I picked up two games on Dave last weekend, but still have a massive hill to climb, particularly as I don’t expect Dave to pick too differently from me in this first round of the playoffs. Because these series are best two-of-three, we will pick all three games, even if we believe there will be a two-game sweep. So if you see us pick a team to win three games, understand why.
Jim last week: 8-2-1
Jim to date: 151-81-25
Dave last week: 6-4-1
Dave to date: 155-77-25
Hockey East first round (Friday-Sunday)
No. 12 Massachusetts at No. 5 Notre Dame
Jim’s pick: If UMass were at home, I’d have more faith. On the road, I think this should be Notre Dame’s series.
ND 4, UMass 2; ND 3, UMass 2; ND 3, UMass 1
Dave’s pick: Notre Dame’s performances down the stretch — better than .500 in six games against Providence, BU, and BC — have me convinced. The Irish should sweep or, at worst, emerge in three games.
ND 4, UMass 1; ND 3, UMass 2; ND 4, UMass 1
No. 11 Merrimack at No. 6 Northeastern
Jim’s pick: If there is one series I see a potential upset, it is this one. Not because I don’t believe in Northeastern, but because I do believe goaltending can steal playoff games and Merrimack has a stud in Rasmus Tirronen. Still, I’m picking NU in 3.
NU 3, MC 1; MC 2, NU 1; NU 2, MC 1
Dave’s pick: I can’t agree with Jim on this one. Merrimack has won only a single game since Jan. 17 and the was one in which Lowell thoroughly outplayed the Warriors. I’d be surprised to see this one go to three.
NU 4, MC 1; NU 2 MC 1; NU 4, MC 1
No. 10 Maine at No. 7 Vermont
Jim’s pick: I think Maine has the potential to be a dangerous out, and it is hard to beat a team SIX times (Vermont was 4-0 vs. Maine this season) in a single season. That said, I’m not picking against Vermont.
UVM 5, Maine 3; UVM 4, Maine 1; UVM 3, Maine 2
Dave’s pick: I think this is the series most likely to go to three games or have an underdog emerge with the upset. Vermont has been too lukewarm for me to think this matchup will be a cakewalk. I still think, though, that the Catamounts will emerge.
UVM 4, Maine 3 (OT); UVM 3, Maine 2; UVM 2, Maine 0
No. 9 Connecticut at No. 8 New Hampshire
Jim’s pick: Despite the fact that these two teams are closest in the standings in terms of a first-round matchup, I think this could be the most lopsided as each team ended the regular season headed in different directions. That said, Rob Nichols could be a dangerous factor in this series that you should watch for.
UNH 3, UConn 1; UNH 4, UConn 2; UNH 3, UConn 2
Dave’s pick: I agree that despite the usually tight eight- vs. nine-seed matchup, this series isn’t likely to play out that way. UNH is running on all cylinders; UConn, running on empty.
UNH 3, UConn 1; UNH 4, UConn 1; UNH 4, UConn 1