Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Night Beer: UNO vs Michigan in the NCAA Tournament

This morning, the speculated UNO/Michigan matchup in St. Louis was confirmed by the NCAA on the selection show. UNO is a #3 seed and gets a rematch with Michigan. In their series in October, UNO won Friday night 4-2 and Michigan won 6-1 on Saturday night. From here on, it's a single elimination series, and as you saw in the basketball tournament this weekend, anything can happen. If UNO wins on Friday, they'll likely face off against defending national champion Boston College on Saturday night. (Unless Colorado College pulls off the sweep and ensures at least one WCHA team makes the Frozen Four!)

Right now, the only way you can watch the game is to either have access on your computer or buy a $39 ticket and drive to St. Louis. ESPNU will televise the game via tape delay, but will make the game available to local television stations to carry (in HD, no less!) So it comes down to our local television stations to do the right thing and carry this game.  Here's the contact information: KXVO-Channel 15 (also KPTM-42), KETV-Channel 7, and WOWT-Channel 6. (I'm skipping KMTV-Channel 3 because they're carrying the NCAA basketball tournament at 6 pm; it's unrealistic to expect them to preempt that...)

Does UNO have a chance? In a one game series, of course. UNO has shown the ability to play up to any team. They split the season series with WCHA Champion North Dakota (a #1 seed in the tournament), as well as with Denver, who's in the same region as the Sioux.  Those two teams put on quite a show last night in St. Paul, going to double overtime before Hobey Baker candidate Matt Frattin ended the game.

Friday should be a busy day for UNO athletic director Trev Alberts, who'll start the day in Lincoln at the Board of Regents meeting where UNO's plan to move to Division I, join the Summit League, and drop football and wrestling is likely to be approved. It should be an emotional meeting, as backers of those two programs will put together their best arguments to save those problems. Problem is that while there are solid emotional reasons to retain those programs, when UNO's athletic department is trying to wean itself off of increasing subsidies, the argument doesn't hold much water. Except for programs like the Huskers in Lincoln, athletic departments almost always require some sort of subsidy.  That's expected.  What's causing the changes is that the University leadership needs to cap or reduce that subsidy, especially in light of recent trends to reduce or trim government funding of the University.  Can these decisions be reversed?  Perhaps, but it's going to take more than an emotional plea to the Board of Regents. It's going to need a solid plan to fund these sports going forward, and that's something that hasn't even been proposed in all of the protests in the last week.  Hopefully all will be done in order for Trev to fly to St. Louis and see the game, as frankly, I believe Trev gets the credit in my book for hiring Dean Blais to coach the Mavs on the ice. Without Blais, I seriously doubt UNO is in the tournament this season.

Speaking of the basketball tournament, I don't know about your brackets, but I know I missed a bunch of games. But that's the great thing about the tournament. You don't have to get all the games right; you just have to get more right (or should I say, get fewer wrong) than the next guy.

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