How early is too early? It might seem ridiculous to look at the PWR now, before the conference schedule really heats up, but history tells another story. Over 75% of teams that are in the field at New Year's make the tournament in March. Of the 97 teams that qualified in the PWR, 73 were in the field in early January (75.26%). Among the top 4 (number 1 seeds) 27 of 28 teams qualified. Only the 2004 St. Cloud squad fell from those heights. That's great news for Miami, Denver, Colorado College and Ferris State.
The news is almost as good for Wisconsin, Bemidji, Michigan State and Boston College. Of the January #2 seeds, the success rate is 20/28 (71.4%) with only Colorado College being a repeat offender. The Badgers should be a little nervous though. Of the eight teams that missed the playoffs, 50% were from the WCHA.
There is a slight dropoff among the #3 seeds, as only 16 teams (57%) from January made the field. Vermont is sitting at #9 in the current PWR, but the Catamounts were ranked #9 and #10 in 2006 and 2007 and missed the playoffs. Duluth and St. Cloud have dropped out in the past as well.
The last few teams in are extremely volatile, for one reason because we're not sure where the cutoff will be. In the seven seasons examined there were only 15 spots that weren't reserved for autobids. But of those 15 teams, nine (60%) were in the field in January.
If your team is close, they still have a chance. Almost a quarter of the field were not included in the January field. Last year Yale wasn't even in the January PWR (#26 RPI) and wound up a #2 seed. North Dakota was #23 in the PWR. In 2007, BU and UMass were in the 20's in January and still qualified. In the January 2006 PWR Michigan State, BU, Maine and UNH were ranked 19-22 and all made the tourney.
The New Year's PWR is also fairly good at showing us where teams will be seeded. 30% of teams in the field were within their bands in the January rankings. There were even 10 matches of 97 (10.3%) that were in the same place in the PWR that they were in when the final PWR came out.
Here are the current PWR
3 Ferris State
4 Colorado College
6t Bemidji State
6t Michigan State
8 Boston College
9t St. Cloud State
12t North Dakota
17t New Hampshire
19 Lake Superior
23t Northern Michigan
23t Minnesota State
25 Notre Dame
Miami, Denver, Ferris State and CC are not only locks for the tournament, they are almost 60% favorites to garner #1 seeds come March.
For this analysis, the PWR from 2003-2009 was used. Dates examined were New Year's, the second weekend in January, post-Beanpot, the end of February and at the beginning of the conference tournaments. The second report will follow in two weeks with analysis of that weekend's PWR compared to the past. The PWR does become a more accurate predictor as the season progresses.
To learn more about the PWR, visit the USCHO PWR page and the Do-It-Yourself Calculator at https://www.slack.net/~whelan/tbrw/tb...ings.diy.shtml