The NCAA hockey tournament begins in a matter of hours. Will BC get back to the Frozen Four? Who will lift the trophy?
I erased my bracket and redid it entirely no less than 4 times this week. The first time, I had Denver. The second time, I had BC, then realized I don't really think that's going to happen. In pass #3, I had Providence winning, which I felt pretty good about. Then I started doubting some of my other picks (not so much PC), so I threw it all out and started it again... and after thinking through my new bracket, I had Denver winning again.
So I think this is what I actually think might happen, I think. Maybe.
So many of these were really tough calls. Let's go through it.
RIT over Quinnipiac is a total hunch pick. Obviously on paper this is a lopsided game, but the tournament always throws something wacky at us.
The more I think back on UMass Lowell's performance in the Hockey East tournament, the more I feel positively about them. They lost by 1 goal to the hottest team in the country, one night after playing a triple OT game against one of the best teams in the country. They also out possessed and out chanced NU for much of the game, though I wouldn't go so far as to say they outplayed them. This was after sweeping a very good BU team. I think Lowell's poised to have a nice weekend.
I think Providence is where BC's run comes to an end. They should beat Harvard, but I have PC edging them in the regional final. Based on the previous matchups between these two teams, there's very little between them. They went 1-1-1 in three matchups. I think that since January, BC seems to have declined a bit. PC seems to have ticked up, though they did have a bit of an easy schedule down the stretch. But all in all, it seems like the scales are tipped slightly in their favor.
My middle passes at my bracket all had SCSU going to the Frozen Four, because I really do believe in that article I wrote earlier this week suggesting travel distance is a hugely underrated factor in picking these regionals. But at the end of the day I couldn't prevent from thinking Denver would do it, because I really think they are a phenomenal team. DU had won 11 in a row and 13 of 14 before losing last weekend in the NCHC playoffs, and they're loaded with great talent up front.
This is a really tough regional - SCSU and BU are both very, very good - but I think Denver has enough juice to get it done.
In the Midwest, who the heck knows. Northeastern is probably one of the nation's top teams but was unfortunate to draw North Dakota. Even with how well NU's offense is doing I'm not sure they really want to get in to a track meet with the Fighting Hawks. We saw how BC's high powered offense was able to keep them in the game against NU and very nearly tie it; this was all while playing some abysmal hockey in their own end. If NoDak can play a cleaner game than BC did, they have a good chance of winning.
I'm not a huge believer in Michigan's chances of winning the whole thing, but I had to stick to my geography-based predictions method somewhere, right?
So the Frozen Four gives us a HEA matchup, and Denver vs. Michigan. DU winning is an easy call in what would likely be the nightcap. In the repeat of the Hockey East semifinal, Providence gets the upper hand this time (rather than Lowell getting the upper foot). Then, for all the marbles, Denver wins out.
So I guess our visitors from St. Cloud yesterday can be happy now, yeah? We cool, guys? Much faith is shown here in the Minnesota teams, including a real belief that Duluth's possession numbers will translate into tournament success out east. We're looking at a QU/Yale rivalry matchup to get to Tampa, which should be fun.
Zero Hockey East teams in Tampa is a pretty bold prediction and would make for a lot of egg on the face given that 5 and a half teams are in the field.
Finally, a Northeastern believer... and a Huskies vs. Huskies Frozen Four matchup, but with the SCSU Husky winning the day. Also, another Lowell vs. Providence Frozen Four semifinal prediction, but with the River Hawks prevailing again.
We can count on Laura to believe in BC... she's got the Eagles going to Tampa and winning the national title over St. Cloud State. Worth noting: all-animal Frozen Four. (real animals, not fake ones like a River Hawk)
Speaking of animals...
The bracket you've all been waiting for is actually almost disappointingly reasonable. We were kind of hoping for super ridiculous results that turn out to be true.
Naturally, the cats pick the Bobcats to win the thing.
So... there you have it.