Last night, Boston College Men’s Hockey dropped an overtime heartbreaker to Boston University to send the Terriers to the Hockey East championship game. At the time we (okay, I) thought that was the end of the season and that the Eagles had no chance to make the NCAA tournament.
Yeah, oops. Sorry. Mea culpa.
Apparently Boston College does have a chance to make the tournament, and not even a particularly impossible chance. BC needs just about all of the chips to fall their way, but there aren’t that many chips left to fall. Using USCHO’s Pairwise Predictor, we can plug in the results to the seven remaining games and see where the Eagles end up.
The Eagles currently sit 16th in the Pairwise with two conferences (Atlantic Hockey and the WCHA) guaranteed gate-crashing autobids. That trims the number of open spots down to 14, with a couple autobid possibilities still out there to trim that number down even further. But despite currently sitting below the cut line, what BC has going for them is that the two teams ahead of us — Boston University and North Dakota — still have another game to play, and a loss (in almost all cases) would drop them below us.
That, combined with the fact that the ECAC and Hockey East can’t have their underdogs win and trim the cut line down to 13, is what the Eagles are watching for today.
—WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN?—
It boils down to this: There are seven games today, and the Eagles need four of them to go their way. The Atlantic Hockey, NCHC, and Big Ten championship games don’t have any effect on BC’s chances to get in.
Here are what the Eagles need in the other four games:
Hockey East Championship: Providence College defeats Boston University
Why? A BU win gives the Terriers the autobid and lifts them above the cut line and into the tournament. The cut line would be trimmed to 13, and there’s no mathematical way the Eagles can climb that high.
ECAC Championship: Clarkson defeats Princeton
Why? For the same reasons as Hockey East. Princeton is below the cut line, and a Tiger win would trim that line up to 13.
NCHC Consolation Game: Minnesota-Duluth defeats North Dakota
Why? This one’s pretty simple. While North Dakota is out running for a title, they’re still forced to play in a 3rd place game for some reason. A loss would drop North Dakota below BC in the Pairwise in all cases except one...
WCHA Championship Game: Northern Michigan defeats Michigan Tech
Why? The only case where North Dakota doesn’t drop below the Eagles with a loss is if Michigan Tech pulls off the WCHA Championship upset, and it’s for peak “Pairwise is stupid” reasons: BC currently wins the Pairwise comparison with Michigan Tech, but only by the RPI tiebreaker. MTU has a 1-0 head to head record against BC, and the Common Opponents comparison is tied. The only common opponent the two teams share is Northern Michigan. BC went 0-0-1 against NMU and MTU went 2-2-0 — both .500 records. But a Michigan Tech win in the WCHA championship would flip that BC/MTU Common Opponent point to Michigan Tech, giving the Huskies a 2-1 Pairwise comparison win and dropping the Eagles down below North Dakota in the Pairwise (despite the Eagles winning the BC/UND comparison head to head with North Dakota).
—WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?—
Pulling off any superfecta is pretty hard, but what the Eagles have going for them is that all four teams they are rooting for are the favorites in their respective games. Using KRACH, we can determine the odds of each team winning their game, and multiply them together to see the chances of them all happening at the same time:
Providence College over Boston University
PC: KRACH 204.2
BU: KRACH 166.1
Odds of a PC win: 204.2/(204.2+166.1) = 55.14%
Clarkson over Princeton
CU: KRACH 217.8
PU: KRACH 137.5
Odds of a CU win: 217.8/(217.8+137.5) = 61.30%
Minnesota-Duluth over North Dakota
UMD: KRACH 225.4
UND: KRACH 180.2
Odds of a UMD win: 225.4/(225.4+180.2) = 55.57%
Northern Michigan over Michigan Tech
NMU: KRACH 140.5
MTU: KRACH 111.1
Odds of a NMU win: 140.5/(140.5+111.1) = 55.84%
ODDS OF ALL FOUR WINS TOGETHER:
55.14% x 61.30% x 55.57% x 55.84% = 10.49%
So, it’s not the best chance in the world, but it’s certainly a measurable one. The Eagles definitely have a shot.
—WHEN ARE THESE GAMES HAPPENING?—
Here are all four games, in the order that they happen:
North Dakota vs. Minnesota-Duluth: 4:38pm EDT
Boston University vs. Providence College: 7:00pm EDT
Michigan Tech vs. Northern Michigan: 7:07pm EDT
Clarkson vs. Princeton: 7:35pm EDT
You can follow along with each game’s live stats right here.
Can the Eagles get lucky and pull off the four team parlay to make the NCAA tournament? Crazier things have happened, and the universe has given us some crazy things lately...