Here It Is: WSR's Unofficial Central Region Poll #5

02/16/09 - SPRINGFIELD, MO - Here we are, the last ratings period of the year and everyone is holding their breath trying to figure out who deserves to be in the magic top 10. Several teams are on the fence, and its anybody’s guess who the official ACHA Division II Central Poll will show as playoff bound.

Steve and I have wrestled with the puzzle all year long, and have actually done quite well in predicting what the official polls will say. However the puzzle is 3D now, even more complex than ever.

Does Missouri State stay in by virtue of being the only team with six wins (against no defeats) in the final period?

Some would argue not, based on the fact that none of the defeated teams were in the top 15. But all three of them WERE at some point in the season; in fact, Missouri and Kansas were in the top 15 until they started beating up on each other.

Does a pair of wins against #5 Lindenwood offset 10 straight losses for Michigan? Can RMC-Chicago (who lost two to Missouri State although one was ruled a tie after a needlessly played shoot out) justify staying ahead of the Ice Bears after splitting with DePaul and unrated Northern Michigan, not to mention two absolute waxings (6-3, 10-2) by FGCU (who settled for a split with MSU)?

How does the split between #9 Central Michigan and Ferris State figure in after both played #5 (southeast region) Ohio State with different results? How much of a monkey wrench did unranked St. Louis (with a split with Lindenwood and a tie with Iowa) throw in?

All these questions and more come flying at you, and the whole season comes into play (not just the last period). It is a daunting task to make an “educated” guess and hope you get lucky. But we’ll try!

Whoever makes it to the ACHA Regionals, we wish you the best of luck!

As always, the team records below reflect overtime and shoot out losses as simply “losses“.

 

 

#1 Davenport (32-4-0) DAN: 1 - STEVE: 1

Steve: “Still a team with less than a handful of losses despite a split with Central Michigan, the Panthers remain the top dog.”

Dan: “Can there be any doubt? Even with a split with Central Michigan, they have been the obvious class of the Central Division all year long.”

 

#2 Michigan State (22-13-0) DAN: 2 - STEVE: 2

Dan: “The Spartans didn’t play anybody outside of the top 10 in either the Central or Southeast regions this period. Their only loss was to #2 (Southeast) Florida Gulf Coast, 3-1. They did what they had to do to stay where they are. Unfortunately, they will have to prove themselves at Regionals since Grand Valley State gets the second automatic bid to the Nationals by throwing the National party. “

Steve: “For the sake of pride, the Spartans get the #2 spot. Unfortunately, they will be pushed to the third spot by tournament host Grand Valley State.”

 

#3 Grand Valley State (16-10-0) DAN: 3 - STEVE: 3

Steve: “Slumping, but it doesn’t matter since they have the free pass to Nationals. What does matter are recent losses to Florida Gulf and Davenport. Chances are the Lakers might meet both at the big show. They better be ready.”

Dan: “ Grand Valley opened the door for DePaul or Lindenwood to move into this spot by losing 4 games this period. Neither team did enough to take advantage, however. And, it should be noted that the four losses were to #1 Davenport (twice), #2 (Southeast) Florida Gulf Coast 5-4, and D1 Oakland in a shoot out, 5-4. The Lakers will stay where they are.”

 

#4 DePaul (25-7-0) DAN: 4 - STEVE: 4

Dan: “It seems like DePaul is back to splitting with just about everybody they play. Splits with (#8) RMC-Chicago and (#6 Southeast) Indiana didn’t hurt them, but it didn’t propel them up, either.”

Steve: “Somebody serve the Blue Demons some bananas and ice cream. They are going to need it for all their splits (with RMC-Chicago and #6 SE Indiana) this period.”

 

#5 Lindenwood (22-11-0) DAN: 5 - STEVE: 5

Steve: “Not sure who the Lions are at stretch time. The Lions were swept by Michigan, and a split with Saint Louis. Overall they will stay put, but Regionals may pose a problem.”

Dan: “Being swept by #11 Michigan and settling for a split with unranked St. Louis once again shows how depleted the D2 Lindenwood roster has become from what they started with. But again, the teams with a chance to take this spot didn’t convince me to give it to them this period.”

