It’s that time of year again, folks! The NCAA Tournament kicks off today and the hunt for a new (or not new, if you’re Minnesota Duluth) National Champion is upon us. It’s an exciting time if you’re into college hockey, but also an exciting time if you’re a Flyers fan, because they sure are going to be well represented in this tournament. So, that said, we’re going to take a quick look at the five teams featuring Flyers prospects and their first matchups.
We’re just going to stick to talking about the first round here, but if you want the full schedule for the regional finals and beyond, you can find that here. But we’re going to leave those alone because, well, we’re afraid of jinxes.
Fargo Regional: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Minnesota Duluth
Watch: Friday March 26, 4:00 PM ET. ESPN U.
Who do we know: Cam York, Michigan (2019, 1st round). Noah Cates, UMD (2017, 5th round).
Who’ve you got: Michigan
We’re leading off with what should be a fun and tough matchup, that’s for certain. This was a tough prediction to make, too, but I like Michigan in this one. UMD is the defending champion, but they’ve had a weird and less than stellar back half of the regular season—after a six game win streak in January, they went 2-5 in their final seven games and really looked to be fighting it. Michigan has a lot of talent on their roster, and that should certainly give them some trouble. They fell into a bit of a trap of playing a bit too conservatively in their loss to Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament semi-final, but if they’re able to take that as a lesson and get back to their game, they’re going to be a hard team to beat.
Fargo Regional: No. 1 North Dakota vs. No. 4 American Int’l
Watch: Friday March 26, 9:30 PM ET. ESPN 3
Who do we know: Gavin Hain, North Dakota (2018, 6th round)
Who’ve you got: North Dakota
Picking North Dakota isn’t a very spicy prediction, but it just feels right. They pretty well ran away with the NCHC this season with a nine point lead over St. Cloud State, which was a pretty remarkable feat given the difficulty of that conference. AIC had a pretty great regular season of their own, going 11-1, but in a much less difficult conference. North Dakota shouldn’t expect this to be an easy game, but with the amount of firepower they can bring, they should have this one in the bag.
Albany Regional: No. 1 Boston College vs. No. 4 Notre Dame
Watch: No game to be played, actually. BC advances.
Who do we know: Jack St. Ivany, Boston College (2018, 4th round)
Who’ve you got: Boston College (duh)
Because of COVID-19 protocol issues, Notre Dame had to back out of the tournament, as was announced yesterday, so this first round matchup was listed as a no contest, and Boston College advances to the semi-final.
Albany Regional: No. 2 St. Cloud State vs. No. 3 Boston University
Watch: Saturday March 27, 6:30 PM ET. ESPNews
Who do we know: Jay O’Brien, Boston University (2018, 1st round)
Who’ve you got: St. Cloud State
It would be fun to see BU pull off a minor upset here, but this is a team that I just don’t really trust, despite the results that they’ve gotten this season. They’re pretty consistently gotten caved in by shots, and while their skill has bailed them out a lot of the time and allowed them to out-score that issue, we’ve seen that there are limits to that. They got bounced in the first round of the Hockey East tournament, and just had next to nothing against UMass Lowell. If they pull out a win, I wouldn’t be hugely surprised, but I still don’t know that I trust them. Whomp whomp.
Loveland Regional: No. 1 Minnesota vs. No. 4 Omaha
Watch: Saturday March 27, 9:00 PM ET. ESPN U
Who do we know: Bryce Brodzinski (2019, 7th round)
Who’ve you got: Minnesota
Minnesota’s been playing well just about all season, and they had a really solid run in the Big Ten tournament, they can keep pace and even outdo the top scoring teams, but even in tight games (like their 2-1 overtime win over Michigan State in the first round), they've found ways to close them out. Omaha should be able to hang, I don’t expect this to be a guaranteed blowout, but they also give up a lot of chances, and Minnesota is going to make them pay for that. Minnesota has found a lot of success so far this season, and that makes them a pretty hard team to bet against.