One of the rules I try to follow with the NCAA tournament is to never bet on the new guy. One of the big problems that the CCHA has faced, in my mind, is that every year, there is a different team that makes it to the NCAA tournament, and they always do poorly because they lack the experience of playing in the tournament. For example, last year, Omaha had a pretty good year, but got hammered in their first NCAA tournament game.
So using that logic, I probably shouldn't like Notre Dame as much as I do. There's two problems with that though. Technically, all of Notre Dame's seniors, minus David Brown and Tom Sawatske, played in the NCAA tournament three years ago when Notre Dame lost to Minnesota in the first round. Second, there's really no evidence to suggest that this team will slow down.
The Irish have been pretty dominant this year, though they also haven't faced that tough of a schedule. Their non-conference schedule was fairly unimpressive. The two most notable games were a 7-1 win at Boston College, and a 4-2 loss at home to Robert Morris. That loss to Robert Morris may actually help the Irish, because it serves as an important reminder to the Irish that they can't overlook anybody. On ESPN's Selection Show, Jeff Jackson said that Alabama-Huntsville had beat Robert Morris, and Robert Morris beat Notre Dame. I'm sure that he repeated that message to his team about a 1000 times this week.
In the second round, they'll face a defensive-minded team in either BU or Michigan State. They split with Michigan State this season, with each team winning at home, but I think Notre Dame's tight defense will hold up under the pressure a little better than MSU's.
Jeff Jackson has been incredible in the NCAA tournament. I'm pretty confident that he'll have his team ready to be playing their best hockey in the tournament, and I think they have a very legitimate shot of winning the whole thing.