There is an adage that you always seem to see when the PairWise first comes out — It’s still early.
And this is absolutely true. Even right now, with just either six or seven weeks left of the regular season and two or three weeks of postseason left until the NCAA selections, it’s still too early. You may still see some jumps in the PairWise rankings, some of which just don’t make sense to you.
Scott Brown did a great job with his Fuzzy Logic blog postings in regards to some of the funkiness going on, but let’s use this opportunity to look at another portion of the PairWise formula which still has not taken full effect.
Record against Teams Under Consideration.
Let’s go an take a look at the championship handbook again. One of the selection criteria is records against Teams Under Consideration (TUC). Basically your record against the teams in the Top 25 of the RPI. Now don’t forget about the “but” included here. The “but” is that in order for this criteria to be counted, the team must have played a minimum of 10 games against TUC’s. Therefore, this criteria is still not applied to some teams, therefore, the PairWise criteria, all of them, are still not in effect.
Let’s take a look at the current Record against TUC’s and see who doesn’t have the minimum of 10 games.
Those teams would be (Teams, current record against TUC’s):
Notre Dame (4-3-0)
Ohio State (3-4-1)
Air Force (1-2-0)
Let’s take Air Force out of discussion because the Falcons will not face another TUC this season, and the only possibilities that they might have to change this record is if RIT or Yale get into the Top 25. But this would only at a maximum of five games to the record, and if you also see the possibility of RIT and Air Force facing off in the AHA playoffs, then Air Force would only have nine TUC games. So they’re out of the discussion.
Maine, UNO and Dartmouth are not in good shape once their TUC criteria kicks in. They’re currently on the outside looking in, and even if they were to win all the games to get up to 10, their TUC mark is not good enough to make a factor in moving up the PWR chain.
Quinnipiac does have a shot to gain some momentum and move up some spots once it kicks in, but not enough to make a big difference from outside looking in to great shot at sticking.
So let’s talk about Cornell, Notre Dame, Princeton and Ohio State.
When the TUC criteria kicks in , what will happen?
Notre Dame is going to get there very quickly. After a bye week, the Irish will play Michigan and Ohio State. Now it goes without saying that four losses will kill Notre Dame anyway and drop it like a rock in the PWR, but a split will no doubt put Notre Dame on an even keel with a lot of those teams around it. All of the Hockey East schools are around this mark in their TUC records, as are the WCHA schools. So Notre Dame results that are not wins over the next four games will either square it up to a number one seed, or put it right in the middle of the pack because of this criteria point.
Ohio State will also get there very quickly, with eight games remaining against TUCs.
Now, there’s nothing unusual here about this. Play the TUCs and if you win, you should go up. This is surely the case with Notre Dame and Ohio State.
Now let’s get to Cornell and Princeton.
Princeton is at 6-2 against TUCs. There’s one game remaining against Cornell and then another ECAC team will at least be a TUC. At 6-2, if the Tigers split these two games, they are at 7-3. Good enough to win this criteria against everyone except for Cornell and BU. If Princeton continues to win, and splits or does better than .500 against TUCs the rest of the way, I think it’s safe to predict that Princeton is going to jump spots in the PWR because it will win this criteria against a lot of teams. So watch this very carefully with Princeton. If one week you see the Tigers just jump, it most likely will be because they have just hit the 10 games against TUCs mark.
Cornell is at 5-1-1 against TUCs, with the only regular season games against TUCs coming against Princeton and a host of ECAC teams on the bubble (Quinnipiac, Dartmouth, St. Lawrence, Union, Yale). Cornell will probably get to the TUC criteria, but maybe not until the regular season is just about over. If Cornell continues to win, this mark will just boost their number one seed standing.
But let’s take a look at the argument here on one thing. Does this mean the only games that should matter to Cornell are the ones against TUCs or possible TUCs? Meaning that the only games that matter really for NCAA positioning are against Princeton, Quinnipiac, Dartmouth, St. Lawrence, Union and Yale? A loss to a team not in the running, like Brown, Rensselaer, Harvard, Clarkson, do these games really matter a lot for Cornell?
Think about it. Bad losses are corrected for in the RPI. You could lose some comparisons based upon Common Opponents, but when your TUC record kicks in, you are almost assured of winning that criteria point against everyone.
So are these potential bad losses really that bad? Or maybe those potential losses wouldn’t even matter. Would love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments section.