Hockey East picks – Dec. 12-16

I had a pretty good week, but so did Jim. My razor-thin margin remains.

Dave last week: 6-1-2
Jim last week: 6-1-2
Dave’s record-to-date: 83-38-11
Jim’s record-to-date: 82-39-11

Here are this week’s picks:

Friday, Dec. 12

Maine at New Hampshire 
Dave’s pick: Maine’s home/road splits are hard to ignore, and I also think the Wildcats are much better than their record.
UNH 4, UM 2
Jim’s pick: I agree with Dave here. Though I like the way Maine is playing right now, its record away from Alfond is impossible to ignore.
UNH 3, UM 2

St. Lawrence at Vermont
Dave’s pick: St. Lawrence is a good team, but Vermont is even better.
UVM 4, SLU 2
Jim’s pick: At home, Vermont is a pretty easy pick.
UVM 5, SLU 2

Saturday, Dec. 13

Michigan at Boston College

Dave’s pick: BC is only one game over .500; Michigan, two. Home ice makes the difference.
BC 3, UM 2
Jim’s pick: I have seen both of these teams play in person and I think that Michigan was a much better team. Does that play out on road ice?
UM 4, BC 3

New Hampshire at Maine
Dave’s pick: It’s all about the venue in this matchup. Maine has been under .500 at home, but UNH has only a single road win.
UM 4, UNH 3
Jim’s pick: The fact this game is in Portland and not Orono is part of my decision to pick against Maine.
UNH 4, UM 3

Boston University at Rensselaer 
Dave’s pick: Even on the road, this one isn’t close. BU is too strong.
BU 5, RPI 2
Jim’s pick: BU should be the better team.
BU 4, RPI 2

Vermont at St. Lawrence 
Dave’s pick: I was close to picking a split here, but the Catamounts have made me a believer.
UVM 3, SLU 2 (OT)
Jim’s pick: This will be a great game on the road for Vermont.
UVM 4, SLU 2

Tuesday, Dec. 16

Northeastern at Massachusetts 
Dave’s pick: In recent weeks, the Huskies have defeated Merrimack, Minnesota and Providence, with the latter win on the road. It may have taken them until Nov. 15 to get their first W, but this game gives them five in their last seven.
NU 4, UMass 3
Jim’s pick: This might be the most difficult game to pick. Yes, Northeastern is playing much better hockey but UMass has been strong of late as well. Home ice gets my pick.
UMass 3, NU 1

117 COMMENTS

  1. Swapping Mass-Lowell and Wisc is exactly what the East Coast dopes want. If you actually use some sense you would flip St. Cloud and Wisc first round games.

  2. I get that you can’t swap a 1 seed with a 2, but in terms of bracket integrity and common sense, does switching #5 Wisconsin with #8 UMass-Lowell really make more sense than switching #5 Wisconsin with #4 St. Cloud to avoid the Big Ten match up? Having #1 and #5 overall in the same quarter just doesn’t make sense to me.

    • As a Gopher fan, I would rather be any other team in any other bracket if this is how it shakes out (yes I know we have weeks left still). That regional is stacked with a capital STACKED.

        • No kidding, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota beat the hell out of each other before the frozen four, it will sure make life easier for the remaining teams standing.

          • Ultimately, I don’t see this bracket happening. First, unless MN really falls apart late they should be a 1 seed. I think with Wisconsin’s remaining schedule, albeit on the road, they will pick up at least 3 more wins in regular season and then whatever they do in Big Ten tourney. I think that puts them in solid as a 2 seed. Lastly, like every other years under Hakstol UND is on a second half tear and I think that continues with them winning NCHC and post season tournament putting them in 1 or 2 seed discussion. I just don’t see a scenario with remaining schedules where MN, Wisconsin and UND are outside of top 8. If UND gets a 2 then I think they end up in St. Paul with MN and Wisconsin goes elsewhere. If UND gets up to a 1 then they go to Cincinnati and Wisconsin goes to St. Paul.

        • Did I say that? No, I did not. As a team who has already beaten the other #1 team in the country, I’ll feel fine with them playing whomever. Nothing wrong with wanting a softer regional, nothing at all.

  3. You always talk about protecting the #1 seed. But your switch makes it in one bracket the #1 seed, the highest in the #2 band, and the highest #3 band. This goes against everything you and the committee always talk about. Is that really what you want?

