2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament Preview

Submitted by NastyIsland on March 22nd, 2018 at 9:15 AM

2018Bracket

Hello Plinko, my old friend death. [uscho.com]

After the Michigan preview, there will be a breakdown of the remaining seven games, starting with the opposite game in Michigan’s Regional. I’ve asked Adam and MGoHockeyReference Anthony Ciatti to give a take as well.

Probabilities. If you’re looking for some game-specific numbers, Ed Feng has released his predictions based upon his new rankings.

The Field

Northeast Regional

(3) Cornell, (8) Michigan, (9) Northeastern (13) Boston University: What a crazy regional for Michigan. Cornell ain’t played nobody never but has only given up 49 goals in 32 games. BU has more NHL talent than the Arizona Coyotes, but might be coached by Also Herm Edwards. Northeastern never has the puck but has two Hobey finalists and an ace freshman legacy goalie. So, they’re Notre Dame with goal-scorers. Oh, and the #3 and #4 seeds are playing in their backyard. What even. Can we do this, please? 

(8) Michigan vs (9) Northeastern

Team

PWR

Corsi Rank

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Record in last 5 games

Northeastern

9

37

27%

82%

7

6(5)

1.88

.932

4-1

Michigan

8

22

18%

75%

7

3

2.79

.910

4-1

Things Michigan Needs to Do Against Northeastern:

1. Stay Out of The Box. Every week, this is #1. In past weeks, its been a direct reflection of Michigan's penalty kill. While that is still the case, Northeastern has a top-3 power play. Gaudette, Sikura, and Stevens have a combined 35 of their 75 goals for the season on the man advantage. Yikes. Matching penalties can be acceptable, but giving the Huskies more than three power plays could easily mean a short return to the NCAA Tournament for the Wolverines.

2. Wisely Use the Last Change. Being the #2 seed instead of the #3 seed makes Michigan the 'home' team (yes, I am also laughing). Because of that, the Wolverines will get the last change. This could/would mean being able to match-up the Hughes/Cecconi pairing with Northeastern's version of the CCM line: Adam Gaudette, Dylan Sikura, and Nolan Stevens. While this could temper some of Hughes's ability to go forward, tell me two other defensive options that would be preferred on the ice against two Hobey Baker finalists. 

3. Win via Depth. Once you get past the top line for the Huskies, the scoring drops off rather suddenly; their fourth through sixth forwards have five, five, and seven goals on the season. The two post-DMC lines for Michigan aren't exactly explosive, but Slaker and Norris have had a productive second half. Also, the Pastujovs and Becker have turned up their output, as well. Given each team's possession rates, Michigan should be able to control the puck, and getting some depth-scoring will go a long way to offset Northeastern's top line.

Final Thoughts: Man, I don't know. This was the mid-seed that I was hoping to avoid. Northeastern has two Hobey Baker finalists, a top-5 freshman goalie, a wicked-awesome power play, and a ridiculous top line. They also have a poor possession rate, little scoring depth, and a weakish schedule. Michigan might have the more complete team, but Northeastern has higher peaks in key spots and looks like they might be a tough matchup for the Wolverines. If Lavigne plays towards his higher end, though, Michigan has a good chance...assuming they can keep the game at even strength.

Adam’s Take: Things look pretty bleak in some key spots for Michigan, but I think they've got just enough going their way to squeak out a win. As David mentioned, having the last change will help match top pair against top line; this isn't likely to neutralize one of the best top lines in the country, but there's comfort in putting out a solid pairing that features a defenseman who excels at playing keepaway. One caveat to my prediction: they only squeak out said win if they take fewer than three penalties. Michigan can probably kill one or two peanlties and use the second and third lines to make up the difference at even stregth, but more than three penalties and Northeastern creates a chasm Michigan can't bridge.

Anthony’s Take: I watched the Beanpot and came away thinking NU was a good team.  Their high-end talent and goaltending is something I hadn't seen a lot of this season and I did not want Michigan to draw them in the tourney. Northeastern is 16-4-4 since the start of December, so they are equally as hot as Michigan  They had a goal differential in conference of over 1.5 goals per game, and were best in their league in both goals for and against.

Obviously I think UM can win this game as it is a one-game knockout, but I would favor Northeastern. For Michigan to win they will have to avoid bad penalties and high-danger scoring chances. Northeastern has the special teams and goaltending advantage so that worries me. Unfortunately I think UM's achilles heel (PK and Goaltending) will be their demise here.

