Friday Morning Reading

CINCINNATI — There’s a different vibe around the NCAA tournament this year. UND is in a position it hasn’t been in probably 30-plus years.

It is the underdog to open the tournament.

That has not been the case lately. During the team’s current run of 12 straight NCAA tournaments, it has only been the lower seed twice prior to this season. And I don’t think UND or its fans saw itself as an underdog in those years.

In 2003, UND was the No. 3 seed taking on No. 2 seed Ferris State in the first round. The Bulldogs were making their first NCAA tournament appearance.

In 2007, UND was the No. 3 seed taking on No. 2 Michigan in the first round. Both teams were loaded, but UND was playing well with Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie and Ryan Duncan on the top line.

Outside of that, the last time UND was a lower seed in the first round was 1990, when UND was a fifth seed and Boston University was a fourth seed.

This time, UND is the underdog — the No. 4 seed. The Badgers, meanwhile, believe that this four-year cycle can end up like the last two (2006, 2010) with a national championship game berth. They are deep and veteran at every position.

“Legitimately so, we’re an underdog in this game against a really good veteran team,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “But we have the opportunity to play tomorrow and that’s exciting for our group of guys within our locker room. It’s a fairly confident, loose bunch within our locker room.”

It will be interesting to see if the underdog role helps, hurts or has no effect on UND. Around the rink today, I got a sense of a relaxed and confident group.

Today’s game is a do-or-die elimination game, which is nothing new for this time. It has faced that scenario twice.

It went into the Sunday night game against Colorado College knowing that it needed a win to keep its season alive. Same with the Saturday afternoon game against Western Michigan. UND passed the test both times.

In the last 17 years, I could only think of one other time where UND was on the bubble in the first round and needed to win to advance (not counting 2001-02. UND wasn’t on bubble that year).

That other year was 2003, when UND lost Game 1 to Denver. It came back to win the next two games in overtime and advance to the Final Five and lock up an NCAA tournament bid.

The tournament stay was short lived that year with No. 3 UND losing to No. 2 Ferris State in the first round. But one big difference is that in 2003, UND started 21-2-3 and went 5-9-2 in the 16 games before the NCAAs. This UND team started 4-7-2 and is entering the tournament 19-6-1 in the last 26.

If you want to check out some stories, there’s plenty in the Herald and Wisconsin State Journal.

NOTEBOOK: UND staying loose as NCAA tournament nears

BADGER VIEW: UW hopes four-year cycle strikes again

THE HISTORY: UND, Badgers have played classic postseason games

UND HOCKEY: Players feel rejuvenated

WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL: Questions linger about Rumpel

Now for the picks. The NCAA tournament has become such a crapshoot that I decided to do something different this year. I made my picks, then I decided to flip a coin using heads as the higher seed and tails as the lower seed. We can see who is more accurate at picking games: a quarter or myself.

My picks

Wisconsin over UND
Colgate over Ferris State
Wisconsin over Colgate

Union over Vermont
Providence over Quinnipiac
Providence over Union

Boston College over Denver
Lowell over Mankato
Boston College over Lowell

Minnesota over Robert Morris
Notre Dame over St. Cloud State
Minnesota over Notre Dame

My coin’s picks

UND over Wisconsin
Colgate over Ferris State
UND over Colgate

Vermont over Union
Providence over Quinnipiac
Vermont over Providence

Denver over Boston College
Mankato over Lowell
Denver over Mankato

Minnesota over Robert Morris
Notre Dame over St. Cloud State
Notre Dame over Minnesota

17 Responses

  1. Joe

    I disagree with St. Cloud losing to the Irish and I disagree with Denver beating BC. …. And, UND WILL NOT lose to Wisconsin. I also question the gophers, they never seem to do well at this time of year under Lucia. Otherwise, I didn’t think your picks were too far off.

    1. Devo

      This Husky fan disagrees with the Notre Dame pick as well. Here’s hoping that the NCHC has prepared it’s top two teams well for the NCAA run.

  2. Trickey7

    “I figured we ought to hang around for a while and see if we can give ’em all a nice big ****burger to eat!” – Lou Brown

  3. Viking1

    Great weekend for college hockey!! The Sioux knock off Bucky in the first round, but Colgate, Notre Dame, Lowell, and Union advance to the Frozen Four……

  4. UND Pilots

    Unfortuantely, I agree with Brad that Wisco wins it. For some reason, I’m feeling a 4-1 final score… I hope I’m wrong…

  5. Sioux4Ever

    Definitely need to keep the play out of our zone as much as possible. Zengerle, Kerdiles, and mersch will eat us up otherwise. Play strong and stay out of the penalty box.

  6. Huh

    Lets hope that the loose attitude does not translate into over confidence! They are playing from behind and need to put a good sized chip on their shoulder and play like their is no tomorrow. They have the skill to ride this war pony all the way to a national championship, but it will require 100 percent for every minute they are one the ice! I am told that our Sioux ancestors when faced with the adversity of a worthy opponent would approach the battle from the perspective of, “this is a good day to die” which meant you fought with every ounce of strength you had! That mentality is, in part, why Ralph believed so strongly in the Sioux moniker. It’s time to prepare for a battle!

  7. Sparky

    Notre Dame does not beat SCSU. It will be close, but SCSU pulls it out in OT.
    UND beats Wiscy. Not because UND is better, they win b/c they are using house money….loose teams beat tight ones.
    BC should be DU. But, I won’t be shocked if DU wins this one. BC is not as dominant as they used to be, and DU is playing well lately.
    I could not tell you anything about any other eastern team. Ferris Union Quinypac state university located in Lowell, Vermont. Cant tell you a thing about this team???

  8. Sioux Fan 3.0

    Nah u guys all got it wrong. BC takes out Union in the east- Sioux eat Gophers alive in the west ~ say hello to another BC Sioux showdown with the boys in green taking it down 3-1 (empty net) and hang banner #8

  9. Dustin

    I think the key to this game is for UND to get their first goal before it’s too late – meaning that if UND gets down by 1 or 2 goals, they’ve gotta score while they still have a chance to make something happen. If it goes 3-0 Wisco, it’s over. Once the first one comes, they’ll score more given enough time. If UND scores first, all the better.

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