Frozen Four Preview: West Region

By Dan Rubin

So here we are, at the final stage of a week of previews.  After all the griping and complaining, I’ve reached the final frontier.  Naturally, as a Boston College fan, I left the Eagles for my final preview.  But I also did it because I think that if BC qualifies for the Frozen Four, they will win the National Championship again.  It would establish an Eagle Dynasty of sorts, winning three of the last four titles and two in a row.  And this is a team that honestly still hasn’t hit its ceiling.

Let’s dive right in and take a look at these teams.

#1 Boston College Eagles

How They Got Here: Hockey East Champions: [30-7-1] overall record

Why They’ll Win The Regional:  Sending BC out west to St. Louis might be a terrible thing for the remainder of the nation.  They took a team that was arguably one of the best teams in the nation and made them mad.  Jerry York indicated after the Hockey East Championship that it wasn’t right that a #4 seed dictated where top seeded teams were going.  Even though he was joking about it in that press conference, a prominent fellow writer mentioned to me that Jerry was mad.  And if Jerry’s mad, then so is the rest of the team. And, if you go back over my Hockey East championship preview, this is a very good team.  Chris Kredier is returning from injury to round out what is essentially the best lineup in college hockey, one that can score from anywhere.  This team can outskate, outhustle, and out talent anybody.  And now they’re mad.  Plus, remember that John Muse, the goalie, has never lost an NCAA tournament game.

Why They’ll Lose The Regional:  It’s a long way from Boston to St. Louis.  And if the Eagles show any sign of propeller lag because they had to travel as far as they did, there are three teams that can capitalize.  This is one of the toughest regionals in the nation, so they’ll need to be on top of their game.  And even though Muse has been huge on the grandest of stages, I still have doubts about him.  He let in a couple of soft goals against Merrimack in the HEA championship.  Plus, their road to the Frozen Four goes through extremely tough teams, and the road to the national title essentially goes through Colorado College, Michigan/Nebraska-Omaha, and then potentially North Dakota.  Yikes.

Couple that with a tepid fan support for the Eagles in the Gateway District.  Yes, BC has possibly one of the most fickle fan supports in college sports.  Eagle students and die-hards are known for being spoiled, slacks-wearing, golfing types, and home games sometimes have no energy.  The student body is known for being extremely fair-weather, evidenced when the football team struggled this year and they just plain stopped showing up.  So I can guarantee that BC will not have much fan support in St. Louis, and it’s definitely not nearly as much as if they played at home.  But I guarantee you this – that’s a motivational tool.  And Boston College is a team ready.  The Eagle Dynasty may be upon us.  Jerry York will have the best team playing the “us against the world” card, and that’s a very dangerous position for them to strike from.

#2 Michigan Wolverines

How They Got Here: CCHA Consolation Game Winners, At Large Bid; [26-10-4] overall record

Why They’ll Win: Michigan is a strong team that’s completely under the radar.  They have goal scorers in Carl Hagelin, David Wohlberg, Scooter Vaughan, and Louie Caporusso. They beat Colorado College, the #4-seed in this regional, to win the Great Lakes Invitational earlier this year.  They hold wins over tournament teams in Notre Dame, Western Michigan, and Nebraska-Omaha.  They have great leadership.  They’ve also made every tournament dating back to 1991.  That’s a pretty awesome streak for head coach Red Berenson, who’s in his 27th season at the helm with over 700 career wins.  They’ve made the Frozen Four in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2008.

Why They’ll Lose: They haven’t won a national title since 1998.  So even though they’ve made the tournament continuously for a really long time (I was all of 4 years old when they didn’t make it last), they didn’t win the conference tournament despite being a top seed.  That ultimately cost the Wolverines a #1-seed in the tournament.  Think of it this way – when Miami won the conference tournament, they were given a top seed and sent to Manchester.  Michigan won the consolation game, but they got relegated to a #2-seed in a virtual group of death.  And even if they get past UNO, a team they’ve played before, they’re most likely running into the Eagles.  That’s a titan-style contest.

Lastly, Michigan has question marks in goal.  Shawn Hunwick stopped 42 in the consolation game win over Notre Dame, but he averages over 2 goals per game.  This is his first year seeing extended action, and two of his shutouts came with 12 and 13 saves.

