Saturday, March 28, 2009

This Year, March Madness is On Ice

Despite the relative lack of upsets, the TV ratings for the NCAA basketball tournament are up once again. Nevertheless, some people are complaining about the lack of drama. No little guys knocking off the big guys.

They're watching the wrong sport.

March Madness is very much alive and well ... in the NCAA hockey tournament. It's been an absolutely ridiculous first couple of days. It all started when Air Force took on the third-ranked Weasels of Michigan. The Weasels outshot the Falcons 43-13...but the Air Force, coached by former Lancer head coach Frank Serratore, pulled off the shutout, as the Weasels fell 2-0.

Then, Denver became the second #1 seed to exit the tournament as Miami jumped all over the Pioneers, with the Redhawks winning 4-2. Vermont then took out host #5 Yale for three upsets in three games. But then it really got bizarre.

Princeton thought they were cruising out of the first round, leading Minnesota-Duluth 4-2 with a minute to go. Yeah, right.
The Bulldogs scored with 40 seconds left to pull within one, then tied the game up with 0:00.8 left to send the game to overtime. Naturally, Duluth scored in overtime to win 5-2. Four games, three upsets and one incredible finish.

Today, hockey fans missed about half of the North Dakota/New Hampshire game because of a seven-overtime lacrosse game on ESPN2, but they didn't miss yet another wacky ending. New Hampshire scored a game-tying goal with 0:00.1 (yes, 1 tenth of a second left) to send the game to overtime, where, yes, New Hampshire won in overtime. Five games, four upsets and two incredible finishes.

The string of upsets ended when #1 Boston University filleted Ohio State 8-3, reminding many UNO fans of the Terriers first round blowout in 2006. But back to the madness. Cornell defeated Northeastern 3-2, with the game winning goal scored with eighteen seconds left. Bemidji State embarassed CCHA champion Notre Dame, beating the #2 team in the country 5-1 this evening for yet another upset. Air Force and Vermont had to go to double overtime before Vermont punched their ticket to the Frozen Four. Miami redeemed a little respect for the CCHA by defeating Minnesota Duluth 2-1 to also claim a Frozen Four berth.

10 games, 7 upsets with 3 incredible finishes in the Big Skate. March Madness is alive and well on ice.

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