1. North Carolina
The equalizer never came, however, despite a late push as Denver hung on to beat the Bulldogs for its eighth national championship in school history. They're a great group of kids. And they never quit, a strong will, and we just came up a little short.
UMD outshot and out chanced Denver in the third period, but Pioneers junior goaltender Tanner Jaillet, the Mike Richter Award winner as national goaltender of the year, held strong, making 16 saves in the third and 38 overall in the battle of NCHC champions — Denver the regular-season winners and UMD the postseason champs.
Sophomore wing Jarid Lukosevicius scored all three Denver goals in the second period — including two just 16 seconds apart — to put the Bulldogs down going into the third. Like a vulture, he preyed off the chances created by his more high-profile teammates, like sophomore wing Troy Terry and sophomore center Dylan Gambrell. We just came up a little bit short. The Bulldogs entered the title tilt on an eight-game winning streak, with five of those victories coming by a single goal.
The run included a pair of overtime victories at the regional in Fargo, N. Before the close of college basketball's regular season, Sporting News began a weekly series of columns listing the teams that appeared to contain most or all of the essential qualities to win the NCAA Tournament. We started with 10 teams, an unusually high number for an unusual season in which there was abundant talent spread across the nation but no one team that had so much as to be a singularly dominant force against elite competition.
The list actually grew a smidge as the season neared its conclusion. Odds, lines for Final Four games. South Carolina is another story altogether. Here is how they rank, in order of potential to be lifting the trophy Monday night in Glendale, Ariz But they have advanced beyond their ugly losses at Miami and Virginia and the second-half collapse in the ACC semifinals against Duke.
There are few games more pressurized than the one that pits two teams on the verge of the Final Four, and Carolina performed in in those final minutes against Kentucky with great confidence. Jackson also might be the most difficult player to defend of all those at the Final Four because of his ability to shoot over defenders whether from 22 feet or six. Why they might not: It was his absence against Duke because of foul issues that led to Carolina blowing a double-digit lead.
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