SHARE
2017.03.18 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP. PSU vs WISC. JOE LOUIS ARENA, DETROIT MI. (Tim Brule)
Penn State captured the Big Ten championship, but can the Nittany Lions add to the haul with a regional title? (photo: Michael Dubicki)

With the NCAA regionals kicking off Friday and continuing Saturday and Sunday, we asked our conference columnists to make their choices as to the four teams that will come out of this weekend and play for a national championship at the Frozen Four next month at the United Center in Chicago.

 

East Regional: Possibly the hardest regional to pick. A month ago, I’d have leaned toward Western Michigan. Providence is at home, and won the NCAA title two years ago as a four seed starting at home, but I think Harvard will scrape through.

Northeast Regional: The only regional with no NCHC teams. I don’t know too much about any of these teams. Minnesota has looked good, but I’ll pick UMass Lowell to make it through.

Midwest Regional: A possible trap regional for a Denver team that had been rolling until last weekend, filled with teams that match up well with the Pioneers. Nevertheless, I like Denver to make it through in two tough games.

West Regional: Will hockey fans get the war rematch of last weekend’s NCHC Frozen Faceoff? I think so, and being at home will be a huge boost for North Dakota. Can Minnesota Duluth beat North Dakota six times in a row? It probably depends if NoDak has Tucker Poolman. I’ll go with Minnesota Duluth to squeak through, but North Dakota is just as likely.

— Candace Horgan

 

East Regional: Providence will be the upset team out of the East. It happened two years ago and it can happen again. A fourth-seeded Friars team can use the energy of home ice to beat Harvard and either Western Michigan or Air Force. They will need good goaltending, though, from Hayden Hawkey to succeed.

Northeast Regional: UMass Lowell is playing its best hockey down the stretch. If that continues in the regional, look for the River Hawks, paced by balanced scoring, to emerge. Teams will have to play disciplined against the River Hawks if they want to win. Lowell boasts the third-best power play in the nation.

West Regional: Minnesota Duluth is, simply put, a powerhouse. And whether the Bulldogs need to beat North Dakota or Boston University in the regional final, they have the depth, defense and goaltending to advance. The one stumbling block could be North Dakota in front of a very pro-Hawks crowd in Fargo.

Midwest Regional: Denver simply seems like an unstoppable force. The Pioneers will want to avenge their semifinal loss in the NCHC tournament with a regional title and, simply put, on paper they just seem too strong of a favorite against the likes of Penn State, Union and Michigan Tech.

— Jim Connelly

 

East Regional: Harvard — One of the hottest teams in the country and the Crimson should get through the weekend with their depth at forward, defense and strong goaltending. They will have a tough test in the first round facing Providence in Providence. The championship experience gained during the season winning the Beanpot, the ECAC regular season and postseason tournaments will help them in their tough opening-round game.

Northeast Regional: UMass Lowell — All Norm Bazin knows how to do is win as the River Hawks have made the NCAA tournament five of the past six years. They have the right mix of offense and defense. Being 40 minutes from campus, they could make Manchester a second home for the weekend.

West Regional: North Dakota — Fargo will be packed with North Dakota fans and I think that will help the Fighting Hawks get to Chicago. Winners of five of their past six games, North Dakota is getting hot at the right time. It’s a deep region, but I believe last year’s championship experience will be key for them.

Midwest Regional: Denver — Like Harvard, the Pioneers are one of the hottest teams in the nation. As the No. 1 overall seed, they were rewarded by going to Cincinnati where they wouldn’t see North Dakota. They have three scoring lines with Henrik Borgström and Troy Terry stepping up their games since returing from the World Junior Championship in January.

— Nathan Fournier

 

Midwest Regional: Denver over Michigan Tech. Denver is not just the top overall seed in the field of 16; the Pioneers are arguably the best team in the nation, with an enviable consistency that will take them past the Huskies.

Penn State over Union. One of two things will happen: Penn State’s momentum — and its newfound smothering defense — will continue through the first game of this regional or the Nittany Lions will run out of steam. I think they get past the Dutchmen in spite of Union’s high-flying offense.

