Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Scoreboard Watching (Volume II, Part I)

Last season, when the Icers were struggling to make the ACHA National Tournament and to much some a little acclaim, I ran a series called Scoreboard Watching to monitor the performance of the teams near the tournament's cutoff. For this week and the two that follow, I'm bringing it back - except for the women.

The Lady Icers are presently ranked 11th and need to crack the top eight to make it to nationals, which will be held March 8th-12th in Wooster, OH. Similar to last year, I'll run down the recent results and upcoming schedule for each team on the tournament bubble. First, here are the top 11 from the January 27th poll, the last one released before nationals bids are handed out (there seems to be a large dropoff from no. 12 Miami on down, particularly in terms of poll votes, so they're "eliminated").

1. Michigan State - 196 points (8 first-place votes)
2. Rhode Island - 189 (3)
3. Robert Morris (IL) - 171 (4)
4. Northeastern - 167
5. Liberty - 152 (1)
6. Massachusetts - 143
7. Minnesota - 127
8. Michigan - 104
9. Grand Valley State - 97
10. Ohio State - 93
11. Penn State - 83

For purely subjective reasons - recent results, upcoming schedule, the general rigidity of ACHA polls, etc. - I'll declare the top four safe at this point. If upcoming games merit revisiting that, I will. But for now, here are 5th through 11th with their schedules between January 27th and d-day on February 17th.

5. Liberty (13-6-1-0 ACHA)

January 28th/29th at Penn State, L 1-5/W 3-2
February 2nd/3rd vs. Robert Morris (IL)
February 4th/5th vs. Rhode Island
February 11th/12th vs. Raleigh Women's Team

I hesitated to include the Flames, but then I saw that they're hosting a battle royale with Rhode Island and Robert Morris this weekend. Should they survive that reasonably intact, you probably won't see LU here next week.

6. Massachusetts (8-9-1-1 ACHA)

January 27th/28th vs. Minnesota, L 1-3/L 0-5
January 30th at Northeastern, W 2-0
Feburary 10th/11th vs. Penn State

UMass is in a bit of a precarious position with a losing ACHA record but notably, they've defeated every team in the top five this season. Realistically it will take being swept by the Lady Icers to make them sweat, but they have the luxury of a weekend off to watch the situation evolve.

7. Minnesota (10-5-0-0 ACHA)

January 27th/28th at Massachusetts, W 3-1/W 5-0
January 28th at Northeastern, result not available
January 29th at Rhode Island, L 3-4
February 4th/5th vs. Colorado
February 11th/12th vs. Wisconsin

Following a successful (regardless of the Northeastern score) trip to Boston last weekend, the Gophers have a soft landing with four games against the 14th and 13th ranked teams.

8. Michigan (12-7-2-1 ACHA)

January 27th/28th vs. Michigan State, L 0-3/W 1-0
February 10th/11th/12th at CCWHA playoffs

A win over the top-ranked Spartans strengthens Michigan's case, and they might get another crack at MSU in the league playoffs.

9. Grand Valley State (13-9-3-0 ACHA)

January 27th/28th vs. Colorado State, W 5-0/W 8-0
February 4th/5th at Michigan State
February 10th/11th/12th at CCWHA playoffs

The Lakers are first in line, so to speak, of the teams trying to get in. As such, they'll need to make a splash, either against MSU or at CCWHAs. The teams behind GVSU would rather they flop in both outings.

10. Ohio State (11-9-2-1 ACHA)

January 28th/29th at Northern Michigan, W 7-1/W 4-0
February 4th/5th vs. Western Michigan
February 10th/11th/12th at CCWHA playoffs

Blowouts over NMU (or WMU, should they happen) are unlikely to improve the Buckeyes stock much, so a run at the conference tournament may prove their only shot.

11. Penn State (7-5-0-0 ACHA)

January 28th/29th vs. Liberty, W 5-1/L 2-3
February 3rd/4th at Northeastern
February 10th/11th at Massachusetts

The biggest problem PSU faces is that none of the higher-ranked teams are taking an obvious late-season nosedive - the top 11 contains a tremendous amount of parity and most teams are producing quality wins with regularity. A four-game winning streak starting now (and preferably, with some outside help) would obviously make the best case for the Lady Icers.

No comments:

Post a Comment