Monday, January 3, 2011

Scoreboard Watching

Hey everyone, welcome back to game week! It's been a while, so in case you forgot, the Icers are in sort of an unfamiliar position this season - the ACHA tournament bubble. Which of course leads to worrying about what other teams are up to, something else pretty strange to Penn State supporters. In that light, here's what everyone ranked 7th through 14th (the bubble teams in my opinion) is facing between now and the February 13th cut-off for the ranking that decides who's going to Delaware.

As a reminder, because of the controversial auto-bid situation, Penn State or any other major conference/independent team probably has to be in the top 12 to make it. Delaware and Rhode Island know a thing or two about that from last year. All in all though, I think you'll find some comfort in what's laid out for the bubble teams this semester.

I tried to convert start times from inferior Central and Pacific to Eastern, generally under the assumption that all times given were local. Sorry if I failed in a couple places.

7. Rhode Island

January 7th/8th vs. West Chester, 7:00 p.m./7:00 p.m.
January 14th/15th at Delaware, 9:00 p.m./4:45 p.m.
January 21st/22nd at Cortland, 7:00 p.m./2:00 p.m.
January 28th/29th vs. Stony Brook, 7:00 p.m./7:00 p.m.
February 4th/5th at Penn State, 9:00 p.m./3:30 p.m.
February 11th/12th vs. Villanova, 7:00 p.m./7:00 p.m.

Two pretty tough weekends there with PSU and Delaware, but otherwise almost zero potential for downward movement.

8. Minot State

January 14th/15th vs. Oklahoma, 8:30 p.m./3:00 p.m.
January 21st/22nd at Arizona, 10:30 p.m./10:30 p.m.
January 24th/25th at Arizona State, 10:00 p.m./10:30 p.m.
February 1st at Dakota College at Bottineau (Non-ACHA), 8:30 p.m.
February 12th/13th vs. Minnesota-Crookston (ACHA D2), 8:30 p.m./3:00 p.m.

Minot's schedules are always pretty soft (blame geography and finances, not the Beavers), but surprisingly, a couple of top ten teams in Oklahoma and ASU await - their unbeaten-in-regulation run against ACHA teams will be tested.

9. Oklahoma

January 10th/11th vs. Arizona State, 8:00 p.m./8:00 p.m.
January 14th/15th at Minot State, 8:30 p.m./3:00 p.m.
January 16th/17th at North Dakota State, 4:15 p.m./5:00 p.m.
January 21st/22nd vs. Davenport, 8:00 p.m./5:00 p.m.
January 28th/29th at Liberty, 7:30 p.m./7:30 p.m.
February 3rd/6th vs. Eastern Washington (ACHA D2), 8:00 p.m./1:00 p.m.
February 4th/5th vs. Oakland, 8:00 p.m./5:00 p.m.
February 11th/12th at Illinois, 8:30 p.m./8:30 p.m.

You can disagree with Oklahoma being ranked No. 9 with a 17-8-1 record, but it's hard to argue with their scheduling. Two stretches of four games in four nights, one of those extending to a six in eight. Quality opponents throughout. If they stay in the top 12, they will have earned it.

10T. Penn State

January 7th/8th at Ohio, 7:00 p.m./7:00 p.m.
January 14th/15th at Robert Morris (PA), 10:00 p.m./3:30 p.m.
January 21st at West Chester, 9:15 p.m.
January 22nd vs. West Chester, 3:30 p.m.
January 28th/29th at Delaware, 7:00 p.m./5:00 p.m.
February 4th/5th vs. Rhode Island, 9:00 p.m./3:30 p.m.
February 11th/12th vs. Robert Morris (PA), 9:00 p.m./3:30 p.m.

Like I keep saying, the Icers have three weekends we should win, and three others where we'll be up against it. However, splits against the three higher-ranked opponents probably mean there's no way a tumble out of the top 12 happens. PSU has maybe the clearest mandate of anyone.

10T. Oakland

January 7th vs. Grand Valley (ACHA D2), 8:00 p.m.
January 8th at Grand Valley (ACHA D2), 8:00 p.m.
January 14th at Eastern Michigan, 8:00 p.m.
January 15th vs. Eastern Michigan, 9:00 p.m.
January 21st/22nd vs. Western Michigan, 8:00 p.m./8:40 p.m.
January 28th/29th at Buffalo, 8:25 p.m./8:25 p.m.
February 3rd at Central Oklahoma, 8:30 p.m.
February 4th/5th at Oklahoma, 8:00 p.m./5:00 p.m.
February 11th vs. Davenport, 8:00 p.m.
February 12th at Davenport, 7:30 p.m.

A couple of tough weekends at the end but all in all, it's difficult to see the Icers getting any help from Grizzlies losses.

12. Robert Morris (IL)

January 7th/8th vs. Iowa State, 8:20 p.m./8:30 p.m.
January 14th/15th at Lindenwood, 8:30 p.m./5:00 p.m.
January 21st/22nd at Arizona State, 10:30 p.m./9:15 p.m.
January 28th/29th vs. Indiana, 8:20 p.m./8:30 p.m.
February 4th/5th at Ohio, 7:30 p.m./7:30 p.m.
February 11th/12th vs. John Carroll, 8:20 p.m./8:30 p.m.

A typically-tough CSCHL schedule awaits the Eagles. Which, again, is pretty encouraging if you're a Penn State fan. It's a theme that will be repeated to a lesser extent with these last two, although they also do more than their share of buttering themselves up with lower-division opponents.

13. Illinois

January 7th/8th at Lindenwood, 8:30 p.m./5:00 p.m.
January 14th/15th at Iowa State, 8:30 p.m./9:00 p.m.
January 21st/22nd vs. Wisconsin (ACHA D2), 8:30 p.m./8:30 p.m.
January 28th/29th vs. Purdue (ACHA D3), 8:30 p.m./8:30 p.m.
February 4th/5th at Kent State, 7:15 p.m./7:15 p.m.
February 11th/12th vs. Oklahoma, 8:30 p.m./8:30 p.m.

14. Iowa State

January 7th/8th at Robert Morris (IL), 8:30 p.m./8:30 p.m.
January 14th/15th vs. Illinois, 8:30 p.m./9:00 p.m.
January 21st/22nd vs. Minnesota-Crookston (ACHA D2), 8:30 p.m./9:00 p.m.
January 28th/29th vs. Colorado State (ACHA D2), 8:30 p.m./5:45 p.m.
February 4th/5th vs. Kansas (ACHA D2), 8:30 p.m./9:30 p.m.
February 11th/12th at Lindenwood, 8:30 p.m./5:00 p.m.

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