Michigan Hockey Earns Two-Seed, Draws Northeastern In First Round

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on March 19th, 2018 at 10:15 AM

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Michigan will get to do this 719 miles from home [Bill Rapai]

The pundits preached patience before the season, but what was supposed to take a few seasons took just one: Mel Pearson and his staff have guided Michigan to an NCAA tournament berth in their first season behind the bench. The appearance will be Michigan’s second in the last six seasons.

Michigan drew the two-seed in the Northeast Regional and will face three-seed Northeastern on Saturday, March 24th at 4:30 PM in Worchester, MA. You can catch it live on ESPNews

Northeastern is Pairwise’s highest-ranked three-seed. Northeastern finished the season with 23 wins, including a relatively impressive (based on the rest of the bodybags on their schedule) home-and-home sweep of Boston University in November, a one-off win at Boston College in December, and wins over both schools in February’s Beanpot tournament. They also took Pairiwse no. 7 Providence to overtime in a home-and-home series in January and again in the Hockey East semis.

Northeastern’s powered by an explosive first line, good goaltending, and a high dose of Michigan’s kryptonite. Their top line of Nolan Stevens, Adam Gaudette, and Dylan Sikura put up 41, 59, and 52 points, respectively. Gaudette and Sikura are also both Hobey Baker top-ten finalists. Goaltender Cayden Primeau has a .932 SV%, including a stellar .936 at even strength and .906 when down a man. Northeastern also features the nation’s third-best power play at 27.2%, which is the highest % power play in the tournament fold and the absolute last thing you want to see if you wear a block-M sweater.

Facing Northeastern in the Northeast Regional is a fairly heavy-handed hint at Michigan’s other opponent: geography. Northeastern’s campus is a brisk 52-minute drive from the DCU Center. Should Michigan advance, they would face either one-seed Cornell (Pairwise #3) or four-seed Boston University (Pairwise #15) on Sunday. Boston University’s campus is an even closer drive than Northeastern’s (by two minutes), and they’ve recently found a way to get all their talent on the same page, surging to a Hockey East title by way of victories over Boston College and eventual two-seed Providence. Cornell may have more overall wins, but considering location, top-end talent, recent results, and the all-important PP%, Michigan might rather face Cornell for a shot at the Frozen Four.

Comments

kevin holt

March 19th, 2018 at 10:25 AM ^

That location draw is frankly bullshit but due to the idiotic placement of regionals we'd be close to their campus regardless unless we got Sioux Falls. Preaching to the seminary here but fuck this tournament format and LET'S WIN IT ANYWAY

stephenrjking

March 19th, 2018 at 10:42 AM ^

Geography is going to be an issue anywhere Michigan plays. We do not get the gift draws that BC and BU get virtually every year, because we're in the west. 

I am pretty happy with this. Northeastern will be a tough, tough matchup, but it's not a nightmare and if Michigan plays well and gets a break or two they can win. The Cornell-BU pairing is very favorable if Michigan advances, which means that a FF berth is a vague possibility.

It shouldn't be expected, not with this team. But it could happen. We were fortunate that the seedings fell in such a way that the "group of death" in Sioux Falls was not a possibility, and it's also helpful that we aren't forced to take on a scary-good Denver team in the first round, either. Hard to draw it up much better than this, even with Northeastern's matchup challenges.

Like the basketball team, it's not likely, but the scenario that sends Michigan to the final game is real and at least possible.

bluesalt

March 19th, 2018 at 11:00 AM ^

Not Worchester. Only half of the letters are pronounced (“Wooster”, but the double o is like that in “book”, and not like the college in Ohio).

Snake Eyes

March 19th, 2018 at 11:05 AM ^

Apart from the obvious benefit of playing a worse-ranked team to advance, wouldn't Michigan rather face the four seed to be deemed the home team and get last change? 

That seems way more important than the possible crowd noise advantage from playing a team that will have more fans in the building.

stephenrjking

March 19th, 2018 at 11:15 AM ^

There are four regional locations, and none of them are anywhere close to Ann Arbor, so playing someone that's closer to home has always been a possibility. 

I've written quite extensively about the injustice and absurdity of the regional system. 

