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Penn State Hockey: Rooting Guide Heading Into Selection Sunday

by on March 15, 2017 2:00 PM

For Penn State hockey it's a week where history could be made if the Nittany Lions take care of business.

Inside the Top 16 of the PairWise rankings, Penn State is very much in the running for an at-large tournament bid, and is just three wins away from an automatic bid and a Big Ten Tournament title.

It's a unique situation to sit in what could be the final week of the season with the ability to control your own destiny but Penn State's strong first half of the year and grinding play through the Big Ten schedule has afforded it that luxury.

Even so there are a few things that can go Penn State's way to make the path to the postseason all the easier, so here is your final rooting guide for the season. The good news for Penn State fans out of the gate, the Nittany Lions still have an outside shot even with a loss against Michigan on Thursday, but Penn State will need some help if that happens.

Atlantic Hockey: Air Force

This one is pretty simple, Atlantic Hockey already has one team inside the Top 16 with Air Force sitting precariously at No. 15. However, the four remaining teams sit well outside that Top 16 meaning a conference tournament champion would be taking away a coveted at-large bid. So if Air Force wins it doesn't take away a bid from a team near the bubble, much like Penn State.

ECAC: Harvard

In truth this conference tournament doesn't really matter to Penn State as long as Quinnipiac falls to Harvard, which seems pretty likely. Even if that doesn't happen in the first round Cornell or Union would probably take care of that task in the conference title game. Three of the four teams in the ECAC are ahead of Penn State in the PairWise and it's unlikely any one loss is going to change that moving forward. So for this conference, again, it's all about keeping automatic bids from going to at-large teams.

Hockey East: Boston University, UMass-Lowell

This one is more mathematical than anything else. A BU win over Boston College likely knocks Boston College out of the final PairWise spot while a UMass-Lowell win over Notre Dame ever so slightly improves Penn State number in the PairWise rankings than if the opposite were to be true. All told this conference is four teams in the Top 16 so all Penn State can really hope for is that Boston College loses, and takes itself out of the equation.

NCHC: Doesn't matter

There might be some slight PairWise number changes in the Top 10 with this tournament but all four teams are ranked well inside the Top 16 with three of them in the Top 5. North Dakota at 11 is the only team within reach of Penn State.

WCHA: Michigan Tech

Penn State's ranking won't change but its PairWise number will go up .0002 if Michigan Tech wins instead of Bowling Green. You take all the help you can get.

Big Ten: Michigan State, Minnesota

Ohio State is Penn State's biggest threat to coming out and stealing a bid. Minnesota is making the tournament either way but the Buckeyes are currently on the outside looking in and perhaps the best team in the conference right now not named Minnesota. If Michigan State pulls off the upset that helps Penn State and if the Nittany Lions lose to Michigan they're hoping that Minnesota takes care of business and takes away the auto-bid from Ohio State.

Moral of the story:

According to CollegeHockey Ranked, Penn State has a 26% chance of getting in without a win this week, 72% chance with a win over Michigan and a 97% chance with two wins. Obviously 100% if it wins the whole thing.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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