This Week in Division III: Feb. 10, 2005

Crunch Time

It’s crunch time for every Division III team as the regular season enters its final weeks. It’s also time for USCHO to crunch some numbers to see who’s in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot or NCAA bid, and who’s on the bubble or on the outside looking in.

Bracketology Part Deux

I spent most of my last column providing a first look at the D-III bracketology for this season. Check there for the details and assumptions. This week and every week moving forward, I’ll update it based on current results. The NCAA pairings below are based on games played through Wednesday, Feb. 9.

Note that I am still using the USCHO PairWise Rankings (PWR). The NCAA announced its first rankings of the season on Tuesday, but they’re a step behind USCHO’s PWR. One of the main criteria is record against ranked teams. USCHO’s PWR has been updated to include this now that the NCAA rankings are out, but the NCAA rankings themselves won’t include this until next week.

So, if the season ended today, we’d have the following teams in the tournament:

ECAC East — Norwich
ECAC Northeast — Curry
MIAC — St. John’s
NCHA — St. Norbert
NESCAC — Trinity
SUNYAC — Geneseo

Pool B:
Manhattanville — The Valiants are the top team in the PWR, and win all
individual comparisons with other teams under consideration.

Pool C:
Wisconsin-Superior — The Yellowjackets are the highest team in the PWR not in first place, and win all individual comparisons with all other teams in Pool C.

Bowdoin — The Polar Bears are the next highest team in the PWR, but are very close in an individual comparison with Oswego. Bowdoin is ahead on winning percentage and record against ranked teams, while Oswego gets the nod on strength of schedule and record vs. common opponents. Based on the weighting of the criteria, this could go either way.

Based on the national PWR and taking individual comparisons into consideration, the pairings would be:

#3W Wisconsin-Superior at #2W St. John’s
Winner at #1W St. Norbert.

#6E Geneseo at #1E Manhattanville
#5E Curry at #2E Norwich
#4E Bowdoin at #3E Trinity

Of course, our major assumption here is that the team currently in first place will win its conference tournament. If it doesn’t, it loses the Automatic Qualifier and is thrown into Pool C. It then must compete for a spot based on the PWR, which could possibly bump one of the existing Pool C teams.

Stay tuned. We’ll update this again next week.

Where They Stand

The MCHA playoffs begin this weekend, and it’s the final week for the NCHA and SUNYAC. Let’s take a quick look at the standings and see who’s in and who’s out.

Regular season ends: February 19
Games left for each team: Four
Who’s In: The eight Division III teams all make the playoffs. Norwich
can clinch first by picking up two points this weekend.

ECAC Northeast
Regular season ends: February 23
Games left for each team: Anywhere from two to six
Who’s In: The top eight Division III teams make the playoffs. Curry is
in the driver’s seat right now. The Colonels control their own destiny
and have already clinched a playoff spot. Wentworth and
UMass-Dartmouth has also clinched playoff berths. The other five are
up for grabs among the remaining nine teams.

ECAC West:
Regular season ends: February 26
Games left for each team: Anywhere from three to six
Who’s In: The top four teams make the playoffs, and as it stands right
now, only Lebanon Valley has been eliminated from the race.

Regular season ends: February 26
Games left for each team: Anywhere from four to six
Who’s In: The top five teams make the playoffs. St. John’s has
clinched a spot, but every other team is still in the running for the
other four playoff berths.

Regular season ends: Last week.
Games left for each team: Playoff time
Who’s In: MSOE won the regular season title, and gets a bye this week
along with second place Lawrence. Minn-Crookston hosts Northland and
Finlandia hosts Marian in playoff series this weekend.

Regular season ends: February 12
Games left for each team: Two
Who’s In: All eight teams make the playoffs. St. Norbert clinched the
regular season title last weekend. Wisconsin-Superior can clinch
second by picking up a single point this weekend. Wisconsin-Eau Claire
and Wisconsin-Stout know they’ll be on the road for the playoffs,
while the remaining four teams will battle for the final two home-ice

Regular season ends: February 19
Games left for each team: Four
Who’s In: The top eight teams make the playoffs. Trinity can lock up
first place with a sweep this weekend of Middlebury and Williams. Conn
College, Wesleyan and Tufts are fighting it out for the eighth and final spot.