Denver over Penn State. Here is where Denver’s depth and experience prevail against Penn State’s passion and youth.

Northeast Regional: Minnesota over Notre Dame. The Golden Gophers have a deep, consistent, experienced team. The Fighting Irish have a deep, slightly less-consistent, experienced team. Notre Dame’s defense may be the factor, but I see Minnesota advancing.

UMass Lowell over Cornell. Lowell is arguably the best team in this bracket, in spite of its second seed. The River Hawks have the third-best scoring margin in D-I and they’ve dropped just one game in their last 12.

UMass Lowell over Minnesota. I’m just not picking against the River Hawks.

West Regional: Minnesota Duluth over Ohio State. While I like the Buckeyes’ offense, inconsistency has been their issue all season. They played well, but not well enough in the Big Ten tournament. And the Bulldogs are very, very good.

North Dakota over Boston University. I can’t imagine North Dakota bowing out on home ice in the first round of this regional.

North Dakota over Minnesota Duluth. If this were played at a neutral site, I’d pick the Bulldogs. The only reason I see North Dakota emerging from this regional is because the Fighting Hawks are playing at home.

East Regional: Harvard over Providence. The Crimson ride a 14-game win streak into this regional. Providence has struggled in its last eight games. Harvard wins.

Western Michigan over Air Force. Neither of these teams should be underestimated. The Broncos have a good offense. The Falcons have a great defense and come into the tournament hotter. I’m still picking Western. Call me a throwback CCHA homer.

Western Michigan over Harvard. I admit this pick makes little sense. On paper, Harvard is the better team. I think it’s easy for teams to look past the Broncos, though. Plus, CCHA homer.

— Paula C. Weston

 

Northeast Regional: UMass Lowell — It seems a little cliche to pick the River Hawks, but I’m okay with it. They looked the part of a national champion in winning Hockey East, and they’ll have the benefit of playing closer to home than everyone. Cornell is a sneaky sleeper pick for me here.

East Regional: Harvard — I really wanted to pick Western Michigan, but the Broncos’ NCHC tournament run ended the polar opposite of Harvard’s second half. The Crimson haven’t even tied since Jan. 21 as part of a string of 15 straight games without a loss. Over their 14-game winning streak, they’ve scored 66 goals.

Midwest Regional: Penn State — Denver is the No. 1 overall seed, but Penn State won their way into the tournament and has gotten hot. Remember that the Nittany Lions were No. 1 in the USCHO poll earlier this year. That still has to count for something for a team that proved it could win with the pressure on during the Big Ten tournament.

West Regional: Minnesota Duluth — This will all hinge on the BU-North Dakota game. If the Fighting Hawks win, the regional final becomes less certain. But I think BU wins that game. Unfortunately, it’ll be such a fight that they’ll have to come back and take on a team that should use their first game as a tuneup for the rest of their run.

— Dan Rubin

 

Midwest Regional:

Denver over Michigan Tech
Penn State over Union

Denver or Penn State

Denver vs. Penn State could be one of the more exciting regional championship games. The Pioneers have tournament experience and a chip on their shoulder after losing in the NCHC title, while Penn State is making its first trip to the dance.

Northeast Regional:

Minnesota over Notre Dame
Cornell over Umass Lowell

Minnesota over Cornell

The Gophers feel like a heavy favorite to me in this region. I don’t see them falling short of Frozen Four.

West Regional:

Minnesota Duluth over Ohio State
North Dakota over BU

Duluth over North Dakota

If this was soccer, we’d call this the group of death. Should be a tight weekend in Fargo.

East Regional:

Harvard over Providence
Western Michigan over Air Force

Western Michigan over Harvard

Just have a hunch the Broncos get it done out East. I’m also expecting overtime.

— Sean Shapiro

  • PiGuy

    Watch out for Air Force.

    • DrunkTrainPolka

      .
      here is hoping they -DO- win!
      .

  • PiGuy

    Watch out for Air Force.

    • DrunkTrainPolka

      .
      here is hoping they -DO- win!
      .

  • Husky1992

    Let’s Go Tech!

