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Women’s Hockey Comes To SMASHVILLE: Final Thoughts & Predictions

It’s #1 Minnesota, #2 Wisconsin, #8 Boston College, and Harvard in the biggest mid-season showcase in years

BC Athletics

The women’s hockey regular season has always been lacking in strong inter-conference match-ups. There have been plenty of reasons for it, from strained travel budgets to just being too few available slots in the schedule, but this year we’ve got ourselves a true blockbuster.

This weekend brings us the Country Classic in Nashville, TN with the two western powerhouses, #1 Minnesota and #2 Wisconsin, taking on two historical powerhouses of the east, #8 Boston College and Harvard. It goes without saying that the games have huge Pairwise implications — but more than anything, these games should just be flat-out fun.

Let’s break down the weekend.

WHO

Friday

No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers (13-1-2, 9-1-2-1 WCHA)
vs. No. 8 Boston College Eagles (11-3-1, 10-3-1 WHEA)

No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers (14-1-1, 8-1-1-0 WCHA)
vs. Harvard Crimson (5-2-0, 5-0-0 ECAC)

Saturday:

No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers (14-1-1, 8-1-1-0 WCHA)
vs. No. 8 Boston College Eagles (11-3-1, 10-3-1 WHEA)

No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers (13-1-2, 9-1-2-1 WCHA)
vs. Harvard Crimson (5-2-0, 5-0-0 ECAC)

WHAT

AN EAST VS. WEST SHOWDOWN AT THE O.K. CORRAL

WHERE

Ford Ice Center
Bellevue, TN

WHEN

Friday, November 29th, 2019
2 ET/1 CT (BC vs. Minnesota)
5:30 ET/4:30 CT (Harvard vs. Wisconsin)

Saturday, November 30th, 2019
2 ET/1 CT (BC vs. Wisconsin)
5:30 ET/4:30 CT (Harvard vs. Minnesota)

HOW TO WATCH

These neutral-site games don’t often have streaming available, but at least we'll have something. The rink where the games are being played is equipped for LiveBarn.com, which basically just gives you a static panoramic camera that you can zoom and scroll, and with ambient rink audio but no commentary.

It's available for $16.95 for a month's subscription, and while it's not the best setup it's definitely something. Like I said, usually these neutral site games give you nothing at all.

If you sign up, just search for "Ford Ice Center Bellevue" in Tennessee as the rink.

PROJECTIONS

KRACH (used for odds) has four teams in almost exactly the same positions as their USCHO rankings. The Gophers are 1st, the Badgers are 2nd, the Eagles are 9th, and the Crimson are 11th.

That works out to the following head to head odds:

Minnesota (88.08%) over Boston College
Wisconsin (88.86%) over Harvard
Wisconsin (87.49%) over Boston College
Minnesota (89.39%) over Harvard

If you ballpark each odds at 88%, that gives Minnesota/Wisconsin about a 77% chance of sweeping their games and BC/Harvard each about a 23% chance of coming away with — well, maybe not a win, but something other than two losses.

GRaNT (used for scores) has the top three teams much closer, with Minnesota at #3, Wisconsin #4, and Boston College #6, but it doesn’t think much of Harvard down in 16th.

Those rankings work out to roughly 3-2 or 4-2 wins for the western teams over BC, and 4-1 or 5-2 wins for them over Harvard.

We have a direct link to all our BC Interruption hockey calculators in the site header. Just hover over “More” at the top of the page to be linked straight to the Pairwise, KRACH, and GRaNT calculators.

LAST TIME OUT

Boston College didn’t exactly have a banner weekend this past week against UConn, where they came away with a 2-1, 1-2 split with the Huskies, who have really given the Eagles trouble this year.

Harvard has come back to earth in a big way after starting out 5-0-0, losing 3-1 to New Hampshire this weekend after getting crushed 6-2 the week before against Boston University.

Minnesota had a stumble of their own last week, taking a 2-2 tie at Duluth before eeking out a 3-2 win the following evening.

The Badgers, on the other hand, were the only team to come out of the week unscathed, coming away with relatively easy 5-3, 6-2 wins over St. Cloud.

THIS WEEK’S STORYLINE

Minnesota and Wisconsin are the almost-unanimous top two teams in the country this year, but they’ve both had their slip-ups. While the most likely outcome, statistically, is a western sweep, any points stolen from the eastern squads would be a massive boost to their respective standings in the Pairwise.

BIG QUESTIONS

Which league is providing the refs? Will the Eagles get away with some things they might get whistled for in Hockey East? What will happen when Daryl Watts of Wisconsin faces off against her former team, Boston College? Can the eastern schools make some noise? Is Harvard in the start of a free-fall after their hot start? Is Wisconsin or Minnesota the better western team? Since this isn’t a tournament (the second day’s games are set in stone), are there tiebreakers to determine the showcase’s “winner”? And if so is there a trophy? Can I see the trophy?

RANDOM, POSSIBLY INCORRECT FACT FROM ALL FOUR TEAMS’ WIKIPEDIA ARTICLES

Both of the Americans at the negotiating table who hammered out the 2015 Iran Deal under President Obama were Boston College graduates — Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz ‘66 and Secretary of State John Kerry J.D. ‘76.

The University of Minnesota developed some neat things, like a precursor to the World Wide Web called “Gopher,” but the #1 thing listed in the “Discoveries and Innovation” section of the wiki is “Puffed rice,” hilariously described as “a starting point for a new breakfast cereal later advertised as ‘Food Shot From Guns.’”

The University of Wisconsin officially started before Wisconsin was even a state, incorporated as the “University of the Territory of Wisconsin.” However the wiki notes that the school’s Board of Visitors “never actually accomplished anything before Wisconsin was incorporated as a state in 1848.”

Harvard is a fairly highly regarded university in Cambridge, MA.

GAME TIME MEAL OF THE WEEK

Tennessee Biscuits & Gravy

Look, say what you want about the south, but those folks can cook. Biscuits & gravy is one of the world’s best “you may have an immediate heart attack upon finishing this” foods, and while it may not be safe to consume before a stressful hockey game, I’d do it anyway. When In Rome and whatnot.

GAME TIME SONG OF THE WEEK

Everlast — Stone In My Hand

Ride with the devil, hide with the lord
I got no pistol, ain’t got no sword
I got no army, ain’t got no land
Ain’t got nothing but the stone that’s in my hand

First off, great song. But it goes well with the storyline of the week here in that the eastern teams are a bit overmatched, at least on paper. I wouldn’t quite count Harvard and BC out of getting their punches in, though.

PREDICTIONS

East vs. West. We’ve wanted a mid-season showcase like this for a while, and now we’ve got it. Minnesota and Wisconsin are heavy favorites in all four games, but statistically there’s a pretty good chance they drop some points here. If you figure an 88% chance-ish odds for the western teams in each game (see “projections” above), that comes out to a 60% chance that it’s a four game western sweep — and a 40% chance that it isn’t.

It’s pretty hard for me to actually predict a loss in any of these games. Minnesota and Wisconsin just have this intimidation factor against other teams (particularly those that never get to play them) which can be tough to overcome. But you just never know — last year, Harvard took Wisconsin to overtime not once but twice in Madison, and the Crimson appear to be a bit better this year. And Boston College, while down a bit this year, is still looking at an NCAA tournament berth.

For the sake of keeping things interesting I’ll go a little crazy and say both Harvard and BC are able to at least snatch a point in one of their games. I think BC gets a 2-2 tie against Minnesota before falling 4-1 to Wisconsin, and Harvard pulls out a surprise 3-3 draw of their own against the Badgers before falling 3-0 to Minnesota on Saturday.