UND is off this weekend before taking on the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks the following weekend in Grand Forks. The Sioux are currently sitting in the 17th position in the all important pairwise rankings. The team would probably like to make it to at least 13th by the end of the conference tournaments to feel as though they are securely in. But as Al Davis famously quoted “Just Win Baby”. Rankings take care of themselves if North Dakota continues to win the majority of their games as they have in the past couple of months. However, this week since the team is unable to win any games let’s look at a few results that could help bump them up in the rankings while they are dormant.
#14 University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs vs. #20 West Michigan University Broncos(Kalamazoo, MI @ Lawson Ice Arena)
The Bulldogs currently sit in 14th place, or 3 spots ahead of North Dakota. If the tournament ended today, the Bulldogs would be in the field barring 3 or more teams with a worse ranking than them winning their conference tournaments. Duluth is coming off an overtime win against Mankato and a tie against #1 Minnesota in the inaugural “Minnesota Cup” that was then lost in a shootout by UMD. Just a quick note, whoever decided to end the tournament was not very smart. Why end a hard-fought tournament by all teams with an anti-climatic 1 on 1 trick shot show? Play one full overtime and if nothing comes of it, call them co-champions and move on.
On the other side of the ice, Western Michigan had last weekend off. The previous series the Broncos beat St. Cloud State in a shootout and then finished off the weekend by winning a 2-1 game. Did I mention this was at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, MN aka “The Concrete Center”? Despite the arena not being much to look at, it’s a tough place to play with a solid student section and crowd support. Any team would be happy to come away with the results that WMU did two weekends ago against SCSU.
So 2 teams playing very good hockey at the moment face off in Michigan this weekend. The Sioux would like UMD to lose at least one game so they could possibly leapfrog them in the standings. The most obvious decision is a split but I’m going to predict it happens in dramatic fashion.
Bulldogs 3 Broncos 2, Broncos 4 Bulldogs 3(OT)
#13 University of Wisconsin Badgers vs. #10 University of Michigan Wolverines(Ann Arbor, MI @ Yost Arena)
The Michigan Wolverines have not played a game at home since December 11th, 2013! That’s a long tough stretch for a team to be away from the comforts of the historic Yost Arena and it’s showed in their results. Since leaving Ann Arbor after a tie against Ferris State, the Maize and Blue are 2-4 with both wins coming against their hapless geographical brothers, the Michigan State University Spartans. So is the reason for their tough 6 game stretch a result of being away from home? Keep reading or you’ll never ever know, and I know that’s not something you want to live with.
Wisconsin has had mixed results lately, going 4-2 in their last six games. However, included in those 2 wins are a 5-2 and 3-1 win against Michigan just three weeks ago at the Kohl Center in Madison, WI. The Friday game included a hat trick by Michael Mersch so I would expect the Wolverines to focus some attention on M squared.
So now that the stage is set, who wins? The Badgers, you are surely thinking, will win this game because they just whipped Michigan up and down the ice three weeks prior. But when you take a look at the Wolverines in the confines of Yost, they are 6-1-1 which is something to consider. All of this leads me to believe we will have a split.
Wolverines 5 Badgers 2, Badgers 3 Wolverines 2
Other games that could affect UND’s ranking:
#14 Colgate vs. #26 Brown: Go smart kids! Squeeze 2 wins out of toothpaste!
#29 RPI vs. #16 Clarkson: Slay the Golden Knights, Rest In Peace!
#10 Cornell vs. #18 Yale: Revenge of the Nerds Part IX, split those atoms!
#12 Notre Dame vs. #22 UNH: Sweep those priests(and any wrongdoing) under the table Wildcats!