    • The Wisconsin move is bizarre, and as you mentioned against one of the committee’s points of emphasis (integrity of the brackets). Especially when the West is already set attendance-wise with Minnesota and North Dakota. The more logical switch is to move Michigan to the East/Northeast and send the second-best attendance draw (probably) for Cincinnati (Notre Dame) to that region. I think Jason is over-thinking it this week.

  4. “For me, to boost attendance and to boost other items” What does other items mean?… destroy bracket integrity or lets get the most east coast teams to the frozen four as possible

  5. Ridiculous. You already have enough attendance with North Dakota in the same bracket as Minnesota. No need to put Wisco there too.

  6. I like how protecting the #1 seed is thrown out the window and the west regional gets stacked, but he holds off on switching Cornell and Minnesota St. to keep “bracket integrity” and protect the #2

    • Bryan, It is interesting how it always seems that protecting the #1 seed is important until it is a west team. And bracket integrity gets more important for east coast teams then western teams. But he is usually correct. So he must know something. I think it is wrong. Just go with integrity unless it is intra-conference then switch lower by one.

      • I have no dog in this fight. I am in NM. I just love college hockey. I am just talking about how in past weeks he has said to protect the #1 seed is important, but this week he puts the highest in band 1, 2, and 3 in the same bracket. I also said he is usually right so he must know something about how the committee thinks. I do not think you protect the #1 seed by putting the 1,5,and 9 in the same bracket no matter who they are. That is not protecting the #1.

  7. Here’s the best solution: Quinnipiac in Bridgeport, Ferris in Cincinnati, UML in St. Paul, and Wisconsin in Worcester. Bracket integrity maintained, and attendance boosted at Bridgeport and Cincinnatti. Could also swap Cornell to Worcester to play BC and Minnesota State to Cincinnatti to play SCSU.

  8. You mentioned the volatile bubble at the end, but you barely even grazed over it. I think for future blogs you should consider discussing bubble teams more, what teams could drop out or jump in based on conf tournament play would be very intriguing to read

  9. You state that “Our first concern is avoiding intraconference matchups” and then you get into fine tuning and that is exactly what you do. Where is the data that says you are really boosting attendance? How much does BC pay you? Why are you scared of QU in Worcester? Is it because you know they would destroy BC? Are you terrified that two ECAC teams will end up again in the finals and we can’t have that now can we. Why don’t we make a permanent slot in the Final 4 for BC and in that way you don’t have to go through all these machinations and phony logic just to get them an easy region. Two words for your Bracketology “Phony Baloney”.

    • So, Quinnipiac would rather travel further to play a better team rather than travel 25 minutes and play lower ranked teams?

      Lets face it, if it was a pro-BC conspiracy then wouldn’t he have placed NoDak in the BC bracket?

    • So last year when Union beat BC in their regional, Union got any easy regional, too, right? Watch your ECACH win more than one championship since 19?? (like 3 or 4) before you ride that high horse.

      • You guys are so predictable. “Your league hasn’t won a title in years! Oh wait, you won last year? Well, you have won consecutive titles in years!”

    • Why the anger towards BC? Last year each of the “elite” teams had a perceived “easy” path and BC, Minn and Notre Dame couldn’t get out of the first round. 2012 BC gets the defending National Champ, a Maine team which is always a thorn and a disciplined Academy team which always gives the elite teams fits, in their bracket; 2011 the eventual national runner up and a CC team that got hot come tourney time was in BC’s bracket; 2010 was in a bracket with North Dakota, in 2008 they were in a bracket with Miami, Minnesota and Air Force. I fail to see how this is a year in and year out BC lean. Is it a perceived notion that just because you play hockey west of New York you automatically are the best program(s)?

  10. As a Sioux fan it would be sweet to have the ‘potential’ opportunity to knock off the Badgers & the Gophers, the two teams to bail on the WCHA (Yeah, yeah, yeah, the Big 10 was calling.). As for those potential match ups — I should be careful what I wish for …

      • I’m with you on this one. Yeah its fun playing MN or Wicso, but not so much in the first or second round of a win or go home situation. I think a match up with them in Phili would be epic.

        • Hopefully the committee eventually figures this fact out. A Minnesota/ North Dakota semifinal or even final would destroy attendance records, especially if it’s in the Midwest

          • That’s a matchup they could have at Ford Field (worst place ever to hold the FF) and sell every single seat in the house.

    • Let’s see if the Sioux can’t get into a 2 seed and blow this ridiculous mess up. I’d rather be in Cincinnati with better matchups.