 

[Predictions for the rest of the field after THE JUMP]

it's the most wonderful time of the year [JD Scott]

Michigan’s Other Regional Game:

(3) Cornell vs (13) Boston University

Team

PWR

Corsi Rank

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Record in last 5 games

Boston U

15

20

22%

79%

12

7

2.42

.901

4-0-1

Cornell

3

24

17%

83%

6

3

1.49

.940

3-2

David’s Take: Too much talent. Jimmies and Joes beat X’s and O’s. Chalk one up to Plinko! I’ll go with the Terriers.

Adam’s Take: BU is playing an hour from their campus, their wins in the Hockey East tournament came against legitimately good competition, and they're overstocked with NHL draft picks. I'm also going with the Terriers.

Anthony’s Take: Poor goaltending and injuries seem to have done in BU the first half of this season (along with the fact their coaching does not seem to be great). Jake Oettinger was a first-round pick and has not played up to that and he stunk in the World Juniors, but the talent is there in net. BU is quietly hot (they've only lost twice since the World Juniors) so I think they will win this despite the fact I spent the previous two sentences dissing them. They have good form right now and the talent to carry them.

BU and Cornell played Thanksgiving weekend and BU outshot them badly and lost 4-3 but as I said I don' think that result is repeated.

Regional Winner: I like the winner of Michigan/Northeastern (David); The universe is cold and unfeeling so of course it's going to be Boston University. They'll break Michigan's hearts with a late did-that-hit-a-shin-or-a-butt-or-both goal (Adam); Northeastern over BU (Anthony)

East Regional

(2) Notre Dame, (7) Providence, (10) Clarkson, (15) Michigan Tech: This might be the least interesting regional. Notre Dame is 90’s Prevent Hockey. Providence seems to be above average at most things. Clarkson hasn’t been quite right since mid-January. Michigan Tech tallied must-win games twice in Mankato and again in Marquette to get here. I would have liked Michigan to get the #2 seed here.

(2) Notre Dame vs (15) Michigan Tech

Team

PWR

Corsi Rank

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Record in last 5 games

Michigan Tech

21

34

19%

77%

2

1

2.60

.907

4-1

Notre Dame

2

45

22%

89%

6

2

1.93

.946

3-2

David’s Take: All defense, all of the time for the Notre Dame. Tech struggles on the kill with poor goaltending. Here Come The Irish!

Adam’s Take: Cale Morris will carry ND to a win despite being under seige constantly.

Anthony’s Take: MTU has been on a roll but I think Notre Dame takes this, although it's not as lopsided as it seems. Notre Dame is legitimately great and fantastically coached, but they've had a meh record the last couple months, as they don't have the high-end talent to take them through rough stretches. Tech has been good the last few weeks and has been solid against major conference teams this season.

(7) Providence vs 10 (Clarkson)

Team

PWR

Corsi Rank

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Record in last 5 games

Clarkson

10

19

26%

84%

2

5

1.84

.928

3-2

Providence

7

2

18%

85%

8

3

2.10

.917

3-2

David’s Take: I was hoping Michigan would draw Clarkson. They’re 4-6-4 since the end of January. Providence will bid Clarkson ‘Good Knight.’

Adam’s Take: This is one where I think the disparity in their possession numbers is enough to make a difference, so I'm going with Providence.

Anthony’s Take: I think Providence wins this, as they have only lost four games in 2018.

Regional Winner: Notre Dame, but not shocked if its the Friars (David); The Friars, and that's all because they'd have the puck the entire time against ND and would need to beat Morris maybe twice and not at all because their logo is this (Adam); Providence over ND (Anthony)

West Regional

(1) St Cloud State, (6) Minnesota State, (12) Minnesota Duluth, (16) Air Force: This is a fun regional. Three Minnesota-based teams including the consensus #1 overall; a stingy, stats-friendly Mid-Major, an explosive hot-until-late team from up north…and a high-flyin’ team from Colorado Springs.

(1) St Cloud State vs (16) Air Force

Team

PWR

Corsi Rank

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Record in last 5 games

Air Force

27

9

13%

84%

0

1

2.09

.920

4-1

St Cloud State

1

13

23%

80%

4

5

2.41

.912

3-2

David’s Take: Air Force as a #4 will always scar scare me. It’s not 2009, though. St Cloud State in this one.

Adam’s Take: I'll probably regret not picking Air Force, but it seems like SCSU's firepower is too great. The Huskies ground the Falcons.

