Friday afternoon’s games didn’t produce any monumental shifts in the PairWise, though one game came close. St. Lawrence held a 3-2 lead over Yale in the final minutes of regulation before the Bulldogs scored a pair of goals in bang-bang fashion to win the game.
That sudden reversal did two things: it locked Yale up for the NCAA tournament beyond any doubt no matter how woolly things get Saturday, and the Bulldogs have an outside — very outside — shot at a No. 1 seed.
Conversely, SLU’s sudden defeat allowed bubble teams like Minnesota Duluth, Miami, Ohio State, Minnesota and Boston College to breathe a little easier. All of those teams are now ahead of the Saints in the PWR.
For SLU itself, the loss is bad enough, and the way it happened is even worse. Now Joe Marsh’s crew has to collect itself and come back Saturday for a third-place game that means nothing in terms of league hardware but might mean everything in terms of Selection Sunday.
The Saints are tied for 16th in the PairWise now and need to make up ground. A tie in the third-place game against the Cornell-Princeton loser doesn’t do much for its Ratings Percentage Index, and almost certainly won’t cut it. A loss doesn’t require discussion.
No, it’s a must-win for SLU tomorrow, though the Saints’ chances are decent if they do that. A lot of variations on the favorites scenario — all higher seeds winning the remaining games except for SLU itself winning the ECAC consolation — result in St. Lawrence reaching the NCAAs.
Under the right circumstances, SLU can even withstand a few upsets, including perhaps one Cinderella champion.
Wisconsin, which is now down to 20th in the PWR, has no such margin for error. Of course, the Badgers must win Saturday afternoon against the North Dakota-UMD loser to have any chance. Long before then, though, UW may have had its hopes extinguished — the Badgers need a half-dozen or more results to go just the right way to have any chance.
To illustrate how unlikely, one of the things UW needs is for Mercyhurst to beat RIT Friday evening. Why? Because that puts Minnesota State into the list of Teams Under Consideration, and the Badgers went 2-1-1 against the Mavericks.
And there’s more, much more, that has to happen for UW’s outside shot to materialize. If the right things start to happen, I’ll tune back into Wisconsin’s chances, but it’s much more likely that the Badgers’ 2008-09 season is done after Saturday.