      • I would love to see North Dakota get a 2 seed. They are playing well right now. But lots will depend on the next couple of weeks.

      • I think they’ll have to win (or not lose) this weekend, and make or even win the NCHC title to do it… They’ve built up steam the last few weeks.

      • I gotta give ya that one. I was never crazy about the new ‘super’ league idea. Let someone else be that, I was sorry to leave the WCHA.

  11. wow, how pathetic that east regional is, love how they are always trying to mess with the gophers, forcing them to play a monster rival.

  12. This particular edition of bracketology seems about as relevent as this week’s polls. If we’re going to fantasy land for a week why not toss Mankato in St. Paul and make it WCHA past and present?

  13. Funny, Minnesota takes the #1 seed, and all hell breaks loose… It’s all changing again after this weekend, and the next, and the next… Don’t waste a minute of sleep over it.

  14. I think Worcester looks great; Notre Dame travels reasonably well and the other three teams are appealing in their own right.

  15. The most obvious switch has been overlooked, unless i’m missing the boat on something…..simply switch Cornell and Michigan, right??

  16. Swap Wisconsin and Ferris State to set up Ferris State/ Michigan. Good for Cinci. Then move 3 pairs of games – Wisconsin/PC west, Lowell/NoDak Northeast, and QU/Notre Dame East.

    These pairings would leave no region extremely strong in terms of seeds because the only pairing change would be swapping #5 and #6, rather than #5 and #8. For draws, West bracket has Wisconsin rather than No Dak, Bridgeport has QU and Lowell ends up in Worcester as well as BC. Do Mercyhurst and Mankato if you think it does not do too much violence to the brackets. In terms of conference fairness, the top 2 big 10 are in one bracket, top 2 in HE in another, and top 2 in ECAC in a 3d.

  17. Complete the sweep and put MnState in St Paul. It would be great for fans. Nobody needs to get on a plane, NCAA saves money on travel expenses, and everybody is closer to home. How often can western teams get a regional with all local teams? Who needs bracket integrity when you can get true regional integrity. As long as you are stacking the bracket, go all the way.

    • I think that they should consider regional brackets if they are that concerned with attendance. UML vs UNH in the northeast regional was fantastic last year, a packed house full of fans who were actual fans. It will also allow the frozen four to include teams from across the country, rather than 3 teams from New England like last year

  18. As a BC fan, I would welcome anyone else in this bracket other than Notre Dame and UML, two unbelievably strong defensive teams. The West on paper appears to be the toughest bracket, but how strong is North Dakota in all reality? (Not a dig at North Dakota, but is the NCHC really that strong top to bottom as say the BIG, HE and ECAC? North Dakota went 0-1-1 against a pretty poor BU team, and correct me if I am wrong, has not played anyone from the BIG and possibly a pedestrian ECAC team or two. Each team in this tournament has their faults (Holy Cross anyone?) I think the NE region on paper is the toughest, three of the top 8 PK units, 2 of the top ten PP units, 2 of the top 10 SHG, 3 of the top 10 defensive units, three of the top 10 and some of the strongest goaltenders. As some have said, a lot of hockey to be played, but if you look at this objectively, each of these brackets has their own challenges.

      • I agree, UML, ND…most every HE team has placed a big circle whenever BC is on their schedule, and has come with their A game every night. I just hope BC can make it to the Garden, and can stay healthy. Games in the NCAA tourney are not a given either. Minny, BC, Union and SCSU (if that is the final order of the top four) won’t all breeze by their first round opponents. Enjoy the games Rich.

    • That BU game was so heavily biased in terms if officiating that to get a split was a miracle. The call I point to was a slash that was called on Mark MacMillan where the BU player broke his stick hitting MacMillan and we got called for the penalty

      • Fair enough, but when it comes to a talent standpoint and how a team succeeds, we can’t point to officiating. Every single shift Johnny Gaudreau is slashed ridden, hooked, tripped, boarded, yet he still manages to lead the team and nation in scoring, has adapts his game to what the defenses show him. Every team in the nation can look at “bad officiating” or missed calls, every team has been hurt or rewarded by bad calls at times. The point is, from a talent standpoint, BU is a team that a team like UND should not even be concerned with how slanted the officiating may be. If there were four or five 5 on 3’s, okay, that is blatant, and there might have been….BU had 7 power play opportunities against BC just a couple weeks prior to the UND game, including a second period that was terribly in favor of the Terriers, yet BC’s talent prevailed 5-1. Is UND a different team now than their 4-7 or 4-8 start? Absolutely! Is BC a 9-2 score better than Wiscy or a 6-1 worse than Minny? Nope.

