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2016-17 WCHA Week 21, Series 69 Projection: Ferris State (1526) at Lake Superior (1428)

2016-17 Week 21, Series 69: Ferris State (1526) at Lake Superior (1428)

FSU sweeps35.44%
LSSU Sweeps10.99%
FSU 5 points (W, OTW)7.54%
FSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)5.48%
LSSU 5 points (W, OTW)3.58%
LSSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)2.01%

Laker fans won’t like this one, but the team has faded down the stretch.  Both Alabama-Huntsville and Northern Michigan are right behind them in the standings, and being swept by the Bulldogs could well put them out of the playoffs.

2016-17 WCHA Week 18, Series 57 Prediction: Michigan Tech (1739) at Bemidji State (1642)

2016-17 Week 18, Series 57: Michigan Tech (1739) at Bemidji State (1642)

MTU Sweeps33.47%
BSU sweeps9.68%
MTU 5 points (W, OTW)8.83%
MTU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)6.54%
BSU 5 points (W, OTW)4.04%
BSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)2.17%

Remember when I was wondering if Bemidji had run away with things?  The most probable result this weekend — a Tech sweep — puts the Huskies into the lead.  Craziness.  Tech needs four points or more for the hammer at the A tiebreaker, and even though that doesn’t get them past the Beavers, it gets them awfully close.

The Beavers know that this is their time.  They know that they’ve come back to the field — after amassing 35 points in their first 12 WCHA games, they have just 17 more in the next 10, a rate of points more on the range of Minnesota State — and they have to know that a big points weekend not only gives them the A tiebreaker put likely puts safe distance on the field.

I honestly don’t know what I think about this series, other than …

2016-17 WCHA Week 14, Series 41 Prediction: Ferris State at Alaska-Anchorage

2016-17 Week 14, Series 41: Ferris State (1530) at Alaska-Anchorage (1366)

FSU Sweeps49.70%
UAA sweeps8.34%
FSU 5 points (W, OTW)4.38%
FSU 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)4.05%
UAA 4 points (W, OTL or OTW, OTW)1.80%
UAA 5 points (W, OTW)1.69%

Alaska-Anchorage took a bite out of the Beavers last week, and the Bulldogs are certainly going to be wary of that.  It’s important to note that UAA has won on each of their last three Friday nights.  ABOVE thinks that a drubbing is pretty likely, actually: 15.07% of the time in 1,000,000 runs, FSU dropped 3+ on UAA both nights.

Geof’s Subjective Prediction: split.

2015-16 Week 15 BELOW Rankings, Revised

I knew when I had a big discrepancy between Ferris State’s BELOW and its place in the standings that there might be a problem, and there was!  I had mistakenly referenced Lake Superior’s number at the end of their Week 10 series.

Here are the revised results:

2015-16 Week 15 BELOW Rankings, Revised

TeamWeek 15 BELOWWeek 15 RkWeek 14-15 DeltaWk 10 to Wk 15
BELOW is an Elo-inspired ranking for WCHA member teams. This is the ranking set after Week 15 (games ending 2016-01-09), with an error corrected in FSU's BELOW.

I regret the error.  I hope to work up predictions on Thursday.

2015-16 Week 15 BELOW Rankings

2015-16 Week 15 BELOW Rankings

TeamWeek 15 BELOWWeek 15 RkWeek 14-15 DeltaWk 10 to Wk 15
BELOW is an Elo-inspired ranking for WCHA member teams. This is the ranking set after Week 15 (games ending 2016-01-09).

These are in error; see the revised numbers.

The big movers this week are Bemidji State (road sweep in Anchorage) and Northern Michigan (split in Mankato).  UAH also gained ground, but only negligibly so.

I think that last column is really interesting.  For example, Bemidji State has rocketed up the standings these last few weeks, but the BELOW rankings don’t reflect that so strongly, thinking little of the Beavers’ result in Fairbanks.

The big disagreement is in the middle of the table.  The standings 5-9 are Ferris-Northern-Lake-Anchorage-Fairbanks; BELOW is Northern-Fairbanks-Anchorage-Lake-Ferris, and the drop from Northern to Ferris is 80 full points, or Northern to beat Ferris 61%-39%.

So then, the value in BELOW is going to be this: with the relative ranks these teams have and the games that they have left, who can reasonably be expected to win?  I have a rundown of the games left in the Week 11 post, and it’s still pretty valid.

I’d love thoughts in the comments or on USCHO.

No Math: How to Do a 10-Team WCHA Playoff: Play-IN

I’ve been thinking about how to pull off a 10-team WCHA playoff with minimal perturbation to the first-round / Final 4ive.  I don’t think that a five-team or five-game playoff should be an end goal, as I like the current setup.  But if we’re going to go to an everybody-in system, I’d like to propose an alternative.

The Play-in

Seeds 1-4 get home ice.  Seeds 5-6 get certainty with their travel plans to 3/4.  Seeds 7-10 get sent to a 1/2 site with the #1 seed choosing the pairing whose winner they would play in the full first round.  But they’re only choosing this by picking who they host for a play-in game: 7-10 or 8-9.  7-10 and 8-9 play a single play-in game on neutral ice, and the winner then plays the host school (i.e., no re-seeding).  Finishing 7-10 now means that you have to win three games to make it to the Final 4ive.

Let’s look at this with how this season finished.  Ferris State, as the #1 seed, would’ve been able to pick a pair: Northern Michigan & Alabama-Huntsville or Bemidji State & Lake Superior.  Ferris State would have had until 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 9th to decide whom they would face in the opening round.  A play-in means that there’s even more reason to get the #1 seed, because you’ll get to handicap your best competitor.

