NCAA by the numbers: who’s in and who’s out of the playoffs?

Time to do the math and see where everybody stands in their conference

Welcome to NCAA by the Numbers. This will be a weekly piece that looks at where each team stands in its conference. We will look at who is in or out of the playoffs, who can get home ice, and who will win the trophy.

One of the first orders of business is explaining how we arrive at this data. Each conference has a set number of in-conference games each team plays based on the number of members. This varies by conference: ECAC teams only play two each, while Hockey East teams play three and the WCHA and CHA play four each. This gives each team a maximum point total at the start of the season — go undefeated and you match that; each loss or tie reduces your max. You can calculate a team’s current max by adding their current total of points to their games remaining times points per win. Once a team’s maximum point total is too high to be caught by a certain team the leading team can no longer finish below them, or vice versa. The number of points either won by Team A or lost by team B is the magic number for that comparison to be decided.


The CHA is one of the everyone-makes-the-playoffs conferences. But none of these teams are going to be able to make the NCAA tournament without the autobid, so winning the CHA regular season will give the winner the best chance to take that bid. Right now each team has played the rest of the conference once, so no tiebreakers have been determined.

CHA (Win = 2 pts, Tie = 1 pt)

TeamWinLossTiePointsGames RemainingMax PointsHighest PositionLowest Position
Robert Morris10332343113
Penn State4841242036

Robert Morris holds the lead, but Mercyhurst is right behind them. RIT has been a pleasant surprise, but we will need more info before we can make much more out of the CHA.


The ECAC is the biggest conference in the country with 12 teams. They have a format where the top four host, next four travel, and the bottom four stay home. They look to put three to four teams into the NCAA tournament.

ECAC (Win = 2 pts, Tie = 1 pt)

TeamWinLossTiePointsGames RemainingMax PointsHighest PositionLowest Position
St. Lawrence8752122558

While nothing has been settled yet there are a few tiers in the ECAC. The top three teams seem pretty set, though they could be caught. The bottom three also seem pretty settled. The middle has some wiggle room, though it seems like they could also be split into groups of three.

Ivy League

This league is part of the ECAC and does not have an autobid, but there is a lot of history among these teams.

Ivy League (Win = 2 pts, Tie = 1 pt)

TeamWinLossTiePointsGames RemainingMax PointsHighest PositionLowest Position

Princeton seems to have this one all but locked up as their magic number is down to three points vs. Yale, whom they have beaten once this season, and one vs. both Brown and Cornell.

State of the conferences: Contenders and dark horses in the NCAA

Hockey East

Hockey East is another conference where teams will miss the playoffs — the bottom two. It has been a top-heavy conference in recent years, like most of the conferences.

Hockey East (Win = 2 pts, Tie = 1 pt)

TeamWinLossTiePointsGames RemainingMax PointsHighest PositionLowest Position
Boston College19703814023
Boston University14563423823
New Hampshire101422212467
Holy Cross12413151010

The first thing that has been settled is that Holy Cross is the first team in the country to have been eliminated from playoff contention, despite their shocking upset of Northeastern. On the flip side, the top seed is potentially up for grabs this Friday for Northeastern — if they win and the other games go their way, though that is very unlikely.


After Ohio State shocked Minnesota last year, order has been restored out west, as it is a two-horse race for the title between Wisconsin and Minnesota. The WCHA is an all-team playoff, but the top seed gets a bye into the semifinals.

WCHA (Win = 3 pts, SOW = 2 pts, SOL= 1 pt)

TeamWinLossTieSOWPointsGames RemainingMax PointsHighest PositionLowest Position
Ohio State1210003624235
Bemidji State1010203223835
St. Cloud State519001501566
Minnesota State316321422067

Either Wisconsin or Minnesota will win the WCHA this year. Minnesota is sitting in first, but the Badgers have two games in hand. This weekend could see both those teams lock up the top two seeds. Ohio State and Minnesota-Duluth are battling for position for home ice.  The bottom three all seem pretty set in their positions.