Regular season ends: February 12
Games left for each team: Two
Who’s In: The top six teams make the playoffs. Brockport and Buffalo
State have been eliminated, so the playoff teams are set. Geneseo,
Oswego and Fredonia are battling for the two first-round byes.

Just What We Need …

… Another rating system. While “BCS” is a four-letter word these days, the principle is sound. So here’s my attempt at a similar system for D-III. I am taking data from three sources: the USCHO PWR (which mimics the NCAA selection process), the USCHO RPI, and KRACH (a more statistically robust method using logistic regression).

Unlike the real BCS, I’m not using any polls, just the three main computer rankings. Why? Why not? In this case, “BCS” stands for “Because Chris Says (so)”. I added each team’s ranking in each of the computer models, so the lowest total is the best. Here’s what you get:

Rank Team PWR RPI KRACH Total
1 St. Norbert 2 1 2 5
2 Manhattanville 1 4 1 6
3 Norwich 3 5 5 13
4 Oswego 9 3 4 16
5 St. John’s 5 9 3 17
6 RIT 12 2 7 21
7 Wisconsin-Superior 6 7 9 22
7 Fredonia 8 8 6 22
9 Trinity 4 11 8 23
10 St. Thomas 10 6 12 28
11 Bowdoin 7 15 13 35
12 Hobart 15 10 10 35
13 Babson 11 16 16 43
13 Geneseo 14 18 11 43
15 Utica 17 13 14 44
16 Middlebury 13 17 15 45
17 Bethel 18 12 18 48
18 Colby 16 19 17 52
19 St. Olaf 23 14 22 59
20 Wisconsin-River Falls 20 21 19 60
21 Curry 19 20 25 64
22 Plattsburgh 25 23 20 68
23 New England 21 25 23 69
24 Wisconsin-Stevens Point 24 24 24 72
25 Lake Forest 30 26 28 84
25 Hamilton 28 29 27 84
27 S. Maine 27 28 30 85
28 Tufts 22 31 34 87
29 Wentworth 26 35 32 93
30 Salem State 32 34 37 103
30 Amherst 31 38 36 105
32 UMass-Dartmouth 29 39 42 110
33 MSOE 33 43 43 119

Teams have to be mentioned in all three rankings in order to be included. The top 15 in the “BCS” ranking has 13 of the teams in the USCHO Division III poll. In the “BCS”, RIT and Utica are in, and Middlebury and Wisconsin-River Falls are out.

My favorite stat here is Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s 24th place ranking in all three computer models. At least they all agree on something.

Tough Choices

The staff members that select the USCHO Division III Players of the Week have had to make some tough choices this season, mostly in the defensive category. There have been so many outstanding goaltending performances this season we’ve often had many to choose from in a single week. That hasn’t often been the case in selecting the offensive players of the week, but this past weekend presented an outstanding list of performances to choose from, making our job very difficult.

Norwich’s Kurtis McLean scored five goals last weekend in a pair of wins over Colby and Bowdoin. He moved into second place in the school’s all-time goal scoring list, only five behind Keith Aucoin (’00). McLean and Norwich have a minimum of five games left.

Also, Potsdam forward Ryan McCarthy had a monster weekend, tallying five goals and four assists in games against Buffalo State (5-3 win) and Fredonia (6-6 tie).

We settled on Gus Katsuras of Hamilton. The junior forward scored five times in victories over Williams and Middlebury. Katsuras accounted for all but one of the Continental’s goals on the weekend.

Against Williams on Friday, Katsuras scored all three goals in a 3-1 win. On Saturday, in a 3-2 win over Middlebury, he netted the tying goal midway the second period and then got the game winner with 5:45 to play. It doesn’t get much better than that.