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College Hockey:
Paula’s picks: Feb. 17, 2012

We are coming down to it. Theoretically, eight CCHA teams are in the hunt for the regular-season title. Theoretically. That’s everybody above 10th place except for the Buckeyes, who have two fewer regular-season games remaining than everyone else above 10th place.

All the Bulldogs or Broncos have to do is win out to win it all. Even though Ferris State is five points ahead of Western Michigan, the Bulldogs and Broncos finish the season playing each other next weekend. The rest is too nutty to go into in depth: One point between second and third place. Two teams tied for fifth, one point behind fourth. Three teams tied for seventh — and each of those teams five points behind third place.

The maths are dizzying. Here’s how I stand.

Last week: 7-5-0
Season to date: 107-72-24 (.586)

I am grateful for any weekend above .500. I would have been more grateful had Alaska and Lake Superior won on opposite nights.

This week

Everyone but Ohio State plays. Every series is single site, Friday-Saturday. All games begin at 7:05 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

The picks are a bit abbreviated this week. Blame my packed day job schedule. Blame the newest germ warfare circulating through this part of Michigan. Blame Valentine’s Day. I always blame Valentine’s Day.

Alaska at No. 16 Michigan State

The Nanooks travel this week after splitting a pair at home with the Lakers. They’ll have to travel in the first round of the CCHA playoffs, too, so they’re playing spoiler and trying to finish as strongly as they can. The Spartans had an electrifying weekend split with the Wolverines last weekend, winning at home and losing in OT in Joe Louis Arena. The Nanooks took three of four games with the Spartans last season, and they’re nearly as good on the road as they are at home. Saturday’s game begins at 8:05 p.m. MSU 3-2, UAF 3-2

Bowling Green at No. 1 Ferris State

The Falcons dropped two in a row last weekend for the first time this calendar year, home losses to Northern Michigan in which they scored just two total goals. The Bulldogs continued to roll, sweeping Notre Dame on the road and outscoring the Irish 8-1 in the process. FSU has the longest unbeaten streak in the country (9-0-3). The Bulldogs beat the Falcons twice in Bowling Green Nov. 4-5. I’m not calling against the Bulldogs until they give me a reason to. FSU 4-2, 4-2

No. 20 Northern Michigan at No. 5 Michigan

Here’s a series that makes me glad I’m alive. The Wildcats swept Bowling Green on the road last weekend. The Wolverines split that great series with Michigan State in East Lansing and Joe Louis Arena. NMU is unpredictable; both teams are potentially explosive, in more ways than one. Michigan took two of six points from Northern in Marquette in October. The Wolverines are 5-3-2 in their last 10 at home against the Wildcats. Make no mistake about this: NMU is as motivated by the NCAA tournament and its current tie for ninth place in the PWR as it is anything related to the outcome of the regular CCHA season. These games should be super intense. Friday’s game starts at 7:35 p.m., Saturday’s at 5:05 p.m. UM 3-2, 3-2

No. 13 Notre Dame at No. 19 Miami

The Fighting Irish and RedHawks tied for seventh with two weeks to go in the regular season? Hey, that wasn’t in the script. Last weekend, ND dropped two at home to Ferris State while Miami swept Alabama-Huntsville at home. These teams split four games evenly — but not conventionally — during the 2010-11 regular season. They split in Steve Cady Arena Dec. 3-4, then tied two games in South Bend Jan. 28-29, with each team earning an extra shootout point. The rubber match of the year, though, was Miami’s 6-2 CCHA semifinal win March 18, a game in which the RedHawks scored four goals within a 10-minute span in the first period. If there’s a sweep, it’s more likely to be the RedHawks winning two because of their goaltending advantage, but if the Irish are going to win, I think it’ll be Friday’s game. ND 3-2, Miami 4-1

No. 18 Western Michigan at Lake Superior

The Broncos split with Ohio State at home last weekend, winning Friday and losing Saturday while the Lakers split in similar fashion in Fairbanks. The difference, of course, is that Western continued its disappointing pattern of Friday wins and Saturday losses, while the Lakers shook off an old monkey; LSSU’s Friday win in Fairbanks was the Lakers’ first since 2000. These teams split last season in the same manner by which the Irish and RedHawks did. Each won a game in Kalamazoo Dec. 10-11, then they tied twice in Sault Ste. Marie Jan. 21-22, with each team earning an extra shootout point. The teams are tied 2-2-2 in the last six in the Soo. Guess what I’m calling. WMU 3-2, LSSU 3-2

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  • Nmu dad

    Paula. Michigan took 2 of 6 from nmu in October and nmu is 9th pwr.

    • Paula Westion

      Thanks.  I’ll correct them in the original article.  

      • kek

        Dank can we start a line on when she’ll fix this too….

        • Anonymous

          We sure can, just let me call my bookie and find out what the odds are and if there’s a spread.

  • guest

    As usual, there’s a correction to be made.  Michigan only took 2 points at Northern in October, not 5.  NMU won on Friday in the Hunwick Punch game and UM took the shootout on Saturday.

