Thursday, March 24, 2016

Let's Go Huskies

When TigerBlog was in Denver a few weeks ago, he watched some of the St. Cloud State vs. Minnesota-Duluth men's hockey game on television.

St. Cloud State lost. In fact, St. Cloud lost twice that weekend, 4-1 on Friday and 2-1 on Saturday.

As it turns out, the Huskies were 0-2-0 that weekend and 31-6-1 the rest of the year. Perhaps TigerBlog was bad luck for them.

TB didn't realize how good SCS was until it came time to fill out his Office of Athletic Communications hockey tournament bracket. As was the case with the basketball office pool, there is no money to join and no prize to the winner, which makes it completely NCAA compliant.

Anyway, as a way of trying to make it up to the Huskies, TigerBlog has picked them to go all the way. If seedings hold out, then it'll be No. 1 Quinnipiac against No. 2 St. Cloud State in the championship game.

Minnesota-Duluth, by the way, is also in the tournament. The unseeded Bulldogs open the tournament against fourth-seeded, Providence, who is also the defending NCAA champion.

The NCAA men's hockey tournament starts tomorrow, with 16 teams. By the end of the weekend, there will be four left, and then the Frozen Four will be held in two weeks, in Tampa. TigerBlog assumes the reason for taking next weekend off is to avoid going head-to-head with the basketball Final Four.

The women's tournament is already over, and Minnesota won for the second straight year and seventh time overall. The Gophers beat Boston College 3-1 in the championship game. BC's record heading into the game? How about 40-0.

There was a bit of controversy after the women's game, as Minnesota was given the usual celebratory hats, except they had the men's NCAA Frozen Four logo on the back. Both logos look the same, since the NCAA has now standardized championship logos, so the only difference between the men's and women's logos are the words "men's" and "women's" and the location of the tournaments.

TigerBlog would like to think this is just an error - everybody makes them - and that it could just as easily have happened to the men's hats as the women's. He'd hate to think the NCAA is paying closer attention to the men's hats than the women's. That can't possibly be the case, not in 2016, right?

Minnesota started its run to the championship by defeating Princeton in the first round of the tournament 6-2. The Tigers had won the Ivy League championship and then earned an at-large bid into the NCAA field, which has eight teams for the women.

It was a great season for the Tigers, who were an exciting team to watch at Baker Rink this winter. The 2015-16 season ended against the team that would win it all, on their ice, in front of a huge crowd.

Weren't able to get out to Minnesota? Want to feel like you were part of the trip?

The watch THIS VIDEO. It's the sights and sounds of Princeton's NCAA trip.

Meanwhile, back at the men, Quinnipiac heads into the NCAA tournament with a record of 29-3-7. The Bobcats were 2-0-0 against Princeton, but they were vastly different games.

The Tigers hosted Quinnipiac on Dec. 29 and fell 6-0 in a game that was 4-0 after eight minutes and 5-0 after the first period. It was no contest.

The teams then played the next night in Connecticut, and it certainly seemed after 10 seconds that it was going to be more of the same, as that's how long it took the Bobcats to score. Given the way the night before had gone, the quality of the opponent and the venue, it would have been easy for the Tigers to roll over.

Instead, Princeton scored the next three. Quinnipiac would score three times in a second period that saw Princeton get outshot 22-2, but Colton Phinney made 39 saves to keep it at 4-3. That's how it would end, but Princeton could take some pride from the way it stood up, especially after being outscored 7-0 in the first 60:10 of the two games.

Anyway, that's the NCAA hockey tournament.

As for the men's basketball tournament, TigerBlog is way, way down near the bottom of the office pool. He's come to the conclusion that he's not a very good prognosticator.

On the other hand, he does have both of his teams left for the championship game, which he picked as North Carolina over Oklahoma. TB has a lot of faith in OU's Buddy Hield, who put up 36 in the second round win over VCU.

As for the rest of his Final Four, TigerBlog can't remember it.

The NCAA tournament is an interesting event. To TigerBlog, it gets worse with each successive round. Maybe it's because it's really hard to match the excitement of the first round, with its requisite upsets, and the second round, where you get to see if those who pulled upsets can do it again.

In other words, you get Yale and Middle Tennessee State as the darlings of the first weekend. And the oh-so-close-how-did-they-let-that-get-away Northern Iowa.

Now? You're left with all the familiar names.

Even your two longest shots on the board are 11th-seeded Gonzaga and 10th-seeded Syracuse. Those aren't exactly Cinderella teams.

The first weekend of the tournament is always great, with 48 games in four days, which greatly increases the chances of seeing something exciting.

This weekend is all the usual suspects. So is next weekend. It can't possibly measure up.

Besides, it's lacrosse season, right?

Did you see how Air Force beat Duke the other night?

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