Forget the uscho college hockey poll and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. They came out today but, as you know,  they don't really matter.

They are more of a popularity contest, an affirmation of who is hot at the present time.

But the PairWise ratings, which can change everytime someone plays. do matter. And the latest PairWise ratings are smiling on the WCHA. Five WCHA teams are in the top 10.

The PairWise ratings are a statistical comparison of the nation's top 30 or so teams. And they mimic, perfectly, how the NCAA seeds and fills out its 16-team postseason tournament.

And, despite an up-and-down final stretch run, the Gophers seem entrenched at No. 2 behind Quinnipiac.

This is the fourth week in a row the Bobcats have been No. 1 in the uscho and USA Today polls, bumping the Gophers out of the top spot.

Their fall to second came after a split in a home-and-home series with Minnesota State Mankato on Jan. 25-26.

Since then the Gophers have spit with St. Cloud State, Wisconsin and Denver and took three of four points from UMD. That's a 4-3-1 run, but they have not dropped one spot.

The latest PairWise:

1. Quinnipiac

2. Gophers

3. Miami

4. (tie) UMass-:Lowell

    (tie) New Hampshire

    (tie) Boston College

7. North Dakota

8. (tie) Minn. State Mankato

     (tie) Denver

10. (tie) St. Cloud State

All five of those top 10 WHCA teams would be in the 16-team NCAA tournament if it were starting today. Usually the top 14, 15 in the PairWise rankings plus the conference tournament champions with their automatic bids, get in.

Missing it would be No. 20 Wisconsin, No. 25 (tied) Nebraska Omana and No. 31 (tied) Colorado College. ... With a strong final push, the Badgers might get high enough to get an at-large bid. If they sweep St. Cloud State, their first-round foe in the WCHA playoffs and win a game or two in the Final Five.  That might be enough.

UNO and CC will probably have to win the Final Five to get into the NCAA. But both have the offensive firepower to have a chance to win three single-elimination at the Xcel Energy Center.


The top three teams in the uscho and USA Today polls are the same as the PairWise rankings: Quinnipiac, Gophers and Miami.

After that the computer and the people polls vary a bit.

In both the uscho and USA Today polls, the rest of the top 10 are the same: New Hampshire is fourth, North Dakota fifth, followed by Boston College sixth, UMass-Lowell seventh, St. Cloud State eighth, Western Michigan ninth and Minnesota State 10th.

Then the people polls are a bit different. The uscho poll has Notre Dame, Denver, Yale, WIsconsin and Niagara in the Nos. 11 to 15 spots.

USA Today, which only goes 15 teams deep, has Denver, Notre Dame, Yale, Wisconin and RPI.

And ranked Nos. 16-20 in uscho are Nebraska Omaha, RPI, Providence, Boston University and Union.