College Hockey:
TMQ: On Quinnipiac, name recognition and the No. 1 ranking

Jim: Well, Todd, the voters have spoken and, despite a loss to Minnesota State, the Minnesota Golden Gophers remain No. 1 in both the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll and the USA Hockey poll. I think a lot of folks assumed Quinnipiac might take over despite being idle last weekend.

The question, then, is are voters opposed to placing an ECAC Hockey team with no real NCAA resume in the top spot, or was this simply a matter of scheduling and that voters don’t like teams to back into the top spot?

Todd: Great question, and obviously a hot topic judging from the reaction on Twitter on Monday. I had Quinnipiac No. 1 on my ballot this week, but I can understand why people would be hesitant to put the Bobcats there.

You hit on one, that their only game in the last two weeks was a win over Connecticut last Tuesday. I don’t buy into the ECAC bias but I can’t say that it’s not out there.

The factor that I have seen cited was that Quinnipiac’s schedule doesn’t include what some might consider a big-time win. To me, though, the Bobcats have taken care of business and against a schedule that is stronger than Minnesota’s, according to the RPI.

Jim: I personally threw my vote to Minnesota for two reasons: Minnesota lost a one-goal game to a ranked team and Quinnipiac hasn’t played but the UConn game in two weeks.

I do think the Bobcats are an excellent team but also believe the Gophers are still the best team out there. Another loss might change my mind. But for now, Minnesota is my No. 1.

Todd: It all leads to an interesting question: Do we as voters give too much weight to certain teams based on historical success?

If the roles had been switched, and a No. 1 Quinnipiac team had split a conference series against a ranked team while No. 2 Minnesota was idle, would more people have supported knocking Quinnipiac from that hypothetical top spot? It’s impossible to know for sure, but it’s something to consider.

Jim: I think there is a definite bias against Quinnipiac both for lack of name recognition and lack of league success over the last two decades.

QU is hardly the only team to feel this bias. All Atlantic Hockey teams go through it every day. ECAC teams like Union have gone through it in recent years. It probably is human nature but I’m not sure that justifies anything.

Todd: It is probably more difficult for a team like Colgate to get back into the rankings than for a team like Wisconsin. The list of reasons why could fill our entire discussion, but I think it’s fair to say that some schools have a tougher time moving up than others.

Minnesota State (down one spot to 15th after that split with Minnesota) may be on that list, too.

Jim: I was so focused on who was No. 1 I never looked at Minnesota State. I had the Mavericks 12th on my ballot, giving them credit for Friday’s win.

Changing gears, there is a former No. 1 that really is struggling and that’s Boston College. The Eagles were swept by last-place Maine and decimated on the blue line, missing three defensemen. A lot of teams face injuries but you have to wonder when BC will bounce back.

Todd: You want to keep saying, “It’s BC. They’ve been through this before. They’ll be there at the end.” After all, the Eagles were not good at one point last season, too.

But the challenges are different this season, including the defensive depth you mentioned. I still think it would be a mistake for anyone to count them out but there are definitely issues to be addressed. No better time than after being swept at home by last-place Maine, right?

Jim: I can remember just last season when BC was swept by Maine in Orono and Eagles coach Jerry York called that the turning point. BC went on to win the national title.

I’m not sure if that will happen this season with the defensive injuries but it’s certainly a reason you can’t count the Eagles out.

Last weekend, Western Michigan swept Michigan. Most won’t consider that an achievement with the season the Wolverines are having but it’s still an important statement for the Broncos. Might this be a team to consider for your famous “First NCAA title category?”

Todd: Oh, absolutely. On that note, however, the group of real NCAA title contenders may end up having more teams that have never won a championship than teams that have a banner up. Looking at the PairWise Rankings as they stood Monday, seven of the top 10 teams are looking for their first Division I NCAA title. With teams like Michigan and Wisconsin outside the tournament field right now, this season could be a great chance to add another entry to the 18-team champions club.

Jim: That’s something that I would love to see, particularly as we head into realignment. It would be a heck of a confidence boost to have a team from NEXT year’s WCHA win the national title.

