2016-17 WCHA Week 16 BELOW

2016-17 Week 16 BELOW

TeamBELOWExpWin%Pts/GP %Pts (Max)
7-MTU173379%72%43 (67)
3-BSU164269%79%52 (70)
8-MSU160064%57%34 (58)
4-BGSU155958%53%35 (53)
5-FSU148648%43%26 (50)
6-LSSU148348%47%28 (52)
2-UAF147747%45%27 (51)
9-NMU142640%32%19 (43)
0-UAH136431%38%23 (47)
1-UAA135030%32%19 (43)
Above are the 2016-17 BELOW rankings after Week 12 of WCHA conference play (102 of 140 games played).

Home Ice Almost in Hand

With the weekend’s results, Bemidji State has 52 league points.  Alaska (51), Ferris State (50), Alabama-Huntsville (47), Alaska-Anchorage (43), and Northern Michigan (43) cannot match the Beavers’ total, which means that they can finish no worse than fifth.

Lake Superior can max out at 52 points.  If they’re tied, each team ends up with 16 regulation conference wins, but six Bemidji losses puts them with 10, and there they lose the C tiebreaker (LSSU his nine losses to date).

Bemidji is off this weekend, but all they need is for Minnesota State to pick up one point this weekend at home against Lake Superior.  It would also work for Ferris State to beat Bowling Green once to limit their maximum.

An Update at A

If you’ll remember from late last month, the A tiebreaker is unchanged: play four times and get the better points percentage to win.  I found 25 two-way A tiebreakers this year, and some of them have concluded.  The winners so far are below:

  1. Alabama-Huntsville over Ferris State (3-0-0-1)
  2. Lake Superior over Alabama-Huntsville (4-0-0-0)
  3. Alaska and Bowling Green remain tied (2-0-0-2)
  4. Minnesota State over Alaska (2-0-1-1)
  5. Bemidji State over Alaska-Anchorage (3-0-0-1)
  6. Michigan Tech over Alaska-Anchorage (1-1-2-0)
  7. Northern Michigan over Alaska-Anchorage (3-0-0-1)
  8. Bemidji State over Bowling Green (3-0-0-1)
  9. Bemidji State over Northern Michigan (4-0-0-0)
  10. Lake Superior and Northern Michigan remain tied (1-1-1-1)
  11. Minnesota State over Michigan Tech (2-1-0-1)

All three series this weekend — Michigan Tech at Alabama-Huntsville, Bowling Green at Ferris State, and Lake Superior at Minnesota State — finish out A tiebreakers.  Six more are decided in Weeks 18, 19, and 20, with the league’s rivalry weekend finishing off the final five.  It’ll be two more weeks before we know the result of the high-profile three-way tiebreaker, BSU-MSU-MTU.

A Look Ahead

2016-17 Week 16 BELOW, Revisited

TeamBELOWRBELOWExpWin%Est. Pts.
3-BSU1642156660%63
7-MTU1733148081%63
8-MSU1600147567%50
4-BGSU1559142568%47
2-UAF1477140660%41
6-LSSU1483147851%40
5-FSU1486153144%36
0-UAH1364160320%28
1-UAA1350151228%26
9-NMU1426159228%26
Let's look at what's left

That table is not ABOVE-generated.  It’s pretty simple:

  • RBELOW is the average of the opponents’ BELOW ratings for the rest of the season, as they stand today.
  • ExpWin% here is the expected winning percentage based on that team’s BELOW and their opponents’.
  • Est. Pts. is an extrapolation of the EW%, the number of games left, and the current total.

Bemidji has the lead, but Tech has the easier schedule.

Hopefully I’ll have time this week to knock out a to-completion script.  Working one job while training for another is wearing me out.

2016-17 WCHA Week 16, Series 51 Prediction: Alaska-Anchorage (1412) at Northern Michigan (1364)

2016-17 Week 16, Series 51: Alaska-Anchorage (1616) at Northern Michigan (1697)

ResultProbability
Splits26.42%
UAA sweeps23.34%
NMU Sweeps12.45%
UAA 5 points (W, OTW)10.63%
UAA 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)9.56%
NMU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)8.31%
NMU 5 points (W, OTW)7.55%

Alaska-Anchorage is 1-1-2-4 on the road in the WCHA this season, which is to say that it’s kept is close half of the time.  They should expect to do better against Northern Michigan, who have failed to turn mediocre fundamentals into mediocre results.  Consider:

NMU has:

  • The third-best power play in league play.
  • The fourth-best penalty kill (leaving them -1 net so far).
  • They’re seventh in league scoring (86 GF) and league defense (100 GA).

