One pairing is certain next weekend in the first-round of the WCHA playoffs, who the first and 12th seeds are. Not much else is.
Here is a look at the WCHA playoffs with six regular-season games left over two days:
12th seed vs. first seed: Alaska Anchorage (12th seed) at St. Cloud State (first seed). ... The Seawolves are locked into the bottom spot. The Huskies won at least a share of the MacNaughton Cup for the first time in the 23 seasons they have been in the WCHA. They can clinch an outright title with either a tie or victory at Wisconsin on Saturday.
11th seed vs. second seed: The Gophers are tied for second place with North Dakota; both have 35 points. The Gophers will be the second seed if they remain tied or finish ahead of UND. In that case, they will play Bemidji State, locked into being the 11th seed.
Or Bemidji State will play at North Dakota if UND overtakes the Gophers for sole possession of second place.
10th seed vs. third seed: Michigan Tech will play at either the Gophers or UND. It will most likely be UND, which has a tougher road game at Minnesota State Mankato on Saturday night.
Ninth seed vs. fourth seed: This is where it starts getting confusing. Minnesota Duluth is the ninth seed now. But if UMD overtakes Nebraska Omaha, which is one point ahead, or ties the Mavericks and improves its conference goal differential by four more goals than Colorado College, it would more up to the eighth seed.
The fourth seed will be Denver, Minnesota State or Wisconsin. All are tied for fourth place. All three could be as high as the fourth seed or as low as the seventh seed, thereby having to go on the road for the playoffs.
Eighth seed vs. fifth seed: Colorado College is the eighth seed now, but could drop to ninth.
Enough already, my head is throbbing. ... Here is what the WCHA has to say about the pairings. Maybe they can make more sense out of all of this:
Heading into Saturday’s WCHA games, we are able to spell out scenarios for:
* Minnesota/North Dakota (seeds #2 and #3)
* and Colorado College/Minnesota Duluth (seeds #8 and #9)
* .seeds #1, #10, #11, and #12 are locked
* . remaining block (seeds #4–#7) is a big pileup and there are too many scenarios to fully list out. We have listed out the possible 2-way, 3-way, and 4-way tiebreakers that can be involved there.
We will easily be able to do scenarios Saturday night for the three possible remaining outcomes pending Sunday's game between Alaska Anchorage and Denver.
WHAT WCHA KNOWS
St. Cloud State (37 points, at Wisconsin):
- Seeded 1st.
Minnesota (35 points, at Bemidji State):
- Seeded 2nd with a win.
- Seeded 2nd with a tie and a North Dakota tie or loss.
- Seeded 2nd with a loss and a North Dakota loss.
- Seeded 3rd with a tie and a North Dakota win.
- Seeded 3rd with a loss and a North Dakota win or tie.
North Dakota (35 points, at Minnesota State):
- Seeded 2nd with a win and a Minnesota tie or loss.
- Seeded 2nd with a tie and a Minnesota loss.
- Seeded 3rd with a win and a Minnesota win.
- Seeded 3rd with a tie and a Minnesota win or tie.
- Seeded 3rd with a loss.
Minnesota State (31 points, vs North Dakota):
Wisconsin (31 points, vs St. Cloud State):
Denver (31 points, vs Alaska Anchorage Sunday):.
Nebraska Omaha (30 points, at Minnesota Duluth):
- All four will be seeded between 4th-7th (see below).
Colorado College (24 points, at Michigan Tech):
- Seeded 8th with a win.
- Seeded 8th with a tie and a Minnesota Duluth tie or loss.
- Seeded 8th with a tie and a Minnesota Duluth win by one or two goals.
- Seeded 8th with a loss and a Minnesota Duluth tie or loss.
- Seeded 8th/9th with a tie and a Minnesota Duluth win by three goals.
- Seeded 9th with a tie and Minnesota Duluth win by four or more goals.
- Seeded 9th with a loss and a Minnesota Duluth win.
Minnesota Duluth (23 points, vs Nebraska Omaha):
- Seeded 8th with a win and a Colorado College loss.
- Seeded 8th with a win by four or more goals and a Colorado College tie.
- Seeded 8th/9th with a win by three goals and a Colorado College tie.
- Seeded 9th with a win by one or two goals and a Colorado College tie.
- Seeded 9th with a win and a Colorado College win.
- Seeded 9th with a tie or a loss.
Michigan Tech (20 points, vs Colorado College):
- Seeded 10th.
Bemidji State (17 points, vs Minnesota):
- Seeded 11th.
Alaska Anchorage (10 points, at Denver Sunday):
- Seeded 12th.
4TH-7TH SEED SCENARIOS OUTLINED
Two-way Tiebreakers for 4th-7th places:
- Minnesota State over Wisconsin: More league wins.
- Denver over Minnesota State: 2-0-0 head-to-head.
- Minnesota State leads Nebraska Omaha at 32 points (Minnesota State tie, Nebraska Omaha win): WCHA Goal Differential - Minnesota State currently leads (+21 to +7).
- Minnesota State over Nebraska Omaha at 31 points (Minnesota State loss, Nebraska Omaha tie): More league wins.
- Wisconsin over Denver: 1-0-1 head-to-head.
- Wisconsin over Nebraska Omaha: 2-0-0 head-to-head.
- Denver over Nebraska Omaha: 1-0-1 head-to-head.
Three-way Tiebreakers for 4th-7th places:
- Wisconsin over Denver over Minnesota State.
- Denver over Minnesota State and Nebraska Omaha (then 2-way tie above for Minnesota State and Nebraska Omaha).
- Wisconsin over Minnesota State and Nebraska Omaha (then 2-way tie above for Minnesota State and Nebraska Omaha).
Four-way Tiebreakers for 4th-7th places
- Wisconsin over Denver over Minnesota State and Nebraska Omaha (then 2-way tie above for Minnesota State and Nebraska Omaha).
GOALIE RACE TIGHT
Going into his final regular-season game, Stephon Williams of Minnesota State Mankato leads the WCHA with a 1.86 goals-against average in conference games. One-hundreth of a percentage point behind him is Adam Wilcox of the Gophers at 1.87.
Both are freshmen.
The spread in the scoring race is bigger. Junior Ryan Walters of Nebraska Omaha -- who decommitted to the U when the Gophers asked hm to play another season of juniors -- has 16 goals and 24 assists for 40 points. That gives him four- and five-point leads over the next two players.
Junior Danny Kristo of UND has 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points while senior Drew LeBlanc had 10 goals and 25 assists for 35 points.
All three are Minnesotans. Walters is from Rosemount, Kristo from Eden Prairie and LeBlanc from Hermantown.
Junior Erik Haula is tied for fourth in the WCHA scoring race with 12 goals and 22 assists for 34 points.
* The Gophers will play either Bemidji State or Michigan Tech in the first-round of the WCHA playoffs next weekend at Mariucci Arena. The best-of-three series will open on Friday. Games will all start at 7:07 p.m. ... Beavers coach Tom Serratore predicted his team would probably finish 11th and face Minnesota in what would be a four- or five-game series.