The NCAA bracket was released this weekend and oh, man does it look like fun. There are plenty of great story lines heading into this weekend. One of my favorites would be Michigan Tech elbowing their way into the tournament following a dramatic 2OT win against Bowling Green in the WCHA tournament final. After sweeping Bemidji State, Bowling Green came into the final against Michigan Tech riding a considerable amount of momentum. Michigan Tech played all three games against Minnesota State and by the time the final came around, no one needed to tell either team that the conference final would decide who went on the the NCAA’s and who would watch. Tech would triumph in a wild 2OT affair, joining Western Michigan as the other Michigan school to make the tournament. Three Big Ten teams made the field of 16. Ohio State, Penn State and the fourth-overall seed, Minnesota.
My favorite story line heading into the tournament is Providence drawing the Providence region for the tournament. In any game they play they will definitely have the home-ice advantage. While Harvard is good, Providence will ride a strong roster and hometown advantage all the way to the Frozen Four. Denver will face a very good Union team in the second round and I think the winner of that game will beat Umass Lowell and advance to the national title game. Minnesota draws a Notre Dame team that is playing great hockey recently, Notre Dame wins then goes out and loses to Umass Lowell. WMU plays a pretty good Air Force team that simply won’t have enough to overcome Western.
In short, my Frozen Four looks like this; Denver-Umass Lowell, Boston University-Providence will be the matchups in Chicago. Obviously, projecting the Frozen Four is tough but everyone loves a Cinderella. I’ve got Providence and Denver advancing to the final at the Madhouse on Madison. Unfortunately, the clock is gonna strike midnight and Denver will win another national title.
Regardless of how the tournament goes down, this is one of the funnest, most diverse brackets I have seen in a while. One of the really cool things about the 16-team field is that I have way less opportunities to be wrong. Given my luck with picks, I could go 0-8 in the first round though, who knows.
Surprisingly, there is no news to report. With a growing number of vacancies, it would seem that now is the time for Hollis to make the move on Anastos. There are a number of coaches who one would think are interested in a fresh start. Michigan State brings back a young, talented roster that even coaches who are currently employed would want to coach (although Northern Michigan’s Walt Kyle certainly won’t be an option). Schools have been parting ways with coaches who have had far more tenure and far more success. It should not matter that hiring college coaches can be a crap-shoot. Right now is absolutely the time for Anastos to be let go. The players on this roster deserve it, the athletic department deserves it and the fans deserve it. Frustration is through the roof with the state of Michigan State hockey. There is zero reason to exacerbate this frustration. There is talent on this roster and there is talent coming in. Get the right man behind the bench and there could be something really special to come in the next few years.