But also:

  • The three teams behind them in league scoring and defense are all above them (10th, 13 points) in the standings: UAH at (t-6th, 23), LSSU (8th, 22), and UAA (9th, 19).

It has to stick in the Wildcats’ whiskers.  Their road back to the playoffs starts this weekend.

2016-17 Week 16, Series 51 Prediction: Minnesota State (1616) at Michigan Tech (1717)

2016-17 Week 16, Series 50: Minnesota State (1616) at Michigan Tech (1717)

ResultProbability
MTU sweeps30.23%
Splits24.29%
MTU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)12.97%
MTU 5 points (W, OTW)12.23%
MSU Sweeps7.66%
MSU 5 points (W, OTW)5.92%
MSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)4.96%

BELOW accounts for momentum in the sense that a great run (see Bemidji State’s climb to the top) gets you a high rating but a drop-off does the same (see Bemidji State’s drop of the past few weeks, or Michigan Tech’s similar drooping).

At the turn of the year, the gap in BELOW between the two was 1732-1589.  It’s quite narrower now.  This prediction feels somewhat Tech heavy, but not too much.  It would be easy to overreact to Tech’s struggles with Alaska-Anchorage and overvalue the Mavericks’ efforts against Alabama-Huntsville and Bowling Green, but I’m not sure that this is all that out of line.

2016-17 WCHA Week 16, Series 49 Prediction: Alabama-Huntsville (1407) at Lake Superior (1436)

2016-17 Week 16, Series 49: Alabama-Huntsville (1407) at Lake Superior (1436)

ResultProbability
Splits26.98%
LSSU Sweeps20.98%
UAH sweeps14.26%
LSSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)10.71%
LSSU 5 points (W, OTW)10.07%
UAH 5 points (W, OTW)8.15%
UAH 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)7.12%

This one feels like a split or more for UAH given the Chargers’ success on the road, the departure of Owen Headrick to the OHL, and the Lakers’ frustrating mediocrity against Northern Michigan last weekend.  That said, it could be just like the Lakers’ series in Huntsville.

2016-17 WCHA Week 16, Series 48 Prediction: Alaska (1464) at Bowling Green (1572)

2016-17 Week 16, Series 48: Alaska (1464) at Bowling Green (1572)

ResultProbability
BGSU Sweeps31.08%
Splits23.95%
BGSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)13.12%
BGSU 5 points (W, OTW)12.48%
UAF sweeps7.13%
UAF 5 points (W, OTW)5.77%
UAF 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)4.72%

My gut says that this is too high in favor of BG, especially since the Nanook at 3-3-0-2 on the road in WCHA play this season.  All I do is present what the numbers give me — monkeying with the model because of one result is for chumps.  I expect a split.

2016-17 WCHA Week 16, Series 47 Prediction: Ferris State (1468) at Bemidji State (1660)

2016-17 Week 16, Series 47: Ferris State (1468) at Bemidji State (1660)

ResultProbability
BSU Sweeps42.35%
Splits17.20%
BSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)15.36%
BSU 5 points (W, OTW)14.62%
FSU 5 points (W, OTW)3.44%
FSU sweeps2.75%
FSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)2.74%

You’ll see that there’s a lot higher percentage of going to overtime now that I’ve adjusted for last week’s 7-overtimes-in-8-games fun-fest.  You’ll also see that Bemidji State is expected to get four or more points 72% of the time.

I pick a Beaver sweep.

2016-17 WCHA Week 15 BELOW Ratings

Is BELOW Working?

What a wacky weekend.  If you missed it, here are the details:

  • Minnesota State’s two-goal win over Bowling Green on Saturday night was the only regulation win, and it included an empty-net goal.
  • Two more games were decided in standard overtime: Alaska – Ferris State on Saturday and Bowling Green – Minnesota State on Friday.
  • Three more games were decided in 3-on-3 play on Friday: Alaska – Ferris State, Alaska-Anchorage – Michigan Tech, and Lake Superior – Northern Michigan.
  • Two games went to a shootout on Saturday: Alaska-Anchorage – Michigan Tech and Lake Superior – Northern Michigan.