Todd: Minnesota State might be the only one carrying those hopes, and it still is outside the NCAA tournament at-large picture as it goes into its final off weekend of the regular season.

There are three meetings between ranked teams set for the coming week: No. 8 Yale hosts No. 2 Quinnipiac on Saturday; No. 4 Miami hosts No. 20 Alaska on Friday and Saturday; and No. 7 North Dakota hosts No. 19 Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday.

There’s a Michigan-Michigan State series (Friday in Ann Arbor, Saturday at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena) that, almost unbelievably, is between the two teams at the bottom of the 11-team CCHA standings.

And we should note before we sign off that next Monday starts the Beanpot, with Harvard playing Boston College and Northeastern playing Boston University.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kevhurls Kevin Hurley

    GEAUX IRISH! (notrDame)

    • GeauxSioux


  • jdhockeyboyz

    If I were voting in the poll, I would favor MN based on strength of conference and 3 recent convincing wins over top 10 teams (BC, Irish, and Sioux). Quinny is still a Cinderella team. That said, they will have the opportunity to prove doubters like myself wrong, just like Union did last year.

    • nogofer

      According to the article Quinnipiac has a stronger schedule based on RPI. A quick online check shows a stronger KRACH. But the rodents win the popularity contest. I would have termed it a beauty contest, but the St Cloud men’s team has better hair!

      • http://twitter.com/jwiii69 Jeff Wilson

        Check the KRACH SOS to see the real strength of opponents. It is calculated directly from results rather than an arbitrary formula like RPI. QU is 35th and MN is 23rd strongest schedule. The author clearly knows this but used RPI because it bolsters his argument. RPI is used in the pairwise calculations and so skews that as well. Of course PWR is the only thing that matters when it comes to tournament participation and seeding, but only because NCAA won’t switch to something better…

    • Todd Hanselman

      Who are the Sioux?

      • reardensteel


      • jmsptrk


      • nogofer

        7 time NCAA D1 National Champions.
        Now we’ll see who can say “How many in this century?” or some other key-board slobber first…

        • Ranger13

          nogolfer, great question – how many *have* you had this century?

          • nogofer

            And we have a winner. Loser…

      • http://twitter.com/Butterz07 Aaron G.

        you are acting like the name is gone…The state needs just one tribe to agree on a petition among the reservation. When that happens the name will come back. They will be the Fighting Sioux again.

    • RBTGT

      BC is 4-6-2 over their last 12 games.

      Notre Dame is 2-6-0 over their last 8 games.

      North Dakota is 1-3-2 over their last 6 games. 4 of which have been at home.

      If you necessarily expect me to be REAL impressed by Gopher wins against these three teams, who have all looked very shaky to me lately………

      What difference does it make if Quinnipiac is “still a Cinderella team?” What does that even mean? To me, the fact that you even made that statement just exposes your own bias and underscores exactly what these guys wrote this article about. I can’t think of any other reason to even make such a statement. You might as well have just wrote “Minnesota should be #1 because they are Minnesota”, followed by “I’ve never heard of that other team”, or, “I don’t care if they are #1 in pairwise and they also have a higher RPI, we’re Minnesota”.

      Never mind, I guess, that the Bobcats also have a better record against TUCS than Minnesota and a better record overall, too. The conference argument doesn’t even hold water. The WCHA is 7-8-1 against ECAC teams this season.

      The fact that Quinnipiac has played only 1 game in the past couple weeks has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion, either. Totally irrelevant. It changes none of these things.

      • Justin

        Well said and written…

      • jdhockeyboyz

        “Cinderella” was not meant to insult QU. My research shows one NCAA tourney appearance (and no victories) in their history. It would be a big deal if they earn a an NCAA bid and bigger still if they are a #1 seed. It would be a feel good story and then they might be called a “darkhorse”. Minnesota indeed has a long history of NCAA tournament appearances and success, but I didn’t mention that. I looked at 7 WCHA teams in the top 20 of the USCHO poll and took that as evidence of a strong conference.

