Monday, January 15, 2007

Who Finishes Where?

Each of the WCHA teams have between 10 and 12 league games remaining. Let's take a look at the standings today and the remaining games and see if we (me) can come up with a reasonable prognostication.
Current Standings:
1. Minnesota
5. UND
6. Wisconsin
There are three distinct tiers in the current standings. UofM all by themselves is the top tier. The middle tier being CC, DU and SCSU with the lower tier being everyone else. Any school in the lower tier is still a mathematic possibility for 5th place. Here's how the rest of the season looks and my take on how things will wind up.

Minnesota Golden Gophers
A loss to Wisconsin this past weekend was really just a minor tarnish on a record that has 20 wins with 12 games remaining. It might be a bit foolish to expect anything other than a 30 win season out of the Gophers this season. Yeah sure ... they booted the best playmaker on the team but I really doubt that will have much of an effect. The talent pool is deep enough that players you barely heard of in the first half will likely step up and fill the Hirsch-void. The Gophers have DU and UND at home coming up before coming to Anchorage and going to CC. A home and home series with SCSU comes next then their final series vs. MTU at the Hoochie. Wisconsin's win does prove that the Gophers aren't indomitable but does anyone really think they'll drop any more than say about 3 games? The Gophers are in 1st and they'll remain there.

Colorado College
The Tigers are on the cusp of having a unexpectedly great season. Nobody; I repeat NOBODY would have picked them to be second. They lost tons and tons of scoring and even a Mono breakout couldn't keep them from accomplishing something special so far. Are they capable of maintaining their standing? The rest of the CC schedule has them going to MTU in two weeks, then they host Bucky before going to St. Cloud and hosting Minnesota then to Mankato before finishing with a home and home DU series. A conservative estimate would give the Tigers another 13/14 points to add to their current 20 which would probably be enough for at least 4th place. An optimistic estimate would add 18/19 points and would probably be good enough for 3rd or even 2nd place. All in all the Tigers are in a great position at this point and only a complete self-immolation could ruin their season.

University of Denver
The Pioneers are tied for 2nd place in points but tie-breakers put at 3rd currently. If there is a team in the WCHA this season that should feel fortunate I'd have to say it's DU. This is the hardest prognostication for me. I'm just not sure the Pio's are as good as their results. Nobody has ceded them victories this season (other than UAA) but I can't help but think looking at their schedule and results that 3 or 4 of their league victories were pretty damn fortunate. The Pioneers go to the Mariucci this weekend then host St. Cloud and UMD before getting MTU at home and going to UND just before the season ending home and home with CC. Conservatively I see another 13 points for the Pio's with an upside of as much as 19. 33 points would probably mean 3rd or 4th at the end of the seaon. 39 could land them in 2nd.

St. Cloud State
Tied for 2nd with DU and CC the Huskies have a fairly tough remaining 12 games. This weekend they host UMD, then they travel to DU, host CC, travel to Madison before a home and home with the Gophers then finish their season at the Ralph. As with DU and CC I'd say a conservative estimate would give St. Cloud another 14 points but optimistically they could finish in the high 30's as well. The Huskies have the most ties in the WCHA with 4. Some of their remaining season will be dependent on the play of Goepfert and so ... as he goes I'd say go the Huskies. Don't count them out of 2nd by the end.

North Dakota
With 16 points and mired in what their fans would say is a very disappointing season the Sioux have 10 league games remaining. In two weeks they head over to the Mariucci for their one series with Minnesota this season. Then they host Mankato and Duluth before hitting the road at DU and SCSU. My conservative side gives UND another 11 points and optimistically they're in the 14 point range. Home ice is definitely a possibility but UND will have to reach that 14 or 15 point goal the rest of the way to nail it down.

With 2 games in hand over UND, Bucky's current 15 points has to give them odds of locking down the 5th place spot in the league. With 8 of their 12 remaining games coming against teams that are below them in the standings Bucky has probably the easiest schedule remaining. They're resting this weekend and return to action next week when they host Mankato, then they travel to CC before hosting UAA and SCSU. The Badgers finish on the road at MTU and UMD. Conservatively, I'd think that 16 more points would be a reasonable estimate with a top end of about 21 or 22.

UAA has 10 games remaining. MTU this weekend at home followed by a visit from the Gophers. A trip to Madison follows then a visit from Mankato rounds out the home schedule. The Seawolves finish at UMD. Conservatively, I'd have to say that our Seawolves could get as few as 10 more points. Optimistically, it could got to 14. An absolultely hellacious run could bag the team 17 more points which would put them in the mix for a home ice spot. Realism though dictates 6th or 7th place.

Minnesota State
Tied for 7th currently with UAA the Mavericks have a slightly more difficult schedule than UAA. Their remaining league games begin in two weeks on the road at resurgent Wisconsin followed by MTU at home, then road trips to UND and Anchorage before finishing with CC at home. My conservative estimate is that they pick up as few as 9 more points with an optimistic view giving them 14/15. 5th place is just as mathematically possible for the Mavs as it is for UAA but again realism says it's unlikely.

With probably the most difficult schedule among the lower tier MTU comes to the Sully this week, then hosts CC, goes to Mankato before hosting DU and Bucky then finishing at the Mariucci. My conservative side says 9 or 10 more points for MTU. My optimistic side raises that number to 13/14.

The Bulldogs don't have any gimme's remaining on their schedule. This weekend they go to St. Cloud, then travel to Denver and Grand Forks before hosting UAA and Wisconsin to finish the season. Conservatively, I'll say 8 points with my the most optimistic I can manage being about 12/13.

The Gophers are the real deal. Nobody will challenge them for 1st. CC, DU and SCSU are gonna be in a serious fight for placement. After that I see three teams having a chance at 5th with Wisconsin having the best chance followed by UND and then UAA with an outside shot. Mankato, MTU and UMD all have a chance to move up but will all need substantial effort to do so.
Predicted Finish:
1. Gophers
3. CC
4. DU, Wisconsin
8. MTU
9. Mankato
10. UMD
For UAA this would mean another trip to Madison for the WCHA playoffs if I've got the tie-breakers right. Going on the road for the playoffs sucks. Hopefully, the team puts together a hellacious run and locks up 5th place. A hellacious run would be a sweep of MTU this weekend, some points vs. Minnesota (at least a split), a split or better in Madison, a home sweep of Mankato and a sweep of UMD in Duluth. Can UAA go 8-2 over the last 10? Sure they can. The question is ... will they?


Runninwiththedogs said...






Look out!

Donald said...

Did you watch Animal House today or something?

Runninwiththedogs said...

We use that reference all the time at tPB. I mean, look at our fearless leader...

Donald said...

Future Senator = Drunk Hockey Guy?

Couldn't be any worse than Ted Stevens I guess.

Anonymous said...

careful there.....Uncle Ted is "god" around these parts, now Ben, that's a different story.

Donald said...

Uncle Ted can kiss my ass and nothing less than jail would be satisfactory for the rotted fruit of his loins.

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