The Norwich men's hockey team is once again champions of NCAA division three hockey. The Cadets won the program's fourth title and first in seven years Saturday night, beating Trinity 4-1 in upstate New York.
Todd Jackson scored the eventual game winner for the Cadets, breaking a 1-1 tie in the second period. The Cadets also set a school record, closing their season on a 25-game unbeaten streak. Ty Reichenbach made 35 saves in net to backstop the championship win, made possible by a 5-4 overtime win against Adrian College on Friday night in the semi-finals. It's a season that will go down as perhaps the greatest in program history, with the Cadets going 27-1-3 overall and taking the division three crown, their only blemish a regular season loss to Skidmore.
To the NBA, and the Boston Celtics are in a virtual tie with the Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the eastern conference after Boston's 112-108 win over the Miami Heat last night. Isaiah Thomas scored 30 points and Jae Crowder added a season-high 25 to help deliver a fourth straight win for Boston, a team that's playing its best basketball of the season at almost exactly the right time. The exact right time would be, of course, when the playoffs start, but securing the number one seed in the east by moving past the defending league champions would be quite an accomplishment and send a message that an upstart team is ready to come for the King. Most compelling is the fact that the Celtics have players like Avery Bradley back in the fold, after he spent the lion's share of the season on the disabled list. Bradley adds a defensive dynamic to the Celtics that they were missing for much of the year, and the team is also taking some of the pressure off Thomas on offense so that they don't need to rely necessarily on Thomas going wild in the fourth quarter to win games. The Cavs lead the Celtics by just percentage points for first place. The Celts have one more victory than Cleveland, but also one more loss.
The Final Four is set in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Even one of the teams I picked to win in all is still alive, Gonzaga. They're joined by fellow final four first timers South Carolina and Oregon, although technically the Ducks won the first ever NCAA championship in 1939, according to the stat folks at ESPN, when the Ducks were known then as the Webfoots, which I actually like better. North Carolina is also in the Final Four, and although they've been there many many times before, the way they got there this time was spectacular, needing a bucket by Luke Maye with 0.3 seconds left on the clock for a 75-73 win over Kentucky yesterday. I've never come close to picking a national champion in any bracket I've ever filled out, so go Bulldogs!
The women's bracket is close to its Final Four. Stanford will be there, after pulling out a one point 76-75 win over Notre Dame yesterday. Brittany McPhee scored 19 of her 27 points in the second half to guide the Cardinals. The Mississippi State Bulldogs are in the Final Four for the first time in school history after beating Baylor 94-85, and tonight Oregon will try to do the near impossible: upset the #1 UConn Huskies, who've won a mere 110 straight games. South Carolina will face Florida State to round out the rest of the Final Four.