2017-18 Week 17 BELOW
Above are the 2017-18 BELOW rankings after Week 14 of WCHA conference play (124 of 140 games played).
Not much changed over the weekend.
The scenario that I presented at bottom would’ve virtually ended Lake Superior’s season and put seven teams solidly into the postseason, but the exact opposite happened.
Let’s consider the possibilities:
Up Top (NMU, MSU, BGSU)
Minnesota State has two games in hand on Northern Michigan, who is just a point ahead of them. Each school plays a rival looking to lock up home ice (Bemidji State and Michigan Tech, respectively) on the final weekend, but Mankato hosts Ferris State this weekend, where the Mavericks are 8-2-0 in league play. It seems pretty likely that MSU will leap-frog Northern Michigan into the MacNaughton.
Bowling Green still has a puncher’s chance at the MacNaughton, but they will need to lose no more than one time while hoping for both the Mavs and Wildcats to falter. This feels pretty unlikely, even though they’re favored down the stretch against Alaska-Anchorage (88%) and Alabama-Huntsville (72%), even though both of those series are on the road in two of the farthest-flung parts of the WCHA.
Tiebreakers that matter:
- MSU – NMU are tied at A, and MSU has one more regulation win already.
- BGSU is tied with MSU at A, but they would have to win all four games to win at B against NMU — and they can’t beat MSU at B.
In the Middle
BGSU can finish no lower than fourth, as Tech has just two games left and can’t reach the Falcons’ eyrie. Bemidji will have a crack at third, but their recent performance doesn’t make that seem likely.
Tiebreakers that matter: None apply at A, and BG has a two-win lead over Bemidji at B. As long as Bemidji State gets one win, they will tie Tech at B, where Tech actually could win since any realistic tie has Bemidji lose at least twice.
Goodness, what a mess. The tiebreakers are too close to call with these teams, who are all tied at A if they played four times (or, with Lake State and Ferris, the final games pending), and UAH, UAF, and FSU all have nine league wins, while LSSU has eight. Good luck figuring this one out.
- Huntsville awaits Bowling Green for their final games of the season, and will spend next weekend grinding their teeth watching the two teams just below them playing.
- Fairbanks visits Bemidji (40%) before traveling to Anchorage (74%) to close the season.
- Ferris visits Mankato (22%) before finishing with Lake Superior (47%).
- Lake State also sits and waits this next weekend.
More thoughts later this week.