Special report: Lowell is officially in the NCAA tournament
We remember watching the selection show in 2002. That year, Lowell went 22-13-3 and had made a pretty solid case for itself as one of the best teams in the nation.
Most of those 13 losses, you’ll remember, came because the team’s three best players — Yorick Treille, Laurent Meunier, and Baptiste Amar — had spent much of January and February competing for their native France in the Salt Lake City Olympics. That team was 1-6-2 with the Frenchmen in Utah, and 21-7-1 with everyone home. Unfortunately, the NCAA didn’t make much distinction between those two factors because its ranking system is based entirely on math.
Lowell slipped to something like 12th in the Pairwise, and was muscled out of the tournament picture by MAAC autobid winner Quinnipiac, because that was the final year in which the NCAA tournament was just 12 teams, and not the 16 we see today. How very convenient it is that the NCAA held off on implementing that rule until after Lowell was eliminated, right?
But today, almost exactly 10 years later, there was no denying the River Hawks their first NCAA tournament bid since 1996. This deserving Lowell squad found out for sure that it would indeed be dancing next weekend, in relatively-nearby Bridgeport, Conn., against Miami of Ohio.
Oh? What’s that? Miami of Ohio prefers to be called simply “Miami?” Great, when the campus moves to Florida, we’ll oblige.
The point is that this is an historic day for the Lowell hockey program, and not just because it washes away the unpleasant taste of garbage programs like Vermont and Amherst having made the NCAA tourney more recently than the mighty River Hawks. Today is a day for celebrating, even if ESPN did try to rain on our parade by literally saying nothing about the team except that it would be participating.
Congratulations to the Lowell athletic support staff, coaches, players, and fans. But this is the only day for celebrating. Tonight the real work begins. Getting healthy, getting ready. Getting in the proper preparation to tear Miami of Ohio limb from limb.
Is it Friday yet?