Anthony’s Take: I LOVE Bob Motzko as a tournament coach. He has been terrific at the WJC for USA.  Air Force is also very well coached but SCSU should do well here.

(6) Minnesota State vs (12) Minn-Duluth

Team

PWR

Corsi Rank

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Record in last 5 games

Minn-Duluth

12

5

24%

83%

4

3

1.98

.924

3-2

Minnesota State

6

1

27%

86%

1

7

1.76

.916

3-2

David’s Take: Talent or consistency? Mavericks won in Duluth earlier this year. This one goes to Iceman. Woof!

Adam’s Take: Minnesota State because their wins over Duluth and SCSU in the regular season are enough for me to believe they can win against quality teams. Also, they're the Minnesota team in this contest that wears purple, so you have to wonder what the energy signature formerly known as Prince can do for them karmically.

Anthony’s Take: I think Duluth takes this, I like their talent and coach.  Would prefer if Minnesota State was the Screaming Eagles I might be able to get on board with them if that was the case.

Regional Winner: Screw Plinko! St Cloud State (David); St Cloud State because their mascot is a Very Good Boy and Jimmy Schuldt is a very good player; a power-play tally is the difference against Minnesota State (Adam); SCSU over Duluth (Anthony)

Midwest Regional

(4) Ohio State, (5) Denver, (11) Penn State, (14) Princeton: This is probably the most attractive regional. Ohio State is a legit #1. Denver could easily be a #1. Penn State is Bonkers Hockey and they’re basically at home. Princeton might be the hottest team around, winning their last seven games.

(4) Ohio State vs (14) Princeton

Team

PWR

Corsi Rank

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Record in last 5 games

Princeton

18

27

29%

80%

0

7

2.88

.914

5-0 (7-0)

Ohio State

4

14

24%

89%

3

4

2.09

.925

4-1

David’s Take: #1 Power Play vs #1 Penalty Kill: Fight! Seriously, though…this is basically Ohio State Football. Buckeyes win, whatelseisnew.

Adam’s Take: Nothing. Nothing else is new. Ohio State is a team far better than your typical three-draft-pick outfit. They win because of course they do.

Anthony’s Take: If college hockey had a more widespread appeal OSU would get a ton of accolades for what they've done the last two seasons. I think Rohlik is outstanding and I love this team. I think they can win it all. Princeton is hot and they recently beat Cornell but I have to go with OSU as they have been rolling for a long time.

(5) Denver vs (11)Penn State

Team

PWR

Corsi Rank

PP%

PK%

Players Drafted

Skaters >.75 PPG

GAA

Save%

Record in last 5 games

Penn State

11

8

22%

82%

4

5

2.98

.906

4-1

Denver

5

3

22%

85%

5

4

1.85

.929

4-1

David’s Take: Denver has Mankato’s stats with NHL talent. Maybe the best coach in college hockey. And…Peyton Jones is going to fart in a couple of goals at some point. I’m taking Denver.

Adam’s Take: If Peyton Jones is indeed going to fart in a couple of goals, the odds seem pretty dang good that they'll be Henrik Borgstrom goals. Denver moves on.

Anthony’s Take: Penn State is a paper tiger for me, and I think Denver will win the game.

Regional Winner: Denver. But someone keep them from going back-to-back, please.(David); Denver. Their goaltending will carry them through, put having a Hobey finalist with the idealized name for a forward doesn't hurt (Adam); OSU over Denver (Anthony)

Comments

EGD

March 22nd, 2018 at 11:15 AM ^

That was a very passive-aggressive comment.

It's more accurate to say that the popular opinion here--and one that is well-supported by statistical analytics--is to the effect that luck and randomness have an outsized effect on the outcomes of single hockey games, not that luck is the sole determinant. 

You knew that, and worded your post in a manner that caused subscribers to this viewpoint either to look ridiculous if they say nothing, or petty if they correct your overstatement.

