The NCAA Hockey Tournament started yesterday, as four of the eight first round games faced off to ultimately decide this year's champion. I attempted to predict yesterday's games, and here's what I came up with:
Michigan over Cornell in a close game
Denver over Ferris in a 2-3 goal game
Miami over Lowell in a 2 goal game
Union over Michigan State in a 3 goal game
Only one of those predictions was correct, as Union beat Michigan State 3-1. Otherwise, Cornell upended Michigan 3-2 in OT, UMass-Lowell defeated Miami 3-2 in OT, and Ferris State beat Denver 2-1.
It's pretty clear that there's a fair amount of parity in college hockey these days - the two #4 seeds definitely skated with the #1 seeds, and Cornell actually defeated Michigan in their game. Miami, a two seed, lost to three-seed Lowell. It's not like it was ten years ago when a #1 seed was expected to win by five or six goals against the number four. There are now some bubble teams who were on the outside looking in that could have a legitimate shot of advancing.
Perhaps it's time for the NCAA to consider expanding the tournament? The competition level is definitely there. I think it would be reasonable if the tournament expanded to 20 teams - five teams in each of the four regions, with the four seed playing the five seed in a first-round elimination game before facing the #1 seed in the region. It would give more teams a chance to compete, and with the level of hockey being played in colleges across the country it would only provide more excitement and opportunity for college hockey.