When I think about my second-round CCHA playoff picks, I hear Patsy Cline singing, “So Wrong,” over and over and over again. Obviously, you can’t take my picks to the bank.
Last week: 5-6
Season to date: 131-88-25 (.588)
If I’m above .500 after the first weekend in April, I’ll be happy.
The bigger picture
In addition to the Mason Cup, this weekend’s prizes include trips to the NCAA tournament plus valuable seeding possibilities. My good friend Jayson Moy writes in this week’s Bracketology Blog that Miami and Michigan will get invitations regardless of what happens this weekend. Ferris State will go as well. Michigan State, Northern Michigan and Western Michigan are all on the bubble, and Bowling Green has to win the championship to earn the league’s autobid for an NCAA tourney berth.
What happens in league tournament play around the country affects the bubble teams, so the Spartans and Wildcats have no control over their own fate. The Broncos need to win two games to guarantee their trip to the big dance.
Want to speculate about the endless permutations or try to second-guess the NCAA selection committee? Check out USCHO.com’s PairWise Predictor 2012, an excellent way to lose an afternoon. Not that I advocate that, of course.
There are four games in the CCHA championship tournament in Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. The Broncos and RedHawks play in the first semifinal game at 4:35 p.m. Friday; Bowling Green and Michigan have the late game at 8:05 p.m. On Saturday, the third-place game starts at 3:30 p.m. and the title game is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. The numbers here reflect the seedings in this playoff tournament field.
For a more in-depth look at each team, check out my column from Wednesday of this week.
CCHA Semifinal 1
No. 3 Miami (23-13-2) vs. No. 2 Western Michigan (19-13-6)
This is a rematch of last year’s championship game, which Miami won 5-2. Miami rides an eight-game win streak into this weekend’s tournament, a streak in which the RedHawks have outscored opponents 32-5. Last weekend, Miami swept Michigan State, 6-0 and 4-1. Western Michigan advanced to this weekend after sweeping Lake Superior State, 4-2 and 5-2. The Broncos are currently undefeated in their last four games (3-0-1). During the regular season, the RedHawks swept the Broncos in Oxford Jan. 20-21, outscoring WMU 7-1 in the two games. Miami 3-1
CCHA Semifinal 2
No. 4 Bowling Green (14-23-5) vs. No. 1 Michigan (23-11-4)
The Falcons have won four of their last six road games — which is good enough to earn them a trip to Detroit. First BGSU took the first-round series from NMU in Marquette, losing 4-2 March 4 before winning 5-3 and 4-1. Then the Falcons bested first-place Ferris State in a second-round series last weekend in Big Rapids, winning 3-2 in overtime March 9, losing 7-4 the following night, and prevailing 4-3 in OT on Sunday. (In case you missed it, here’s the Falcons’ reaction to the final win.) The Wolverines swept Notre Dame at home, 2-1 (OT) and 3-1. (Here’s video from Yost Ice Arena after Saturday’s win.) These teams split in Bowling Green the final weekend of the regular season, with BG winning 4-3 Friday and UM taking the Saturday game, 4-0. This is an easy pick to make because some folks are superstitious and I’ve called against the Falcons all the way in the postseason — and because the odds are with the far less-superstitious Wolverines. UM 4-3
The following matches are speculative. These are the pairings I’m predicting based on how I think Friday night will go … so take them for what they’re worth.
CCHA Third-Place Game
Bowling Green vs. Western Michigan
These teams played four times during the regular season, with the Broncos edging the Falcons 2-1-1. The hard part about this pick is that I can’t see either team losing two games this weekend, but someone has to. WMU 3-2
CCHA Championship Game
Miami vs. Michigan
Clearly the momentum is with Miami, but I think the Wolverines have some sort of undefined magic that will aid them this weekend. The rivalry between these two teams has become very intense during recent seasons, so if they meet in the title game, I expect an intense game — probably going to overtime. UM 2-1
Congratulations to all the winners of the CCHA’s year-end awards, especially MSU junior defenseman Torey Krug, the 2011-12 CCHA Player of the Year, and FSU coach Bob Daniels, the league’s Coach of the Year.
I’ve been around this game for a little while now and it’s been my privilege to meet some really great people, but few come any nicer than Krug and Daniels. I know that niceness wasn’t a factor in the selection process, but it’s always gratifying to see nice guys finish first.
Join me from Joe Louis Arena for live blogging during the CCHA games. I’ll have help from Matt Nye, a reporter from Bowling Green who’s helping us cover the CCHA tourney for the first time. There will be a link from USCHO’s front page to the blog.
For those of you planning on participating, remember a few ground rules. I’ll be moderating, so I’ll allow no profanity, trash-talking or soliciting. Also, we won’t be posting outside links to any audio or video feeds for any games, so if you’re a member of the USCHO fan forum, I suggest setting up a thread in which all such feeds are posted — and I’ll gladly post a link to that message board thread.