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In Defense of Lake State

I was going to save this until the end of my previews, but I might as well do it now. I've taken a pretty fair amount of flack from people who questioned my choice of Lake Superior to finish second in the conference. I'm ok with that, because it's a bit of a wacky pick, and to be honest, I pretty much expected people to not agree with it. But I'm sticking with the pick, and here's why.

Unlike the WCHA, which has about as much upward social mobility as India, the CCHA always seems to have at least one team that comes out of nowhere and surprises people, while somebody that everyone picks to finish high in the league disappoints.

Take last year for example. Ohio State was coming off a strong second place finish in 2004-2005 and they were the hands-down choice for number one in the CCHA, getting 11 first places votes from the coaches(I'm assuming John Markell was the one exception), and 47 out of 52 first place votes from the coaches. Miami, coming off a season where they finished in 7th place, was picked to finish in 6th by the coaches and 7th by the media. As it turned out, Miami ended up running away with the league while Ohio State struggled to a 10th place finish.

That's not the only example though. In 2004-2005, Nebraska-Omaha was coming off a last place season and was selected to finish in dead last again by both the coaches and the media. I actually went out on a limb that year and predicted Omaha to finish in 5th place in the league, and I don't think I saw anybody else predict them near the top 6th. The Mavericks went to take 4th place in the league that year. Miami, who was coming off a year where they finished a single point out of first place in the league, was predicted to finish in 4th by the coaches, and 3rd by the media. They finished the year in 7th, one point behind consensus second place pick Michigan State, who finished in 6th.

It doesn't stop there though. In 2003-2004, Ferris State was coming off a year in which they won the CCHA regular season title and they were picked to finish third in the media and received two first place votes. The Bulldogs finished that year in 9th, while Miami, who was picked to finish in 6th by the media, finished the year in 2nd place.

Going back even further, in 2002-2003, Ferris State was picked to finish in 9th place by both the coaches and the media, and ended up winning the CCHA regular season title.

How about 2001-2002? Alaska-Fairbanks was the media's pick to finish last in the league, and they finished the year in fourth place.

That's five straight years of somebody nobody seemed to think was any good coming out a surprising people with a really high finish. I think it's fairly safe to say that it's likely that another team will do it again this year. Will it definitely be Lake Superior? Who knows. But they are the team that I think is really going to surprise people this year.