NCAA Quick Roundup: Let's Check Out the Polls

This week, let's look at the most recent rankings heading into the final month of regular season NCAA action.

NCAA Quick Roundup: Let's Check Out the Polls
(Photo featured on @OhioStateWHKY on X/formerly Twitter)

It's been a wild week for your girl outside of the hockeysphere, so I will have to give you all a bit different of a roundup — centered on where the polls are as we head into February. It's crunch time for all these teams now, as we're in the last full month of play, so let's see which teams are jockeying for the best position heading into postseason.

(Full polls from Feb. 5 featured here.)

#1: Ohio State, 24-2-0

The Buckeyes are That Team heading into February, with two regular-season losses and having scored five goals or more in a staggering 14 of their 24 wins. In fact, the only teams that have kept them fairly honest defensively have been Wisconsin, Colgate, Minnesota-Duluth, and St. Cloud State (all teams in the top 10 right now, by the way, so more on them later). It's their world, we're just skating in it, and with an unreal two-thirds of the skaters on their roster in the double digits when it comes to points, coach Nadine Muzerall has her team operating like a well-oiled machine and making a huge case for yet another deep postseason run (bar any catastrophes).

#2: Wisconsin, 24-4-0

The Badgers' extra two losses this season have come courtesy of their top-seeded rivals, so it makes sense that they're playing catch-up. After a brief stint on the fringes of the top five, they've rebounded well and are on an 11-game win streak heading into their next weekend against Bemidji State. Kirsten Simms, Casey O'Brien, and Britta Curl head the stat sheets, with Lacey Eden and Laila Edwards not far behind, and goaltending duo Ava McNaughton and Jane Gervais have combined for an average save percentage of .924 — not as impressive as some of the goalies coming up, but still excellent. And of course, there's Caroline Harvey, who remains a huge presence on the blue line — and is just getting started after going back-to-back winning a National Championship and a Worlds gold medal with Team USA last season.

#3: Clarkson, 25-3-2

It's looking a lot like the Golden Knights of years previous have returned this season — Clarkson has just three losses on the year and has had a great record in-conference, with big wins over rivals like Quinnipiac and Colgate as well as Yale. One of those key wins came just this past weekend against the Raiders by a 3-1 score, followed by another big win, 3-0 against Cornell, placing Clarkson in a great spot right now. Colgate still has one in-conference win in hand, but I'd be really concerned if I were them, as this is the best season the Knights have had in a while.

#4: Colgate, 24-5-1

The Raiders have gotten further up the ranks than this, for sure, even making No. 2 overall at one point; however, they had a bit of a stumble this weekend with that loss to Clarkson, followed by a stunner of an overtime loss to St. Lawrence. Still, they're in excellent shape heading into the final weeks of the regular season, with a fun roster headed by Danielle Serdachny (a name you should keep an eye on heading into next year's PWHL Draft), Kristýna Kaltounková, and Elyssa Biederman. With Kalty electing for a fifth year, plus Biederman, Neena Brick, and Emma Pais amongst those who still have at least a season in hand for the Raiders, it's beyond exciting to think about the future for a team this strong.

#5: Minnesota, 22-5-1

You can't ever count the Gophers out of the conversation when it comes to contending for a National Championship, and this season has been no exception. Minny has managed to put together a strong season as per usual, eking out a win against Wisconsin and doing especially well against out-of-conference rivals; still, their struggles against Ohio State and giving a bit of rope to teams like St. Cloud and Minnesota State have them just a little further down than their fellow WCHA reigning queens. But don't count out a team with a coaching pedigree like that of Brad Frost, never mind the sharpshooters like Abbey Murphy and Josefin Bouveng making this squad super entertaining.

#6: Cornell, 18-6-1

This team is young, they're fresh, and they're just as lethal on the road (8-2-1) as they are at home (9-3-0). Senior Izzy Daniel leads the team in points with 50 on the dot — and the nation in points per game — and juniors Kaitlin Jockims and Lilly Delianedis and first-year Karel Préfontaine have put up a good effort offensively as well on a squad that averages just under 31 shots and four goals per game.

