Column: Why Frozen Is Better Than Final
Published: Monday, April 2, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
I’ll start off by saying that I realize I am biased (it’s tough not to be when Boston College making it this far has clinched me a ticket down to Tampa on Wednesday). But while the rest of the country is all wrapped up in the hype of the Final Four, a better event will likely go without much notice nationally: the Frozen Four.
In terms of general popularity and media frenzy, the Frozen Four is like the little brother of the Final Four. Millions of Americans fill out basketball brackets every March, while a combination of CBS, TruTV, TBS, and TNT go absolutely insane, covering all 67 games of the tournament. Meanwhile, the Frozen Four semifinal games will be played on ESPN2, and the national championship was demoted this year from ESPN to ESPN2. Talk about getting left out in the cold.
So besides the national media attention, why is it that everyone and his mother knows about Anthony Davis and his unibrow, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone outside of New England that could tell you the leading scorer on the BC hockey team? Is it because a big dunk is more exciting than a slap shot? Is it because the Final Four is played in major venues like the Superdome this year in New Orleans, while the Frozen Four this year is being held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum? Is it because big-market teams like Kentucky and Kansas are playing in the Final Four, while smaller market teams like BC and Union are playing in the Frozen Four?
While I’m not sure that any of those reasons really make the Final Four more popular than the Frozen Four (at least they shouldn’t anyways), I can tell you why the championship games played on the ice are truly better than the ones played on the hardwood.
First of all, you will see moves on the ice that you thought were only possible by playing NHL 12 on your Xbox. A quick and speedy team, the Eagles are full of guys who can pull off those moves. At any time, anyone from Barry Almeida to Johnny Gaudreau will drop someone’s pants with jaw-dropping dekes that make you look twice to see if it actually just happened.
Another reason is that there’s nothing like seeing someone get absolutely decked out on ice. That physicality was on full display last weekend in the regionals, when BC faced Minnesota-Duluth. There was a stretch in the second period of non-stop hits, a lot of which were against the Eagles. But before you knew it, BC was coming back with more physical play, igniting the energy of the crowd at the desolate DCU Center. While the Eagles are known for their lightning speed, all WCHA teams are better known for their physicality. Minnesota-Duluth fit well into that category, and Minnesota likely will too. The Gophers are fast, but they will no doubt bring a physical game to Tampa after a season in the WCHA.
Lastly, this year’s makeup of the Frozen Four is better than any Disney producer could ever imagine. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the four teams who made it to Tampa have great stories behind them. I know you could probably find good storylines in the combination of Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State, and Kansas, but everyone’s already heard them. Plus, where’s the Cinderella team in this year’s Final Four? Apparently she was too busy still looking for her shoe to make an appearance in New Orleans.
Meanwhile, there are two Cinderellas, so to speak, in the Frozen Four. While they both enjoyed successful seasons, Ferris State and Union are by no means perennial powerhouses. But that’s an exciting aspect of the Frozen Four. One of them will end up in the national title game with a chance to upset a historically dominant team in either BC or Minnesota. Not that I’m advocating for this result, but for the purposes of this column, it could always happen.
Again, I know I may be slightly biased on this topic. If Steve Donahue and his squad were down in New Orleans playing in the Final Four right now, I might be writing this column the other way around. But they’re not. Anyways, I’d like to think I would still favor the Frozen Four over the Final Four. If for nothing else, I’d like to think so just because everyone else in the country has their eyes glued to the Frozen Four. Millions will watch the national championship game tonight and think the winter college sports season is done. What’s too bad is that they’ll be missing the real show. That starts Thursday night in Tampa.