Ferris could have taken BSU-LSSU and been pretty happy with it:  the Bulldogs did well against both teams, and they really held serve at home, so they would have felt confident in facing their opponent.  Or they could have taken the NMU-UAH pairing.  They were 3-0-1 against the Wildcats.  But maybe UAH knocks off Northern Michigan in that 7-10 play-in game!  Then Ferris would have an even easier task in its first-round series, as it’s pretty much a given that the McNaughton Cup winner can pick up two wins in three games no matter how many headstands Guerriero and Larose do.

Think about it for a second: two play-in games would be really exciting, probably as exciting as the WCHA’s final night was.  And even that would still have been exciting, as UAH was the only assured seed at #10.  Three teams (BSU, LSSU, NMU) could’ve been the 9th seed, four the 7th and 8th (UAA, BSU, LSSU, NMU in some combination).  After all, 66 of the 243 (27%) scenarios for how the final day came out would’ve had UAA in either 7th or 8th, and of course they could’ve gone as high as 5th.  If nothing else, we would’ve not heard caterwauling about how UAH made LSSU miss the playoffs by not playing them four times.

Don’t get me wrong: I like the top-8-or-go-home scheme.  I’ll like it next season if UAH is scuffling to be in the playoffs (don’t scoff or it might happen!  Wait, please scoff), too.  For a team at the bottom, I think that the push to fight and claw for getting into the top 8 means a lot — because making the playoffs is an accomplishment, not a given.  But if you’re really hell-bent on having all ten teams involved, send 7&10 and 8&9 to the venue of the #1 seed’s choosing.

What say you?  Comment below or reply to me on Twitter at @wchaplayoffs.

2014 WCHA Playoff Race: The Final First-Order and Probabilistic Models

Welcome to the new blog, everyone!  It was unfair to have this take over for much longer, and I have longer-term plans on it, anyway.  New blog, new Twitter handle, same nerd.

Here are the final predicted standings from the first-order model:

Team Record Points
1 Minnesota State 21-7-0 42
2 Ferris State 20-6-2 42 1
3 Alaska 14-12-2 30 
4 Bowling Green 12-12-4 28 2
5 Alaska-Anchorage 12-12-4 28
6 Michigan Tech 12-12-4 28
7 Northern Michigan 13-14-1 27
8 Bemidji State 11-13-4 26
9 Lake Superior 12-16-0 26
10 Alabama-Huntsville 2-25-1 3

1 The MacNaughton Cup would be awarded to both teams, but for seeding purposes, the B) tiebreaker goes to the Mavericks, who have  one more WCHA win.

The three-way log-jam at 12-12-4 is broken by the C) tiebreaker, given that all three schools did not play the other two squads four times.  They all have 12 wins, so you have to go to winning percentage down the table.  Against the Mavericks, the Huskies have the worst performance (.000), while the other two were .500.  At the next level, the Falcons went .250 against the Bulldogs, better than the winless Seawolves.

I call this a first-order model because it uses KRACH to create an expected value parameter that is then used to make a reasoned prediction.  It’s effective, to be sure, but it’s pretty simplistic.  As such, it’s been wrong this year on a number of occasions.  There are some limitations to the model, and let’s just look at where we work in Week 17:

Team Record Points
1 Ferris State 20-0-8 48
2 Minnesota State 16-10-2 34
3 Bowling Green 13-9-6 32 
4 Alaska-Anchorage 13-11-4 30
5 Northern Michigan 13-13-2 28
6 Lake Superior 13-13-2 28
7 Bemidji State 11-11-6 28
8 Alaska 11-14-3 25
9 Michigan Tech 9-12-7 25
10 Alabama-Huntsville 2-25-1 3

Yes, the team that the model currently expects to be #3 was in 8th, and the #9 team, Michigan Tech, is now very likely to be in the home ice race, too.

Clearly, in-season modeling is hard.  Hockey teams aren’t single numbers.  Just this past weekend, the expected value model said that Alaska would only take one point.  They, uh, swept Ferris.

Oh, and the first predictive model I had said that they had nearly no chance of this.  But I can make my model better, and I have.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 6.24.48 PM

We’ve gotten somewhere!  Here’s the source of my problem: I was under-estimating UAH’s chances at winning at Bemidji.  I famously said that UAH had a 1.6% chance of winning, but you know, I was underestimating them.  Also, I had too much room for teams to get ties.

Now the model does the following:

  1. The standard deviation range goes in the right direction.  If the teams are rather unequally yoked, the SD needs to be larger (squashing the bell curve down); when you’re near 2.000 points, you have a smaller SD.  Why?  You don’t need to widen the spread as much to give the unequal teams a chance to have all possible results.  After all, UAH gets points about 1/9 of the time, and you have to account for that properly.
  2. There is a weighted standings component.  It doesn’t have an “if this happens, these are the results with the tiebreakers applied” yet, but that’s planned for the summer.  No, doing an average of the 10,000 runs will give you the estimated number of wins, and that should be a good proxy for the tiebreakers.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 6.25.11 PM

As you can see, the FSU-MSU thing really is a tossup: 55 comparisons in 10,000 results are all that separate them. Also, in nearly every scenario, equal points favors the Mavericks.  (The alternate scenario: MSU ties MTU twice.)

Bemidji State fans are unlikely to be happy with me here, but losing to UAH really hurt their KRACH.  (It breaks my heart.)  It’s reasonable to think that LSSU and NMU can pick up points (see above), and it’s hard for BSU to pick up more than a point, on average.  They’re on the road against a good team that is very good at home.

(About that: there is no home-ice bonus.  I need to study that NCAA-wide to figure out how to best model that.  I have an idea, but I didn’t want to enter more noise into the system that I already have with an unproven model.

I’ll run this again on Saturday to see where we are in the finals.  I also have a nice toy coming for you on Saturday.  #branches