NCAA hockey top 20: In at the wire

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November 30, 2012 by Casey Hart

Yikes! It’s almost time for this week’s games, and I haven’t posted last week’s ranking. Here it is.

My top 20 is below. Each team is listed with its overall record, record against my ranked teams, last week’s ranking and, for comparison’s sake, national rankings from the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey (top 15) polls. My ballot is submitted to USCHO by Monday at noon.

1. Boston College 10-1-0 overall • 4-0-0 vs. my ranked teams • 1-0-0 last week
Last week: 1 • USCHO: 1 • USA Today: 1
2. New Hampshire 9-1-2 overall • 4-0-2 vs. my ranked teams • 1-0-1 last week
Last week: 3 • USCHO: 2 • USA Today: 2

Just when we solved the ongoing BC-or-DU dilemma with Denver’s loss to Yale and Boston College’s defeat of Dartmouth, the Pioneers went and lost another game to present a new problem. New Hampshire scored four unanswered goals in the third period Saturday to stake its claim as the best team in the nation. A vote for UNH would certainly be a fair one. The Wildcats’ win at Denver trumps any single line on the BC resume, and UNH is 1-0-1 against Northeastern, the only team to beat the Eagles. I’ll stick with BC, though. The defending national champion has played 11 games and won all but one, with plenty of tough competition along the way.

3. Denver
9-3-0 overall • 6-3-0 vs. my ranked teams • 0-2-0 last week
Last week: 2 • USCHO: 5 • USA Today: 5

The Pioneers’ dominance through their first 10 games was so thorough that a couple home losses to good teams only drops them only one spot. Give me the team that’s 7-1-0 in the WCHA, not the one (Minnesota) that’s 4-2-2 and has not yet swept a league weekend series.

4. Notre Dame
9-4-0 overall • 5-4-0 vs. my ranked teams • 1-1-0 last week
Last week: 4 • USCHO: 6 • USA Today: 6

The Fighting Irish only split with North Dakota at home, but their win Saturday was convincing, at least on the scoresheet, and they edge Miami here based on CCHA success so far.

5. Miami
7-2-3 overall • 2-1-1 vs. my ranked teams • 0-0-0 last week
Last week: 5 • USCHO: 4 • USA Today: 4
6. Minnesota
9-2-2 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams  • 2-0-0 last week
Last week: 6 • USCHO: 3 • USA Today: 3
7. Union
8-2-1 overall • 1-1-0 vs. my ranked teams • 2-0-0 last week
Last week: 7 • USCHO: 8 • USA Today: 8
8. Boston University
7-4-0 overall • 4-4-0 vs. my ranked teams • 1-0-0 last week
Last week: 8 • USCHO: 9 • USA Today: 9
9. North Dakota
6-4-2 overall • 3-3-0 vs. my ranked teams • 1-1-0 last week
Last week: 10 • USCHO: 7 • USA Today: 7
10. Dartmouth
5-2-2 overall • 1-1-1 vs. my ranked teams • 0-1-0 last week
Last week: 9 • USCHO: 11 • USA Today: 11

The Big Green failed to knock off No. 1 BC Saturday but did score twice late in the second period to enter the third tied at 3-3. Playing the Eagles even through two periods is, at least, a demonstration of competence on the national stage. That, combined with Dartmouth’s great start, keeps the Big Green high on this list.

11. St. Cloud State
7-5-0 overall • 4-4-0 vs. my ranked teams • 1-1-0 last week
Last week: 11 • USCHO: 14 • USA Today: 14
12. Western Michigan
6-3-1 overall • 1-1-0 vs. my ranked teams • 0-0-0 last week
Last week: 12 • USCHO: 10 • USA Today: 10
13. Quinnipiac
8-3-2 overall • 1-0-0 vs. my ranked teams • 1-0-1 last week
Last week: 13 • USCHO: 16 • USA Today: Receiving votes
14. Yale
5-2-1 overall • 4-0-0 vs. my ranked teams • 2-0-0 last week
Last week: 18 • USCHO: 15 • USA Today: 13

The Bulldogs had the most impressive weekend, winning at Colorado College and Denver, but I’ll take the neighboring Bobcats and their 4-0-0 ECAC Hockey mark. It wasn’t a bad weekend for Quinnipiac, after all. The Bobcats shut out Providence on the road and skated to a tie at always-tough Massachusetts.

15. Nebraska-Omaha
8-3-1 overall • 1-2-0 vs. my ranked teams • 2-0-0 last week
Last week: 15 • USCHO: 13 • USA Today: 14
16. Ferris State
6-4-2 overall • 1-1-0 vs. my ranked teams • 0-0-0 last week
Last week: 17 • USCHO: 17 • USA Today: RV
17. Alaska
6-5-3 overall • 3-1-1 vs. my ranked teams • 0-1-1 last week
Last week: 16 • USCHO: RV • USA Today: Not ranked
18. Harvard
4-3-0 overall • 1-1-0 vs. my ranked teams • 0-0-0 last week
Last week: 20 • USCHO: 19 • USA Today: RV

The Crimson’s home losses to Union and Yale are looking more excusable by the week, and the win at Cornell will look better if the Big Red’s offensive explosion at Madison Square Garden proves to be more than one-night-only event.

19. Cornell
4-3-2 overall • 2-1-1 vs. my ranked teams • 1-0-0 last week
Last week: NR • USCHO: 12 • USA Today: 12

Maybe all the Big Red needed was a big stage. Cornell dominated Michigan 5-1 in New York City, ending a four-game winless skid in which it totaled six goals scored.

20. Colorado College
7-6-1 overall • 1-6-1 vs. my ranked teams • 0-1-1 last week
Last week: 14 • USCHO: 18 • USA Today: RV
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