A year ago, the NCHC made history placing six teams in the NCAA field, the most any conference had ever placed in a single season. Could Hockey East repeat that feat? That leads the three things I learned this week.
1. Hockey East could have six teams in NCAA field
We know some simple facts right now about Hockey East and the NCAA tournament. Boston College, Providence, UMass-Lowell and Boston University are all in the field. Notre Dame is
99% 93.1% to make the tournament. That gives Hockey East five NCAA teams, in any good bettor’s mind. But what about a sixth team in Northeastern? That’s hardly as far-fetched as one may think. Right now, the Huskies are 14th in the PairWise. And should all of the leagues avoid major upsets in the conference tournaments (or if the Huskies win two at TD Garden next weekend), the Huskies would be in, making it possible that Hockey East matches the mark set by the NCHC of six teams in the NCAA tournament a year ago.
(And for the record, until Vermont lost in overtime to Boston College in game three, there were a number of very possible scenarios that if the Catamounts won the Hockey East tournament, the league could have placed seven teams in the field. SEVEN teams. That equals the most any conference placed in this year’s 68-team NCAA men’s basketball field.)
2. Northeastern and Providence head to Garden on major streaks
There is little question that the two hottest teams at the TD Garden next weekend will be Northeastern and Providence. The Huskies boast the nation’s longest unbeaten streak – 12 games (11-0-1). The Friars posses the second-longest winning streak of 10 games (one behind Denver’s 11). The two won’t play in the semifinals meaning you could possibly match two incredible streaks against one another in the Hockey East title game. That would be a pretty impressive storyline.
3. And let’s not forget about BC, Lowell
UMass-Lowell has reached the Garden for the fourth straight year and looks for its third title in that time. Boston College, absent the last two years, would love the opportunity to restart what was the longest winning streak in the championship’s history when the Eagles won three straight title between 2010 and 2012 (and five of six from 2007-2012).
And for those who haven’t seen, the league announced the game times for Friday’s semifinals:
5:00pm #4 UMass-Lowell vs. #2 Providence
8:00pm #6 Northeastern vs. #1 Boston College
It should be an incredible weekend of hockey at the TD Garden. We’ll preview the semifinals and look at possible picks for the league’s award winners in this week’s Hockey East column.