        • Know and I tend not to be hard on officials in any sport after having done it myself. However if the hometown announcers are saying the game is slanted then something is up

    • Daniel, if you’ve been able to watch any of their games… make no mistake, they are pretty strong. They’re playing the best down the stretch in the NCHC. I don’t think anyone will want to play them.

      • Jake, being in Boston, I have only been able to watch them play on CBSSN and caught their game against St Cloud and Miami. I think the phrase ” don’t think anyone will want to play them” can be said about every NCAA tournament team. I am just looking for someone to make a compelling case of a team being the strongest in a perceived weak conference. The Colorado schools have been poor over the past several years, UNO, and UMD don’t have the talent and cohesiveness that say a UND or SCSU has. So my question is if they are strong in a weak conference (circa BC in 2011) or are they strong on a national scale, and what’s the logic? Thanks.

        • I question why the NCHC is a perceived weak conference? By whom? What you’re saying about once-prominent teams being down can apply to just about every conference, in any given year. And, for the record, “wouldn’t want to play them” does not apply to all 16 teams… based on this week, I’ll give you three.

          • Jake, understand I am not taking a swipe at your conference, but the conference is new, with two of those once prominent teams struggling mightily (CC and Denver) it seems to resemble the BCS AAC with UConn and Louisville (both hoops) similar to UND and SCSU, keeping the league relevant. Also, who are your three?

          • 1. NCHC isn’t my conference (but I’ll always liked North Dakota). 2. Same could said for the BIG. 3. I don’t follow any basketball, so ??? 4. Let’s make sure those 3 teams make it before I say. 5. I’ll agree we disagree and call it that… Thanks for the conversion.

          • I’m confused then, you say that you’ll give me three teams, which teams won’t want to play, and you want to reserve judgement/comment “if they make it.” Clearly those three teams are not BC, Minnesota, Union, SCSU, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Ferris State. I’m interested in hearing how each of those teams do not strike fear into opponents and which of the remaining pool are your three. I’ll agree with you to an extent about the BIG, while they are a smaller conference, it seems as though it is Minnesota, then everyone else. The wildcard seems to be Wisconsin who is playing similarly to UND.

  19. Minnesota has Wisconsin and North Dakota (what a surprise) in their Regional. Wait until Minnesota loses their #1 Overall seed in the next two weeks. Mercyhurst will be replaced by Notre Dame or MN Duluth? The West Regional will be the loaded regardless who wins the last two weeks.

  20. Just swap the Lowell-Michigan game to Worcester and the Notre dame-ferris game to Cincinnati. Attendance boost in Worcester with Lowell. Attendance boost in Cincinnati with Notre dame. Problem solved

  21. The biggest thing people are forgetting about the Minnesota region is that while it is not the hardest region in terms of maybe talent. It’s the hardest because 3 of the 4 teams do not like each other (in the case of UND/Minnesota, it’s hate), and those games can have 7 different outcomes depending on what day you play it.

    • Gopher fans hated the Badgers long before they hated UND. I grew up in St. Paul and went to school at UND. I didn’t realize it was a heated rivalry until I was in Grand Forks. Just sayin’…it matters a lot more to UND. It has gotten more even the past few years but the conference split will change that.

  22. Sounds to me like Minnesota fans would prefer to have UML in their bracket than Wis. Careful what you wish for. UML is loaded. They were a frozen four team last year that lost very little. They destroyed Wis in the tourney last year, and they are 4-0 against Big 10 teams this year. Goph fans should be more worried winning the first game than how their bracket shakes out. Remember the last time Minn was the #1 overall seed? Holy Cross

    • You are also not mentioning that the gophers have the lowest GA in the country, one of the top goalies in the country, and a defense that is is scoring points like there is no tomorrow. Oh yeah, and also beat and tied your BC squad. I would love to see a BC/UMN final. Would be awesome.

  23. WR – Mercyhurst vs MN/ Notre Dame vs Wi
    ER – Vermont vs Union / Providence vs Quin
    NR – Mn State vs BC / No Dak vs Mass Lowell
    MR – Cornell vs St Cloud / MI vs FS
    Think this would be best for the attendance issues and all the other committee issues

    • But Moy needs to boost attendance in Minneapolis by having MN, ND and WI…right? Attendance at the bars maybe. Any two of those sells tickets. All three just creates more traffic and shenanigans on the streets outside.

