It's way too early to talk much about the PairWise ratings, which do mean a lot when the college hockey season draws to a close --  but I can't resist.

Those comparisons PairWise uses -- head-to-head, record against other teams under consideration (if team has played at least 10 TUCs), record against common opponents and RPI (schedule) -- mimic how the NCAA fills out its 16-team tournament field.

Five teams get automatic bids -- those winning conference tournaments -- the other nine teams in the NCAA field are at-large picks. And the NCAA uses the same method as the PairWise ratings use to determine those teams.

So it's interesting to take a sneak peak at the very early PairWise ratings.

At the top, as one would expect, is Boston College. The Eagle are 10-1-0, and are 7-0-0 against other teams under consideration (27 teams currently with RPIs over .500), although that doesn't factor in yet..

The next three teams are New Hampshire, 6-1-1 against TUC, Dartmouth, Denver and Yale. DU is 4-3-0 against TUCs, a comparision which hasn't come into play yet because nobody has played 10 TUCs yet.

And where are the Gophers? No. 10.

Safely in the NCAA tournament field, probably as a third seed in their region, if the NCAA field was being named today. The U is 9-2-2 but its RPI is only 10th best.

RPI is based on a team's winning percentage, its opponents winning percentage and its opponents' opponents winning percentage. Strictly looking at who the Gohers played, their strength of schedule is 44th out of 59 teams. They are the only team in the PairWise ratings that has not played a single TUC. Translation: They've played a weak schedule so far.

Nebraska Omaha, the Gophers' opponent, is not much better. Omaha is No. 17 in the PairWise rankings and has played only one TUC team. Its strength of schedule is 46th.

But the schedule for both gets tougher. The weekend after this one coming up, the Gophers play at Colorado College, the Mavericks at St. Cloud State. Both those opponents are TUCs.

Meanwhile, the human polls, and the USA Today polls, like the Gophers a lot. They are No. 3 in both, up one spot after sweeping Vermont to extend their unbeaten string to six (4-0-2).

What do computers know?


Michigan Tech has signed two Minnesotans, Tartan forward Jake Johnson and  forward Dylan Steman, who played for Maple Grove last season.

"He can really skate," Huskies coach Mel Pearson said on his morning radio show in describing Johnson. But adding later, "Most kids will need a year of junior hockey."

The other Minnesotan that Tech signed is putting in his year in juniors. Steman, of Maple Grove, is playing for Cedar Rapids of the USHL. "He is a gritty kid with good speed," Pearson said. "His motor is always running. He will be able to play two ways."

Pearson, who played for Edina High School and has contacts around here, said Steman is a good athlete who played football for the Crimson. "He is a player who has a good chance to come in next year," Pearson said.

Steman has one goal and seven assists for eight points in 17 games with the Rough Riders this season.

Other recruiting news if you missed it:

Badgers sign three, here

Tigers ink six, here

Beavers land five, here

Purple Mavs haul in four, here


After two consecutive weeks of getting beat by guest pickers on my WCHA picks, I won. Won't brag too much, but I was 11-5 this past weekend (tie games count as a half win, half loss -- unless someone picked a tie -- which nobody did). 

Jerry, the Superfan was 9-7 after taking a beating in Saturday's games.

Key differences were on the Gophers -- I picked a sweep over Vermont, he picked a split -- and the U won two.

And on the UMD-St. Cloud State series, I picked a split, which happened, and he picked a UMD sweep.

This week I have lined up an Omaha blogger to be the guest picker. Actually, he e-mailed me. So that should be interesting.

Results so far:

                                  W           L                                                                      W             L

Week 1       Me         7-1/2     2-1/2       Joe Van Thomme, the lawyer   9-1/2       1/2

Week 2       Me          4          4               Steve the North Dakotan           6               2

Week 3       Me        11           5              Jerry the Superfan                      9               7

Totals          Me        22-1/2    11-1/2    Guest pickers                              24-1/2      9-1/2


Visiting WCHA teams improved their record a bit more in conference games last weekend. They now have three more wins than home teams. An interesting trend worth watching, to be sure.

                                    Vis.   Home Ties

Week 2 of season:   1   -     1    -    0    (Gophers at Michigan Tech only series)

Week 3                        2   -    5    -    3    (Three ties prompt shootout talk)    

Week 4                        6   -    2    -    0    (Road sweeps by CC and UNO)

Week 5                        4   -     5   -    1    (One road sweep, by Denver at MSU Mankato)

Week 6                        2         0         2

Week 7                        3         3         2    (Five overtime games, but in three somebody scores)

Week 8                        3         2         1    (Minnesota State Mankato swept at Wisconsin)

Totals                         21   -  18   -    9