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2017 NCAA Women’s Hockey Tournament: Odds & Point Spreads

Projecting the results of the quarterfinals

Brandon Wu, BC Athletics

The 2017 NCAA women’s hockey season is rapidly approaching the finish line.

Unlike the men’s tournament, which is just now getting to its conference quarterfinals weekend, the women’s hockey season is just over a week away from the national championship game. The puck drops on the NCAA tournament for all eight remaining teams on Saturday afternoon for the quarterfinals, with the Frozen Four taking place next Friday and Sunday, March 17th-19th.

Now that we’ve got ourselves a bracket, let’s project out the first round of the tournament using each team’s KRACH and GRaNT Ratings. Remember, KRACH is best used to calculate game odds, and GRaNT is best used to calculate game scores.

First and foremost, here are the odds to win the entire tournament. These results are simulated using KRACH, based on the odds of each team winning its game and the odds of facing each possible opponent in each successive round. If you want to see the mathematical nitty-gritty, click here.

Wisconsin 52.84%
Clarkson 13.30%
Minnesota-Duluth 13.22%
Minnesota 7.27%
St. Lawrence 5.64%
Boston College 5.06%
Cornell 1.99%
Robert Morris 0.69%

Here’s our bracket:

Robert Morris (24-4-6, 15-3-2 CHA)
at #1 Wisconsin (31-2-4, 22-2-4-3 WCHA)

KRACH Projected Line:
Wisconsin -924 (90.2%)

GRaNT Projected Spread:
Wisconsin -3.43

GRaNT projected final score:
Wisconsin 4.17, Robert Morris 0.74

Pray for Robert Morris.

The Colonials actually have the 5th best record in the country, but unfortunately, they play in the very-bad CHA. They’ve played just one ranked team all season, Clarkson, who they, admittedly, did manage to tie 3-3 back in November.

Despite the soft schedule, Robert Morris has won their games by a shockingly close margin on average. While the Badgers, with a top 4 strength of schedule by every metric, are tops in the country with a margin of victory of +3.94 in their wins, Robert Morris is 32nd out of 35th nationally with a margin of victory of just +1.92 in their wins.

It’s no wonder the GRaNT ratings (17th!) absolutely hate Robert Morris compared to the other metrics (8th in Pairwise, 9th in KRACH). Yikes.

Cornell (20-8-5, 13-4-5 ECAC)
at #2 Clarkson (29-4-5, 19-1-2 ECAC)

KRACH Projected Line:
Clarkson -234 (70.1%)

GRaNT Projected Spread:
Clarkson -0.88

GRaNT Projected Final Score:
Clarkson 2.71, Cornell 1.83

Clarkson and Cornell have seen plenty of each other lately — all three head-to-head matchups this season have come since January 20th.

The results on the ice probably have Cornell feelings pretty good about their chances. All three games were one-goal affairs, with Cornell taking the first game, Clarkson taking the second in overtime, and Clarkson taking the rubber match in the ECAC championship game by a score of 1-0.

Minnesota (25-7-5, 19-4-5-3 WCHA)
at #3 Minnesota-Duluth (25-6-5, 19-5-4-1 WCHA)

KRACH Projected Line:
Minnesota-Duluth -135 (57.4%)

GRaNT Projected Spread:
Minnesota-Duluth -0.22

GRaNT projected final score:
Minnesota-Duluth 2.51, Minnesota 2.29

Another intraconference matchup of teams who are very familiar with each other. The Gophers and Bulldogs have met five times so far this season, with each team sweeping the other at home during the regular season, and the Bulldogs coming through in double overtime in the WCHA semifinals at Minnesota’s Ridder Arena.

Interestingly, Minnesota had the higher seed in the WCHA tournament, but the Bulldogs hold the higher seed nationally. All but one of these five games were one goal contests, and this should be another close one.

St. Lawrence (26-5-4, 16-3-3 ECAC)
at #4 Boston College (27-5-5, 17-4-3 WHEA)

KRACH Projected Line:
St. Lawrence -105 (51.2%)

GRaNT Projected Spread:
St. Lawrence -0.03

GRaNT projected final score:
St. Lawrence 2.41, Boston College 2.38

Our first and only matchup where the underdog is projected to win — but only barely.

St. Lawrence rode a red-hot start to the season that saw them jump out to a 16-0-1 record, good for the #1 spot in the Pairwise. It was a meteoric rise to the top of the rankings after playing roughly .500 hockey last year — so that winning streak seemed unsustainable.

It certainly was, and the Saints have really fallen back to earth, and all the way out of home ice for the NCAA tournament. Since the hot start ended in November, SLU is 11-5-3 — still good, but much more in line with what you might reasonably expect out of them.

In fact, in games since St. Lawrence’s hot start, the Saints are only 9th in GRaNT and 12th in KRACH — the Eagles, by the way, climb all the way to 2nd.

The change in tournament odds if you only consider results since November 22nd is staggering:

Wisconsin 38.79%
Boston College 21.54%
Clarkson 16.22%
Minnesota-Duluth 14.57%
Minnesota 4.44%
Cornell 2.42%
Robert Morris 1.20%
St. Lawrence 0.83%

The change in odds come largely from the fact that St. Lawrence suddenly has to go through the top 2 teams in KRACH just to make it to the final (based on results since November 22nd). BC odds change is pretty staggering — up from 5% to 22%.

Of course, there’s a way to cherry-pick whatever stats you want to make you feel good about your team in the tournament. We’ll learn a lot more after we see which teams win on Saturday to advance to the Frozen Four in St. Charles, MO.