That said, this is not a huge deal. Northeastern will have some fans. So will Cornell and BU. The arena will have some noise, but it will not be Yost or anything. Anyway, the committee's location priorities are attendance-based, so they'll put games somewhere where they hope that fans will attend. 

 

Alton

March 19th, 2018 at 12:46 PM ^

This is as good a place to post this as any.  So, what if we had home sites for regionals?  Let's do this lacrosse-style.

Let's make 4 rules:

(1) The top 8 teams are seeded and play the first round at home.  #9-#16 are unseeded and play on the road.

(2) Minimize the number of flights (e.g., this year you can create the matchups with only 3 flights, and the other 5 schools travelling by bus).

(3) No first-round intraconference matchups.

(4) Try to get higher seeds against lower seeds, as long as rules 1 to 3 are not violated.

So...these are our matchups:

Michigan Tech at #1 St. Cloud State
Northeastern at #8 Michigan
Boston University at #4 Ohio State
Air Force at #5 Denver
 
Princeton at #2 Notre Dame
Clarkson at #7 Providence
Penn State at #3 Cornell
Minnesota-Duluth at #6 Minnesota State
 
Isn't this so much better than our current system?

 

stephenrjking

March 19th, 2018 at 12:54 PM ^

Yes. Waaaaaaay better. Every team is justly treated. Tech has a chance at the ultimate upset, UMD-Mankato play a bit of a rivalry game in front of a raucous crowd, OSU either finds space at the Schott or fills in the lower deck at nationwide again (they have the whole weekend to find a time slot). Air Force and Denver stay close to home. PSU doesn't even have to travel that far to Cornell. 

This is so much better than what we have now it's not funny. 

Alton

March 19th, 2018 at 8:09 PM ^

I will call this the "field hockey" format:  4 regionals of 4 teams each, hosted by the top 4 seeded teams (also with a requirement to minimize flights but don't allow any first-round intraconference matchups.

St Cloud Regional:  1 St Cloud State v Michigan Tech; Minnesota State v Minnesota-Duluth
Columbus Regional:  4 Ohio State v Princeton, Denver v Penn State
South Bend Regional:  2 Notre Dame v Air Force, Michigan v Northeastern
Ithaca Regional:  3 Cornell v Boston University, Providence v Clarkson
 
Less good but cheaper than the Lacrosse format above, but better (and cheaper) than the current predetermined site format.
 

lhglrkwg

March 19th, 2018 at 11:41 AM ^

Given the density of teams in New England and the fact that there is always one or two regionals in there area, it's essentially inevitable that some New England team is going to essentially get a home game. Depending on how much of New York state you'd consider to be New England, there are 20-25 D1 teams in that area which is basically a third of D1 hockey

Regionals only happen in places where they can get attendance figures. Until the regionals return to home rinks, midwestern teams are almost always going to be screwed

stephenrjking

March 19th, 2018 at 11:51 AM ^

I once looked up BC's draws during their dynasty years and was shocked to find that they virtually never played in a regional that was further than 2 hours from home. One time they didn't make the tournament, and the other they played in St. Louis in the regional we won on our way to the final in 2011.

Every other draw they had received to that point in the 16-team era had been close to home.

Accurate up to a couple of years ago. Don't know about more recently.

 

lhglrkwg

March 19th, 2018 at 11:35 AM ^

The appearance will be Michigan’s second in the last six seasons.

Really puts into perspective how far we've fallen in the last decade or so

 

Also this fact...

Northeastern also features the nation’s third-best power play at 27.2%, which is the highest % power play in the tournament fold and the absolute last thing you want to see if you wear a block-M sweater.

...is the thing that makes me worried we might get bombed out of the first round here. A 4-1 exit seems plausible, though one could hardly be disappointed with that result in year one of Mel.

Michigantrumpet82

March 19th, 2018 at 3:12 PM ^

I now live in Boston and have watched them play multiple times this year. They were VERY impressive in the Beanpot Tournament -- which historically has been dominated by BU and BC. They are very atheletic and have a great goalie. However, they can be beaten especially if the crowd is taken out of the game early.  

Already have my tickets for the game -- Can't wait to cheer on the WOLVERINES to VICTORY!