My weekly predictions are coming a bit early this week as I am leaving work early tomorrow to drive up to Bemidji and watch the University of North Dakota take on the Bemidji State Beavers at the Sanford Center. This will be the first UND game I have attended since the depressing St. Cloud St. series back in November in Grand Forks. At the time, I was wondering how we could get swept at home by the loathsome Huskies but now almost 4 months into the season and it appears that SCSU may be the real deal. This is not a first as they have previous history of strong seasons…until they get to the first round of the NCAA tournament. Sorry, couldn’t help myself with that one. I don’t mean to kick a man…err, dog when he’s down(that sounds worse than it is, I swear I don’t beat dogs) but the Huskies can never seem to get out of their own way come tournament time and have yet to win the “big one” despite having the teams to do so. On to the predictions!
#20 University of North Dakota vs. Bemidji State University(Bemidji, MN @ The Sanford Center & Grand Forks, ND @ The Ralph Engelstad Arena)
UND has absolutely dominated this series since it’s inception and if my mind is working right I believe North Dakota has won all but 1 of the meetings in the last 40 years (insert Beaver joke here). Fighting Sioux fans usually look at the Beavers like their kid brother who they always root for and want them to be succesful…as long as it’s not at UND’s expense. If BSU ever started winning some of the close games they have played, I have a feeling that warm feeling fans have in their heart for their furry friends from Bemidji would disappear quicker than Adam Tambellini from a difficult situation(last time I mention him, I swear).
All signs would point towards this being a close series and allowing the beavers to sneak away with at least a point. However, I think there is an unspoken mental advantage that the green and white hold over Bemidji which has allowed them to win nearly every game they play against each other. Because of this, I am going to go ahead and predict UND complete’s their 4th straight sweep this weekend. They know the importance of these last non-conference games in their schedule should they hope to make the NCAA tournament and under Hakstol it seems as though the team is able to get it done under similar circumstances in past seasons. So for those reasons, and that I don’t want to go to another disappointing UND game, I’m going with…
UND 4-3, UND 3-1
#2 Ferris State University vs. Minnesota State University(Mankato, MN @ Verizon Wireless Center)
If I were to tell you in October that one of these teams would have 3 losses be at the top of the WCHA and the other would be around .500 overall many people would have understandably picked the Mavericks from Mankato as the team at the top of the WCHA. However, the Ferris State Bulldogs have shown that they belong in the conversation winning 10 out of their last 12 games. The only issue I have is that in those games, Ferris State has not beat a team currently in the top 20 in the nation. No, you don’t get to pick your opponents but one could say that there is still much to prove for this team. When you take a look at their entire schedule they only play one team the entire year inside the top 20. That was the game against Michigan and they tied on December 11th so the jury is still out on whether they deserve their lofty #2 national ranking.
As for this weeks opponent, it may be one of the toughest tests they face this year. They will be playing the Mavericks in Mankato, where the purple cows have only lost once in so far this year. Did I mention that was in the beginning of November and by 1 goal? However, the Mavs are coming off a brutal trip to Anchorage, AK where they were swept by the Aquatic Dogs and as any team that has been to far reaches of North America knows, that trip can wear on a team. Even though I almost talked myself out of my original prediction, I’m going with a split as the Mavericks are too tough to sweep at home…
FSU 4 MSU 2, MSU 3 FSU 2