 

#6 Iowa (25-8-2) DAN: 6 - STEVE: 7

Dan: “I’m dropping St. Thomas more than raising Iowa (see St. Thomas). Iowa managed to sweep (#14) Illinois State and got a win and tie against an underrated, unranked St. Louis team. They have done enough this year to earn respect, and no one under them can take it away until the playoffs.”

Steve: “Positioning has kept the Hawkeyes here. They didn’t look too impressive after giving up 5 goals in the 3 rd period to Saint Louis and hold on for a tie. This is not the same team that started the year.”

 

#7 Central Michigan (15-16-0) DAN: 7 - STEVE: 8

Steve: “The Chippewas beat the #1, #2, and #3 teams in the Central this year. That will earn my vote in the 8 th spot.”

Dan: “Central Michigan got pounded hard by (#5 SE) Ohio State, but rebounded with splits against #1 Davenport (4-7, 4-1) and #13 Ferris State (1-7,6-5). They have also split with RMC-Chicago and Michigan State, and won by one goal against Missouri State. With all the parity the region has witnessed this year, that is enough to put a 15-16-0 team in the top 7.”

 

#8 St. Thomas (20-6-0) DAN: 10 - STEVE: 6

Dan: “With Minnesota State-Mankato swamping them 7-2, they hardly seem top-10 worthy anymore. Their light schedule in the last two months has not helped, and I don’t think they’re near as sharp as they were at the beginning of the season. If they didn’t have 20 wins, I would probably drop them completely. Remember, Missouri State swept Mankato easily.

Steve: “Once again lack of games should have hurt the Tommies, but they did come away with 2 wins against NCAA D3 teams. Good showing for their second ranking in the top 10 in as many years. Positioning helped.”

 

#9 Missouri State (22-13-2) DAN: 8 - STEVE: 9

Dan: “I’m going to be accused of being a homer on this, but here’s the facts: MSU was the only top 15 team to sweep through their last six games, all of which were against teams that at one time or another were in the top 15 (Missouri and Kansas were in the top 13). And, they did it while missing a half dozen key personnel, most of whom will be back in time for the playoffs.

MSU beat and tied (after a shoot-out win was ruled a tie) RMC-Chicago. MSU Split with FGCU. RMC was swept badly (6-3, 10-2) by FGCU. RMC-C split with unheralded Northern Michigan this period. MSU has a better record against a schedule every bit as difficult as RMC-C overall. Now go ahead and tell ME why RMC should be rated higher?”

Steve: “Did what they needed to do and won all 6 games this ranking period against 3 teams that were ranked in the top 15 at one point this year. If you take into account those teams, the Ice Bears are 10-10-2 against them including a win and a tie against RMC-Chicago.”

 

#10 RMC-Chicago (18-18-1) DAN: 9 - STEVE: 10

Steve: “Split with Depaul, and got bombed by FGCU (most everyone has) and are showing some inconsistency. Lost to a MACHA Silver Division team - Loyola. Despite this, it was a tough decision between the Eagles or the Michigan Wolverines. I still can’t see a two game sweep of Lindenwood vaulting a Michigan team that went on a 10 game losing string and has a sub .500 record.”

Dan: “I am putting RMC-Chicago ahead of Michigan for two simple reasons: Number one, RMC-C swept Michigan 7-3, 5-2 this year. Number two, Michigan doesn’t deserve to be in the top ten after losing 10 straight games, regardless of strength of schedule.

Yes, Michigan swept a depleted Lindenwood team and yes, they beat and tied a good (#4 Southeast) Miami of Ohio. But when the entire season is looked at, it was an underachievement as indicated by their record (13-14-1).”

Still, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Michigan in this spot. Some would even go with Ferris State (11-15-2), as the Bulldogs closed strong by splitting with Central Michigan and (#5 Southeast) Ohio State while obliterating (#15 Southeast) Wright State 9-2, 8-4. But you have to remember that Michigan swept through Ferris State 7-1, 9-2, and I just don’t think the pollsters are going to be willing to drop St. Thomas that far or raise #13 Ferris State that far.”

 

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