Wisconsin hasn't played a team like Boston College.
Boston College hasn't played a team like Wisconsin.
Because, in this Frozen Four final, a rematch of the 2006 NCAA title game, which airs tonight at 7 p.m. on ESPN, it's almost like they're playing themselves.
A quick look at the stats tells you how alarmingly similar these teams are. Wisconsin is second in the nation in scoring offense, having netted 4.07 goals per game over their 42-date scorched earth campaign across college hockey. Boston College, meanwhile, was third in scoring, having piled up 4.05 goals per game over a 41-game season in which it has often left its opponents begging for mercy.
Wisconsin was the 11th-best defensive team in the country, conceding 2.52 goals per game. BC: Tied for 12th with 2.54 allowed per night. They're eighth and ninth in power-play efficiency, with Wisconsin scoring on 20.9 percent, and BC scoring on 20.8.
BC's record is 28-10-3. Wisconsin's is 28-10-4. In the semifinals on Thursday night, they both subjected their opponents to wholesale slaughter, with Wisconsin downing RIT 8-1 and BC routing Miami 7-1.
The only clear advantage, stats-wise, the Badgers have is on the penalty kill. Wisconsin was 10th in the country with an 85.5 percent efficiency, while BC was 16th at 84.1.
So how, then, can we pick a winner between these two teams?
BC would like to have you believe the difference is consistency. The Eagles are riding a 12-game unbeaten streak that started on February 21 and has seen them tie just one opponent since, a 3-all draw at UNH that cost the Eagles a Hockey East regular-season title. Since then, they have won eight in a row by a combined score of 43-24.
Wisconsin, on the other hand, would rather you focus on more recent performances. While both teams crushed their opponents in the semifinals, Wisconsin had the far easier go of things at their regional. You might not consider wins of 3-2 and 5-3 to be especially convincing, but Wisconsin was very much in control of both those games and the result rarely seemed in doubt.
Perhaps, though, the difference is in which team's star players you prefer.Wisconsin, of course, boasts newly-minted Hobey Baker winner Blake Geoffrion, who has 28 goals and 50 points this season, dominates on the man advantage (15 power-play goals!), and kills penalties like a machine. He plays like a rodeo bull and is almost impossible to contain. With -- for lack of a better term -- complimentary players like 54-point sophomore Derek Stepan, 52-point junior Michael Davies, both forwards, or 52-point, NHL-ready junior defenseman Brendan Smith, there's a lot to keep an eye on.
BC's stars are perhaps more understated, and definitely undersized. Where the aforementioned Wisconsin players are big boys at an average of 6 feet and 183 pounds, Ben Smith is BC's biggest player among its top four scorers, at a towering 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds.
Sophomore Cam Atkinson was the only Eagle to break the 50-point barrier, but even at a generous listing of 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, he presents a lot of problems with his blazing speed and unbelievable skill. He, like Geoffrion, has 28 goals this season. And with junior linemates Brian Gibbons (16-32-48) and Joe Whitney (17-25-42), who are 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-7 respectively, those three little forwards can put up gigantic numbers.
The way things have gone the last few weeks, we shouldn't be surprised by a game that ends 8-7 in overtime or 3-2.
This game figures to be an all-time classic.
The draft and the Frozen Four
Both Boston College and Wisconsin have churned out NHL players over the past few decades, so it's no surprise that a total of 21 players in this game have been drafted by NHL teams. Here's a breakdown of who's been drafted, and by whom.
New York Rangers: sophomore forward Derek Stepan (12-42-54), junior defenseman Ryan McDonagh (4-14-18)
Nashville Predators: senior forward Blake Geoffrion (28-22-50), senior forward Craig Smith (8-25-33)
Anaheim Ducks: freshman forward Justin Schultz (6-16-22), sophomore defenseman Jake Gardiner (6-7-13)
Detroit Red Wings: junior defenseman Brendan Smith (15-37-52)
Columbus Blue Jackets: junior defenseman Cody Goloubef (3-11-14)
Montreal Canadiens: junior forward Patrick Johnson (3-4-7)
Los Angeles Kings: junior forward Podge Turnbull (2-0-2)
Phoenix Coyotes: junior goalie Brett Bennett (2.82, .885)
Pittsburgh Penguins: senior defenseman Carl Sneep (11-17-28), freshman defenseman Philip Samuelsson (1-12-13)
Columbus Blue Jackets: sophomore forward Cam Atkinson (28-23-51)
Toronto Maple Leafs: sophomore forward Jimmy Hayes (13-21-34)
New York Rangers: freshman forward Chris Kreider (14-8-22)
Carolina Hurricanes: freshman defenseman Brian Dumoulin (1-21-22)
Colorado Avalanche: sophomore forward Paul Carey (9-12-21)
Boston Bruins: sophomore defenseman Tommy Cross (5-5-10)
Washington Capitals: freshman defenseman Patrick Wey (0-5-5)*
*Wey has missed the entire tournament with mononucleosis and will not play tonight.
- Boston College