There’s been some recent talk about the Pairwise Rankings (PWR). Most recently, Northeastern rose to #20 in the PWR (tied with Michigan) after the weekday games. Considering this may be important, here’s a brief introductions:
The PWR is the way that the 16 teams are selected for the NCAA tournament. The winner of every conference tournament is automatically given a slot, and then the remaining 11 slots go to the top teams. Since the Atlantic Hockey winner is never in the top 16, and usually one or two teams outside the top 16 win their tournament, you generally need to be in the top 14 or so in the PWR to get a slot.
Getting an at-large bid is Northeastern’s best bet at getting in to the tournament. Vermont did it, despite finishing 7th in Hockey East, due to playing a very hard schedule. Northeastern stands a decent chance at this. Here’s what needs to happen:
-Our OOC teams need to do very well. Michigan, Notre Dame, Princeton, and Minnesota/Niagara (depending who we play) will need to do well. For Michigan/Notre Dame and Minnesota, that won’t be a problem. They are top teams and as long as they excel our rank will rise. Being able to play and beat Minnesota will be huge, since they could very well end of as a #1 seed come March (as could Notre Dame).
-A strong in-conference finish. That means beating BC in the last game with them (and a win in the Beanpot opener would be great). We also will want to get wins against UMass and UNH, and get wins against Providence, BU, and UML (part of why this weekend’s game is important)
-A strong showing by Hockey East out of conference. UMass’ defeat of Yale on Wednesday bumped us up 2 slots in the PWR. Essentially, the better Hockey East does, the better we do. A rising tide lifts all boats.
Now, there are tons of intangibles. Later in the season, we’ll look at the PWR and see what needs to happen. By the last few weeks of the season, you’re essentially hoping for several teams to win, and others to lose, even if you haven’t faced them, based on the complicated math of the PWR.