If UND wins the WCHA tournament, the Sioux will be ensured an NCAA tournament appearance.

If the Sioux bow out early, they will be at the mercy of their final PWR ranking and the outcomes of other conferences’ tournaments (which will determine how many teams get in on the basis of their PWR ranking).

The good news is that the Sioux are very well positioned, and would miss the NCAA tournament in only a few percent of the remaining possible scenarios. For (much) more detail on what it would take, read on.

How many teams will make the tournament at large?

16 teams total will make the tournament. The winners of each conference tournament are guaranteed a spot, then the remaining spots are filled with the top teams from the PWR Rankings.

So, if only 1 team that’s not in the top 16 wins a conference tournament, the top 15 in the PWR will make it. If 3 teams that aren’t in the top 16 win conference tournaments, the top 13 in PWR will also make it.

Here are the conference tournament participants, with those that could win without climbing to the top 16 in PWR marked.

* Michigan Tech
Minnesota Duluth
* St. Cloud St
North Dakota

Hockey East
Boston University
* Providence
Boston College

* Harvard
* Colgate

Western Michigan
* Bowling Green

Atlantic Hockey
* Niagara
* Mercyhurst
* Air Force

So, the PWR ranking a team needs to make the tournament at large is 16 minus however many conferences are won by teams marked above. 13 is generally a pretty good guess, but it could obviously vary.

If UND loses to St. Cloud

This scenario is, obviously, the one in which UND’s tournament chances are the most threatened.

UND PWR ranking share of outcomes if UND loses to SCSU
7 0%
8 0%
9 7%
10 26%
11 30%
12 28%
13 8%
14 1%
15 0%
16 0%

Fortunately, things still look pretty good for UND, even with this outcome. The odds of UND falling to 13, which is likely to be safe, are only 8%. In only about 1% of scenarios does UND fall to 14.

By far the game that matters most to UND in this scenario is BU defeating Maine.

UND PWR ranking share of outcomes if UND loses to SCSU, by BU/Maine outcome
UND Rank If BU
defeats Maine
If Maine
defeats BU
7 0.0% 0.0%
8 0.2% 0.0%
9 14.6% 0.2%
10 42.3% 8.9%
11 33.5% 27.0%
12 9.0% 46.2%
13 0.5% 16.4%
14 0.0% 1.3%
15 0.0% 0.0%

Other outcomes that would help UND in this scenario include:

  • Michigan Tech over Denver
  • Harvard over Cornell
  • Harvard over Union
  • Colgate over Union
  • Michigan Tech over Minnesota-Duluth
  • Colgate over Cornell

Play with that information a bit in the YATC calculators and you should get a pretty good idea of what UND would need to have happen.

If UND defeats St. Cloud

UND PWR ranking share of outcomes if UND defeats SCSU
5 0.0%
6 0.1%
7 1.9%
8 12.7%
9 32.9%
10 35.8%
11 14.7%
12 1.8%
13 0.0%

This isn’t quite mathematically a lock. #12 can miss the tournament if all 5 conferences are won by a team not in the top 16. Since this scenario requires SCSU to be eliminated, the only remaining WCHA team that could win without being top 16 is Michigan Tech. Providence and Bowling Green are also the only teams capable of winning their conferences without rising into the top 16.

So, it appears that if the Sioux beat SCSU, they can only miss the tournament if Michigan Tech, Providence, and Bowling Green all win their conference tournaments and Harvard or Colgate win the ECAC.

If UND defeats St. Cloud and Minnesota

Given the above, Sioux fans are likely to expect this scenario to be a lock for UND. But, the entire fun of simulating all the outcomes is finding those unexpected niche outcomes.

UND PWR ranking share of outcomes if UND defeats SCSU and Minnesota
PWR UND loses
UND wins
1 0.0% 0.00%
2 0.0% 1.92%
3 0.0% 41.07%
4 0.0% 42.22%
5 2.7% 13.42%
6 15.0% 1.34%
7 25.1% 0.03%
8 25.6% 0.00%
9 21.1% 0.00%
10 9.0% 0.00%
11 1.5% 0.00%
12 0.1% 0.00%
13 0.0% 0.00%

Surprisingly, this isn’t a lock either. Again, #12 can miss in some (very unlikely) scenarios.

However, more Sioux fans who have read this far are probably eying that (still slim) chance of finishing #2 overall.