And the Midwest Regional
Game 1 #2 Denver vs. #3 Wisconsin
In honor of Wisconsin's historic bid to the tournament, perhaps instead of playing Denver head-to-head, Wisconsin should play Merrimack twice and Colgate once while Denver plays Merrimack once and Colgate four times. Whoever ends up with the best winning percentage should move on in the tournament.
Wisconsin isn't that great. Their sub-.500 record was no fluke. But they'll probably still give Denver a good game. Wisconsin gets the advantage of playing on their home rink, but some of the advantage of playing in Madison will be neutralized with no student section. And it's not like Wisconsin has been that great at home this year anyway.
Denver, on the other hand, is rolling at the right time. Peter Mannino looks like he's back in the groove he was in at the start of the season, and Tyler Ruegsegger is back from injury.
The Pioneers should win their 9th straight tournament game. The Badgers will probably keep it close for a while, but I think Denver will win by at least two goals. Shane Connelly has been decent this year, but I don't know that he's capable of stealing a game for the Badgers, which is what they'd need to win.
Game 2 #1 North Dakota vs. #4 Princeton
Princeton made the tournament because they allegedly won the ECAC tournament last weekend in Albany, but I haven't been able to track down any of the four people there to confirm. North Dakota comes into the tournament after playing probably the best second half of the season in the entire country.
I don't have much hope for the Tigers in this one. They played one game on Olympic-sized ice this season; a 6-1 loss to Minnesota State. As Clarkson has shown in their last two trips out west, playing on wider ice can be difficult for some eastern teams. Princeton's goalie Zane Kalemba is playing out of his mind right now, but even that shouldn't be enough to hold off the onslaught North Dakota will send at him.
The Sioux should be better than Princeton in every aspect of the game, and I'd be surprised if this game even stayed close.
Game 3 #1 North Dakota vs. #2 Denver
This is a rematch of the Final Five semifinal last weekend. Obviously Denver came out on top last weekend, but I think the result will be different this time around. It's tough to pick against Peter Mannino, but I think the Sioux just have more weapons than the Pioneers. North Dakota always seems to make the Frozen Four because they've always got a lot of talent, and are always playing their best at the right time of the year. This should be a close game, one that might not end after 60 minutes, but I expect the Sioux to win.