Updated MAC Hockey Picture: One Game To Decide Them All

"What the hell is going on with the playoff picture?" - Jeff Gross

After last night's results, we have the updated playoff picture in both the NCHC and WCHA. Where do the MAC teams stand?

While most of the MAC world had it's eyes on basketball, as WMU and Akron both used big 2nd halves to come from behind and secure Cleveland seed locks, hockey had its own insanity going on.

First, we had UMass conceding a goal with just 1:07 left in the 3rd period to be downed by Vermont in the Hockey East first round, inevitably ending their season.  The Minutemen finish with an 8-22-4 record, and will hope to bounce back next season after ending their year on a 6-game losing streak.

Now for the playoff pictures that still have work left in them......

NCHC Gets Some Clarity

After last night's results (NoDak over WMU 2-0, Minn-Duluth over Neb-Omaha 8-2, Denver over Miami 5-2, St. Cloud over Colorado College 7-4), we have a much more clear-ish playoff picture.

North Dakota and St. Cloud are locked as the 1-2 seeds, but still have no separation between them.  Should they remain tied, North Dakota (damn I wish they had a nickname) is the 1-seed and St. Cloud is the 2.  After that, Nebraska-Omaha is assured of a home playoff series, but could fall to 4th if they lose outright tonight.  Otherwise, they're the 3-seed.

For the 4-seed, Denver can still clinch home ice if they finish tied or better with Minnesota-Duluth.  The 3 ways that can happen are (1) a DU win and UMD loss, (2) a DU win and UMD shoot-out loss, (3) a DU shoot-out win and a UMD loss.  Otherwise, Minn-Duluth clinches the 4-seed.

For the last two spots, WMU is locked in as either the 5 or 6 seed.  WMU has to finish ahead of Denver to grab the 5-seed, so matching DU result-wise does nothing.  Here's the situations WMU clinches the 5-seed:  (1) Win and DU loss, (2) win and DU shoot-out loss, (3) shoot-out win and DU loss.  Otherwise, WMU is the 6-seed.  However, they won't face the Pioneers in Denver, so no altitude.

As we stated before, Colorado College and Miami have been locked into the 7 and 8 seeds since last weekend.

WCHA Prepares for Photo Finishes

Umm, yeah.  I guess we have clarity.  Luckily, the WCHA only rewards 2 points per game, so there are no shoot-out possibilities to worry about.  Ferris State and Minnesota State can each still grab the 1-seed, but Ferris State is the team that'd need the help, as the Mavericks hold the conference wins tie-breaker.

Alaska Fairbanks is locked in as the 3-seed.  Sucks if you finish 6 and have to fly all the way out there for that game (unless you're Alaska-Anchorage, and that's a possibility, but I digress).

After that, catch your breath.

2 teams can all win the 4-seed:  Bowling Green and Michigan Tech (Alaska-Anchorage cannot if I understand the tie-breaking procedures correctly, but good luck deciphering that code bruh).  Basically, if they finish tied, Michigan Tech wins the 4-seed and home ice, and BG is probably going to the U.P. for a lovely hockey series.  Otherwise, flip the scrip as BG hosts a probable Michigan Tech team.

Anchorage can clinch the 5-seed if BG loses tonight and UAA wins (and Michigan Tech wins).  That's the kicker.  The 3 teams cannot finish tied, because the first tie-breaker is thrown out (since MT and UAA haven't played 4 contests between each other) and the second tie-breaker is inconclusive.  (UAA is eliminated via the 3rd).  So technically, the WCHA could have hell if Anchorage and BG flip ends of the country to play playoff series this close in the standings (trust me, they desperately want a UAF/UAA playoff series if possible).

Anchorage cannot miss the tournament because of the way the tie-breaks would be broken down.  With the impossible combination of Ferris State 1st and LSSU tying the Seawolves, they'll be in.

So that leaves us with 3 teams for 2 spots (there are more seeding possibilities, but my God, we've already gone so far).  Here's the long and short of it:  If Lake Superior State loses tonight at Ferris State (where the Bulldogs have only 1 loss and 1 tie all season), their year is done.  If Northern Michigan wins, they're in (they have the best path in UAH too).  Now, if LSSU wins/ties, they have to hope Bemidji State doesn't match them.  Otherwise, they're still out.  If the Beavers lose tonight and LSSU salvages a point, then BSU is out.

Now if the unthinkable happens and Northern loses while LSSU and BSU both win, then the Wildcats are out.  That's the only way they miss the tournament.

And I'm done.  The shuffling between the bottom 3 spots is just crazy.  Basically, imagine it like this:


Here's hoping there's no 2-man sack races on Sunday....

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