  24. This could be worse. Imagine what Barry Melrose would pick over on ESPN. That man has no idea what he is talking about. He even picked Wisconsin to win it all last year. ESPN should fire him like all those NHL teams have done.

  25. First, I realize this somewhat off topic and isn’t even a consideration, but imagine if the tournament were only 8 teams:

    In St. Paul:

    Mn vs. NoDak
    SCSU vs. Wisco

    In Woosta (as my college roommate used to say):

    BC vs. UMassLowell
    Union vs. Quinny

    Sorry, Ferris you are out simply due to geography (please don’t take this a slight — nothing against your squad).

    Championship game is whoever is left standing (literally in the case of the St. Paul regional) between the two regionals.

  26. There are so many other ways to boost attendance AND maintain bracket integrity, moving the overall #5 to the same bracket as the overall #1 is ridiculous. As plenty of other people have noted, simply switching Michigan with Cornell keeps three western teams in Cincy and it barely jeopardizes bracket integrity. For attendance purposes, you could also swap Quinnipiac with Ferris to boost attendance in Bridgeport.and UML with ND if worried about attendance in the West and Northeast.

    That way, you end up with brackets of 1-16, 9-10; 2-15, 6-8; 3-14, 7-11; and, 4-12, 5-13. Seems to be better overall in terms of integrity and there are no real attendance concerns. If you don’t swap UML and Notre Dame, integrity is even better.

    Obviously, plenty is going to change over the next 3 weeks, but in my opinion, the NCAA could no longer claim to value bracket integrity if this were the actual bracket.

  27. Jayson- Tell the truth: you get a great laugh out of these whack-jobs getting their panties in a bunch every week, don’t you? Let’s just put UND and Minny in the FF, let them hit each other over the head with their pocketbooks and be done with it. They’re the two best teams and shouldn’t have to play ANYONE to get there, right? Especially the Minnesota fans. No. 1 team in the country and STILL the incessant whining. As a BC fan, I like the team and will take my chances on them anywhere against anyone. Maybe our friends on the prairie could take a second to stop hyperventilating and consider an attitude change…….

  28. Time for 8 best of 3’s, two regionals (midwest/west & east), and the Frozen Four. Only attendance woes would be to the NCAA (minus $ from two less regionals).

  29. Last week the Gophs bracket this week the Eagles bracket. If you want to be the best ya gotta beat the best, but if UND can play & win & run into Minnesota or BC later rather than sooner … I’ll be OK with that.

  30. “If five or more teams from one conference are selected to the championship, then the integrity of the bracket will be protected (i.e., maintaining the pairing process according to seed will take priority over avoidance of first-round conference matchups).”

    If the guidelines are truly followed, the Hockey East teams should not be moved to avoid first round conference games because there are 6 HE teams in this version of the bracket. I don’t check this every week, but I have yet to see him follow this guideline when it has applied.

    • To me, the whole engineering of the brackets is ridiculous. I would rather the NCAA just let the chips fall where they may. What Jayson has done, is to accurately predict that ridiculousness each year he’s tried. Gotta give credit for that.

  31. It’s funny how people would complain when 4 teams from the old WCHA would make the tourney for fear of an all WCHA Frozen Four (Columbus 2005). But 6 teams from the Hockey East??!! Really??

  32. Ridiculous that Colgate is not in. They beat Minn. in a shootout that is ruled a tie. They’ve beaten and tied Union. They’ve beaten both Qpac and Cornell decisively. And they’ve knocked off Ferris State and Vermont. They should get an at large right now for making the quarters in the ECAC tourney and placing second in the standings.

  33. At this point, there is little reason to pick a UNH win other than maybe playing against Maine or UMass. Even then, you have no idea what team will show up. Plus the “home” game for UNH is in Manchester where they have historically played rather poor at the Verizon Wireless Arena. You might as well coin-flip these games.

    • With the reduction in league games from three games with each opponent to two games, some teams had difficulty finding non-conference opponents to fill their schedules, so they’ve scheduled each other for non-conference games. The league games for these two teams are in January.

      UMass, for example, has non-conference games against, Northeastern, Maine (2x), and Mass-Lowell, plus one with Providence in UVM’s holiday tournament.

      • It made for a great fit for UNH/Maine anyways, so they could play them at the Verizon in Manchester and the Blue Cross (Cumberland County Civic Center) in Portland.

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