The opening rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament (you know, the one with the "Madness" and the brackets and all that stuff) were a little slow on the Cinderella front this season. For the most part, higher seeds and teams from power conferences have been ruling the roost this year.
But if you enjoy watching underdogs win and advance and games with a lot of late drama, you should have been watching the NCAA hockey tournament this weekend. (If you can find the games on ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Classic, and assuming there isn’t a 19-overtime regular-season lacrosse game dragging on and on, that is.)
Three of the four No. 1 seeds went down in the opening round.
Six of the eight first-round games were won the by lower seed.
There have been three overtime games, one a two-OT regional final.
Seven of the first 10 games have been decided by one or two goals.
The first two teams to advance to the Frozen Four, No. 3 seed Vermont and No 4 seed Miami (Ohio), failed to qualify for their conference tournaments.
Minnesota-Duluth, the first team ever to win the play-in game at the WCHA and go on to win three games in three days to take the Final Five, ended up as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament after finishing seventh in the WCHA. They nearly ended up making it to the Frozen Four.
Duluth, down by two goals with a minute left, pulled their goalie and scored twice in the final 39 seconds to force OT, then beat Princeton in the opening round. The Bulldogs loost the West Region final in OT to Miami.
UND, leading by two goals with 9:00 left, was stunned in OT by home team New Hampshire. The Wildcats got the game-tying goal with 0:00.1 second on the clock.
Bemidji State, a team that could be joining the WCHA soon, routed No. 2 overall seed Notre Dame 5-1.
No. 1 overall seed Boston U. takes on New Hampshire today at 4:30 in the Northeast Region final, and No. 3 seed Cornell faces No. 4 seed Bemidji State in the Midwest Region final.
The Frozen Four is April 9 and 11 in Washington, D.C.