Long Distance Thoughts 03.22.2021

Sometimes you get what you wish for. I wanted chaos in the NCAA hockey tournament & guess what? I got it.

If you heard our College Hockey Southwest Live podcast last night (You haven’t? Let’s go…), I literally was getting the brackets as we were doing the show. I know they were released about an hour earlier, but when your phone dies earlier in the day, who knows. We were lucky to even get the show on “the air”. 

Five teams from Minnesota in? Was the governor the only person on the committee? Please. The first four were a no brainer. Minnesota (I will not share my private nickname for them), Minnesota State, Minnesota-Duluth & St. Cloud State all deserved to be in the tournament, but Bemidji State? Really? They finished behind Bowling Green in the WCHA standings. How the heck were they as solidly in the tournament as they appeared to be? Wrong choice…

And as long as we are bashing the selection of Bemidji over Bowling Green, how the heck were they considered over Army or Denver? You want to say that Denver finished under 500? Okay, it is a valid argument. Once again, they got in over a team that finished higher in the standings in their own league. So clearly, the finish in the conference did not matter. 

Don’t believe that? Look at the Big10. 

Notre Dame became the fourth Big10 team to make the tournament, when St. Lawrence, the ECAC winner had to withdraw because their coach was diagnosed with Covid…not even the players, the coach. If you were to take a look at the Big10 standings you will see that Notre Dame, not Michigan finished third in the B10, yet they only got in because the Saints had to withdraw. And in the tournament, Michigan was given a number two seed? How can they be ranked so high, yet finished fourth in the standings? You can’t put Michigan in over Notre Dame, but that is exactly what the committee did. Is the governor of Michigan in cahoots with the governor of Minnesota? I guess the regular season didn’t count. The thing I can’t figure out here, how come they didn’t figure out a way to get Michigan State, Ferris State, Michigan Tech & Northern Michigan in the field as well. Although Northern Michigan (the only team named Wildcats, I will root for) almost played its way in. Were they trying to figure out a way to Wayne State its team back and put them in, too? 

The only other person I can figure out that was on the committee was a muckety-muck from Hockey East.

Nothing against Hockey East. The “Boston” schools, BC & BU, are loaded with talent and will absolutely be a threat in the tournament, but BU (with apologies to my friend Jim) barely played the 13-game minimum that we were told was going to be the requirement for being tournament eligible. Did BU get to that number, yes…but barely, so their lack of games was not held against them. And I’m okay with that, but then it was held against Denver, or it seemingly was. Yeah, I know they were under 500, but the regular season didn’t matter for Michigan & Bemidji State, why Denver?

That brings us to the final entry, the regular season & tournament champion in Atlantic Hockey, AIC. I have no doubts that the governors of Minnesota & Michigan were breathing heavy sighs of relief that AIC won both of those titles in AH. Otherwise they might have had to consider blasphemous behavior and put a SECOND Atlantic Hockey team in the tournament. Due to Covid issues, AIC did not play for two months, but they managed to do what they had to do, thankfully for the committee. Now I get back to bashing Bemidji. Well, not really the team, but the selection of the team by the Minnesota governor. It is clear that the next teams in line were Providence, UConn and I think UMass-Lowell. Sorry, but the fact that these teams were given just consideration over Army, who was the second hottest team in the country for ten weeks, is idiocy. They lost on game in regulation in their last 13. It was the conference semi-final game in OT v Canisius. Am I bit biased, maybe, but it is another case, of the disregarding of the standings. In this case, the standings, and disrespecting the league and it’steams that have made the NCAA hockey tournament feel much more like the basketball tournament. How many more upsets do the teams in that league have to pull before getting the consideration it deserves. And if it was ever going to happen, this would have been the year. What? Historical data? That matters? Okay, then why wasn’t Denver in or Bowling Green? I mean besides the fact that the governors of Colorado & Ohio were not on the selection committee, like those other governors.

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