A deeper dive into whether UND will make the NCAA tournament

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.


11 thoughts on “A deeper dive into whether UND will make the NCAA tournament”

  1. Gr8 work Jim, however, all of us UND grads had this figured out already…….. (TIC) GO SIOUX

  2. Maybe I misunderstood.  It seems that the beating of StC and MN would be a given if the UND had the chance to win or lose the championship.  

  3. Right, the way to read that is the entire section under the heading is what happens “If UND defeats St. Cloud and Minnesota”.  In that scenario, UND is guaranteed a visit to the championship game. 

    If UND wins the championship game, it gets the autobid, so that wouldn’t be a particular interesting scenario, except for the slim chance of finishing #2 overall!

    It’s the 2nd column in that table, UND makes the championship game but loses, that is interesting.  In that situation, UND could actually still get a #12 ranking and miss the field, though that’s incredibly unlikely.

  4. Maybe it’s too early in the morning but I can’t figure out why we do worse if Maine defeats BU. Since we beat Maine and they are lower Pairwise than BU, wouldn’t that comparison help us?

  5. The difference is whether you’re hoping UND rises in the PWR or doesn’t fall (put differently, some outcomes are offensive, letting us gain comparison that we’re currently losing; others are defensive, preventing us from losing comparisons that we’re currently winning).

    The Maine/BU discussion falls in the section above where UND loses the opening game.  In that case, we would have very little chance of gaining on anyone, so the priority would become not losing any ground.

    If Maine defeated BU, they could easily take the comparison.  It’s currently 3-1 with Maine holding RPI (.5463-.5456).  A Maine win over BU combined with a UND loss to SCSU would gave Maine the RPI criterion, bringing the overall comparison to 2-2, with Maine holding the RPI tie-breaker.

  6. Interesting stuff, especially about losing the championship.  I can see there being come scenarios where we would fall to 12 if we lost to Tech in the championship, but I can’t believe those would also be the same ones that would have three other upset champions.  Is that really possible?

  7.  That’s an insightful question.  I actually looked into something similar for the scenario where UND falls to #13 despite defeating St. Cloud, and was a little surprised to see that the scenarios that get UND to #13 actually somewhat correlated with the upset scenarios.  If anything, UND falling to #13 and conference upsets seemed to go hand-in-hand.

    Due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to extend that analysis the scenario of UND defeating St. Cloud and Minnesota, but I assume we can file missing the tournament there as mathematically possible but extremely unlikely.

    Bottom line for UND — win a game and/or cheer for top 16 teams to win their conference tournaments.

Leave a Reply