#7: St. Lawrence, 21-9-0

The Saints have been clutch at upsetting their higher-ranked competition, particularly as of late. They just did it this past weekend with both Cornell and Colgate, and shut out Clarkson the week prior as well. In fact, they've been so good in their own conference, with just four losses to interconference rivals, that it's a wonder more people (including myself) haven't been talking about them. To make an even more impressive point, they're 15-1-0 on home ice, making it a slog for anyone having to make the trip to Canton.

#8: Minnesota-Duluth, 15-11-2

You want defense? You got defense with the Bulldogs, who have boasted some of the lowest-scoring efforts against offense-heavy teams like Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Colgate. They may not score a lot, but much of the time they're making sure you score even fewer. As a result, both UMD goaltenders (Eve Gascon and Hailey MacLeod) have made the semifinalist roster for National Goalie of the Year, with Gascon boasting a .946 and MacLeod touting an insane .953 save percentage.

#9: Quinnipiac, 22-7-1

The Bobcats have always been a solid team, and while it's wild to insinuate that a team with that record is more toward the middle of the pack when it comes to ECAC Hockey, it's kind of true. They've been great against most of the Ivies and perfect this season out of conference, but can't seem to crest the hill against their top-ranked conference rivals. They've lost four of the last five, with two of those losses coming against ranked competition, and still have Clarkson and St. Lawrence coming up in their final four faceoffs. It remains to be seen if they can climb up any higher, either nationally or in the ECAC; still, this is a team with a couple of impressive younger players and with a huge financial contribution having come in just this year, they will almost certainly be looking to bolster themselves further.

#10: St. Cloud State, 15-12-1

On paper, the Huskies might have the weakest results thus far; still, the standings tell only half the story. Recent WCHA alumnae like OSU's Emma Maltais have talked about how tough St. Cloud State has been to play against. They're a tremendous force not just defensively in general, but also in net in particular, with Sanni Ahola (9-4-1, .947) and Jojo Chobak (6-8-0, .933) proving to be an incredible goalie duo. As a result, the Huskies have gotten huge upset wins against some of the higher-ranked teams on this list, including a 2-1 win against Ohio State and a 5-1 result against UMD back in December. Simply put, don't count them out; they can certainly play spoiler at will.

Best of the Rest: The Top 15

UConn is just outside of the top 10 at the 11 spot, and at the top of Hockey East, a league that has seen a bit of upset over the course of this season. Northeastern (more on them in a sec) was projected to do a lot better, but they've been struggling in the wake of losing their entire top line to graduation. That has opened the door for the Connecticut Huskies, who are 18-6-4 overall and have just three losses in-conference. Tia Chan's .940 save percentage over 17 games played has me a bit confused as to how she missed the cut for the Goalie of the Year semis, to be honest.

In 12th is Princeton, and in case you needed reminding, Canada's own Sarah Fillier is on this team. With 30 points in 22 games played so far, she leads her own roster in total points and is ranked second overall in the country in goals scored per game. She's got to be one of the most exciting players to watch in the NCAA currently, and is bound to get recognition in the Patty Kazmaier race. As a team, the Tigers are on the brink of clinching home-ice advantage for the ECAC playoffs and will have to do some serious work against Clarkson and St. Lawrence this weekend to make that a reality.

Northeastern is hanging in the mix at No. 13, with this season being a little bit of a reality check for them. The Massachusetts-based Huskies (really, why so many Huskies, y'all?) have, as mentioned previously, been missing Chloe Aurard, Maureen Murphy, and Alina Müller after their departures for the PWHL, and I think they're still kind of looking for their scorers who will fully step up into those roles. For their parts, Skylar Irving, Katy Knoll, and Taze Thompson have done as well as they could; it's just a tall order for anyone to try and replace that much talent all at once.

Penn State is 14th, about where I pictured them. Not for nothing, but CHA has a lot of catching up to do in terms of competition, and the Nittany Lions haven't had the most consistent challenges all season with Lindenwood and RIT struggling hard and RMU still gaining its footing in its first season back.

Finally, we have 15th-ranked Boston College. The Eagles are just behind UConn in Hockey East and have spent a good amount of time at the top this season. They've actually done better in goals per game (2.8 this year to 2.4 last year, so not by much) and power play conversion (about 23 percent to 9 percent) even without Hannah Bilka and Cayla Barnes, both of whom transferred to Ohio State. Two of their final games of the season are against Northeastern, which is right behind them in the conference standings, so it'll be interesting to see where they end up once postseason comes around.