Posts Tagged ‘NCAA’
Everything was setting up so perfectly. The top-seeded Quinnipiac Bobcats had support from its campus, a veteran-laden squad, a number-one ranking in the nation the majority of the season, some love from ESPNU, and several articles about them in publications around the country.
They had come from behind to beat Canisius, dominated conference rival Union, barely broke a sweat in the Frozen Four semifinal against St. Cloud State, and their Hobey Baker finalist goaltender was 39 minutes into a shutout against Yale, a team the Bobcats had beaten three times during the season.
Last week, I tried predicting who would make the Frozen Four next week in Pittsburgh. I did OK, getting two of the four teams correct, while missing terribly on the other two. The good thing is I don’t think anybody predicted that the field of Quinnipiac, Yale, St. Cloud State and UMass Lowell would be heading to the Steel City, so I take solace in that.
A lot of storylines came out of last weekend.
Follow along as we preview each round of the 2013 NCAA tournament and pick a champion.
In two weeks, Pittsburgh will be hosting its first Frozen Four.
The Steel City is ecstatic about the NHL’s Penguins and it will be interesting to see if the natives will turn out in droves to watch college hockey. The only local team is Robert Morris, a small school that plays in Atlantic Hockey. The next-closest team geographically is fellow Atlantic member Mercyhurst. They play in Erie. Some locals are skeptical about the crowds.
At the same time, people thought having Tampa as a host last year would be a disaster and it ended up being a big success. I’m thinking everything will be okay. Pennsylvania loves hockey and when you have a host that enjoys and follows the game, you can’t go wrong.
As for the field, the national championship is completely up for grabs. No teams clearly stand above the rest in terms of talent. Everybody is playing on an equal level. Without further ado, here are my 2013 Regional predictions.
Since the lockout ended, I hoped for an intriguing storyline that would draw casual fans back into hockey. The Chicago Blackhawks were it.
Their 24-game regulation winning streak captured the attention of the nation and even got athletes in other sports, as well as ESPN and Sports Illustrated (above), to take notice. Miami Heat star LeBron James praised the Blackhawks and wished them luck. Even though the Worldwide Leader’s Stephen A. Smith came off like a complete imbecile when asked about Chicago’s streak — it wasn’t hard for him to do — this still gave even more exposure to the game.
The streak came to an end a few days ago but the NHL remains intriguing. Playoff races will begin soon. There’s still time for teams to turn things around, but some need to do so sooner than later. The defending Southeast champion Florida Panthers are in last place with only seven wins, the Flyers have fallen behind the hapless Islanders in the Atlantic, and teams with well-known stars like Washington and Tampa Bay can’t seem to get anything going. Most NHL teams still lie somewhere on the bubble of playoff contention.
The world of sports is full of great upsets and hockey boasts some of the best. I mean, did anyone expect the Los Angeles Kings, of all teams, to suddenly become unstoppable and win the Stanley Cup two months after barely making the playoffs?
College hockey has had its share as well. Just about every year, a small school upsets a traditional powerhouse and provides a great story for sportswriters and fans to behold. In some cases – Bemidji State in 2009 and RIT in 2010 – the teams pull off two upsets and make it to the Frozen Four.
Ask most college hockey fans to name the biggest upset ever, there’s really only one: Holy Cross’s win over Minnesota in the 2006 West Regional in Grand Forks, N.D.
This past weekend, Holy Cross returned to Grand Forks for the first time since 2006 so I figured now would be the perfect time to look back at their big win. (After all, they almost pulled it off again Saturday before North Dakota woke up in the third period).
Hockey season is a little more than a month old, and things are proceeding as expected. The NHL players are still locked out, negotiations continue to move at a snail’s pace, and Commissioner Gary Bettman seems hell bent on establishing himself as the worst professional sports commissioner ever.
Seriously, you have to give it to Bettman. It takes a lot of talent to have two work stoppages in one decade. Grantland’s Bill Simmons offered a great way of describing Bettman’s tenure as commissioner, but I think I found a better analogy.
The college hockey season got underway this week with many interesting storylines. The largest: Realignment.
Next season, there will be two new conferences, the Big Ten and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC). This is the last season of the CCHA, whose “leftover” teams will merge with those from the WCHA. Notre Dame and Connecticut are leaving their conferences, while Alabama-Huntsville is desperately hoping to save its program by finding a conference to call home.
That mess is still a year away. Here are my predictions for 2012-13 — how each teams will finish in its conference, along with which three teams have a chance to win it. The two independent teams, UAH and Penn State, will have rather difficult seasons and miss the NCAA Tournament.
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It’s official. Last week the NHL cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season, angering fans across the continent and also keeping me from watching Zach Parise and Ryan Suter play the defending Central Division champion Blues at the Scottrade Center.
As angry as I am that this has happened twice in my lifetime — and twice in the last decade — I’ve decided that, until the millionaires and billionaires grow up and hash out a deal, I’ll get my hockey fix by watching other leagues play. Here are some examples for you to do the same.
When I first wrote a column about Boston University’s hockey team and its trouble with the law, it was about two isolated rape incidents. I cautioned that people shouldn’t slam the university over the actions of two players.
Well, this past week the Boston Globe obtained a report which lays out in detail a culture of “sexual entitlement” and a wide variety of academic allegations.
My opinion of the school has changed … but not as much as you might think.