A look at how the Pairwise Rankings shape up headed into the final week of the season.
There's only weekend of hockey left before the field for the NCAA tournament is selected, and while much has been decided, there are still 393,216 different scenarios that could play out next weekend, with each having their own unique outcomes on the NCAA tournament field.
If you're interested in exploring some of those scenarios for yourself, College Hockey News has put out their annual 'You Are the Committee' tool, which allows you to input your own results for next weekend's conference tournaments and see how the field ends up.
Meanwhile, for a better overall picture of how things could shake out next weekend, Jim Dahl has an incredible look at the tourney field.
The following teams are guaranteed tournament bids regardless of what happens next weekend: Quinnipiac, Minnesota, Miami, Boston College, UMass-Lowell, North Dakota, and New Hampshire.
Here are the teams that have a chance at receiving an at-large bid, based on what happens next weekend: Yale, Notre Dame, Mankato, Niagara, St. Cloud, Denver, Western Michigan, Union, Wisconsin, Providence, Boston University, Rensselaer, Alaska, and Robert Morris
Among that group, there's a pretty wide range of likelihood in terms of getting into the tournament. Yale, Minnesota State, Niagara, Denver, and St. Cloud all make the tournament in more than 90% of the remaining scenarios. On the other end, Alaska and Robert Morris both make the tournament in less than than 1% of scenarios. And honestly, the percentages are likely even more extreme than that because those calculations don't seem to weigh the fact that some scenarios are far more likely than others.
And finally, Brown, Colorado College, Ohio State, Michigan, Connecticut, Canisius, and Mercyhurst are still wildcards, in that they can steal tourney bids by winning their conference tournament next weekend.
Here's a couple storylines that stand out to me, as well.
-Alaska continues to be college hockey's Rasputin. The Nanooks are 17-6-4, lost their first round playoff series to Michigan State, ranked 27th(!) in the RPI, and yet somehow, they still make the NCAA tournament in 43 different scenarios of the 393,216 scenarios out there. More than likely they don't make it, but that there's even a possibility of it happening is incredible.
-On the flip side, St.Cloud may have won their first WCHA title this year, but they're still not guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament yet(although they make the field in 94.1% of scenarios). I've seen some talk of people complaining that the Huskies should be in solely based on the fact that they won the WCHA. I've got plenty of issues with the Pairwise, but there's nothing more annoying than people suggesting their team deserves to be in based on the sample size that they have chosen. Yes, St. Cloud won the WCHA, but not by an overwhelming margin, and they were dreadful in non-conference play. They had a 3-5 record, with two of those wins coming to Alabama-Huntsville.
The WCHA has traditionally been the strongest conference in the country, but that wasn't the case this season based on on-ice results, which is part of the reason why you see three Hockey East teams already locked into the tournament, while there's a handful of WCHA that are most likely in, but not quite yet.
-Quinnipiac has been locked into the number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament for the better part of the month, and ran away with their league title, so they haven't really had a lot to play for. That may change this weekend. As the top overall seed, Quinnipiac would most likely end up in the East Regional, about two hours away from their campus in Providence. The problem with that is that if Brown--Quinnipiac's semifinal opponent this weekend--wins the ECAC tournament, Brown will be a #4 seed, and as host, will have to be placed in that East Regional. In order to avoid an intraconference first round match-up, Quinnipiac would get shipped somewhere else.
Michigan is also still playing hockey and if they win the CCHA tournament, they'll have to be placed in the West Regional in Grand Rapids as a #4 seed because they are the hosts(even though Grand Rapids is about 2.5 times farther from Michigan's campus than the Midwest Regional in Toledo.) If Michigan does continue their hot streak next weekend, expect to hear a lot of whining from Minnesota fans(which given the way the NCAA has handed out tourney hosting bids to Minnesota in recent years, would be so rich you could pour it over ice cream), since the Gophers seem pretty likely to be the top seed in the West.
-The good news is that I haven't seen seen any talk of wild swings in the tournament field based on certain teams ending up on the right/wrong side of the TUC cliff.