The matchups are set for college hockey’s conference championship weekend. Boston College will take on BU on Friday night at 8 PM at TD Garden, after Notre Dame plays UMass-Lowell in the early semifinal.
The Eagles head in to this weekend #16 in the all-important Pairwise rankings. The cut line to get in will be, at the lowest, #15, as the WCHA champion will certainly come from well down the rankings.
What needs to happen for BC to get in? College Hockey News’ pairwise tool can help you play with every possible scenario, but things are actually pretty cut and dry for the Eagles.
Let’s get the two most obvious statements out of the way first:
- Obviously, BC can avoid all Pairwise drama by just winning the Hockey East tournament. If the Eagles win two games this weekend to take home the conference crown, they win an autobid to the NCAA tournament.
- The Eagles must defeat BU on Friday night to have any chance. There appear to be no scenarios in which BC can move to the right side of the line with a loss in the semifinal.
After that, there are some twists and turns that can happen, but it basically comes down to what happens on Thursday night in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
Ohio State (#14 in PWR) plays Michigan State on Thursday at 4:30. Penn State (#13 in PWR) plays Michigan at 8:00. BC needs one of those two teams to lose. There seems to be no way for BC to get an at-large bid unless one of those teams lose.
If BC plays in the Hockey East final and loses, their RPI would still surpass Ohio State and/or Penn State should one or both lose on Thursday.
The complicating factors are what happens if a bracket buster wins a conference tournament - a non-Air Force team in AHC, Quinnipiac in the ECAC, or Michigan/Michigan State in the Big Ten. If that happens, BC could be screwed without winning Hockey East.
The following scenarios get BC in to the NCAA tournament with a win over BU and a loss in the Hockey East Championship Game
- Penn State and Ohio State BOTH lose on Thursday; ONE bracket-buster team wins B1G/AHC/ECAC title
- ONE of Penn State/Ohio State lose on Thursday; NO bracket-busters in B1G/AHC/ECAC
- Army defeats Air Force in the AHC semifinal; ONE of Penn State/Ohio State lose on Thursday; no bracket buster in B1G/ECAC
The picture starts getting clearer on Thursday when the Big Ten quarterfinals kick off.