Well, this was our projected bracket and discussion of the possibilities, as of last night: http://www.collegehockeynews.com/news/2009/03/21_ncaatournament.php
As you can see, we weren’t far off. We only got tripped up on the switch of Northeastern and Minnesota-Duluth. We can only speculate that this was for attendance purposes, since it deviates from setting up a “true” 2 vs. 7 matchup in the Midwest (Notre Dame-UMD) and 3-6 in the West (Denver-Northeastern).
Of course, the teams were tied in the Pairwise, basically, so it doesn’t matter too much.
Everything else went according to expectation. And you can read about all the rationale, as we laid out, in the article mentioned above.
Further explanation and analysis, and conversation with the committee, is forthcoming.
As for the brackets themselves, here are some thoughts:
Northeast – Manchester
Boston University is the top overall seed, but because of the seeding processes — as we discussed last night — the Terriers have to play Ohio State in the first round. BU should be able to take care of that young team, but OSU has beaten good teams over the course of the year.
So New Hampshire and North Dakota square off in the other matchup. You have to think the Sioux will be rarin’ to go after losing twice at the Final Five. Then again, UNH has been off a week, and is probably annoyed too.
Midwest – Grand Rapids
Because of the BU issue mentioned earlier, Notre Dame is the beneficiary of facing the lowest overall seed, Bemidji State. Meanwhile, Cornell is banged up, but the program has a strong history of winning first-round games, while Northeastern hasn’t even made the tournament since 1994. Cornell has won at least a game here the last five trips to the NCAAs, but only the seniors on this team have had a trip. That was the year Cornell lost to Wisconsin in triple OT.
West – Minneapolis
Denver faces Miami again, with the matchup of George Gwozdecky and Enrico Blasi. Blasi played for Gwozdecky at Miami. This matchup has happened before in the NCAAs, with Denver winning. So it’s not new, but still interesting.
Princeton, meanwhile, gets the chore of facing red-hot Minnesota-Duluth, and its goaltending star Alex Stalock. Princeton has a Hobey finalist in net in Zane Kalemba. Princeton will play hard and tough, and is better prepared than in last year’s appearance, but we’ll see how they match up on the big ice against Duluth. Princeton has not played on that surface much, if at all, while Duluth has plenty of experience with it.
East – Bridgeport
This should be a very well-attended bracket. Yale is local, and will draw. Vermont travels very well, and will get people down from nearby Burlington. Michigan, the top seed, of course travels well and has plenty of alums. That leaves poor old Air Force, which will play tough, for sure, and give Michigan a run.
Yale-Vermont is an intriguing matchup. We’ll see how the best the ECAC has to offer all year, stacks up against a fourth-place Hockey East team.