Does Boston College Hockey Have to Win Out?


Boston College hockey might be number 19 in the country and within five spots of where they need to be in the PairWise Rankings, but the Eagles still have a great deal of work to do.

But how much work?

Here is the statement posed by a member of the Boston College Twitter posse to our bracketology piece yesterday:

So, does Boston College hockey have to win out in the regular season to have a realistic shot at making the 2015 NCAA Tournament?

First, we examine the remaining schedule.

[table id=16 /]

There are six games against ranked teams in there, but those are not the rankings that matter: it’s the PairWise Rankings to the right. That is where the Boston College hockey season will be won or lost. If they beat the good teams, they will recover ground in the rankings quickly. If they do not, they stay even or go down a tick or two.

The bad teams are a problem. Playing a few against Notre Dame, UConn, and Northeastern may hurt their PairWise Ranking, even if the Eagles should win those games. Just like playing lousy teams hurts your RPI in basketball, it’s no different in hockey since RPI is RPI. Yet, there can be no alternative for Boston College hockey than to win those games.

When it comes to specific scenarios for Boston College, the rest of Hockey East, and the rest of the teams in Division I, there are far too many variables and potential outcomes to calculate. Boston University losing a game in the middle of February while Denver ties another game with Yale winning another — there are probably thousands and thousands of outcomes for playing out the rest of the college hockey regular season.

What we are going to do is approximate Boston College’s rises and falls in the PairWise based on the outcomes of the games. The change in parenthesis represents a potential change in the rankings as a result of the final score. Mind you, these are wild guesses based on past similar games played during the season.

UConn: Win (-1), Tie (-2), Loss (-4)
Providence: Win (+1), Tie (no change), Loss (-1)
Northeastern: Win (no change), Tie (-1), Loss (-2)
Merrimack: Win (+1), Tie (no change), Loss (-1)
BU or Harvard: Win (+3), Tie (+1), Loss (no change)
Vermont (per game):Win (+1), Tie (no change), Loss (no change)
UMass-Lowell: Win (+2), Tie (+1), Loss (-1)
Notre Dame (per game): Win (-1), Tie (-2), Loss (-3)

If Boston College wins out, they go up six spots in the PairWise and head into the Hockey East Tournament right on the border, but in with one spot to spare.

It goes without saying any deviation would likely result in being out.

Boston College Eagles
Boston College Eagles /

Boston College Eagles

Granted, these are all just educated guesses: for all we know, the Eagles could go up four spots in the PairWise by winning the Beanpot over BU or Harvard, and any number of ties or losses could be more detrimental than otherwise expected.

At the same time, it’s probably not that far off, either. Boston College hockey torched their margin of error once they lost to Maine last weekend and cannot slip up again. The Eagles are going to also need to go deep into the Hockey East Tournament to ensure they stay on the right side of the line.

Right now, this looks like a very difficult task, and the sobering truth is that if BC does not make it, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

The answer to the original question? Pretty much, yeah.