Before this weekend, 71 of 84 games were decided in regulation (85%).  Now it’s 72/92 (78%).  We saw these kinds of blips last season, and sometimes they make sense and sometimes not.  That UAF-FSU and LSSU-NMU were close and required OT for both games isn’t surprising, and BGSU-MSU having a close series wasn’t either.

That UAA-MTU result, though…

I will argue that BELOW is working, and here’s why:

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The key thing to note is those last two columns.  If a team’s EWP from BELOW is higher than its point percentage (current points / games played to-date), it’s underperforming BELOW.  The true over-performers are Bemidji State and Alabama-Huntsville.  The under-performers are Minnesota State, Northern Michigan, and Bowling Green.

Masked in this, though, is who these teams have played.

When the going gets tough …

2016-17 Week 15 BELOW Revisited

TeamBELOWCBELOWOver/Under%RBELOW
5-FSU14681476+2%1554
7-MTU16971481+4%1502
3-BSU16571489+11%1547
0-UAH14071499+6%1564
6-LSSU143615110%1473
8-MSU16161514+7%1512
4-BGSU15691517+7%1425
9-NMU13611526+7%1551
2-UAF14631542-1%1437
1-UAA14111553-2%1469
BELOW: Current BELOW (Week 15).
CBELOW: Weighted average of a team's opponents' BELOW, to-date.
RBELOW: Weighted average of a teams' future opponents' BELOW.

CBELOW is the weighted average of BELOW of a team’s opponents to-date. For example, UAH has already played FSU four times this season, so the Bulldogs’ BELOW counts four times in the average; conversely, the Chargers haven’t played BSU at all.  As a counter-example, UAA has played a murderers’ row of teams to-date but plays just one team in the top-half of the league down the stretch.

The hardest schedules down the stretch belong to Huntsville, Ferris, Northern, and Bemidji.

This week was an outlier

Yes, the results of ABOVE-based predictions were spotty this week.  In defense of the model, going from 13 overtime results to 20 was a big shock to the system and isn’t something that you’d expect very often — 0.00018% of the time, in fact.

The model will adjust in lots of ways:

  • I’ll modify the coefficients for going into standard, 3×3, and shootout overtimes.  These will be a lot higher than what they currently are.  This will collapse ABOVE’s predictions a bit.
  • UAA is up and MTU is down after last week.  The other series were pretty close in terms of expected winning percentages, so mixed bags and overtimes didn’t move BELOW much there.

I’d like to take a moment and address some feedback.  There are two things to note here.

First, BELOW is an estimate of what we think a team’s value is based on the results that it’s had to-date.  I even went so far as to re-evaluate the very basis of BELOW: the pre-season estimate.

2016-17 BELOW, Week 15, Revisited Again

TeamBELOW 2016BELOW 1500EWP2016EWP1500Pts%
7-MTU1717166378%72%72%
3-BSU1660164072%69%82%
8-MSU1616156866%60%59%
4-BGSU1572154260%56%53%
5-FSU1468145545%44%43%
2-UAF1464146845%45%44%
6-LSSU1441143042%40%41%
1-UAA1412145738%44%35%
0-UAH1406141937%39%43%
9-NMU1364135431%30%24%
Above are the 2016-17 BELOW rankings after Week 12 of WCHA conference play (92 of 140 games played).

This is a busy chart, so I’ll explain:

  • BELOW 2016 uses the baseline numbers from last season as a starting point.
  • BELOW 1500 assumes that all teams are league-average going into the season.
  • EWP 2016 is the expected winning percentage based on BELOW 2016 values.
  • EWP 1500 is the expected winning percentage based on BELOW 1500 values.
  • Pts % is the number of points divided by the number of league games.

When I look at that table, I don’t see a conclusion that I can draw.  Yes, EWP 1500 is closer to PTS% for every team, but that’s to be expected because the teams are all fully reverted to the mean, rather than partially reverted.  That said, I don’t think that BELOW 1500 is the answer because it’s even worse on BSU, UAA, and NMU, farthest from that mean.

What can we validate against?  I can re-run every games from 2012-13 forward and see what works historically.

