Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sunday Potpourri: For Your Consideration

With the end of the regular season all eyes turn to the PairWise. To be truthful, plenty of eyes had turned to it quite some time ago. There's a segment of fans that begin looking at NCAA brackets at the beginning of February. They love the what if's I guess. It isn't anything that fascinates me. On the contrary, I think guessing what the NCAA playoff brackets are going to be before they are determined is the strangest kind of mental masturbation.

Here's what I see when I look at the PairWise today and it has nothing to do with which 16 teams will eventually make the NCAA's. There are 9 WCHA teams that are currently what is called a "Team Under Consideration". That's right, 9 out of 10 WCHA teams have good enough regular season records to be in the top 25 and on the list from which it is determined who goes to the NCAAs.

Denver leads the way at #4, UND at #7, Minnesota #13, CC and Duluth are ties with others at #14, Wisconsin comes in tied at #19, SCSU #21, UAA #22 and Minnesota State at #24. UAF is #25 confirming that indeed 9th place in the WCHA is better than 4th place in the CCHA.

That is competitive parity from the top to the bottom that no other league can match. UAA's inclusion as a "Team Under Consideration" solidifies the positioning for all the other higher ranked WCHA TUC's. Plenty may decry the WCHA as having a down year and they're right I suppose. But the league is BARELY down. Just a smidgen. A wee bit. The eastern-biased press have been mostly ga-ga about Hockey East this season but with only 5 teams in the top 25 proclaiming that league as better than the WCHA can only be done subjectively. Objectively, the WCHA is still better.

As to making the NCAAs? The only way that is happening is for UAA to win it's series versus DU this weekend and then go on to win the WCHA Final Five conference tournament. Possible? Yes. Probable? No team has ever advanced from the Final Five "play-in" game to win the tournament. Doesn't mean it can't happen.

UAA's finish at 14-15-5 is the best winning percentage posted by any Seawolf hockey team since joining the WCHA.

The team is staying in the lower 48 this week in preparation for the upcoming DU series. As one of the two teams that eclipse every other teams travel schedule it's a smart move. Blowing two days of rest for travel makes no sense. I hope they move onto Denver quickly enough to help with the altitude adjustment. Expect WCHA player of the week honors for both Kevin Clark and Jon Olthuis. Kevin would seem to be a shoe-in ... Jonny O could get dicked because he only played one game. Thank Doyle Woody for the math ... the Seawolves power play is 25.6 in the last nine games. With goalie save percentages over the same period well above .900 for both of UAA's netminders things are looking good.

Here's a rundown of the various WCHA playoff series as I see them:
Michigan Tech @ UND
Though I'm sure there are MTU fans that hope for an upset, I doubt any of them suspect it will really happen. If this series were on MTU's ice then I'd give them a shot a the upset. But three playoff games at the Ralph most likely means that MTU loses in two. Don't be surprised though at one tremendous effort that pushes the series to 3 games.

UAA @ University of Denver
With the Seawolves on a 4 game roll and the team getting stellar goaltending from both Bryce and Jonny O the Seawolves have a legitimate chance at an upset. The Seawolves bench wasn't long when they put together the OT upset of DU earlier this year after being worked the night before. If there is a team from the bottom half that knows exactly how to accomplish an upset in the playoffs it is the Seawolves.

Minnesota State @ Wisconsin
Who knows? Seriously, neither of these teams has displayed any sort of desire to win more than one hockey game lately. Someone has to win. I'd put my money on Wisconsin. Mankato plays best when it is playing with emotion on home ice. Otherwise, they don't.

Duluth @ Colorado College
Have to go with CC here. I'd like Duluth to win this series. I think the odds of this going to 3 games is pretty good. Conventional wisdom would peg this as a battle between Stalock and Bachman. For UMD's sake I'd hope that doesn't happen. Bachman's been sharp lately. The Seawolves just showed how beatable Stalock is.

St. Cloud @ Minnesota
St. Cloud fans dream about playing the Gophers in the WCHA playoffs. However, their dream takes place at the NHC. This series will be at the John. The Gophers opened their regular season with two wins against SCSU 3-2 and 2-1 ... then in January the Gophs took two games at the NHC by 5-1 and 8-6. I think this is most likey a two game series for the Gophers.


Anonymous said...

gotta say, I like the pic :O)

and DIRTY is a tool <-- whew, that was eating at me..

UAA probably is the team with the most chance at upset.. You know Denver didn't want to see them again.. with no Mannino..

It's clicking, it's clicking, it's clicking..

Johhny O. and Bryce are sizzling hot, 'wolves riding a 4 game WINning streak..

Staying in the 48 was a great idea, get to the mile "high" city soon.

No matter what, you guys are still awesome, play your hearts out and that'll be all that matters..

UAA Fan in Florida(Back in AK since '05)

Highway 2 and 35 said...

How do you expect us to scroll down and read your take on the upcoming series? Not fair! Good luck to UAA with DU. I actually think you have a punchers chance. Last final comment, GO Sioux!

seawolvesfan said...

whew DD thank god you posted that pic now that school's over, man if i got caught looking at a website with that pic your blog wouldve been blocked forever at Service

Donald Dunlop said...

Sorry about that ...

But it had to be done to offset the Butterbean picture from a couple of weeks ago.

seawolvesfan said...

why you saying sorry?

close call thats all it is

Anonymous said...

UAA is 22nd and UAF 25th? In the ADN it had those flipped on Tuesday. It made me wonder if people got confused and voted for UAF instead of UAA since they had just swept UAF and then had a sweep the following week.

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