#3 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks

How They Got Here: At Large Bid, Eliminated by Bemidji State in the WCHA Playoffs; [21-15-2] overall record; coolest logo and mascot in the field of 16

Why They’ll Win:  Because their mascot is the best, simply, the best.

Like so many other teams in the field, they hold wins over top-notch opponents.  Playing the majority of their games against western schools includes wins over Colorado, Denver, North Dakota, and Duluth. They won the Maverick Stampede to open up the season by beating Clarkson and RIT.  And they’re playing Michigan in the first round, a team they split a series with early in the year.  They’re also qualifying for the tournament in their first year in the WCHA, moving over this year from the CCHA.  The level of competition altered just enough to aid UNO; not all the WCHA teams knew what to expect, and when a team enters a conference for the first time, they tend to make some noise (look at Air Force in their first few years Atlantic Hockey, along with what Niagara and Robert Morris did in the same conference).

Eight double-digit goal scorers, three of which are freshman, lead them.  Most notable, though, is senior Matt Ambroz‘s 17-17—34 totals.

Why They’ll Lose: They ended the year pretty badly, losing three of their last six regular season games before being swept by Bemidji.  The sweep nearly cost them the entire tournament, and it definitely cost them a #2-seed.  And despite notching five shutouts this year, their goalie, John Faulkner, allowed well over two goals per game.  Coaching-wise, Dean Blais is in his second year, which is nothing when you look at Red and Jerry from Michigan and BC, respectively.

#4 Colorado College Tigers

How They Got Here: At Large Bid, Eliminated by North Dakota in WCHA Semifinals; [22-18-3] overall record

Why They’ll Win:  BC is more angry than good.  The Eagles’ plane gets delayed.  The empty arena caused by no fans showing up from Boston leads to a flat game that they win by surprise.  Then they shock Michigan or UNO.  Stranger things may have happened, but since I think Colorado got lucky in getting into the tournament in the first place, they’re probably not beating BC.

Why They’ll Lose: Because they had a .500 season in conference, got through Wisconsin and Alaska-Anchorage in the conference playoffs, and kept it close against UND in the semifinals.  They have a few quality wins on the schedule, including regular season wins over North Dakota, Denver, and Air Force, but Minnesota, Yale, and Minnesota State smoked them. It’ll take a Herculean performance to get past Boston College even with all of these factors in play regarding BC’s travel.

I don’t think this team is making it out of the first round, but it’s not any different if any other team was playing here.  They’re just the team that the numbers fell for.

Some great hockey on tap on both Comcast SportsNet and ESPNU as the next three days will produce four teams that will play in St. Paul, Minnesota for the right to win the national championship.  Local teams on tap today include the BC-Colorado College game at 9 PM, and Air Force-Yale this afternoon as the East and West get underway.  Northeast Regional and Midwest Regional action get underway tomorrow.

Frozen Four Preview: Northeast Region

Can Miami take care of business and make it to the Frozen Four in Minnesota?

By Dan Rubin

Oh NCAA.  How I love thee.  How I love the drama and passion that only college sports produces.  How I love the tournaments, the pageantry, the student bodies, and the cheerleaders.  How I love watching young adults so unaware of how their lives are so simple and so beautiful.  How I love watching people wearing one color, chanting, singing, living and dying with their school.

Oh how I hate thee.  For every regular season that provides a lifetime of memories, you’ve managed to become fangled and foul up just about every postseason you have.  There’s the men’s basketball tournament, where the arguments range from expanding to 68 teams (which you did) to 90+ teams (remember that from last summer?).  There’s the football BCS poo-poo-platter of issues.  There’s the baseball tournament that lasts forever with double-eliminations and Super-Regionals and double eliminations and best-of-3 College World Series rounds (not that I hate that… I actually really like that.  But I know plenty of people who don’t like the fact that a team has to win upwards of 12 games to even qualify for the championship round).

And now there’s men’s ice hockey.  For the past two days, I’ve railed and ranted about how the NCAA screwed up their hockey field.  Now, I get to analyze why on a team-by-team basis.  Excuse me while I wipe the drool from excitement from my mouth, before we get into the Northeast Regional.  Or maybe I should just call it the UNH Invitational for good measure.

Thanks for bearing with me fans.  There was a lot of drool.

