All in all the weekend shaped up quite nicely for the University of North Dakota. The team jumped 2 spots in the Pairwise Rankings to #15(or #14 depending on which site you believe) by getting some favorable results for a change. Up to this point, it seemed the Sioux hadn’t received much help in moving up the all important rankings but that changed this weekend. Notre Dame was swept by the New Hampshire Wildcats which dropped them all the way to 16, or one spot below UND. The rankings from 10-18 are:
10) St. Cloud State 11t) Providence 11t) Minnesota-Duluth 13) Wisconsin 14) New Hampshire 15) North Dakota 16) Notre Dame 17t) Clarkson 17t) Vermont.
A quick breakdown of last weekend’s predictions had me going 2-2. As I picked a split in both series however UMD swept the Broncos and Michigan took care of business at home, sweeping the Badgers out of the building. This brings my record to 9-5 on the year. Now onto the predictions for this weekend!
#15 University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux vs. #29 University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks(Grand Forks, ND #@ The Ralph Engelstad Arena)
Every game moving forward is of the utmost importance to the green and white. They are squarely on the bubble for the tournament and are facing off against a red hot offensive squad in the UNO Mavericks who are coming off an 8-6 victory against the Huskies of St. Cloud State, with whom they earned a series split. Watching the goals in UNO’s saturday night game, they were not cheap goals or lucky bounces, most happened as a result of defensive breakdowns on SCSU’s part. This means that North Dakota will have to be sound defensively and Clarke Saunders will have to make the saves he’s supposed to save since it appears that Zane Gothberg will not be healthy enough to play. I have read a lot of breakdowns citing Clarke’s success against UNO but I don’t invest a lot in previous accomplishments as they will not make the net any smaller for Saunders in this game. If UND comes out with the jump they had in Denver Friday night and gets the crowd into it, I say they shut the Mavericks down. However, if they treat this as ‘just another game’ the results and the crowd’s morale will be hanging on by a thread and an early Omaha goal could change a lot. I will be providing a full breakdown of this game as I will be in attendance for it. Hakstol has had the series come out flying in the last 2 series so I’m going to predict a home sweep for the good guys with yours truly in attendance.
Sioux 4 Mavericks 2, Sioux 3 Mavericks 2
#1 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. #13 University of Wisconsin Badgers(Madison, WI @ The Kohl Center)
The games to watch this weekend as far as importance for North Dakota’s tournament hopes begin with #13 Wisconsin playing #1 Minnesota tonight. I would never, ever root for the yellow rats to win a game but I do believe that playing the Badgers on a short turnaround does not bode well for Bucky. If Wisconsin loses to Minnesota tonight, I believe that would drop them below North Dakota in the Pairwise rankings. I’m ok with any way that the Sioux can be further away from the the selection committee’s discretion, especially with the muddled rankings criteria this year. The Badgers have been struggling lately and are coming off getting swept at Michigan. My educated guess is Minnesota wins and ties.
Rodents 5 Badgers 1, Rodents 2 Badgers 2
Other games the could affect UND’s ranking:
#11 Duluth vs. #50 Colorado College: Go Tigers, smoke the Bulldogs out of their arena! Let’s get their pairwise ranking high!
#14 New Hampshire vs. #17 Vermont: Mount-a-Wildcat Vermont, but then lose the 2nd night…I think!
#16 Notre Dame vs. #19 Maine: Fight those black bears Irish, as long as it’s not offensive, hostile, or abusive to anyone…ever…because then you’ll have to apologize… to all black bears
#17 Clarkson vs. #3 Quinippiac: Maul the Golden Knights and then make them spell your school’s name Kwinipeeack!(This one sucks but why don’t you think of something better and then I’ll steal it)