  • Husky1992

    Let’s Go Tech!

  • Grant Dossetto

    Have a feeling Tech fans will be in Cincy in numbers (and loud). It won’t be as partisan as Fargo for NoDak but it will feel like a home game for the Huskies. Add in a 11 AM start time (MDT) for the Pios and Tech has the recipe to get off to a fast start. Certainly enough to scare DU, if not beat them.

  • Grant Dossetto

    Have a feeling Tech fans will be in Cincy in numbers (and loud). It won’t be as partisan as Fargo for NoDak but it will feel like a home game for the Huskies. Add in a 11 AM start time (MDT) for the Pios and Tech has the recipe to get off to a fast start. Certainly enough to scare DU, if not beat them.

  • DrunkTrainPolka

    .
    ufda! nobody is picking against denver on the first game… yes! everything is going as planned… ;)

    GO TECH GOLD!

    unless this is a blow out, win or lose, this will be heart wrenching… for both teams.

    i wish denver the best of luck. and to tech? to tech i wish only one little thing… a win… by half-a-goal is fine.

    LET’S GO TECH!
    .

    • MN_Wild

      Are you going out their to watch Tech’s last game on Saturday? Any players you expect to see sign a pro contract late Saturday or Sunday?

      • DrunkTrainPolka

        .
        you provoke well – good luck with that working.

        last-game and signings?

        i have no expectations on either… just hopes. ;)

        GO TECH GOLD!
        .

        • MN_Wild

          I tried. I’m hoping for a Tech win. I don’t see the team I care about winning this weekend either.

          • DrunkTrainPolka

            .
            thanks. me too…

            and no, i will not be at the game. maybe i will watch it around here. maybe.

            i am a radio guy… i live 15 miles from our rink… but i hardly go – i stress too much.

            i will be doing circles around my basement… or possibly be in my van on some country road.

            …with a beer or ten. ;)
            .

          • bluegoose

            Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Huskies make the Frozen Four. Excellent defense and a terrific goalie.

          • Husky1992

            Game is on ESPNews

      • Husky1992

        Thanks for the support Wild. I can see Tech upsetting Denver. We played well as the underdog. And I think we have up to three players that could go pro after next weekend. Three defenseman, a goalie and one forward are viable. I expect to lose two of the five maybe three.

        • DrunkTrainPolka

          .
          i just hope it ain’t angus beef…
          .

          • Husky1992

            Just lost Roy!

          • DrunkTrainPolka

            .
            damn…
            .

  • DrunkTrainPolka

    .
    ufda! nobody is picking against denver on the first game… yes! everything is going as planned… ;)

    GO TECH GOLD!

    unless this is a blow out, win or lose, this will be heart wrenching… for both teams.

    i wish denver the best of luck. and to tech? to tech i wish only one little thing… a win… by half-a-goal is fine.

    LET’S GO TECH!
    .

    • MN_Wild

      Are you going out their to watch Tech’s last game on Saturday? Any players you expect to see sign a pro contract late Saturday or Sunday?

      • DrunkTrainPolka

        .
        you provoke well – good luck with that working.

        last-game and signings?

        i have no expectations on either… just hopes. ;)

        GO TECH GOLD!
        .

        • MN_Wild

          I tried. I’m hoping for a Tech win. I don’t see the team I care about winning this weekend either.

          • DrunkTrainPolka

            .
            thanks. me too…

            and no, i will not be at the game. maybe i will watch it around here. maybe.

            i am a radio guy… i live 15 miles from our rink… but i hardly go – i stress too much.

            i will be doing circles around my basement… or possibly be in my van on some country road.

            …with a beer or ten. ;)
            .

          • bluegoose

            Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Huskies make the Frozen Four. Excellent defense and a terrific goalie.

          • Husky1992

            Game is on ESPNews

      • Husky1992

        Thanks for the support Wild. I can see Tech upsetting Denver. We played well as the underdog. And I think we have up to three players that could go pro after next weekend. Three defenseman, a goalie and one forward are viable. I expect to lose two of the five maybe three.

        • DrunkTrainPolka

          .
          i just hope it ain’t angus beef…
          .

