Damn the NCAA and their desire to "trademark" everything. Bastards. I have, however, thought of referring to this group as either the "Carbon Monoxide Four" or the "Carbon Tetroxides" (CO4 - get it? Ok, I'm going, I'm going...)
But getting back into the games, we have the semi-final match-ups set for tonight. I'll run through them once more.
#1 Lindenwood vs. #11 West Chester, 5:30pm - Ever want that storyline matchup - well, here's the first. West Chester is a very good team that played wildly inconsistently this entire season. They're hitting their stride at the right time, which makes them highly dangerous. This also happens to be their first trip to a semifinals game. On the other side is a Lindenwood team deep with talent. Last year's runner-up, they are built to take the championship this year. This really is one of those games where I can't easily predict how this will go down. Lindenwood would likely win this game 2 out of every 3 times, but WCU is playing well enough where tonight could easily be that one upset. West Chester will need to come out and build a lead early - they'll have a better chance holding a lead than trying to come back late.
#2 Penn State vs #4 Illinois, 8:30pm - It's an old rivalry renewed yet again. Not as much of a "bad blood" rivalry as Penn State has with Ohio or Rhode Island, but familiarity breeds contempt. They've done this before at this level - whether it's Illinois beating Penn State in the championship game in 2005, or Penn State exacting revenge in the semi finals in 2006. Penn State has the advantages to this point - they're rested, playing better hockey, and have a large amount of senior leadership thanks to their 13 seniors. But Illinois is not to be counted out easily. They're deep with talent and still the defending National Champions - something none of the Penn State players can say. It'll be another tight battle, but I think Penn State has all the right advantages at this point. Expect a slightly more (than normal) physical game from the Icers - they'll be looking to wear down an already-tired Illini team as much as possible.
I'll be around tonight for the tail-end of the first game, and then live updates from the Icers-Illinois game.