  • Joezur

    Paula, while Alaska may be as good on the road as they are at home, MSU is much better at home than on the road. I see 6 points staying in East Lansing.

  • Davyd83

    Paula, I’m glad you picked NMU to get swept. If your predictions were correct, NMU would be 12-18-0 this year instead of 14-10-6. This “unpredictable” team has lost just 4 of its last 17 (10-4-3).

  • Wildcat Fan

    Which NMU-Ann Arbor October series were you referring to? NMU won 5-3 and tied 3-3, then losing the shootout. NMU 1-0-1-0 on the weekend, 4 pts. Ann Arbo r0 -1-1-1, 2 pts.

    • Probably right around the same time as the game when NMU lost to SCSU in double overtime by a score of 4-2…Paula’s record on NMU and the other smaller schools in the CCHA is an embarrassment.

      • Anonymous

        SHHH!  You must NEVER mention her 4-2 double overtime game!  She has yet to retract that and I hear the pool is up to over $1000 if you get the date right of her retraction, it’s a $10 buy in let me know if you’re interested.  I hear the odds in Vegas on Paula making at least one mistake in an article that contains information about Northern Michigan University is coming off at even money, so I think the retraction pool is your best chance at winning some decent cash.  Just to let you know I already have money down on “When Hell Freezes Over” and “Never”.

  • nmu dad

    I would still like to know the rational for Paula to ding the Cats from 9th PWR to 19th in the ballot.  I’m getting the idea from all of this that there is simply a focus on personal favorites. 

    • Davyd83

      It’s not just Paula there, in the polls the Cats are either 19 or 20. They aren’t even included in the INCH Power Rankings

      • *k*

        It certainly isn’t just Paula but she ‘should’ have a better grasp on what’s happening in the CCHA than a lot of the other voters who aren’t as familiar with the smaller schools in the league. She could easily just say this is what I see when I look at NMU and that is why I place them there, this is what I was thinking, I was looking at these factors, ect and end the whole thing. The only problem that would be things along the lines of an NMU win and a tie and sol equaling losing 5 points to Michigan…

    • Paula Weston

      What’s I’d like to know is how fans of a team with a .500 record in conference can complain that I play personal favorites when I rank their team 19th in the USCHO.com Poll.  Ohio State is tied for 15th in the PWR and ahead of NMU in the CCHA standings and I don’t have them ranked at all — and yet no OSU fans have emailed me or posted here to complain that I’m playing favorites of some kind.  

      I put them one ahead of where they ended up in a poll that has 50 voters.  Is everyone playing personal favorites?  And as Wildcat Fan points out, NMU’s ranking is not unique to the USCHO Poll.

      • Brice

        Because its the norm to hear about how Northern is some cliched enigmatic two-word phrase or something like that, then you pick against them and screw up all their stats. Of course NMU is unpredictable if you don’t have any correct information about them. Its worse when every single reader knows you have seen NMU play at least once this year. 
        When readers see that and then your poll is so similar to the national trend, it looks like you are taking the lazy way out and just plucking out a common name. When this practice is done by your own conference blogger it can become pretty insulting and the hate mail cometh. The actual acts are forgotten because the readers just want to get angry and find faults in everything.

        *Disclosure moment* I have unfortunately done the same thing in some no-hockey polls I do for spots 20-25. Its mostly for teams I haven’t seen play though and have to rely more on stats than actual play. 

      • ….

        Maybe if the NATIONAL rankings were based soley on conference play you’d have a point.

      • Davyd83

        How about taking a look at overall record, win % and strength of schedule. Of your #19 NMU, 18 WMU, 16 MSU 15 Miami and 13 Notre Dame, who has the best winning %? NMU, with Notre Dame tied for the poorest % of that group. Who had second toughest schedule of that group? NMU.Who had the 2nd easiest? Notre Dame. None of those 5 teams has a better overall record and only MSU has played a tougher schedule.

        • dusty bronco

          how about the TUC % (record vs. teams under consideration for the tourney)…Miami, ND, northern all have below .500 records..OSU and WMU sit right at .500.

          To me this is the best indicator of how good a team is, how well do you match up against teams you might play come march and the CCHA just doesn’t look so hot, mainly due to league parity and everyone beating up on everyone else

        • Bob

          It’s all fun and games until your team goes out and gets smacked around. Seems a rather vocal fan base owes the author an apology.

      • Anonymous

        Well seeing as you want to go by winning percentage I guess ranking them 19th is valid.  I wonder why you ignore things like Strength of Schedule and RPI which explain why NMU is ranked 9th in the PWR, which unlike your opinion actually mean something come tournament time.  I guess this also explains why you rank Union and Cornell #11 and #12 when neither team would make the tournament without an auto bid.  You know who else has a better winning percentage, Air Force, RIT and Quinnipiac, but I see when it comes to them you take into account their SOS and RPI.  Here’s a good one, you put Colorado College 14th on your ballot, a team that is tied for 20th in the PWR and is one spot ahead of NMU in Win%.  I guess what we’re all wondering is why you pick and choose which statistics to use when it comes to different teams.  If you didn’t do that there wouldn’t be room for people to rip apart your ballot every week.