A Change to BELOW

Lastly: I have implemented a change to BELOW.  I had not differentiated one-goal wins in overtime and regulation, but now I’m going to.  The multipliers are now as follows (the change is in bold):

  1. Winning in the shootout gets a maximum of 10 points.  This has occurred 7.61% of the time in 2016-17 to-date.
  2. Winning in 3-on-3 overtime gets 20 points. (7.61%)
  3. Winning in 5-on-5 overtime gets 30 points. (7.61%)
  4. Winning in regulation by one goal gets 40 points. (30.43%)
  5. Winning by two goals gets 50 points. (22.83%)
  6. Winning by three or more goals gets 60 points. (23.91%)

I think that it’s fair that winning in overtime shouldn’t have the same value as winning in regulation, as a team who holds a one-goal lead in regulation has arguably done a tougher job than the one gaining the win in overtime.

I’m still not sure about variable multipliers that take into account the BELOW estimate of the teams.  I haven’t come up with a good way to do it, though.  My response is that a team with a 10% expectation of winning that blows out the other team deserves the 54 points that they get, and that’s 48 points more than the 90% team.

What’s very clear is this: teams go on runs.  Bemidji was on a great one to start the year, and their strong lead in the standings is proof of that.  Northern was on a similar trend, which is why BELOW thinks that they should have a couple of more wins than they actually do.

I’ll revisit this again next week.  Those eight games may be an outlier, or they could be an indication that the league is closer than we thought and that maybe those multipliers are too big.

2016-17 WCHA Week 15, Series 46 Prediction: Lake Superior h/h Northern Michigan

2016-17 Week 15, Series 46: Lake Superior (1434) h/h Northern Michigan (1359)

ResultProbability
LSSU sweeps32.41%
Splits30.61%
NMU Sweeps13.79%
LSSU 5 points (W, OTW)7.11%
LSSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)6.55%
NMU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)4.50%
NMU 5 points (W, OTW)4.43%

Lake Superior is looking downstate at Ferris State and hoping that Alaska comes into the Ewigleben and beats up the Bulldogs.  They surely don’t feel comfortable at this point, and beating up on Northern Michigan on the way to the Cappo Cup has to be the first item on their agenda.

NMU, conversely, has to win every game that it can at this point.  The Wildcats host both Alaska schools down the stretch, but they also make trips to Bowling Green, Minnesota State, and Michigan Tech.  Ouch.

I expect a Lakers sweep (but then I expected that last weekend, so… you know).

2016-17 WCHA Week 15, Series 45 Prediction: Bowling Green (1576) at Minnesota State (1604)

2016-17 Week 15, Series 45: Bowling Green (1576) at Minnesota State (1604)

ResultProbability
Splits32.01%
MSU sweeps25.99%
BGSU Sweeps18.90%
MSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)6.33%
MSU 5 points (W, OTW)6.25%
BGSU 5 points (W, OTW)5.27%
BGSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)4.68%

This is the marquee matchup of the weekend.  Each team has nine conference wins (the B tiebreaker), and Minnesota State should win the C tiebreaker if it comes down to it — though a tie of these two means that the teams probably split the weekend.

MSU and BGSU are a microcosm of the 2016-17 WCHA.  We want to be a national force, but our good teams have been maddeningly inconsistent.  The Mavericks swept Alabama-Huntsville on the road last weekend, something that the Falcons also did.  BG has done a good job of beating the teams below them in the standings, and their breakthrough game may have been a win over Bemidji State last weekend.

If I had my full-season model working, I’m pretty sure that this series would be clearly pivotal.  This is probably for the third seed, since it doesn’t seem likely that Bemidji or Michigan Tech will come back to the pack at this point.  But if either team is going to make a run at 1st or 2nd, it starts with a sweep this weekend.

I’m going split.

2016-17 WCHA Week 15, Series 44 Prediction: Alaska-Anchorage at Michigan Tech

2016-17 Week 15, Series 44: Alaska-Anchorage (1398) at Michigan Tech (1730)

ResultProbability
MTU sweeps65.85%
MTU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)10.53%
MTU 5 points (W, OTW)10.36%
Splits10.29%
UAA 5 points (W, OTW)0.98%
UAA 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)0.81%
UAA Sweeps0.75%

Yes, ABOVE says that MTU will come away with three or more points 97.46% of the time.

If the Seawolves sweep, I’m going to end up in a smelter.

The Race for the WCHA's MacNaughton and Broadmoor Trophies