) / (Points) format. This is superior to the W-L-T-3/SW format that the league uses. I understand why they do it that way, but it’s easier to know that it’s W-(X+Y)-L and know that X+Y = T.
- Three-point wins (that is, a game decided in the first 65:00) will be called “standard wins”.
- Two-point wins will be called “over-overtime wins”. (Calling them “overtime wins” could be confusing.)
- One-point losses will be called “over-overtime losses”.
- Zero-point losses (that is, losses in the first 65:00) will be called “standard losses”.
Groupings below are listed in likeliest order of finish.
Minnesota State (19-0-0-5/57, currently 2nd)
Minnesota State’s path is pretty straightforward since they’ll one point back and have two games (and six possible points) in hand.
If you ignore the tiebreakers, Mankato has to get eight points down the stretch (or have the competition fall short of their maximum). Seven points can get them there per the above tiebreaker, which has an error in expression. Read it as “… and get two points in one game.”
In short: three wins would do it as long as at least one of them is a standard one. (MSU hasn’t played past 65:00 all season, the only WCHA team to do so.)
If the Mavericks only get six points, they need NMU to not pick up six points. The teams push at the A tiebreaker (2-2-0 season split), and MSU would very likely win at the B tiebreaker, as Mankato has a one standard win margin at this point. You can concoct a scenario like …
- MSU: 19-3-0-6 / 63 points with three over-overtime wins paired with a standard loss.
- NMU: 19-3-0-6 / 63 with a standard win and an over-overtime win.
The chances of that happening are pretty darn small. That pushes you all the way to the E tiebreaker, where NMU wins, having defeated Bowling Green 2-0-0 while MSU went 2-2-0 against the Falcons.
As long as BG has one more point than Mankato, the Falcons would leapfrog the Mavericks. MSU will win at B between the two schools regardless of how the Falcons play down the stretch. In this scenario, it would be fairly easy for Northern to pace Mankato, who can’t pick up more than three points.
Northern Michigan (18-2-0-6/58, currently 1st)
All Northern has to do is maintain their lead despite Minnesota State having two games in hand. If the Wildcats pace the Mavericks, they win. As noted above, it’s hard to find a scenario where a tiebreaker goes the Wildcats’ way — they essentially have to finish with the same record.
Both Minnesota State and Bowling Green would have to leap past NMU in points. A three-way tie would be broken at B in MSU’s favor unless, as noted previously, the teams finish with the exact same record. NMU wins at B over BGSU, so the Falcons must finish higher.
This result is possible, since the Falcons do have two games in hand, but BGSU’s margin is pretty slim.
Bowling Green (14-2-3-5/49, currently 3rd)
The above two sections should explain the outcomes here. Neither Bemidji State nor Michigan Tech can catch the Falcons.
The Battle for Fourth
Bemidji State (12-2-2-8/42, currently 4th)
Bemidji has two games In hand and a two-point cushion on Michigan Tech, whom they split with last weekend, which would have them push at D if B and C are also pushes. This is theoretically possible, with something like …
- BSU: an over-overtime win and an over-overtime loss paired with two standard losses to finish 12-3-3-10 / 45
- MTU: a standard win and an over-overtime loss to finish with the same record.
That’s probably not happening, though. (Also, Tech probably wins at E.)
Simply put, Tech has to get three more points than Bemidji.
Michigan Tech (11-2-3-10 / 40, currently 5th)
You can invert the Bemidji State worst case scenario above.
Hang with me here:
- MTU: 11-2-3-12 / 40 (loses out)
- UAF: 13-1-0-14 / 41 (wins out)
- FSU: 13-0-1-14 / 40 (wins out)
Ferris State wins at A, 3-1-0. UAF can’t make it a three-way tie at 12-2-0-14/40 because there’s actually a three-way tiebreaker at A that UAF loses to MTU (0-4-0) and splits with FSU (2-2-0). Points percentage is what solves this, and that goes MTU (6-2-0 or 75%), then FSU (5-3-0), then UAF (2-6-0).
Should this happen, I think that I’ll have a bunch of angry Tech fans on my doorstep.
On the precipice
Alaska (9-1-0-14/29, currently 7th)
Fairbanks can best Tech as noted above, but they cannot pass Bemidji.
Hoo boy. For one, UAF would have to be swept out, which means that Huntsville stays ahead of them. It only takes one point to tie with Ferris, and the possibilities abound here since the squads are 9-1-0-14 and 9-0-1-14, respectively. For the sake of argument, FSU gets a win. Then Lake State just has to have a standard win over the Bulldogs to leapfrog the Nanooks.
Alabama-Huntsville (9-1-1-15/30, currently 6th)
The Chargers currently sit in sixth and just have to stay there. Winning helps, of course — getting to 11-1-1-15 / 36 pushes them past Lake State and makes it hard for Fairbanks and Ferris to pass them. Since some of the other teams at the bottom of the rankings do face off down the stretch — Fairbanks at Anchorage, Lake State at Ferris — this isn’t impossible. UAF travels to Bemidji and FSU visits Mankato, so poor performances at each are realistic.
UAH could lose out and finish 9-1-1-17 / 30. UAF can tie them with that same record, which pushes all the way to E, but they’ll probably pick up more points than that. Ferris similarly just needs two to tie and three to pass. UAH and FSU can also tie at 9-1-1-17, and … oh, it’s tough. Lake State would just need a single standard win here, as they would win at the C tiebreaker.
Ferris State (9-0-1-14 / 28, currently 8th)
See Michigan Tech’s worst-case above.
All they would need is to lose out, which would see Lake State pass them at 33 points while everyone keeps position ahead of FSU. The FSU – LSSU interaction is perhaps the most interesting one here, as the teams could enter the final weekend just a point apart in the standings. The teams went 1-1-0 in the first series, so any win by the Lakers is a postseason-making one.
Lake Superior (8-0-3-15 / 28, currently 9th)
Pretty much everyone above them has to lose out while the Lakers win out. This isn’t unrealistic: the teams between them and 6th all play top teams down the stretch (FSU – MSU, BGSU – UAH, UAF – BSU). For a team that looked destined to miss the playoffs by the end of the first weekend in February, this would be a very surprising result. They need a lot of help, though.
They’re already in 9th, and the teams above them just have to stay there. Ferris can keep the Lakers down directly. LSSU doesn’t win any A tiebreakers, and they have one fewer standard wins than the teams ahead of them.
Alaska-Anchorage (2-3-0-19 / 12, currently 10th)