Skip to content

Back To Class: Forget the polls, Pairwise is your master now

Feb 4, 2013, 6:45 AM EDT

Jeremy Langlois

We’re taking you “Back To Class” for our roundup of the weekend’s action in college hockey. Look for more college hockey on NBCSN this Friday night at 8:30 p.m. ET as No. 7 North Dakota takes on No. 14 Nebraska-Omaha.

The college season is beginning to wind down and when match-ups come up, most college sports fans will judge the games based on where each team is ranked in the polls. I’m here to tell you that at this point of the year, you’re being lied to.

Watching the polls in February and March, whether it’s the USA Hockey/USA Today poll or the USCHO.com poll, is a pointless process and proof you’ve been conditioned by college football or basketball to buy into these arbitrary rankings. Since the season is winding down, it’s time for college hockey fans to put those voted-on rankings away and focus all attention on the Pairwise Rankings (PWR).

The Pairwise is what the NCAA uses to pick the at-large teams for the NCAA tournament. If your team is amongst the top 16 teams, you’ve got a chance. If they’re in the top 11, you’re virtually guaranteed a spot in the tourney. Unlike the BCS in college football, Pairwise uses all math and no polls to determine how teams shake out. Eliminating the human element, aside from the players on the ice actually winning and losing and tying games, helps makes the process virtually inarguable.

Take a look at how the Top 20 would be right now if you went by PWR according to CHN (USCHO.com also does their own):

1.    Quinnipiac
2.    Minnesota
3.    Miami
4.    Boston College
5.    New Hampshire
6.    Western Michigan
7.   Yale
8.    St. Cloud State
9.    Niagara
10.   North Dakota
11.   Boston University
12.   Denver
13.   Minnesota State
14.   Alaska-Fairbanks
15.   Dartmouth
16.   Notre Dame
17.   Colgate
18.   UMass-Lowell
19.   Union College
20.   Northern Michigan

When you compare that to how the polls look when they come out later today, you’ll likely see some big differences and that’s because people are who they are.

Polls are based on human opinions and often times those voting in the polls don’t see everyone they’re casting (or not casting) votes for. PWR, thankfully, eliminates that and focuses on whether or not teams are under consideration (TUC) and what a team’s record is against TUCs. Check out College Hockey News’ explanation of the whole thing if you’re feeling lost, it’s worth your time.

***

Games to look out for this weekend: Aside from our Friday night game which shapes up to be a great WCHA battle, that conference has another killer tilt with Minnesota facing conference-leading St. Cloud State. Their weekend battle is one not to be missed. In the CCHA, Miami and Western Michigan face off for a pair in Kalamazoo to see who can take charge there.

Quinnipiac owns the ECAC: The Bobcats ran their unbeaten streak to 19 games after tying Brown and handing rival Yale their lunch on their ice to the tune of 6-2. Quinnipiac was down 2-0 right off the bat but came romping back through to turn it into a laugher. QU is now seven points up on second-place Yale and 10 up on Dartmouth and Union.

The Niagara situation: The Purple Eagles are the best team in Atlantic Hockey. At 17-4-5 they’re taking care of their business and they’ve got a heck of a goalie leading the way for them. They’re now also up to ninth in the PWR which puts the whole Pairwise situation in a different place.

In the past, teams had to try and aim for at least 15th in the PWR because a less-than great Atlantic team would get one of the spots in the tourney. If Niagara stays strong and rolls through the conference tourney on their way to an auto-bid, it’s possible that winding up 16th in PWR might just land you a spot in the NCAA tournament.

(Photo: ECAC Hockey)

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Coyotes assess first-rounder Perlini’s broken hand

    Sep 21, 2014, 4:49 PM EDT

    Arizona Coyotes Rookie Camp Getty Images

    The team’s still trying to determine if surgery is necessary.

  2. Injuries piling up as preseason schedule begins

    Sep 21, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

    New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers - Game Four Getty Images

    Players nursing bumps and bruises as camps wrap.

  3. Sens play it safe with Ryan after he collides with Turris

    Sep 21, 2014, 3:48 PM EDT

    Brandon Sutter, Bobby Ryan AP

    He won’t play in either of Ottawa’s Monday exhibitions games.

  4. Flyers’ Laughton likely headed to Lehigh Valley

    Sep 21, 2014, 3:02 PM EDT

    ScottLaughton Getty Images

    Seasoning in the AHL should serve the 20-year-old well.

  5. Schenn moves to center in Philadelphia

    Sep 21, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    Brayden Schenn Getty Images

    With Giroux out, Craig Berube juggles lines.

  6. Hemsky adjusting to life in Dallas

    Sep 21, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

    Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators Getty Images

    Not at Oilers camp for the first time in his career.

  7. Jenner at center begins Sunday

    Sep 21, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Boone Jenner #38 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on October 5, 2013 in Uniondale, New York. The Blue Jackets defeated the Islanders 3-2 in the shootout.
(October 4, 2013 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

    Columbus looking at options with Johansen not at camp.

  8. Report: Johansen has gotten no shortage of KHL offers

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:36 PM EDT

    Columbus Blue Jackets  v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Two Getty Images

    The restricted free agent seems to be at an impasse with Columbus.

  9. Merrill day-to-day with ‘wind taken out of him’ after head hit

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:01 PM EDT

    Jon Merrill Getty Images

    Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said he’s “fine,” but he initially said the same of Clowe when the player had a concussion.

  10. Versteeg looks to rebound from ‘brutal’ finish to 2013-14

    Sep 20, 2014, 10:05 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Two Getty Images

    The knee injury he sustained during the lockout shortened season might be partially to blame for his struggles.

  11. Luongo’s ‘mind is at ease’ in Florida

    Sep 20, 2014, 9:07 PM EDT

    Roberto Luongo Getty Images

    That’s after years of being the center of a goaltending controversy in Vancouver.

  12. Championship Kings reunited after short summer

    Sep 20, 2014, 8:09 PM EDT

    Justin Williams Getty Images

    Can they be the first repeat winners since Detroit in 1997-98?

  13. Could Burns bounce between forward and defense?

    Sep 20, 2014, 6:07 PM EDT

    BrentBurns3

    Do Thornton and Marleau disagree with coach Todd McLellan on this point?

  14. Sabres’ Reinhart will debut in preseason opener Sunday

    Sep 20, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT

    Sam Reinhart AP

    It’s his first chance to provide his argument for why he should make the team.

  15. Bruins ’14 first-rounder Pastrnak injures shoulder

    Sep 20, 2014, 4:08 PM EDT

    David Pastrnak Getty Images

    Tough timing for him as he had been playing alongside fellow countryman David Krejci.

  16. Bruins’ Warsofsky taking Krug’s spot

    Sep 20, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    David Warsofsky Getty Images

    Optimistic about sticking with the big club out of camp.

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. J. Quick (1280)
  2. C. Giroux (1109)
  3. N. Horton (1067)
  4. A. Ovechkin (1032)
  5. B. Schenn (1016)