Weekend picks: Dec. 2

Thanks to Air Force, I gained another game on Matthew in our picks race, and more importantly made it above .600 in the season picks. Last week, I went 5-1-2 (.750) while Matthew went 4-2-2 (.625). On the year, I am 43-26-12 (.604) while Matthew is 36-33-12 (.518). We have some big rivalry series this weekend, so let’s get to the picks.

Friday-Saturday, Dec. 2-3

No. 2 Denver vs. Colorado College (home-and-home)
Candace: Denver didn’t look sharp last weekend, but the Pioneers found a way to win. Also, CC’s defense isn’t that great, and Denver has a strong offense. Denver 4-3, 4-2
Matthew: Part of me thinks Denver will take both games of this series, but watch that be the incorrect way to go. Home teams win. Colorado College 3-2, Denver 4-1

No. 17 St. Cloud State at No. 16 Western Michigan
Candace: I’m really torn on this one. I think Western Michigan could sweep, but I also think St. Cloud recovers from getting swept by North Dakota. It should be a high-powered series, as both teams can score in bunches. Western Michigan 4-3, St. Cloud State 4-3
Matthew: The last time these teams played in Kalamazoo, St. Cloud won 11-1. The Broncos will have revenge on their minds, and I think they’ll get at least some. Western Michigan 3-2, St. Cloud State 3-2

Miami at Cornell
Candace: If Ryan Larkin plays like he did in Denver two weeks ago, Miami could sweep. However, I’ll pick a split. Cornell 2-1, Miami 2-1
Matthew: I’d love to take the league homer role here, but I don’t know how realistic that is given that Cornell, while unranked, is still a tough team to have to play on the road. Split. Cornell 3-2, Miami 3-2

Omaha at Wisconsin
Candace: I’m tempted to pick an Omaha sweep, but Wisconsin looked very good in stretches last weekend. I think a split is more likely. Wisconsin 3-2, Omaha 3-2
Matthew: UNO has generally been very good on the road so far this season, but I think the Mavericks’ unbeaten streak away from Baxter Arena comes to an end here. Split. Wisconsin 3-2, Omaha 3-1

Saturday, Dec. 3

No. 3 Boston College vs. No. 9 North Dakota (Saturday, New York)
Candace: North Dakota’s first half woes will likely continue. BC hasn’t been that consistent either, but has been more consistent than North Dakota. Boston College 3-2
Matthew: This would be an ideal spot for UND to get a statement victory, but I’m not sure it’ll happen. It hasn’t been very easy to get a read on UND so far this season. Boston College 3-2

20 COMMENTS

  1. Atlantic Hockey’s format of a one-game play-in for the 4 lowest teams in both the East and West Divisions allowed AIC, Sacred Heart, Canisius and Mercyhurst to advance to a 3-game series after a single win, and Bentley, Robert Morris, Niagara and Army are all out. Last place AIC is ‘in’!! How fair it that?

  2. Agree totally and emphatically that the regular season conference winner should get the auto bid to the NCAA, NOT the tourney champ. Disagree that tourney champ also should automatically get a bid as well. Progressing that far should give enough RPI / PairWise / TUC points to put them in as an at large as long as they also have had enough of a ‘body of work’ during the regular season as well.

  3. I doubt you’ll see a change as long as the league reaps the revenue from the playoffs. The going rate per playoff game at a campus site in the CCHA is $10k. I don’t see a format change that would reduce league revenues coming, regardless of whether or not such a change would help the integrity of the game.

  4. I disagree, I think the conference tournament is a great way to get the best teams into the tournament. First of all if a team has the best overall record in the conference then they most likely have a high enough ranking to get the at large bid to the NCAA playoffs. But just because one team finishes first doesn’t mean they are the best team, a couple years ago Minnesota clinched the McNaughton Cup in the first half of the season, however they went bottoms up the second half, do teams that have a great start deserve a better chance then a team that gets hot late?

  5. Brian, I agree with pretty much everything you said. Although a Union fan, I would not be terribly surprised if Colgate ends up in Atlantic City.

  6. I do think that the regular season champ should get an automatic bid to the NCAA, especially when you look at the ECAC, the conference is so tight that they just beat up on each other, and it is not fair that in a conference like that, that a team that wins could be knocked out by one bad game. However, playoffs are exciting and gets the entire fan base involved and that cannot be bad for the game, regardless of the NCAA implications. Have a broader outlook, not just at the NCAA. Finally, no team will actually get to the NCAA that does not deserve it. Your article makes it seem that winning in the playoffs is an easy thing, however there is no room for mistakes and that pressure is not to be taken lightly.

    • But Red, the regular season champ almost always does get a bid, unless you’re talking the AHA. The question is whether you want to save a spot or two for a really hot team down the stretch. If your hypothetical “better” team can’t beat a 4 win team that figured out how to play hockey in February, then how good is it, really?

      • I think we are in total agreement. However, I do remember in 2004 when Colgate won the Cleary Cup and didnt make it into the NCAA, even though it made it to the ECAC final four.

