Its all coming back around again as the Bulldogs start the rematches with conference teams from earlier in the schedule. This weekend’s rematch involves Western Michigan.
And now with February staring us in the face, the PairWise Rankings (PWR), a main criteria for selecting the 16 teams for the NCAA Tournament, is becoming more important. Currently UMD is #14 and WMU is #18.
To solidify spots in the tournament, teams need to move up to #12 to ensure that surprise auto-bidsdon’t take your spot. How do the Bulldogs move up? They need to win, period. No more so close or could haves. It has to be laser focus on winning.
UMD has used up their slip-ups already this year. A loss at CC, giving up late leads, and just not coming out ready to play all have to stop.
Looking at their record, 10-9-3, doesn’t look like a tournament team. But quietly the young Bulldogs have amassed wins while playing the #1 strength of schedule (SOS). Minnesota Twin Cities, who the Bulldogs are 1-1-1 against this season, is #2 in SOS.
Looking Back Part I. Last weekend’s North Star College Cup was a great weekend for UMD even though they did not win the cup. Going into the weekend UMD was the lowest ranked team in PWR. After their win and tie, they vaulted 10 spots up to #14. A positive for the NSCC teams is they are
assured of playing good competition and ultimately giving them a chance to better their position.
Looking Back Part II. In the last meeting, the Broncos and Bulldogs split a pair of games in Duluth. It was an evenly matched series that either team could have won wither night, so a split was fitting.
Key to the Weekend. Goaltending closely followed by defense need to work together to stop the soft goals gives UMD a chance to win every game. UMD is a NCAA Tournament caliber team, but only when they come to play and play to their potential.
StatPack. The UMD – WMU match-up by the stats:
|Images via Wikipedia: Bulldog, NCAA, NCHC, Bronco|
Picks by @afiskness.
The Bulldogs are getting close to being a complete team. If the goaltending can get back to a .910 save percentage this team will go places. I like to see the slight decrease in penalties recently. The team still has a way to go in that area. Now they need to eliminate the stupid behind the play penalties.
St. Cloud state @ Nebraska Omaha: Last weekend showed that the Huskies defense was week. This seems to be a trend and with the Mavericks scoring they will earn the split.
Minnesota Duluth @ Western Michigan: Speaking of penalties I expect a bunch this weekend. Special team will decide the games and I expect a split. If the Bulldogs can resist starting or retaliating they can get the sweep through power play goals.