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Penn State Hockey: Weekend Rooting Guide

by on March 10, 2017 2:45 PM

Penn State hockey has two games remaining in the regular season and sits on the very edge of history. An NCAA Tournament berth would be a first for the young program and with the Nittany Lions' often potent offense, anything is possible once that tournament begins.

Much like in basketball the late stages of the season call for a bit of bracketology. Fortunately for Penn State the Nittany Lions are well inside the bubble at No.9 in the PairWise rankings. But with two games left to go against an inferior opponent in Michigan, winning is still a requirement to keep that particular dream alive. According to College Hockey Ranked, Penn State's standing in the PairWise could swing drastically in either direction this weekend.

So who to root for if you're a Penn State fan?

Big Ten: Ohio State

Inside the Big Ten it would do Penn State well to get into the No. 2 seed and avoid the first round of the Big Ten tournament. Five points behind Wisconsin in that No.2 spot means the Nittany Lions are rooting for Ohio State against the Badgers. The Nittany Lions can't catch Minnesota for a regular season crown so that series between the Gophers and Michigan State is of no interest beyond potentially entertaining hockey.

Outside of the Big Ten?

 

 

ECAC: Union, Cornell, Harvard

 As much as Penn State would like to jump Union in the PairWise standings, Princeton moving on in the ECAC tournament would put an at-large bid at risk. The Tigers are 31st in the PairWise, so any automatic-bid earned through a conference tournament would mean one fewer for teams like Penn State if the Nittany Lions don't win the Big Ten Tournament. That's the general trend and rule-of-thumb for all of these picks.

Rooting for Cornell and Harvard also won't hurt Penn State's cause either with both teams firmly in the Top 16.

Hockey East: Vermont

A good series in its own right, Boston College and Vermont are both in the bubble region as well. Vermont at No. 15 and Boston College tied at No. 18 chances are these teams could swap spots or stay put but for the sake of teams already inside the Top 16 winning, root for Vermont.

Beyond that the rest of Hockey East is fairly well populated with tournament teams so chances are unless something odd happens neither New Hampshire or Northeastern are going to pose a real threat to the automatic bid.

NCHC: Western Michigan, North Dakota.

Another conference with plenty of heavy hitters, Omaha lurking outside the Top 16 means Penn State will want to see Western Michigan take care of business this weekend. Beyond that Denver and Minnesota-Duluth ought to be just fine. An interesting series in this conference will be North Dakota and St Cloud State, rooting for the home team in North Dakota ought to keep another bubble team in St Cloud State out of the conversation.

WCHA: Doesn't matter

This conference doesn't have any teams inside or near the inside of the Top 16 which means that's at least one automatic-bid already taken by this conference's winner.

Atlantic Hockey: Air Force

Air Force is currently No. 16 in the PairWise, the only team of the eight to make the cut inside the Top 16. It's going to be a tough ask, but an Air Force conference tournament win will ensure that the Atlantic Hockey winner was already inside the Top 16, which in theory will protect an at-large bid.



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