Coming off a weekend sweep, the Spartans are in a great position both for home ice in the quarterfinals of the CCHA tournament and getting into the NCAA tournament.
This projection has the Spartans as a #3 seed in the East Region against Union in the opening round. Historically, if you can avoid WCHA & BU or BC in the first round, you would usually take it. Union though would be a tough match-up. They currently lead the ECAC, and they are familiar with the CCHA this season going 1-0-2 in games against CCHA teams. The win? An impressive 6-3 win at Yost Ice Arena over Thanksgiving.
They also tied Western Michigan twice this year, so now all of a sudden Union has your attention.
With that said, this projection will change a lot between now and selection Sunday (March 18th), so all MSU really needs to worry about is just win. Realistically, to lock up a bid for the NCAA tournament - they probably need to make it to Joe Louis Arena. Anything short would make for a nervous championship weekend.
Back to this weekend. I attempted to get video of a goal using my cellphone, but it didn't seem to work. I did manage to get a penalty though (at the 1:43 mark of this video). This penalty happened during a power play, so State got a 5 on 3, but they didn't convert.
We also managed to get the post game salute to the crowd, student section, and Coach Anastos saluting the student section:
Not bad for a coach to do that, at a time where the program really seems to be on the uptick. It'd be great to get more students into the game. He's done a great job getting them more involved from having them meet the team, coaches, to having the seniors come on the ice after this game.
Coming up this week will be the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. MSU and Notre Dame have a little bit of history in recent years. Both teams have knocked the other one out in a regional title game in the NCAA tournament within the last five years (MSU beat ND in 2007, ND returned the favor in 2008). It's been awhile since Michigan State has won down in South Bend (2006), and with home ice & first round bye on the line, the Spartans will need to earn five points this weekend to clinch a first round bye & home ice advantage without getting help from anyone.
2. Michigan 47 pts
3. WMU 45 pts
4. MSU 44 pts
5. Miami 42 pts
6. LSSU 41 pts
7. OSU 39 pts
Michigan travels to Bowling Green, so don't expect any help there. Western does play a home and home with Ferris State. That will be a tough series, and it will potentially open the door for teams to move up. Miami plays a home and home with Ohio State, and LSSU travels to Northern for a pair.
With the way Miami & Ohio State are playing, we probably need to assume Miami sweeps that series. This is where MSU will need to get to 49 points to clinch at least the #4 spot in the CCHA (unless Ferris helps out by dominating the series with Western). LSSU has a tough series, and one win by Michigan State (3 points) would put MSU ahead of LSSU in the standings for good.
It should be a good weekend ahead, and both games are on TV which is an added bonus. It's time to see if the Green & White can close the deal and earn one of the top four spots in the conference tournament.