March 5, 2009 PRINT Bookmark and Share

WCHA Playoff Picture

by Dan Myers/CHN Staff

The WCHA playoff picture as we go into the final week of the regular season, and the chase for the McNaughton Cup.

[[NORTH DAKOTA]] FIGHTING SIOUX (21-11-4 overall, 16-6-4 WCHA, 36 pts.)
Pairwise Rank: 7th
Pairwise Standing: Safe for now
This weekend: at UW
Our view: The Fighting Sioux need wins, not only to secure the MacNaughton Cup and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, but to lock up an NCAA tournament bid. Until last weekend, UND was still a bubble team and a pair of losses this weekend probably puts them right back on it. One win likely accomplishes both goals, however.

[[DENVER]] PIONEERS (20-10-4 overall, 16-8-3 WCHA, 35 pts.)
Pairwise rank: T-3rd
Pairwise standing: Safe for now
This weekend: vs. CC
Our view: Denver needs to win its game over CC and get help from Wisconsin in order to re-claim the MacNaughton Cup. That would also lead to a home series against Michigan Tech. Otherwise, the Pioneers will finish in second place and host UAA.

[[COLORADO COLLEGE]] TIGERS (16-10-9 overall, 12-9-6 WCHA, 30 pts.)
Pairwise rank: T-17th
Pairwise standing: Outside looking in
This weekend: at DU
Our view: The Tigers need a win to clinch home-ice and stay alive in the at-large hunt. Other than that, the Tigers have nothing to play for, as they've already locked up the Gold Pan Trophy.

[[WISCONSIN BADGERS]] (16-14-4 overall, 13-10-3 WCHA, 29 pts.)
Pairwise rank: 21st
Pairwise standing: Outside looking in
This weekend: vs. UND
Our view: That's only one point for the Badgers in their last four games — not exactly the best time to be in a slump. UW has now dropped from a team in MacNaughton contention to one fighting for its home-ice lives and one needing plenty of help to get back into the NCAA tournament hunt.

[[MINNESOTA-DULUTH]] BULLDOGS (16-10-8 overall, 10-9-7 WCHA, 27 pts.)
Pairwise rank: 13th
Pairwise standing: On the bad side of the bubble
This weekend: vs. UAA
Our view: The Bulldogs need a sweep this weekend. They'll have a good shot at home-ice if they get four points, as Colorado College would need to win on the road at Denver to hold off UMD, considering they sweep UAA. That doesn't even take into account the 'Dogs NCAA tournament hopes — where a win or a loss right now is the difference between being in or out in two weeks.

[[ST. CLOUD STATE]] HUSKIES (18-14-2 overall, 13-12-1 WCHA, 27 pts.)
Pairwise rank: T-17th
Pairwise standing: Outside looking in
This weekend: vs. MSU (H&H)
Our view: Consider St. Cloud's split at Denver a pretty solid weekend — the Huskies remain in the home-ice race this weekend and they also jumped three spots in the Pairwise rankings. A sweep over the Mavericks this weekend keeps SCSU right in the mix for an NCAA tournament bid but a pair of losses likely ends its at-large hopes.

[[MINNESOTA]] GOLDEN GOPHERS (14-11-7 overall, 11-10-5 WCHA, 27 pts.)
Pairwise rank: 16th
Pairwise standing: Outside looking in
This weekend: at MTU
Our view: Three points last weekend against UMD was big — it put the Gophers in the driver's seat for home-ice next weekend. Tied with Duluth and St. Cloud for the final home ice slot, Minnesota owns the tiebreaker with both teams and will control its own destiny this weekend. They also jumped three spots in the Pairwise.

[[MINNESOTA STATE]] MAVERICKS (14-15-4 overall, 10-13-3 WCHA, 23 pts.)
Pairwise rank: 23rd
Pairwise standing: Outside looking in
This weekend: vs. SCSU (H&H)
Our view: A win and a tie over Wisconsin last weekend put Minnesota State back into Pairwise consideration — sneaking in at 23rd. Another three or four points this weekend against St. Cloud State will give them momentum heading into the playoffs, and perhaps make them a top-20 team. MSU must sweep St. Cloud and have Tech sweep Minnesota to move into seventh, otherwise the Mavericks will finish eighth.

[[ALASKA-ANCHORAGE]] SEAWOLVES (12-15-5 overall, 7-14-5 WCHA, 19 pts.)
Pairwise rank: NR
Pairwise standing: Not ranked
This weekend: at UMD
Our view: Alaska-Anchorage swept a nonconference series last weekend over Alaska, but that didn't help them much. Because Minnesota State took three points from Wisconsin, UAA is now locked into ninth place in the league standings, and will play at the league runner-up — either Denver or North Dakota.

[[MICHIGAN TECH]] HUSKIES (5-22-7 overall, 1-18-7 WCHA, 9 pts.)
Pairwise rank: NR
Pairwise standing: Not ranked
This weekend: vs. UM
Our view: Locked into 10th place, Michigan Tech will play on the road against the MacNaughton Cup Champion — either North Dakota or Denver.

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