      • sbambery

        all good points, however there is still a big difference between QU and the other top 5 teams in terms of strength of scheduled. MN’s SOS while not great, is still much better than QU’s. I have no doubt that part of MN’s rank is on perception and reputation. QU as Cinderella is a perfect fit, they are the definition of Cinderella when you’ve only been a memeber of a major conference for a couple of year and have never been this highly ranked before, never been a perenial power, and never been to an NCAA tournament. QU is in position to take the ECAC title, NCAA berth and likely #1 seed.

  • Todd Hanselman

    At least, unlike football, there is a real tournament to establish who should be number 1 at the end of the year. I am sure that is all these teams really care about as long as they do not get hosed on some obscure rating system and can’t get in (see MN State, 2009).

    • noonan18

      Good post. Rankings don’t determine the champion, just who gets in, so #1 ranking is not as big a deal as other sports. They will both be able to prove their worth come tourney time.

    • jmsptrk

      excellent point. rankings are nothing more than mid-season bragging rights for simple minds. pairwise is all that matters. and the NCAAs are where we separate the men from the boys. we’ll find out what the Q has come March.

  • MNGolden

    I see 3 elite teams competing for the top rank: Minny, QU, and New Hampshire. Minnesota, based on recent victories as stated below (BC, ND, and UND aren’t slouches), QU is holding a fantastic record and have been there all season (even though polls didn’t recognize at first), and UNH is going to capitalize on Boston College’s slump (it will be the closest race for conference title in my opinion). People talk about the Gophers like they are the Yankees or Patriots of NCAA hockey. We haven’t had this kind of season since ’06-07. Boston College and Michigan have that stigma of annual tourny bids more than Goldy I think. Little sister UMD won a national title and heartily earned the upper hand on that in-state rivalry. From an objective view, the Gophers are ranked #1 by more than 2nd best record: extremely potent offense, stingy defense, and Wilcox is playing like Kellen Briggs/freshman Kangas/Kent Patterson. And in the end, what does ranking call? I remember my jaw dropping when Bemidji State made a Final Four before joining the WCHA. Northern Michigan outperforming some of the CCHA’s best to make a conference title game? Upsets happen all the time. The polls can go many different ways and I think the best seasons to follow are like this, where #1 shuffles and sees several teams. Yes, I’m a Gopher fan, but I love NCAA hockey more than just my alma mater. It is my NFL. I think we are in for an exciting tournament.

    • Powers

      #1 hasn’t shuffled at all; Minnesota has been in the top spot for weeks.

      • MNGolden

        Potential to though. The top 5 have potential for the vote. Not as solid as #1 has been held by teams before

    • http://twitter.com/Butterz07 Aaron G.

      gophers are beatable

      • MNGolden

        Every team is. That’s why the tourny will be neat to see.

  • Mike

    I saw an interesting post on one of the message board threads concerning TUC that might have swayed voters to stay with Minnesota one more week….Nearly half of all college hockey teams are a TUC and while Quinnipiac has a stellar record against TUC’s, the highest PWR rated team they have beaten to date is Dartmouth at 14. They have no wins over top ten PWR teams. The loss to AIC was a long time ago so that really shouldn’t play too much. But they still have a lot of quality wins, they keep winning, and they are above Minnesota in the PWR…. that can’t be debated. I wouldn’t have had any problem giving the #1 nod to QU, plus sometimes it’s nice to not carry that bullseye on your back!

  • bronxbomberz41

    With the exception of idle QU, most of the top 5 or six had at least one loss last weekend.

  • IHF

    I don’t know why it is even a question that teams with history or a name brand sometimes are voted higher than they deserve by many of you with votes. Michigan continued to get votes well after it was apparent to anyone with sense they were not a top 20 team. Notre Dame, owing to the recent success and good fortune, is still a top ten team, despite playing horribly for weeks. They should be no higher than their KRACH or RPI, yet there THEY sit, still number 9. College hockey is so much more insular than basketball or football, so too many teams poll based on things that happened 5 years ago or 10 or 20 years ago. College football voters are sometimes slow to recognize a good team in any particular year (see a Rutgers team that went undefeated deep into one season a few years back), but an 0-2 Michigan or Notre Dame is not going to be a top-25 team.

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