#1 Miami University (Ohio) Redhawks

How They Got Here: CCHA Champions, [23-9-6] overall record

Why They’ll Win the Regional: Miami has a couple of major cards to play.  Number one – they’re a very good team.  23 wins on the season is a good team.  They did a good job with the nonconference schedule this year – beating UNH, St. Cloud, and Maine.  In conference, they handled two tournament bound teams to win the conference dance – outscoring Notre Dame and Western Michigan 11-4 in the process.  They swept Michigan late in the year, likely costing the Wolverines a top seed.  And they’re a top seed, which means they hypothetically have one of the “easier” roads to St. Paul.

Statistically, Any Miele should win the Hobey Baker Award with 24-47—71 totals.  Reilly Smith added 28-26—54 totals, and Carter Camper dished out 37 assists.  When leading after two periods, this team is dominant, willing 18 of 22 games.  They outscored opponents 45-18 in the first period and 53-27 in the second period.  They averaged just under four goals a game, second only to Yale and allowed an average of just over 2.1 goals per game, third to Yale and Union.  Plus, head coach Enrico Blasi has been here before, and so has the majority of this roster.  Remember 2009?  They had a two goal lead with one minute to play, before they had their hearts ripped out by Boston University.  The goalie in net for that was Cody Reichard, who at the time was just a freshman.  He’s a junior now, and he’s much improved, even if he did split time with Connor Knapp.

Why They’ll Lose The Regional:  It’s 348 miles from Oxford, OH to St. Louis, MO.  It’s 933 miles from Oxford to Manchester.  If they played in St. Louis, they’d draw a first round opponent like Colorado College.  Playing in Manchester, they’re forced to play the UNH Wildcats.   FYI – it’s 35 miles from Durham to Manchester.  Take Route 4 to 125.  125 to 101.  101 goes right into Manchester.  Now if I know that, I’m sure many of the UNH faithful know that.

What I’m saying is that Miami will lose this regional in the first round.  If they beat UNH, I think they’ll make it to St. Paul.  But they still have to play an essential road game against a team that earned it by being eliminated in their conference semifinals.  All because some mathematical formula made the Wildcats a four seed and the contractual obligation says “oh you’re a host school?  Sure…play at home.”  If this game was played on neutral ice, I’d take Miami probably 80% of the time.  Playing in Manchester, I’m taking it 50-50, and in my pick ‘ems, I’ve picked UNH to win.  If UNH wins, there needs to be some serious analysis into how these regionals are setup.  Especially since this regional has both UNH and Merrimack, and top seed Boston College (who won those two team’s conference) is getting shipped close to 2,000 miles away.

If Miami makes it past the first round, they’ll still draw an extremely tough draw against either Merrimack or Notre Dame less than 24 hours after playing UNH on “neutral ice.”  That’s unfair to the only team in the bracket that won its conference and did enough to garner a #1 seed.

#2 Merrimack Warriors

How They Got Here: Hockey East Runners Up, At Large Bid; [25-9-4] overall record

Why They’ll Win:  This isn’t your older brother’s Merrimack team.  As I broke down in my HEA Final Four preview, this is a team that’s beaten everyone.  They beat BC, BU, UNH, and Maine.  In fact, they beat UNH three out of four meetings.  There was the sweep in February in the regular season, and then there was the 4-1 win in the HEA Semifinals.  Merrimack looked VERY good against BC in the HEA Championship, especially Ryan Flanigan.  Flanigan is joined by Stephane Da Costa, Joe Cucci, and Chris Barton.  After that game, sitting in the press conference with the legend himself Dan Libon, we talked about how they looked so downtrodden over losing to BC.  They knew they could win that game.  That makes them a dangerous team in the NCAA Tournament.  Flanigan said it best after the game when he alluded to remembering this feeling and using it as motivation.  This is a very mature Merrimack team, and even Jerry York said he wouldn’t be surprised to see them in St. Paul.

Distance from North Andover to Manchester – 34 miles.  That makes it shorter (by a whole mile) than UNH according to MapQuest.  That will create a home-ice advantage for a team that honestly earned their way to play here.  There were a ton of Warrior fans at the Garden.  They had some great chants (“Daddy’s Money” at the BC students was a personal favorite), and they bring a great energy.  This is new territory, and they’re savoring it by creating great passion at the rink.  They’re my pick for a trip to St. Paul out of this regional.

Statistically, nothing’s really changed from my review last week.  So I won’t eat up bandwidth by retyping it all.

