NCAA Tourney Thoughts

The four regionals are all completed. Ferris State and Union are going to their first ever Frozen Four, with one guaranteed to play for their first ever national title, while Frozen Four regulars Boston College and Minnesota will face off in the other Frozen Four semifinal.

-There were 12 games played this weekend. In 10 of them, the team that scored first won the game without ever trailing. Cornell coming back from 1-0 down against Michigan and Minnesota-Duluth coming back from down 2-0 against Maine were the only two lead changes of the entire weekend. There were also only two out of the 12 games in which the losing team scored three or more goals.

-Minnesota finally took advantage of their home ice to get back to the Frozen Four after being given the gift of hosting many, many regionals n recent years. Chalk up at least one positive among the many failures on outgoing athletic director Joel Maturi's record as he rides off into the sunset this summer. It's a huge advantage, even if Minnesota had been pretty inept at using it in recent years.

-That said, the NCAA did their best to neutralize any home ice advantage at the XCel Center by making sure no one would attend. Tickets for each session cost $57, and there was no re-entry between the two games on Saturday, meaning fans were pretty much stuck inside the XCel all day if they wanted to see both games. The end result of the blatant price-gouging was an announced crowd of 10,974 for a regional final between Minnesota and North Dakota. That doesn't look terrible, but as Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald pointed out, last week's WCHA Final Five quarterfinal held at the same building between Denver and Michigan Tech, and played on a Thursday afternoon drew an announced crowd of 11,489. The NCAA ran an event less successfully than the WCHA. This year's regional final was also outdrawn by the 2007 regional final between the same two teams, but held in Denver.

-The officiating over the weekend was pretty decent. Every call gets scrutinized in the one-and-done setting since it has the potential to make or break a game, but for the most part, they did pretty well. I absolutely hated the call to disallow Michigan State's apparent first goal against Union, and I thought that had a huge effect on the outcome of the game, but the reality is that the 300-page rulebook weighs more than an ounce of common sense. That rule should be changed, and I have to believe it will soon. All the other waved off goals seemed to be good calls. I have no idea how Maine's second goal against UMD was allowed to stand. I had the sound off, so maybe I missed something, but that seemed egregious.. It was a good thing that didn't end up affecting the outcome.

-Apparently the CCHA's 2-4 overall record this weekend, including two OT losses, is a complete repudiation of the conference's .585 winning percentage over a sample size of 59 games against major conference teams. Once again, the NCAA tournament provides too small a sample size to draw any narrative-type substance from.

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