I have a feeling about a specific upset this weekend — but I thought Northern Michigan would sweep and Alaska would win a game last weekend. You know by now never to take my picks to the bank.
Last week: 4-4
Season to date: 126-82-25 (.594)
Because it’s the playoffs and I call individual games and not whole series, the sad truth is that I can have a weekly picks record that differs from the number of games that were actually played. The playoffs also always lower my win percentage. Always. That tells you something right there.
We have four best-of-three, second-round, single-site CCHA series this week. The teams that emerge will head to Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena next week to compete for the Mason Cup. Game time is 7:05 p.m. except for the series in Ann Arbor and Friday night’s game in Oxford, Ohio. Those games begin at 7:35 p.m.
Teams were reseeded for the second round. The numbers refer to seeding, not national ranking.
Any or all of these series can go to three games.
No. 8 Bowling Green at No. 1 Ferris State
Last weekend, Bowling Green beat Northern Michigan in Marquette in three games, for the second year in a row. BGSU coach Chris Bergeron said, though, that this year’s playoff series was different from last year’s, in large part because his team is so young that many of them weren’t around last year to carry the memory of that accomplishment to this season’s task. Ferris State is the 2011-12 CCHA regular-season champion, having secured that with the only point the Bulldogs needed in their last weekend of play; they finished the season two weeks ago with a tie and loss against Western Michigan. FSU was 14-2-2 in Ewigleben Arena this season — but a good home record didn’t translate into wins over the Falcons for the Wildcats last weekend. FSU also outscored BGSU 18-5 in four regular-season wins this year. I think the Bulldogs will sweep, but that it will be close. FSU 4-2, 3-2
No. 7 Notre Dame at No. 2 Michigan
Who would have guessed at the start of the season that these two teams would meet anywhere in the playoffs prior to The Joe? The Fighting Irish swept the Buckeyes last weekend, shutting out Ohio State Friday and allowing two goals Saturday. In their last weekend of play, the Wolverines had a chance to capture a share of the CCHA regular-season title but were thwarted by Bowling Green, with whom they split. ND hasn’t won in Yost Arena since Nov. 10, 2010, but the teams split two close games in South Bend in January. I’m pulling for three games because I want to spend Sunday night in Yost Arena covering a deciding Game 3. I mean, there’s no Downton Abbey this weekend. UM 4-2, ND 3-2, UM 3-2
No. 6 Lake Superior at No. 3 Western Michigan
Last weekend, the Lakers swept visiting Alaska, something that surprised LSSU coach Jim Roque. Each was a one-goal game — Saturday’s 2-0 shutout including Kyle Haines’ last-minute empty netter — and Kevin Kapalka was superior in net. (I had to. In 18 years of covering, I’ve never used that pun before and it just wouldn’t keep any longer.) Two weeks ago, the Broncos finished the regular season on a high note, taking five of six points from Ferris State in a home-and-home series. WMU is 4-6 all-time in the CCHA playoff tournament versus LSSU, and the Lakers are 28-28-10 in Kalamazoo. The teams split a pair of close games about a month ago in Sault Ste. Marie. The Lakers are no strangers to winning playoff series on the road, but I think this one goes to three with the home team prevailing. I think. WMU 4-2, LSSU 3-2, WMU 2-1
No. 5 Michigan State at No. 4 Miami
Each of these teams had a first-round bye last week, so each is well rested coming into this series. The Spartans finished their regular season with a road split versus Notre Dame; the RedHawks swept Ohio State in a home-and-home series to close the season. For MSU, the games were closer; Miami outscored OSU 8-1 in the season-ending contests. The RedHawks swept the Spartans in two games in East Lansing the first weekend in January. The first game was a 2-1 overtime victory; the second a 4-0 shutout in which the RedHawks netted three third-period goals. Miami goaltender Connor Knapp is so hot right now that it’s impossible to call against him, although I have a bad feeling for Miami (or a good feeling for MSU, depending on your perspective) about this series. Miami 2-1, 4-2