Why They’ll Lose: They’ve never been here before.  Merrimack played in its first HEA final four this weekend, and they’re in the midst of their best season since 1988-1989.  They haven’t been to a national tournament since 1988.  Their last national championship was in 1978 – in Division II.  This is all new territory for them, and they’re drawing a regional against three teams that are playoff seasoned.  Miami is the national runner up from 2009.  Their first round opponent, Notre Dame, is the runner up from 2008.  UNH has been knocking on the doorstep of the Frozen Four for years.  Merrimack lost 27 games in 2007.  Not exactly a storied history.

#3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

How They Got Here: At large Bid; Eliminated in CCHA Tournament by Michigan; [23-13-5] overall record

Why They’ll Win:  Only one team in this regional can boast the support of God.  That’s a pretty impressive booster.

The Irish hold wins over BC, Western Michigan, Michigan, Miami, and a shootout win over BU in the Shillelagh Tournament they hosted  So they lost four of their last six…who cares?  This is a good team, and they’re seasoned.  TJ Tynan and Anders Lee lead the scoring, and Mike Johnson provides adequate protection in net.  They went [20-3-4] when leading or tied after the first period, and they only blew four third period leads.  They’re also one of the few teams with a winning record when trailing after two periods, going [6-5-2].  This is a team that outscored opponents 42-29 in the third period this year.  That should put Merrimack on alert in the first round, especially in the later stages when they seemed to run out of gas against BC.

Why They’ll Lose: Bad stat time.  [3-10-1] when losing after the first period.  Note to Merrimack – score early.  This team is bombs away shooting, so it would behoove you put them on their heels early.  It’s also important to note that, while the case can be made for a Warrior “home game,” this is technically neutral ice.  Notre Dame on neutral ice? [1-4-1].  Now for the double stomach punch portion – last year, BC, the team that beat ND in the national title game in ’08, won the Northeast Regional when it was hosted by Holy Cross.  There’s a religious reference in there somewhere.

#4 UNH Wildcats

How They Got Here: Loophole City!

Actually, UNH does belong in the NCAAs.  They went [21-10-6], finished 2nd in Hockey East, and made the conference Final Four.  They just don’t belong playing in this regional.  But I’m sure you figured that out by now.

Why They’ll Win:  They’re a much better 4-seed than RPI.

See also: “Why They’ll Lose” section on Miami.  See also: “Why They’ll Win” section from my Hockey East preview a week ago.

Why They’ll Lose: See my “Why They’ll Lose” section of Hockey East from last week.  I know this is barebones at the end, but I’m pushing 1,700 words at this point.  And I don’t want to rehash the obvious that I’ve already stated.  Folks, I’m calling it like I see it, as an angry hockey observer and a Boston College fan – UNH will win a game in this regional.  But, if they run into Merrimack in the 2nd round, the Warriors are heading to St. Paul.  If it’s Notre Dame, all bets are off.  You can take that to the bank.

See you tomorrow with the West Regional preview.

Frozen Four Preview: Eastern Region

By Dan Rubin

Continuing with our coverage of the NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Tournament, we take a look today at the East Regional.  Click here to see our review of the four teams of the Midwest.  The Midwest regional games, not mentioned yesterday, are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday from the Resch Center in Green Bay.

The East Regional games are slated for Friday and Saturday from the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT. Although I’m very critical of this year’s tournament, the NCAA got this region right.  It’s both competitive and compelling.  There expects to be two to three great storylines emerging from each of these four teams in the buildup, and the matchups are perfect.  Despite my criticisms of the three other regionals (see also: my scathing opinion of RPI), I believe this regional is perfect.  Every team has a great chance at winning, and the games all have instant classic potential.

