In light of everything with the new WCHA playoff system, I had a lingering question: What effect would the semifinal rules have had on Michigan Tech’s chances of making the NCAAs as an at-large team?
Luckily, I knew the guy to ask: Tim Braun of TechHockeyGuide.com. His answer:
Michigan Tech would still need to win the Title to get in…even sweeping FSU at home and losing to MSU in Houghton would have MTU first team out.
[T]hey’d pickup almost 40 RPI points, enough to pass Cornell, but not UMD…that would get them to 0.5398 (UMD was up at 0.5440).
The new, truly-insular schedule for 2016-17 will make it hard for WCHA teams to make the NCAAs. WCHA teams play just 32% of their non-conference games at home this season (39% if you count the Alaska tournaments) per UAHHockey.com’s Michael Napier. It’s no wonder that the WCHA is looking to reduce the number of league games to give member schools more opportunities to play out-of-conference. The WCHA’s woeful non-conference totals in 2015-16 — tabulated by Troy Mills of the Beaver Hockey Pond — tells the sad tale of woe:
The WCHA non-conference schedule is complete and the league ended up with a record of 27-36-9.
-5 against Hockey East (3-2-0)
-4 against Atlantic Hockey (3-0-1)
-26 against the NCHC (4-20-2)
-24 against the Big10 (10-9-5)
-7 against the ECAC (4-2-1)
-6 against Arizona State (3-3-0)
It’s the NCHC play that killed the league. Four teams from the Nacho made the NCAAs, and the results weren’t pretty:
- UAH went 0-2-0 against eventual national champion North Dakota, although one of those games was 1-0, and split with Colorado College.
- UAA lost to St. Cloud.
- UAF also lost to St. Cloud.
- BSU went 2-0-0 against Duluth, 0-1-1 against North Dakota, and lost to St. Cloud.
- BGSU lost two games each to Miami and Western Michigan, a fact that probably rankles our friends at BGSUHockey.com.
- FSU went 0-1-1 against Western.
- LSSU lost to North Dakota, and they sadly got swept at home by newbie Arizona State.
- MTU didn’t play any NCHC teams, and their big regrets are in conference play.
- MSU lost three games to St. Cloud and two to Nebraska-Omaha.
- NMU split with Duluth.
One way to consider the new playoff structure — which I like a lot! — is that playing two or three semifinal games will lower the chance of upsets. While that lowers the probability of hurting a league team in PWR — again, it kept Tech out in 2016 — Ferris State made the 2014 NCAA field as an at-large despite losing the Broadmoor to Minnesota State.
I hope to have answers on the probabilities for the 2016 semifinals and final game in the next week or so. But there’s also …
Time to build a spreadsheet! https://t.co/oe0WK23wns
— Predict WCHAPlayoffs (@wchaplayoffs) May 20, 2016
[My thanks to jsmithe for correcting my oversight of LSSU playing NoDak early in the season.]