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NCAA Bracket: Hockey Edition

Every year at this time, Ron’s View turns its attention to college hockey, a great and greatly under-reported sport. We’ve been studying the bracket for the NCAA tournament, which starts on Friday, and searching the mainstream sports outlets in vain for analysis. Our own analysis suggests that it will be yet another exciting tournament.

Past readers of my hockey coverage will know that I have my favorites, starting with Harvard, which isn’t invited to the tournament this year. After Harvard, I have an attachment to its Beanpot brethren: BU, BC, and Northeastern. (And when Joel was at Northeastern, I was even rooting for them over Harvard.) And pre-dating Harvard in my hockey heart is Denver University, which my brother attended in the late 1960s, bringing home stories of their hockey prowess. And for good reason — they won back-to-back NCAA championships during his junior and senior years. More recently, I’ve developed an attachment to a new hockey power, Miami University, which lost the championship in such heartbreaking fashion two years ago when BU came back with two goals to tie in the final minute and a goal to win in overtime.

This year, three of my sentimental favorites are in the tournament: BC with the #3 overall seed, Miami at #4, and DU at #7. Then there’s Yale, the #1 seed, which I suppose I can regard as a substitute for Harvard, though back in my Boston days Yale may as well have been a Division III team for all the attention we paid them. And what do you know? These four schools are in four different brackets. It’s just possible that they will all skate into the Frozen Four.

Let’s take a closer look.

Yale gets not just the #1 seeding but a virtual home regional, down the shore a bit in Bridgeport. There they will host #16 Air Force on Friday, while #8 Union plays #9 Minnesota-Duluth. It’s a very favorable bracket for Yale. I don’t see anyone stopping them.

The #2 seed, North Dakota, meets RPI Saturday in Green Bay, the winner to play against #7 Denver or #10 Western Michigan. It’s hard to pick against UND and DU in the first round, but their second-round matchup could go either way. Denver might just get through.

BC, the #3 seed, is being shipped out to St. Louis to open against #13 Colorado College, while #5 Michigan plays #12 Nebraska-Omaha. I think, as with the previous region, that the two top seeds should win the opening games, but once again, the meeting between them is tough to call. Let’s go with BC.

That brings us to Manchester, New Hampshire, where #4 Miami has to travel to play — get this — #13 UNH. What kind of reward is that for a top-four seed? Why didn’t BC get placed in that region? Why does Miami have to play UNH in what is a virtual UNH home game? But wait. It gets worse. The other regional game is #6 Merrimack versus #11 Notre Dame. If Miami beats UNH, they could find themselves playing Merrimack next, and Merrimack, though across the state line in Massachusetts, is even closer to Manchester than UNH is. I have a feeling that second-round matchup won’t take place. I’m going with Miami and Notre Dame in the first round, setting up a regional final between the two CCHA rivals, with Miami advancing.

There you have it — a Frozen Foursome of Yale, UND/Denver, BC, and Miami. The draw would then have Miami meeting Yale in the semi-finals and BC playing, oh, let’s just say Denver. Might we have an all New England final? I would like to see Miami win it all, but I won’t bet against this.

Check back in a week.

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Categories: Hockey
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