        And, for full disclosure I am a ‘gate fan, so my opinion is obviously bias this season as they had a horrible season, but have given the fan base a great amount of excitement this past week. What I am saying is that if you make it through the ECAC, WCHA, CCHA, or Hockey East, tournaments you deserve to get an automatic bid. Now if you wanted to make the auto bid for the AHA their regular season championship (like the Ivy does in basketball) I am in agreement there, but not in the major four. Give the fans hope and something to look forward to, and hope, I know the excitement around the ‘gate team has peaked and even had an article in the Syracuse newspaper because of the tournament.

  7. has anyone asked how Oswego not only gets in but gets a bye…it places very little emphasis on the conference playoffs….who did Oswego beat? they lost to Hamilton and and Hobart they beat elmira in the 1st week of oct yeah they beat Plattsbugh 2x but lost in their tournament to Fredonia…not eaxctly a tough schedule…btw NU beat Castleton 5-2 away later in the season….they beat Bowdoin, Colby, Williams 3-0 and Middlebury a tie and 3-0 win down the stretch…and they won their conf tourney and are seeded 6th in the east after bing ranmked 3rd in the country…I dont think McShane liked that outcome

  8. I respectfully disagree. First off, what’s the incentive to perform in a tournament at the end of the season if you’re Colgate and there isn’t an NCAA bid in the offing? Is a shiny tournament trophy worth anything? Second, my way of thinking about it is that the NCAA Tournament starts with the conference tournament — but really good regular season teams get a do-over and poorly performing teams don’t. That also goes to the seemingly backwards 2 out of three in the first two rounds but single elimination later. If an underdog team can win two out of three on the road twice against higher ranked opponents then they’re showing that they deserve to be considered as a worthy entrant in the Tourney. If it’s just going to be based on regular season records, why bother to have an NCAA Tournament at all? Why not just have the winners of the four major conferences meet? Why allow an also-ran in their conference to even have a shot? The answer is that you want to have a good tournament. But how often is the “best” team in the country the winner of the NCAA Tournament? Unless you want to define it that way, I’d guess about once every four years or so,

  9. The league tournament was not designed to give the most worthy team an automatic bid to the NCAAs. First, the ECAC semifinals and finals are played at a neutral site. By putting all three (or 4 if you count the consolation) games in the same weekend, the ECAC tries to maximize interest in the “championship weekend”. Their attempt is for fans to make a weekend out of it, hence the move to Atlantic City from Albany. Personally, I don’t agree with it. I think the college hockey fans are more interested in the game than the weekend, so decentralizing the location of the tournament is a bad idea. (It makes for a longer trip for almost all teams). Either way, there isn’t a huge turnout with fans from all four semi-finalists, so a three game series at a neutral site would most likely be small. They could play the series at the higher seed’s home rink, but I think they want to eliminate a home rink advantage at that stage of the tournament. The championship game would also be at a neutral site, so that would be asking fans to travel 4-6 times between the semis and finals. The “weekend” idea allows fans to only travel once, and they can stay for the championship game if their team doesn’t make it.

    As far as the automatic bid, they want to maximize intrest by giving every team in the league a chance to compete, and people to be able to cheer for the underdog. They probably figure the top team (at least in the major conferences) will make the tourney anyways. The excitement of a team with seemingly no hope to be able to play their way in is good for interest in the tournament. This is probably another reason for the the neutral site. The league would rather not see the #1 team win out because they would likely make the NCAA anyways. By adding an automatic bid for a team that would not qualify otherwise, the league has a chance of sending more teams to the NCAAs.

    • I think they did away with that when there was still a 12-team NCAA tournament. But now, I think it’s a better idea. Because there are only 5 conferences and a 16-team tournament, there’s a little more wiggle room. I’ve always preferred to see the regular season champ get an auto bid because that’s 5-6 months of work being rewarded.

  10. Used to be that the 4 conferences all had regular-season AQ and tournament winner AQ. Went away when they expanded to 5, then 6 conferences. Now that they’re back to 5 conferences, maybe it makes sense to go back to the old system. Would guarantee a max of 10 slots, with 6 at-large spots, but that’s pretty much the way it usually works anyway. If the regular-season winner doesn’t win its conference tournament, it’s more than likely that they’ll still get into the NCAAs based on RPI. So it’s not much different than today, other than each regular-season champ is guaranteed a slot

    • Who, the Ottawa Senators? They’ve been doing tha a lot lately.

      When it comes to college hockey, though, I don’t have “a” team – I have 13 (ECAC Hockey and my alma mater, BU).

  11. Think about it…Is this really about being fair? Is it about money? Is it about maximizing attendance? Is it about preparing the players for the next level? Is it about the fans? Is it about the student/athlete experience? Does the NCAA really care and if so, how do “they” demonstrate it? As there is no perfect answer, it is simply the best thinking at this time by those in charge. There are trade-offs to any tweaking. Why don’t they expand the NCAA tournament to 32 teams to allow more schools to participate and lessen the emphasis on what happens in the league tournament?

    • Because then over half the teams in the country would make the tourney and it’d become incredibly mediocre. This way you get about the top 1/4 with a few autobids stealing bids. Sorry for RPI or Dartmouth that an AHA team will get a bid they may deserve more (though both can still make it RPI is not looking good with 1/2 of the teams in AC being teams that wouldn’t qualify otherwise)

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