1. Still Crazy After All These Weeks
Down to two weeks (and four games) remaining in the regular season and nothing has yet been decided.
What else did you expect from the wild WCHA?
This week featured… nothing, really.
That is to say: No teams clinched anything and nobody was eliminated from anything,.
Both first-place Minnesota State and second-place Michigan Tech — separated by a point in the standings — were idle. Third place Bowling Green had a chance to clinch home ice but were swept by Northern Michigan.
Fourth place NMU swept BGSU but didn’t gain any ground on fellow-fourth-placer Bemidji State, who also swept (and holds the tiebreaker over NMU) last-place Alaska Anchorage.
Ferris State — two points behind both NMU and BSU — couldn’t gain any ground either despite sweeping a feisty Alabama-Huntsville squad.
Basically this is a long way of saying this past week was both incredibly significant but also insignificant at the same time, if that’s possible.
2. Big series next weekend
This sets up a couple epic showdowns next week.
Minnesota State and Michigan Tech will meet in Mankato in what will be a huge race for first. A Mavericks sweep would give them the league title. A split or a Huskies sweep means it all comes down to the final weekend.
Also next weekend, Bemidji State heads to Big Rapids, Mich., to take on Ferris in a showdown for that last home-ice slot. (The Dogs are two points behind the Beavers… a BSU sweep would all but eliminate FSU from getting home-ice.)
3. Tiebreak breakdown
With all that in mind, maybe it’s time to talk about tiebreakers. The league has a full list of tiebreakers on its standings page if you want to read here, as does Geof at UAH Hockey (he’s got his own useful explainer blog here, because he’s an engineer and he likes math). But here’s the main gist:
a) Head-to Head points: Pretty straightforward. If two or more teams tied have played four or more games, it’s whoever has the best record. This is why Bemidji State has the tiebreaker for the fourth and final home ice slot over Northern Michigan. Beavers had seven points vs. the Wildcats this season. If MSU and Tech tie for first, Tech will need a sweep this weekend to avoid getting second.
b) League wins: If the teams are still tied, it comes down to most league wins. Also, this happens if the teams involved haven’t all played four games against one another. This will come into play if Ferris ends up tied with BSU and NMU. Right now, Ferris holds the tiebreaker with 11 wins (to 10 each for BSU and NMU).
c) Winning percentage head-to-head: Not sure how this one will come into play, but it looks like we won’t have to get there (at least, not yet).
d) Winning percentage against teams down the standings table: Same thing, only against the rest of the league. To use an example: If BSU and NMU were to get here (they won’t, but just as an example), NMU would advance at the moment because they went 0-1-1 vs. Mankato and BSU went 0-2-0.
e) Winning margin (goals for minus goals against): Pretty simple here. BSU, for example, is plus-10 right now while NMU is minus-8.
f) Coin flip: Has this ever happened? Not sure, but it would be ridiculous.
Hopefully that made some sense. But we’ll likely have to use them to determine playoff seeding — or maybe even who makes the playoffs. Last season BSU took the eighth and final playoff spot over Lake Superior because of the head-to-head tiebreak.
How will it break down this year? Stay tuned….