      • If you actually took the time to check NMU stats you’d get a much kinder response. You consistently make errors when dealing with their stats and when these mistakes are pointed out instead of just taking it on the chin and fixing it you make excuses. I’m sure a middle aged divorcee has so many pressing matters that spending five minutes checking an article for acuracy is out of the question.

      • Bob

        Of course, duhOSU doesn’t have any fans, so that also might play into that.

  • Dvx99

    Beware the Falcon……

    • Paula Weston

      And I am — as is anyone who plays them.  Came close to picking a split because it is BGSU, I don’t pick against streaks like FSU’s.  The Falcons could very well do some damage this weekend and next, as well as in the playoffs. 

  • Nmulujo

    dumb dumb dumb!!!

  • dusty bronco

    Hopefully WMU can shake this Saturday thing. It does still kind of confuse me how a team can be 2nd in arguably one of the best conferences in college hockey and be on the outside looking in for the national tournament. I get how it works with the pairwise, but something just doesn’t make sense

  • Frustrated Bronco Fan

    I think Western is a year away from being an elite team.  You can see the desire and even the talent is there, but they are too young and can’t close the deal, which is why they can’t get a sweep, even when outplaying their opponent. 

    Give Murray a full offseason and the underclassmen another year to mature.  I bet they win the CCHA next season.

    • Paula Weston

      They’ll get there.  I’m a surprised as anyone that they’ve developed this W-L, Friday-Saturday pattern in recent weeks. 

  • Anonymous

    Hey guys, sorry I’m late to the “Paula made another mistake hate fest”, but that’s what happens when you have a 4 hour time difference.  I’d just like to remind everyone to be very careful on calling out Paula on blatant errors.  Doing so may result in having your posts removed, edited, or in my case always needing to be reviewed by a moderator before posting.  Don’t worry, I’m sure Paula will fix her mistake just like she always does(n’t) when it comes to off the wall statistical errors related to NMU.

    • Paula Weston

      When it comes to moderation of the forums following articles, it’s usually not what’s said but how it’s said that gets people into trouble.  For the record, I’m not a moderator — and flagging can come from anyone, including other posters. 

      • Anonymous

        Paula, if you have time to make responses like that, then why don’t you have time to make sure your statistics are accurate?  Better yet, why is it that your articles with statistical errors in which NMU takes the hit never seem to get fixed? I’m sure you allow your students to go back and fix their mistakes that you catch while grading their papers, and assign them a new grade after the changes are made.

  • bluetell

    I think Northern will get swept in Ann Arbor. Michigan’s too good at home. And the reason why Northern isn’t ranked as high as they are in the pairwise? Maybe it’s because we live in reality where Northern isn’t a top 10 team and the pairwise isn’t perfect. I mean seriously, Northern is 8th in the CCHA and there’s still a ton of other teams that are clearly better like BC, BU, UMD, Denver, Umass-Lowell, etc. 19th is about right

    • Anonymous

      Yet U of M-AA could only manage a tie when they played in Marquette.  Yes, lets ignore the statistics and assign rankings based off of perception.  You do realize that only 6 points separate 8th place NMU and 2nd place Western, and that if (yes a big if) NMU were to sweep U of M-AA you would be ranked below NMU in the CCHA standings.  Though I’m sure you would still insist that U of M-AA is still somehow better than NMU.

      • Fox5 2

        Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.U of M is better than NMU.Always have been.GO BLUE!

  • nmu dad

    OK lets let it go.  Hopefully there will be two great games to watch this weekend.  The games in Marquette were pretty intense. 

    Remember when it was so funny that USCHO writers were talking up Yale? They had first place votes after playing about half as many game as anybody else and  they were  in the 20′s by PWR.  No one has fallen farther and gotten so much hype press in the process. 

  • http://twitter.com/DanKorn Dan Korn

    Nice pick on the sweep by Michigan.

    By the way, this will probably change after the later games tonight, but as I’m typing this, Michigan is number one in KRACH, RPI, and the Pairwise.

  • Fox5 2

    Guess What NMU Wildcat Fans?It was a clean sweep!GO BLUE.Forget the games in October,Michigan is playing there best hockey NOW(when it matters)ITS GREAT TO BE A MICHIGAN WOLVERINE.

    • dusty bronco

      I am guessing a walmart wolverine….or U of M has not taught their students the difference between “their” and “there” 

      • Fox5 2

        There or their Dusty Depressed Bronco.its a sweep.Go Blue.Maybe someday the little horses will catch up.Go Blue.Dusty is cute.

  • Bob234

    Where are all of you Northern fans now? Probably buying cheese to go with all of your whine from the past few days. Eat up….

    • Fox5 2

      SILENCE Bob,its silence your hear from NMU fans.

  • Guest

    Good call on Michigan. Won Friday despite terribly one-sided officiating and won Saturday despite playing probably their worst game since Thanksgiving.

    Feels good, particularly with all the crap Northern fans have been talking all week.