#1 Yale Bulldogs

How They Got Here: ECAC Champions, [27-6-1] overall records

Why They’ll Win The Regional: They have the top ranked offense and top ranked defense in the nation.  They allowed an average of two goals per game and scored over four goals per game.  They won games by an average of 2.29, which is a full half of a goal per game more than North Dakota.  The Bulldogs have seven double-digit goal scorers, including four with 15 or more.  Denny Kearney, Chris Cahill, Broc Little, and Brian O’Neill combined for an offensive barrage that included 10 game winning goals and 24 powerplay goals.  They scored on almost a quarter of their power plays.  But the real reason why they’ll win isn’t their explosive offense, which can outscore everybody, but it’s their defense, which is drastically better.  They allowed an average of two goals a game, which is best in the league, and Ryan Rondeau is a vast improvement over Billy Blais a year ago.  Rondeau is averaging fewer than two goals allowed per game.  He registered six shutouts on the year, but three of them were in the last three games of the ECAC tournament.  After a 50-year absence from the big dance, Yale is back for their third consecutive trip.  In 2009, Vermont ousted them in the first round.  Last year, they nearly came back on Boston College in a wild 9-7 loss in the regional finals.  This year, going to the Frozen Four would cap the steady climb from a 5-25-2 season in 2004-2005, when they finished dead last in ECAC.  This season, they hold wins over Colorado College, Union, RPI, Team Russia, and a massive 10-3 crushing of Holy Cross. They’re very close to home, where they boasted a [12-1-1] record.

Why They’ll Lose the Regional: This region has the most parity out of any region in the tournament.  They draw Air Force in the first round, a team that beat the Elis back in November at Cadet Ice Arena.  The Falcons are the masters at keeping games close or coming back, and they’re the masters of one-goal games.  The one-goal game is the one place Yale struggled, going 3-5 in those affairs.  Should they advance past Air Force, they’ll draw either Union or Minnesota-Duluth.  Despite being the #1 overall seed in the national tournament, Yale wasn’t the #1 seed in the conference tournament – that was Union.  They split the season series with the Dutchmen, losing a one-goal game.  And Minnesota-Duluth is still Minnesota-Duluth by any stretch, even if they are a 3-seed.  Yale has alarming losses to Brown, RPI, and St. Lawrence in the regular season, and they lost Game 1 of their quarterfinal matchup against the Saints.

But the biggest question mark is Rondeau. He hasn’t really been tested, rarely having to go over the 30 save mark.  He hasn’t had to make 40 saves since a tie against last-place Colgate on February 25th, and his save totals since go: 18, 25, 29, 21, 22, and 22.  Those aren’t lights-out numbers.  And nobody can ignore the 8-save, 4-goal disaster at Houston Field House against RPI where he was yanked in the 2nd period.  He’ll be opposing the freshman sensation, Jason Torf in the first round, and he’ll be doing it against one of the most clutch offenses in the nation.

#2 Union Dutchmen

How They Got Here: At Large Bid, eliminated in ECAC Quarterfinals by Colgate; [26-9-4] overall record

Why They’ll Win: This is Union’s first NCAA tournament berth.  They’re playing relatively close to their home of Schenectady, NY. They won the ECAC regular season crown.  They have five double-digit goal scorers, including freshman Daniel Carr, who notched 20 goals, 12 of which were on the powerplay.  Sophomore Keith Kinkaid was stellar in net, going [25-9-3], stopping 92% of shots, and recording three shutouts.  They hold good, quality wins over Minnesota and Yale.  After New Year’s, they went [14-1-1], including a stretch of 12 games in a row where they didn’t lose (including Game 1 against Colgate).  Special teams-wise, this is the nation’s best powerplay unit.  They scored on 31.1% of their PP attempts, which is a full 6% better than the 2nd place Miami Redhawks.  Their defense was also rock solid, just 0.1 goals per game out of the top slot in all of the NCAA (behind only Yale).  If they get past Duluth, they can provide massive headaches for Yale or Air Force.  The only thing that works against them numerically is that Yale’s offense is almost a full goal better per game, and Air Force doesn’t go to the penalty box.  This is a team designed for postseason play – they went [23-4-4] when leading or tied after two periods, and they went [10-4] in one-goal games.  They even went [14-3-1] when their opponent scored first.  That’s good stuff.

Why They’ll Lose: There is no winning tradition at Union.  Since the Skating Dutchmen joined Division I in 1991-1992 (they’ve since dropped the “Skating” moniker), they’ve had only eight .500 or better seasons, and four of those have been the past four seasons (including this year).  Their initial nonconference games read like this: Sacred Heart, Alaska, Alaska-Anchorage, Niagara, RIT, UConn, RPI (who they played twice in conference games), AIC, Army.  Number of teams in the NCAA tournament: 1. Number of teams in the tournament that they wouldn’t play conference games against: 0.  After that slate, there are two losses against Western Michigan (who happen to be in the dance).  And then there’s the ECAC tournament.  They lost twice to Colgate, in a row, to eliminate themselves before the final four.  Kinkaid is also very similar to Rondeau – he didn’t have to make a lot of saves this year.  If not for a 34-save shutout of Princeton, he wouldn’t have saved 30 in any of his shutouts.  And that includes that mighty 9-save shutout of Cornell in early February.  Before that Princeton game, his last foray over 30 saves was December 5th, at…you guessed it: Yale.

