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. Video: ‘I got bumped the whole game,’ says Crawford

    May 22, 2015, 1:30 AM EDT

    Getty Images

    Ducks trying to make life miserable for Chicago’s goalie.

  2. Bylsma free to pursue any coaching gig, says Rutherford

    May 21, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT

    Bylsma

    Pittsburgh GM won’t stand in the way.

  3. Sabres GM Murray lauds ‘great’ process with Babcock, confirms no deal ever in place

    May 21, 2015, 6:10 PM EDT

    Tim Murray AP

    “To have a guy of his ilk, considered one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League, taking a real good hard look at us in Buffalo after a 30th-place finish — I thought the process was great.”

  4. B’s sign Finnish forward Kemppainen to one-year, $700K deal

    May 21, 2015, 5:26 PM EDT

    Joonas Kemppainen, Jan Laco Getty Images

    Two-way contract for Karpat’s playoff scoring sensation.

  5. Will Hitch be back? Blues still ‘going through the process’

    May 21, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Ken Hitchcock AP

    “It’s something that we’re working on everyday. We’re trying to do it behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny.”

  6. Milbury’s ‘tongue-in-cheek’ remarks about Perry discussed, says NBC exec (Video)

    May 21, 2015, 4:02 PM EDT

    Mike Milbury

    “Word choice matters, even when attempting to be humorous.”

  7. Report: Sabres get permission to interview Bylsma

    May 21, 2015, 2:44 PM EDT

    Dan Bylsma AP

    As many as six new head coaches could still be named.

  8. Versteeg ‘wants to play in the worst way’

    May 21, 2015, 1:46 PM EDT

    Nashville Predators v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Six Nashville Predators v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Six

    Some have wondered if he could replace goal-less Bryan Bickell.

  9. Babcock predicts ‘pain’ for Leafs, who are a ‘massive, massive challenge’

    May 21, 2015, 12:43 PM EDT

    Mike Babcock Mike Babcock

    “We need to create a safe environment for the players.”

Featured video

Babcock has his work cut out in Toronto
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. B. Boyle (1380)
  2. K. Versteeg (1367)
  3. R. Callahan (1348)
  4. H. Lundqvist (1307)
  5. P. Kane (1279)