Sunday, February 6, 2011

Scoreboard Watching (Part IV)

Once again, let's bump everything off that was counted towards the latest poll, released Friday. No teams added or subtracted this time, although I believe it's pretty much down to Oakland, Iowa State and Robert Morris (IL) for the last two spots.

9. Oklahoma (27-12-1)

February 3rd vs. Eastern Washington (ACHA D2), W 5-3
February 4th/5th vs. Oakland, W 6-1/W 5-4 (OT)
February 6th vs. Eastern Washington (ACHA D2), W 6-4
February 11th/12th at Illinois, 8:30 p.m./8:30 p.m.

Despite the dicey games against Eastern Washington, Oklahoma solidified their spot with a huge sweep of a team (right) below them. Even stumbling against Illinois probably can't hurt them at this point, not with Oakland getting Davenport this weekend and Iowa State visiting Lindenwood.

10. Oakland (20-8-5)

February 3rd at Central Oklahoma, W 3-2 (SO)
February 4th/5th at Oklahoma, L 1-6/L 4-5 (OT)
February 11th vs. Davenport, 8:00 p.m.
February 12th at Davenport, 7:30 p.m.

The Grizzlies look a little wobbly after needing a shootout to beat not-great UCO and getting swept by the Sooners. It doesn't get any easier this weekend either, but they may be in the unenviable position of needing a split with the No. 2 team in the country.

11. Penn State (19-8-1)

February 4th/5th vs. Rhode Island, W 4-3/L 4-5 (SO)
February 11th/12th vs. Robert Morris (PA), 9:00 p.m./3:30 p.m.

It wasn't always pretty, but the Icers got done what needed to be done by collecting a win against URI. Now, only speed bump RMU stands between PSU and the finish line. Ticket punched in my book.

12. Iowa State (23-14-0)

February 4th/5th vs. Kansas (ACHA D2), W 9-0/W 11-0
February 11th/12th at Lindenwood, 8:30 p.m./5:00 p.m.

I'm sure the Cyclones have had a lot of fun getting back into the thick of the D2 national championship race...oh wait, they're a D1 team, my mistake. Surely you can understand my confusion. Will they be able to flip the switch back against mighty Lindenwood and clinch a spot? They might have to.

13. Robert Morris (IL) (23-8-1)

February 4th/5th at Ohio, L 2-4/W 3-1
February 11th/12th vs. John Carroll, 8:20 p.m./8:30 p.m.

One reason ISU has very little margin for error is this team, which managed a huge split at OU last weekend and now gets putrid John Carroll to close it out. Any slip from the Cyclones, or even Oakland should they do poorly this weekend, and the Eagles are well-positioned to sneak in.

14. Illinois (17-9-1)

February 4th/5th at Kent State, W 5-3/W 3-1
February 11th/12th vs. Oklahoma, 8:30 p.m./8:30 p.m.

Decimating a few lower-division teams didn't help the Illini, and that RMU (IL) split with Ohio certainly didn't help. What's left? A dominant sweep of Oklahoma and some unexpected help might be the only thing that can save them.

Whatever happens, there's a pretty good chance of witnessing some history. On my page listing ACHA tournament appearances since 2000, only Penn State, Ohio, Iowa State and Illinois have not missed a tournament in that time. I'm pretty sure PSU, OU and ISU can all go back to the beginning of the ACHA. Regardless, it's looking like one, maybe two of those will miss this year. I'm just glad it's not three.

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