Category Archives: BELOW Ratings

2017-18 WCHA BELOW, Week 18

2017-18 Week 18 BELOW

Above are the 2017-18 BELOW rankings after Week 17 of WCHA conference play (130 of 140 games played).

What we know:

  1. Minnesota State will finish either 1st or 2nd.
  2. Northern Michigan will finish either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd.
  3. Bowling Green will finish 2nd or 3rd.
  4. Bemidji State will finish 4th.
  5. Michigan Tech will finish 5th.
  6. Alabama-Huntsville, Alaska, Ferris State, and Lake Superior could all finish anywhere between 6th and 9th.

Thoughts on the weekend ahead will be broken up into smaller posts due to the length of discussions of the interactions.

2017-18 WCHA Week 17 BELOW

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:


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.

Down Low

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.

2017-18 WCHA Week 16 BELOW (and Analysis)

2017-18 Week 16 BELOW

Above are the 2017-18 BELOW rankings after Week 14 of WCHA conference play (116 of 140 games played).

What we know:

  • Northern Michigan, Minnesota State, Bowling Green, Bemidji State, and Michigan Tech have all made the playoffs, as they have all gotten more than 33 league points, which is more than what Lake Superior and Alaska-Anchorage can get.
  • Northern, Mankato, and BG both have clinched home ice in the first round in the playoffs.  At 49 points, the Falcons own the A tiebreaker with Tech and have passed Alaska, Alabama-Huntsville, Ferris State, Lake State, and Anchorage.
  • UAA is on the precipice of missing the playoffs.  While they do play each of the last three weeks of the season, they can only catch or pass UAF, FSU, and LSSU.  The Seawolves need to sweep the Nanooks to tie at A, and they need a split or better with the Lakers this weekend in Anchorage.
  • LSSU is similarly in tough shape, with only this weekend’s series and their final week tilt with FSU left on their docket.  While it’s nice to play two of the teams four teams that they can pass, both Alaska schools have two games in hand on the Lakers.
  • Bemidji and MTU are the teams most likely to pick up the final home ice slot, as only UAH, the Nanooks, and the Bulldogs can pass them.  The Beavers and Huskies play this weekend, and the Nanooks visit BSU next weekend.

Likely relevant tiebreakers:


  1. BGSU and MSU have played four times (2-2-0), as have MSU and NMU (2-2-0), but BGSU and NMU have only played twice (both NMU wins).
  2. Mankato will win in most scenarios here, as they have the most conference wins in the first 65:00 (17) and have two games in hand on the other two teams.  Northern has two more 3-point wins (14) than BG (12).


  1. The only time that the Beavers and Huskies play is this weekend.  BSU and UAF are 1-1-0 so far and play their second series next weekend.  BSU won the four-game season series with UAH (3-1-0).
  2. Tech and UAH split their two-game season series.  MTU swept UAF in all four games.
  3. UAF and UAH split a two-game series.
  4. BSU has nine (9) three-point wins, while the other teams all have eight (8).  This is unlikely to matter as UAH and UAF will need more three-point wins to catch up to the Beavers and Huskies.


  1. As noted, Fairbanks and Huntsville split their two-game series.
  2. UAF and FSU split their four-game series.
  3. UAH and FSU split their two-game series.

The 3-2-1-0 system has largely killed tiebreakers, but it’s worth considering them.

This week

  • Bemidji at Tech (51%) is a classic toss-up.
  • Fairbanks at Northern (70%) has implications up and down the standings table and is frankly the most interesting series of the weekend.
  • Lake State at Anchorage (34%) is a battle for playoff lives.  A Lakers win tonight ends the Seawolves’ hopes.
  • Mankato at Huntsville (24%) is also a battle affecting the entire standings table, but the Mavs’ games in hand would make a loss to the Chargers, who stole won from NMU last weekend, sting just a little bit less.

Lastly, my hopes to have a good prediction script based on BELOW went sideways this season.  I spent a lot of time working on a fun science payload on the International Space Station, but that ate up all of my work time and had me at working at very odd hours (just ask my wife and dog).  Between that, international business travel, and illness, I haven’t even made any of UAH’s 10 home games to date.  It’s been a year since I’ve seen my alma mater play.  It’s just so weird for me.  I have the core of the script together, but chaining it all the way through the season eluded me as I struggled to get my data structures usable.

I will give you predictions for that last week.  I will try to do them based on next week’s six games.

2017-18 WCHA Week 14 BELOW Ratings

2017-18 Week 14 BELOW

Above are the 2017-18 BELOW rankings after Week 14 of WCHA conference play (98 of 140 games played).


  1. Minnesota State and Northern Michigan have clinched playoff berths.
  2. Bemidji State and Alaska-Anchorage have two games in hand on the rest of the league and will play every weekend from here out.

This week:

  • Michigan Tech (74%) at Ferris State
  • Bowling Green (83%) at Lake Superior
  • Northern (87%) at Anchorage
  • Bemidji (78%) at Alabama-Huntsville

The playoff run will be fun!  Sweeps all around by the home teams will put us to five teams in the playoffs with Ferris, Alaska, Huntsville, Lake State, and UAA vying for the final three spots.  The common series remaining between the five teams are: FSU at UAF in Week 16,  LSSU at UAA in Week 17 and FSU/LSSU and UAA/UAF in the final week.

