So that did really just happen. Here is the official 2021 National Championship bracket as brought to you by the NCAA:
1. Northeastern* v 8. Robert Morris* (3/15 at 2 p.m. eastern)
4. Colgate* v 5. Minnesota Duluth (3/15 at 7 p.m. eastern)
2. Wisconsin* v 7. Providence (3/16 at 2 p.m. eastern)
3. Ohio State v 6. Boston College (3/16 at 7 p.m. eastern)
* autobids due to conference tournament wins
We had seven of the eight right teams, and six of eight correct seedings, including two exact matchups. The craziness starts where we got it wrong. And when I say we, I mean just about everyone who was writing about this.
Let’s start with the first big shocker: Duluth getting the 5 seed. At this point, it was just assumed the committee flipped Duluth with Minnesota strictly on the WCHA standings. That was weird enough seeing as Duluth was swept by Minnesota and had a strength of schedule that wasn’t in the same realm as Minnesota. But, looking at KRACH and RPI for just the WCHA games, Duluth was nowhere near Minnesota. In fact, heading into the final weekend Duluth was closer to Bemidji than Minnesota in KRACH, and Bemidji beat Duluth and held them to a single goal over two games.
Normally you would think something like that would be the biggest shock of the bracket, but the committee had another card up their sleeve. Instead of Minnesota, or Penn State, or even another ECAC school, Providence College got the nod. PC is a good team but their resume was nearly non existent. They had a pair of one goal wins over Boston College early in the season, but lost the last one and had to cancel another against them that weekend, likely due to COVID, which has left them with a short bench for weeks. Then you look at their performance against the #1 seed Northeastern, which they got to play four times including once with an auto bid on the line, their record, 0-4 with the goals being 3-19 against.
Tonight isn’t the night for prognostication, clearly, but games start in a week in Erie, PA.