I guess I could reciprocate by mocking the opposing viewpoint, that single-elimination victories are produced by clutch performers with the will to win.  But truly I'd prefer if we were just nicer to each other.

trueblueintexas

March 22nd, 2018 at 1:09 PM ^

YEAR CHAMPION COACH SCORE RUNNER-UP HOST OR SITE
2017 Denver (33-7-4) Jim Montgomery 3-2 Minnesota Duluth Chicago
2016 North Dakota (34-6-4) Brad Berry 5-1 Quinnipiac Tampa
2015 Providence (26-13-2) Nate Leaman 4-3 Boston University Boston
2014 Union (N.Y.) (32-6-4) Rick Bennett 7-4 Minnesota Philadelphia
2013 Yale (22-12-3) Keith Allain 4-0 Quinnipiac Pittsburgh
2012 Boston College (33-10-1) Jerry York 4-1 Ferris State Tampa, Fla.
2011 Minnesota Duluth (26-10-6) Scott Sandelin 3-2 (ot) Michigan St. Paul, Minn.
2010 Boston College (29-10-3) Jerry York 5-0 Wisconsin Detroit
2009 Boston University (35-6-4) Jack Parker 4-3 (ot) Miami (Ohio) Washington D.C.
2008 Boston College (25-11-8) Jerry York 4-1 Notre Dame Denver
2007 Michigan State (26-13-3) Rick Comley 3-1 Boston College St. Louis
2006 Wisconsin (30-10-3) Mike Eaves 2-1 Boston College Milwaukee
2005 Denver (32-9-2) George Gwozdecky 4-1 North Dakota Columbus, Ohio
2004 Denver (27-12-5) George Gwozdecky 1-0 Maine Boston
2003 Minnesota (30-8-9) Don Lucia 5-1 New Hampshire Buffalo, N.Y.
2002 Minnesota (32-8-4) Don Lucia 4-3 (ot) Maine St. Paul, Minn.
2001 Boston College (33-8-2) Jerry York 3-2 (ot) North Dakota Albany, N.Y.
2000 North Dakota (31-8-5) Dean Blais 4-2 Boston College Providence, R.I.

This is the list of NCAA Champions since 2000. Other than 2007, please point out all of the undersrving teams who have won the Frozen Four? There are hardly any. Almost all of those teams are connsistenly considered the best in the sport. And look at the runner up teams. It's basically the same list as the champions.

If single elimination hockey is as random as some claim, you would see a bunch of crazy names on this list (again, 2007 not withstanding). The fact is, you don't. The cream still rises to the top.

lhglrkwg

March 22nd, 2018 at 3:46 PM ^

The point is that hockey is so low scoring / high variance, that better teams are consistently knocked out of the tournament by fluke goals, bad calls, weird plays, etc. Much more so than basketball.

And since you did such in depth analysis of the frozen four

2015 - Providence - 4 seed

2013 - Yale - 4 seed

Pepto Bismol

March 22nd, 2018 at 1:23 PM ^

UMBC just beat the #1 team in the nation by 20.  But yeah, hockey is Plinko. Only hockey. Like we're all out there just flinging pucks around in the dark.

Remember the B1G tourney?  Which resulted in #1 beating #2 in the final? Yeah, total shocker.  What a random series of events that was that saw chalk walk through the entire tourney, single elimination or not.

It's single elimination. It's sports. It happens. Somehow, at some point, the college hockey community here had it put into its collective head that you can't tell who is a better hockey team over the course of a single game and that is not only false, it's incredibly lame.

Yes, a lesser seed can get hot and win. Like, ya know, 8-seed Michigan winning the B1G hoops tourney last year.  Or the New York Giants beating the Patriots for the Super Bowl out of a Wild Card spot. I'm not a tennis guy to give you a relevant upset example, but... tennis.

I know what you want:  A 3 game series that erases all doubt. Well what happens when two teams split and have the series decided solely over the 3rd game? Isn't that 3rd game the same random determination?  If these games are so random, how do two random outcomes mean any more than one?

      "Wull, yeah. But, (fart noises...)"

It's sports. It's a contest. There's a winner and a loser. Hockey players have been playing single elimination since Mites, just like every other sport. This is not new. Every league, every tournament, every state or national playoff. That's how this works. It is not an affront to civilized competition, you whiny ninny.  It's a fucking tournament.

 

 

 

lhglrkwg

March 22nd, 2018 at 12:34 PM ^

Anyone who’s watched more than a few tournament games can tell you how unpredictable a single game elimination hockey tournament can be

In a best of 7 series, that 2011 North Dakota team probably wins 4-1 every time. We were on the fortunate end of single elimination that day

Kevin13

March 22nd, 2018 at 9:39 AM ^

Michigan over NU by a score of 3-2. UM will score one goal a period and hold their big line to two goals for the game. They don't have enough scoring depth to make up for it. Michigan to face BU in regional final.

mp2

March 22nd, 2018 at 12:25 PM ^

Has the michigan tech region first round games at 3:00 and 6:30 on Friday, and the second round game at 6:00 on Friday. I assume it must be 6:00 on Saturday?