#3 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs

How They Got Here: At Large Bid, Eliminated in WCHA Playoffs by Bemidji State, [22-10-6] overall record

Why They’ll Win: Their conference schedule made them tournament ready.  That WCHA is so brutal, and they beat pretty much everybody, including North Dakota.  After standing toe-to-toe in their conference, no team will be intimidated by Union or Yale.  Justin Fontaine and Mike Connolly combined for 46 goals, and Jack Connolly served 39 assists.  Travis Oleksuk has 7 game-winning goals.  And Kenny Reiter is solid, even if he’s facing the same dilemma in save totals as the previous goalies mentioned.  He stopped 37 in the triple-OT winner over St. Cloud State in the WCHA tournament.  Can’t blame him if he was a little winded in the loss to Bemidji five days later.

Why They’ll Lose: Duluth, for all their recognition, and all of their tradition, hasn’t been to a Frozen Four since 2009.  And the nonconference schedule isn’t overwhelming.  They beat Providence pretty handily, but it was at home, and the Friars were a Hockey East basement team.  They beat Clarkson on the road as well, but that pretty much does it for notable some mysterious behavior, which is not good stuff. They got in because they did well enough in conference.  Don’t get me wrong – that’s still pretty impressive, but the style of play outside the WCHA is different.  I’m curious how they’ll do if Union gets a lead and immediately goes into clutch-and-grab hockey.  After all, this Duluth team went [1-6-1] when trailing after two periods.  They went [15-1-3] when winning after two, so the first two periods are key.

#4 Air Force Falcons

How They Got Here: Atlantic Hockey Association Champions, [20-11-6] overall record

Why They’ll Win: Get your Maalox ready.  The Cardiac Cadets went [12-5] in one-goal games.  They went [8-3-0] when tied after two periods.  They averaged a hair over 3.5 goals per game.  And they’re the least penalized team in the NCAA – with less than 10 minutes per game.  Jacques Lamoureux had 24-20—44 totals this year, including five game winners and 13 powerplay goals.  Derrick Burnett dished out 27 assists, and Kyle De Laurell had 23 assists along with 10 goals.  Jason Fabian is a pretty dangerous freshman with 10-11—21 totals.  And there’s Torf.  Torf averaged just fewer than three goals a game in net, but he saved 30-plus in 11 games this year.  Air Force beat Yale behind 34 stops, and he stopped 39 in a losing effort against Denver.  After a year away from the dance, Air Force regained their mantle with a 1-0 win over last year’s Frozen Four surprise, RIT, in the conference title.  This is their fourth title in five years since joining Atlantic Hockey, and each time it’s been a two goals or less win.  In 2009, they beat Michigan, 2-0 before losing in double-OT to Vermont with the Frozen Four on the line.  This is the most dangerous 4-seed you’ll see without a home-ice advantage (that’s right, I’m looking at you, UNH), and Yale better remember the loss because this time, there’s more at stake.  A school located in Colorado and playing conference games on the east coast isn’t going to be fazed by the travel, either.  Not when they already played in this arena against Sacred Heart.

Why They’ll Lose: If AHA didn’t get an automatic bid, Air Force wouldn’t be here.  Then again, neither would any other team from the conference.  They ranked 22nd in the final mathematical ratings used to determine the bids for the NCAAs.   They also play in a conference that boasts some of the worst teams in D1 – Sacred Heart, AIC, Army, and Bentley were the bottom four, a far cry from the Providences and Bemidji States of the world.  Every AHA team is an enigma going into the national tournament, but Air Force provides just enough firepower (no pun intended, especially with recent international current events) to hang with the big boys.  They’re a just good enough team to play with a just beatable enough Yale team.  If it gets into a footrace, they have some of the talent to hang.  They just don’t have all of the talent to hang.

Tune in tomorrow when I try my hardest to make sense of what the mathematics did to Miami in my Northeast Regional preview. It’ll be some good, quality ranting, I promise you that…