          • Husky1992

            Just lost Roy!

          • DrunkTrainPolka

            .
            damn…
            .

  • Ken Kamrowski

    Hey Paula, UND is not playing at home. Fargo is a neutral site.

    • DrunkTrainPolka

      .
      anywhere in ND is home to them…
      .

    • Husky1992

      Hardly neutral. It is the onlybsell out of the regionals no other teams supporters can get tickets. I would call that as close to home ice as you can get.

      • DrunkTrainPolka

        .
        for tech students the drive to fargo woulda have been around 8 hours. its 12 to cincy…

        but our alum base is in lower michigan… detroit to cindy is only 4 hours or so. not to mention having more buying power… ;)

        the second closest is the PSU campus at 6 hours.

        we should look pretty good in da stands.
        .

      • Everyonecornholesbucky

        It’s still neutral site. Just because Suiox fan/fighting hawk fans chose to buy the tickets and travel there does not make it a home game.

        • Husky1992

          Yup ESPN just called it de facto home ice. Every team would love to have 95% of the fans be for them. That’s called home ice advantage! Nothing major but I share would like that.

          • Ken Kamrowski

            Defacto home ice. Defacto means “in practice or actuality, but not officially established”. So it really is not home ice as I pointed out origionally. Tickets were put on sale to the public. It is not UND’s problem / issue that other teams fans were not smart enough to purchase them.

          • Husky1992

            What the heck. ESPN analysts words not mine. Why the big deal I am watching the game and it’s 95% UND fans as ESPN just said! Why argue just be happy.

          • Ken Kamrowski

            How about hearing real and accurate facts from the media. It was not an accurate and true statement.

          • Husky1992

            Haha. Its so obvious the USCHO calls it home ice – 2 of the 4 analyst’s. A sea of Green and I’ll leave it at that. So I guess the website hosting this discussion is not accurate or true!

          • Ken Kamrowski

            Home ice would have them playing at Ralph Englestad Arena. This definately is not. It was an incorrect statement.

          • Husky1992

            De facto but I know you just can’t give up. I’ll. Go with the majority. Sometimes being right technically doesn’t matter when taken in context. Enjoy the 3rd period it could be your last of the season.

          • Ken Kamrowski

            I would rather be accurate than go with the majority.

          • Husky1992

            It is what it is. DU just went up by 1. Enjoy the game don’t worry about symantics!

  • Ken Kamrowski

    Hey Paula, UND is not playing at home. Fargo is a neutral site.

    • DrunkTrainPolka

      .
      anywhere in ND is home to them…
      .

    • Husky1992

      Hardly neutral. It is the onlybsell out of the regionals no other teams supporters can get tickets. I would call that as close to home ice as you can get.

      • DrunkTrainPolka

        .
        for tech students the drive to fargo woulda have been around 8 hours. its 12 to cincy…

        but our alum base is in lower michigan… detroit to cindy is only 4 hours or so. not to mention having more buying power… ;)

        the second closest is the PSU campus at 6 hours.

        we should look pretty good in da stands.
        .

      • Everyonecornholesbucky

        It’s still neutral site. Just because Suiox fan/fighting hawk fans chose to buy the tickets and travel there does not make it a home game.

        • Husky1992

          Yup ESPN just called it de facto home ice. Every team would love to have 95% of the fans be for them. That’s called home ice advantage! Nothing major but I share would like that.

          • Ken Kamrowski

            Defacto home ice. Defacto means “in practice or actuality, but not officially established”. So it really is not home ice as I pointed out origionally. Tickets were put on sale to the public. It is not UND’s problem / issue that other teams fans were not smart enough to purchase them.

          • Husky1992

            What the heck. ESPN analysts words not mine. Why the big deal I am watching the game and it’s 95% UND fans as ESPN just said! Why argue just be happy.

          • Ken Kamrowski

            How about hearing real and accurate facts from the media. It was not an accurate and true statement.

          • Husky1992

            Haha. Its so obvious the USCHO calls it home ice – 2 of the 4 analyst’s. A sea of Green and I’ll leave it at that. So I guess the website hosting this discussion is not accurate or true!

