Monday, March 20, 2006

NCAA Hockey Tournament Preview

Now that the meaningless conference tournaments are behind us, it’s time to focus on the most entertaining sporting tournament of the year: The NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament.

What comes to mind at first glance of the brackets is that the NCAA wants to soothe the egos of the non-WCHA hockey conferences. After being embarrassed by an all-WCHA Frozen Four last year, the selection committee has put the four WCHA teams in the Midwest and West Regionals, guaranteeing that the lesser conferences will have at least two teams in the Frozen Four.

(1) Wisconsin vs (4) Bemidji State, (2) Cornell vs (3) Colorado College

Cornell will be in for a rude awakening in the NCAA tournament (as usual for EZ-AC teams) now that they have to play teams that are actually good. Although Colorado College has been struggling of late, they will have no problem with Cornell and will send College Hockey’s most obnoxious fans (yes, Cornell fans are even worse than Sioux and Badger fans) home early: Colorado College 5, Cornell 2.

Now to the tough one: Wisconsin and Bemidji State. Early in the season, Bemidji State swept Mankato State, not terribly impressive at the time. But then, in one of the most glorious moments in the history of Western Civilization, Mankato State trounced Wisconsin in the second-to-last series of the regular season. The transitive property does not always hold in sports, but I think Bemidji State has it in them to pull off the upset: Bemidji State 3, Wisconsin 1.

Bemidji State won’t have long to savor the victory; their Cinderella story will end the next night: Colorado College 5, Bemidji State 1.

(1) Minnesota vs (4) Holy Cross, (2) North Dakota vs (3) Michigan

It seems like every other year, Michigan makes the Frozen Four from the number two or three seed simply because of the boost they get from playing the regionals on their home ice, Yost Arena. Oh sweet irony; now they must play on the University of North Dakota’s home ice against a hot Sioux team. It’s a shame that both of these teams can’t lose, but I will go with irony: North Dakota 4, Michigan 2.

You can call it a bye for the Gophers: Minnesota 8, Holy Cross 1.

It may seem like a tough draw for the Gophers to have to get through the Sioux on their home ice to get to the Frozen Four, but nothing could be further from the truth. Ralph Engelstad Arena isn’t known as Mariucci West for nothing, the Gophers are 6-3 lifetime against North Dakota there. Let’s make that 7 and 3. Hey, that also sounds like a good final score: Minnesota 7, North Dakota 3.

(1) Michigan State vs (4) New Hampshire, (2) Harvard vs. (3) Maine

Yawn, now we’re on the irrelevant regions. Top seed Michigan State will have no problem with UNH (University of No Hardware): Michigan State 4, UNH 1

Hockey (L)east is a somewhat tougher conference than the E-Z AC, so I give the nod to Maine’s superior schedule: Maine 2, Harvard 1.

Michigan State doesn’t deserve a number one seed, so let’s give the region title to Maine: Maine 5, Michigan State 4.

(1) Boston University vs (4) Nebraska-Omaha, (2) Miami (Ohio) vs (3) Boston College

The two reasonably decent eastern teams are BU and BC and each should advance against CCHA teams.
Boston University 2, Nebraska-Omaha 0
Boston College 4, Miami (Ohio) 3

The region final will be a replay of the Beanpot final, with the same result: Boston University 3, Boston College 2.

Frozen Four
Colorado College vs Maine
Boston University vs Minnesota

The NCAA was able to avoid an all WCHA Frozen Four, but they won’t be able to avoid the all WCHA Championship game:
Colorado College 3, Maine 1
Minnesota 4, Boston University 0

I hope this is enough warning for you R.T. Rybak: Get the riot police to Dinkytown, now! The Gophers are about to win their third National Championship in five years: Minnesota 6, Colorado College 0.

UPDATE: Other analysis at Fraters Libertas and EckerNet. Both predict North Dakota over Wisconsin in the final. I’m not surprised that Kevin would pick the Sioux, given that he is an SCSU Huskies fan and thus has little experience with the NCAA Tournament, but Chad the Sioux Shill should know better.

Although North Dakota has a young and talented team that is gelling at the right time, I think both Chad and Kevin are putting too much stock in North Dakota’s WCHA Final Five Championship. In the final, they were mostly outplayed by an SCSCU team that was playing its sixth game in nine days (including overtime the night before). If the Huskies’ excellent goalie wasn’t so clearly fatigued, the outcome would have likely been different.


Blogger Nihilist in Golf Pants said...

No comment on the exclusion of the defending champion Sons of the Pioneers?

11:57 AM  
Blogger Sisyphus said...

If the Denver Pioneers wanted to be in the tournament, they shouldn't have choked away the first round WCHA playoff series against the pitiful UMD Bulldogs.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous said...

So, I do not actually consider this may have success.

12:29 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home