Completed A tiebreakers: UAH over UAA (2-1-1), MTU over UAF (4-0-0), BSU over FSU (3-0-1), BGSU tied with MSU (2-2-0), MTU over LSSU (2-0-2), MSU tied with NMU (2-2-0), NMU over FSU (4-0-0).

2017-18 WCHA Week 12 BELOW

2017-18 Week 12 BELOW

TeamBELOWExpWin%+/-Points (Max)
8-MSU169275%+1242 (72)
4-BGSU165271%+2834 (70)
3-BSU160765%+2130 (66)
9-NMU159263%031 (67)
7-MTU154957%028 (58)
5-FSU144342%-2819 (55)
2-UAF143140%-1020 (56)
0-UAH142640%+1021 (51)
6-LSSU134729%-2112 (48)
1-UAA132427%-129 (51)
Above are the 2017-18 BELOW rankings after Week 12 of WCHA conference play (82 of 140 games played).

As I mentioned on Twitter, the league has gone from a 3-4-3 setup to a 4-1-3-2 setup.  Also, as someone wisely pointed out to me last year, 47 points guarantees you a playoff spot.  Yes, Minnesota State can clinch a playoff spot with two wins this weekend, as long as at least one of them comes in the first 65:00 of play.

I got really close to having series-by-series forecasts last week — actually, I had them done, and then SCIENCE! intervened.  I make no promises about this week, but I will try.

2017-18 Week 11 BELOW

2017-18 Week 11 BELOW

TeamBELOWExpWin%+/-Points (Max)
8-MSU168074%-336 (72)
4-BGSU162467%028 (70)
9-NMU159263%+331 (67)
3-BSU158662%+3424 (66)
7-MTU154957%028 (58)
5-FSU147146%019 (61)
2-UAF144142%017 (59)
0-UAH141638%-3418 (60)
6-LSSU136832%012 (54)
1-UAA133638%09 (57)
Above are the 2017-18 BELOW rankings after Week 11 of WCHA conference play (74exc of 140 games played).

There weren’t many big changes with just two series in play — a split at the top kept Minnesota State and Northern Michigan pretty stationary, while a Bemidji State sweep of Alabama-Huntsville pushed the Beavers back up the standings and BELOW tables.

I owe you words on what BELOW looks like this year:

  1. Multi-goal wins are now given a K constant of 50, and empty-net goals aren’t removed.  This is done for a few reasons: 1) over the summer, I reconsidered my stance on the 3+ goal wins; 2) work with ABOVE 3.0 made me realize that I wouldn’t be predicting things any differently than that, so there wasn’t any value in breaking it out; 3) it saves me time in data entry.
  2. One-goal wins in regulation have a K of 40.
  3. One-goal wins in standard overtime have a K of 30.
  4. Games decided after 65:00 have a K of 20.

Here’s a brief preview of the week in case I don’t get to running the results through ABOVE:

  • BSU (78% expected value) @ LSSU
  • MSU (88% EV) @ UAA
  • UAH (46%) @ UAF
  • BGSU (71%) @ FSU

2017-18 BELOW, Week 10

Hi, everyone.  While I was off slinging 632 GB down from space (harder than you’d think), the WCHA has played half of its season!  Jimmy.  I’m hoping to catch up here now that 2018 is upon us.  We’ll see.

2017-18 Week 10 BELOW

TeamBELOWExpWin%Week 0 BELOW+/-
Above are the 2017-18 BELOW rankings after Week 10 of WCHA conference play (70 of 140 games played).

As you’d expect, BELOW at the halfway mark pretty well mirrors the league standings.  BELOW still likes Bemidji State, probably because the Beavers have played just 12 games (as have Alaska-Anchorage) while Michigan Tech has played 18 (most in the league; all others have played 14).

Speaking of Tech, they’re the stunning team of the season, free-falling from 1st in BELOW at the start of the season to eighth now due to the second-best league offense (Minnesota State is tops in GF) going unsupported by the second-worst defense (Lake Superior is last in GA).  Where’s the beef, indeed.

Supplanting the Huskies in the standard top-three is Northern Michigan, which has excelled under first-year coach Grant Potulny.  The Wildcats have truly been an excellent team this season.

If you’re new, here’s a decent guide to BELOW.  Note that teams were reverted towards the mean at the start of the season because of the nature of college hockey player turnover.

I’ll be back later this week (hopefully).

2016-17 WCHA Week 21 BELOW Ratings

2016-17 Week 21 BELOW

TeamBELOWPlayoff Seeding
Above are the 2016-17 BELOW rankings after Week 21 of WCHA conference play (140 of 140 games played).

It’s important to note that Northern Michigan is the 8th seed, facing Bemidji State, but is 6th in the final 2016-17 WCHA regular season BELOW ratings.  If BSU thinks that they have an easy setup for the first round, they have another think coming.

I’ll go polish the playoff model up a bit and have the projections out soon.  This is the same model that I used back in September to revisit how the playoffs looked.  When we look at probabilities in the projections, please re-visit that post: what we had in the 2016 playoffs, with the tournament pretty much going chalk, was still just a 1% probability.  With eight teams, the probabilities are pretty wild — and FSU won with a 11% chance at the start.