March 15, 2007
Postcard: Bracket Madness; Hockey Style

By Jess Myers

The Georgia Dome will be packed on a certain upcoming Monday night, and if there’s a Mass celebrated beforehand in Centennial Olympic Park, don’t be surprised. When Norte Dame meets Boston College for the NCAA hoops title (with the Eagles expected to prevail), every good Catholic between the Heights and Touchdown Jesus will be picking sides.

Thus was the conclusion recently when I took a new, hockey-centric approach to the annual rite of filling out a college hoops bracket – an amazing exercise in ignorance and futility I undertake each year, about this time. Instead of pretending I knew whether Nevada’s three-point shooters could beat Creighton’s perimeter defense, or whether Duke’s swagger and experience would be enough to get the Blue Devils to the Elite Eight, I went with what I knew: college hockey.

Hey, just because Chris Moran and the Purple Eagles got bounced from the College Hockey America tournament doesn't mean it won't be an exciting March and April for the school near the Falls.

The method is simple if you follow three rules:

1) If a hockey school is playing a non-hockey school, the hockey school wins.

2) If two hockey schools play each other, the school with the better hockey team (this year) wins.

3) If two non-hockey schools play each other, pick the higher seed.

In said manner, the action begins in Spokane where Notre Dame beats Winthrop to earn a Final 32 CCHA date with Miami (Ohio), after the Redhawks upset Oregon in round one. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Wisconsin gets past Texas A&M – Corpus Christi (apparently the folks in the Lone Star State didn’t get that memo banning hyphens). When the Irish beat Miami in round two, it sets up a Sweet 16 date with the Badgers, where the team from Indiana prevails en route to the first berth in the all-hockey Final Four.

The East regional, as expected, comes down to the two hockey schools in the bracket, and tickets are scarce in the Meadowlands when Boston College clashes with Michigan State in the Elite Eight. The Eagles, sporting clear mascot superiority, prevail and a caravan of cars with Massachusetts plates immediately begins the trek south on I-95. Make sure to hang a right around Richmond, folks.

The other two brackets only have one hockey school each, which is how we get to that much-anticipated arrival of Niagara and Ohio State at the Final Four. Yes, it takes a creative imagination to dream up a way that the 16th-seeded Purple Eagles can knock off the likes of Kansas, Kentucky, Southern Illinois and UCLA, but never underestimate what a team can do when fueled by wings from the Anchor Bar.

The national semifinals will see BC slip past the Buckeyes via a succession of dozens of empty-net field goals (which, until they make goaltending legal in basketball, cheapen the act of scoring). On the other side, Niagara’s luck runs out in Atlanta, as the Irish charge into the title game.

Yes, it’s a stretch to envision the hoops world falling into place this way. Some have said I’m wasting my $2 entry fee and should take it more seriously. Um, I guess you’ll have to pardon me if I don’t think that tall men wearing shorts and tank tops, while bouncing a big orange rubber ball is a serious endeavor.

To those of us for whom the hoops hysteria is pleasant background noise as we pack for the Frozen Four, I say give me a stick, a puck and a cage mask (not a cage match) any day. And tell the folks inside the Bucky and Sparty costumes that without skates on, they look a little silly.

Jess Myers can be reached at