          • Ken Kamrowski

            Home ice would have them playing at Ralph Englestad Arena. This definately is not. It was an incorrect statement.

          • Husky1992

            De facto but I know you just can’t give up. I’ll. Go with the majority. Sometimes being right technically doesn’t matter when taken in context. Enjoy the 3rd period it could be your last of the season.

          • Ken Kamrowski

            I would rather be accurate than go with the majority.

          • Husky1992

            It is what it is. DU just went up by 1. Enjoy the game don’t worry about symantics!

  • bob

    i just wished that one of these ‘experts’ had something good to say about union – but then again i’m not sure either –

    • DrunkTrainPolka

      .
      let me give you my expert picks;

      denver, tech, union, and PSU make it to the FF.

      ;)

      good luck to you tomorrow…

      GO TECH GOLD!
      .

      • Rich Neal

        Denver bad PSU are in the same regional…… maybe you ARE dRunk! (Just kidding!)

        • Ray

          he just named off the whole mid west regional

  • bob

    i just wished that one of these ‘experts’ had something good to say about union – but then again i’m not sure either –

    • DrunkTrainPolka

      .
      let me give you my expert picks;

      denver, tech, union, and PSU make it to the FF.

      ;)

      good luck to you tomorrow…

      GO TECH GOLD!
      .

      • Rich Neal

        Denver bad PSU are in the same regional…… maybe you ARE dRunk! (Just kidding!)

        • Ray

          he just named off the whole mid west regional

  • TacomaTim

    Paula- Western over Harvard makes plenty of sense. The Broncos are a well-rounded team that play a gritty, physical game. Harvard will have their hands full with Prov, while I see Western playing their game and knocking off AF in workmanlike fashion. While it’s fact the Broncos went 0-2 in conf tourney action, those losses were to #2 and #1 in the country, respectively. Western to their first FF ever!

    • Ray

      Agreed! As well as Western was without 2 of their 3 best players for the weekend. Both games were one goal differences in the 3rd. She got everything right about the UND predictions though.

  • TacomaTim

    Paula- Western over Harvard makes plenty of sense. The Broncos are a well-rounded team that play a gritty, physical game. Harvard will have their hands full with Prov, while I see Western playing their game and knocking off AF in workmanlike fashion. While it’s fact the Broncos went 0-2 in conf tourney action, those losses were to #2 and #1 in the country, respectively. Western to their first FF ever!

    • Ray

      Agreed! As well as Western was without 2 of their 3 best players for the weekend. Both games were one goal differences in the 3rd. She got everything right about the UND predictions though.

  • Friarsgirl

    I watched it happen two years ago and it can happen again today. Let’s go Friars! Everyone have fun at your sites this weekend.

  • Friarsgirl

    I watched it happen two years ago and it can happen again today. Let’s go Friars! Everyone have fun at your sites this weekend.

  • Everyonecornholesbucky

    It’s a shame the biased N4C$$ conspired the keep Wisconsin at. home

  • Everyonecornholesbucky

    It’s a shame the biased N4C$$ conspired the keep Wisconsin at. home

  • Ray

    Great picks Paula and Sean! Lol. All Bias aside, I understand how good each of these teams are, but if Western has Dries or Allison back for this weekend (preferably both), I expect to see them in Chicago.

  • Ray

    Great picks Paula and Sean! Lol. All Bias aside, I understand how good each of these teams are, but if Western has Dries or Allison back for this weekend (preferably both), I expect to see them in Chicago.

  • Rich Neal

    Harvard, Lowell, BU, Denver

  • Rich Neal

    Harvard, Lowell, BU, Denver

  • Bob Neal

    Sean Shapiro likes the western teams a little too much. Surprises for North Dakota and W. Michigan. Minnesota Duluth survives against Ohio State as the NCHC doesn’t look like the awesome league that we hear about all year….

  • Bob Neal

    Sean Shapiro likes the western teams a little too much. Surprises for North Dakota and W. Michigan. Minnesota Duluth survives against Ohio State as the NCHC doesn’t look like the awesome league that we hear about all year….