NOTE: If you wish to read the Hockey V1.0 FanPost, which was originally posted 12/29/22, and then updated 1/2/23, 1/9/23 & 1/16/23 - click this link HERE. As I may have been reaching a word count limit, and the FanPost had dropped off the front page, this is the most recent update as of 1/23/23)
OK, a split is a split. And as I’ve said plenty of times already (broken record warning!) skating .500 for the rest of the season ain’t gonna be bad because the B1G is good.
Case in point – this past weekend when the Nittany Lions split a pair with Notre Dame in the Peg. After skating out to a 1-0 lead in the first period Friday night, Penn State gave up a goal in each of the next two periods to lose 1-2. Not for lack of trying of course (as is their wont). They outshot the Domers by a more than 2-1 margin – 53 shots to 24 shots.
Then on Saturday night Penn State gave up the first goal but came back in the second and third periods to notch a 3-2 victory – and set a Pegula Arena attendance record in the process. And, they outshot the Domers 45-31.
As my purpose here is not to re-invent the wheel, if you would like to read Penn State’s fine detailed recaps of this past weekend’s games, here are the links for Friday’s HERE and Saturday’s matchups HERE.
All of which means – and here’s the really important part -- in the rankings that count at the end of the season – the PairWise Rankings (https://www.uscho.com/rankings/pairwise-rankings/d-i-men/ ) Penn State, despite splitting a pair this weekend , remained at #3! (Although the split helped the Domers – they moved up from #18 to #15)
Here’s a quick look at how the top competition fared this weekend…
#1 Minnesota skated a pair against #7 Michigan and split them. Both games went to overtime. And redundancy alert!) because of the strength of Michigan’s ranking (and the next result), a split was enough to keep Minnesota #1.
Then-#2 Quinnipiac lost two games to #29 Colgate and that dropped them back to #4. In theory that could have moved Penn State up to #2, except…
Then-#5 St. Cloud put a beatdown on conference foe and then-#4 ranked Denver and won two games, 7-3 and 2-0. That performance vaulted them up into the #2 spot ahead of Penn State.
Moving ahead, here are the current PairWise rankings for every B1G team and who they play this coming weekend.
- Minnesota #1 (two games vs. #13 Michigan State)
- Penn State #3 (two games at #7 (tie) Michigan)
- Ohio State #7 (tie) (Idle)
- Michigan #7 (tie) (two games vs. #3 Penn State)
- Michigan State #13 (two games at #1 Minnesota)
- Notre Dame #15 (two games vs. #32 Wisconsin)
- Wisconsin #32 (two games at #15 Notre Dame)
So PSU has two games at Michigan this weekend. Let’s get a bit ahead of ourselves and look further out. Penn State has eight regular season games remaining: two at Michigan, two at Ohio State, a weekend idle, then finishes up with four games at the Peg over two weekends – first against Minnesota and then against Wisconsin.
So what’s the goal? The goal is to finish the season ranked high enough so that you are guaranteed a spot in the 16-team NCAA tournament regardless of how you do in the B1G tournament. To do that you need to finish in the top 12 or so in the PairWise rankings. So how does that happen? The path here is clear – if Penn State splits with everybody left on the schedule, they are guaranteed a berth in the NCAA tourney. And because of the strength of that remaining schedule, it’s certainly conceivable that they could lose both to Minny, and possibly both games in one of the OSU/Mich series and still stay safe if they win both against Wisky. But the bottom line is -- skate .500 over those eight remaining games and an NCAA Tourney bid is a lock. Pretty dang impressive.
But let’s shoot for 8-0 or GTFO. And maybe even end the season ranked #1 in the PairWise. Go State, beat those Hugh Jackman wanna-be’s in Anns Arbors this weekend!