Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Conference Power Rankings

1. Hockey East: The conference has the top two teams in the Pairwise Rankings and boasts four of the last five NCAA Champions. The league currently lacks depth, but three teams occupy top seven spots in the Pairwise. I fully expect UMass-Lowell and Providence to move up towards the bubble by the middle of January.

2. Western Collegiate Hockey Association: The WCHA has had the best conference from top to bottom for over a decade now. The WCHA has consistently had more middle of the pack teams making noise in the NCAA Tournament and proving the worth of the bottom half of the conference. However, this year, North Dakota has gotten off to a slow start and Wisconsin and Minnesota-Duluth are performing well under usual expectations. Minnesota and Denver are carrying all the conference's weight right now. The conference took a blow this weekend when Yale defeated Denver and Colorado College. Nebraska-Omaha and St. Cloud are bubble teams, but not sure they have staying power.

3. ECAC Hockey: The ECAC returned to the Frozen Four last year for the first time since Buffalo in 2003 when Cornell last made it. Union had a great run to college hockey's biggest stage, before losing to Ferris State in a national semifinal. This year, the ECAC again looks to be solid with Dartmouth, Yale and Union being in the top six of the Pairwise. Cornell is coming off a big victory against Michigan, while Harvard seems poised to make a run at the NCAA Tournament. St. Lawrence has also fared well in non-conference games, but has struggled in league play.

4. Central Collegiate Hockey Association: The league's most successful team over the last three decades has struggled out of the gate, falling two games below 500. Miami and Notre Dame are currently the only two league teams in the top ten, while Western Michigan would be a bubble team. Expect Michigan to improve as the year goes on, but besides Ferris State, no other team looks to have a chance to join the current top three teams in the tournament.

5. Atlantic Hockey Association: The Atlantic Hockey Association boasts one team in the current top 15 of the Pairwise Rankings, Niagara. After allowing ten goals to Colgate in one of their first games of the year, the Purple Eagles have only allowed two goals in the last six games. Air Force has been a solid NCAA Tournament team over the past few years and Holy Cross has gotten off to a good start. But, the AHA will most likely always pull up the rear in conference rankings.