Now, let me be perfectly clear, Michigan State still does need help. As of right now, MSU is 14th in the PWR, tied with Western Michigan. MSU still holds a slim .0012 edge in the RPI over Western Michigan. The Broncos, if they beat Miami next Friday at Joe Louis Arena, will more than likely pass MSU which would put MSU down to 16 comparisons and tied with Northern Michigan for 15th place. MSU holds the comparison over Northern, which means Michigan State will be in the NCAA tournament provided nothing crazy happen this upcoming weekend. And, Western may actually fall back behind MSU should they lose in the CCHA title game.
Given that the Atlantic Hockey Champion will be outside the top 16 of the Pairwise, Michigan State will need to hold the 14th or 15th spot in the Pairwise to have a shot at an at-large bid.
So, who can still spoil Michigan State's fun? Updated!!
Atlantic: RIT. Although it will take a combination of other teams to win their conference tournament (such as RIT & WMU), but RIT winning the Atlantic potentially could burst MSU's bubble as well. MSU should be ok if RIT wins though and the other favorites win out. (WARNING: The pairwise predictor is very addicting)
CCHA: Bowling Green. The Falcons stunned Ferris State tonight in game 3, after falling behind 3-0. They'll face Michigan next weekend. If they spring the upset in that game, MSU fans better hope Miami or Western beats Bowling Green in the CCHA title game. Though, if BGSU did beat Western, the Broncos may end up falling back behind MSU and making all of this a moot point. But, not getting sidetracked, it'd be better if BGSU didn't win the CCHA tournament. Unlikely, but they've gotten this far - and now they don't have to beat the same team twice. And we will add Western Michigan to this list, since it seems that any combination of Western winning and one of the other teams on the list could be very bad for MSU. Western does have to face Miami though - and it stands to note that Western doesn't pass MSU in the pairwise if they beat Miami and then lose to Michigan. However, they would if they lost to Miami then beat Michigan in a 3rd place game.
ECAC: Harvard is currently ranked in a tie for 20th in the PWR. Colgate is currently ranked 25th. If either team wins the conference tournament that will move the at-large line up from 15 to 14. MSU just became huge Cornell & Union fans. This will be the conference tournament to watch. Colgate actually looks like it'd be worse than Harvard. If Colgate wins, MSU will be out (NMU will jump MSU in the comparisons). If Harvard wins, MSU could be in (and actually move up to 13th in the pairwise) depending on what else happens. MSU could still be out though if WMU manages to split and Harvard wins the ECAC.
Hockey East: Providence. The 7th seed in the Hockey East tournament shocked Mass.-Lowell this weekend. They'll have to get by #1 Boston College in the semi finals and then either Maine or BU in the title game to move that at-large line up a spot. Unlikely, but they've gotten this far (see BGSU).
WCHA: A couple here (Thanks to Denver). Michigan Tech and St. Cloud State are the two to watch - but it'll take three wins in three days for either team to do it. St. Cloud State and Tech cannot pass MSU if they advance to the finals and lose - so only them winning the automatic bid looks bad for MSU.
To recap: Bowling Green, Providence, Harvard, Colgate, RIT, St. Cloud State, and Michigan Tech are all potentially Michigan State bubble bursting teams. A couple of websites - College Hockey News & USCHO.com will have a 'be the committee' feature as early as tomorrow - so you can play with the results and see where MSU would finish.
In the meantime, MSU fans can enjoy tonight - and celebrate with our friends from Maine.
Thank you Maine, no hard feelings for 2007 - ok? Thanks to you, we can exhale a little bit, for now, and dream of what an improbable NCAA might bring.....Let the scoreboard watching continue next weekend!