If odds makers had to make a living predicting the Beanpot, they'd all wind up where Jimmy the Greek is today.
In the Beanpot, bad teams win and good teams end up bringing their sleeping bags for the great camping trip known as the consolation game.
Last year, Boston College and Harvard--both ranked in the national top 10 at the time--battled in front of 50 hot dog hawkers in the consolation game. Meanwhile, Boston University and Northeastern, no dynasties they, met in the final in front of a sold-out Boston Garden crowd.
Harvard enters the Beanpot (February 1, 9 p.m.) as the only nationally ranked team. Which means, of course, that the Crimson will fall flat against mediocre B.U.
B.C. and Northeastern face off in the other game (6 p.m.).
The Terriers are the two-time defending 'Pot champions, but on paper have nothing on the number five in the nation Crimson.
Sure, B.U. has won four of its last five games, but its overall record (8-12-3) would send most teams to the locker room for a change of battery. Still, the Terriers are in third place in their league--the star-crossed Hockey East--and have hopes of making the NCAA Tournament.
"The coaches, I think, look at the Beanpot differently than the players," Terrier Assistant Coach Bob Richardson says. "We're looking at our league. We want to finish strong in our league and then play in the NCAA Tournament."
As for the Beanpot, they'll slit that turkey's neck when they come to it.
"When Monday comes, we'll play the game," Richardson says.
Harvard has not won a 'Pot since 1981 (when goalie Wade Lau carried the Crimson to glory), and has not won an opening round game in that same span. Harvard's only tournament experience this year has come in the form of the Long Island Classic, in which the Crimson finished fourth.
Could the favorite be the underdog?
"There aren't any favorites," Richardson says. "And when there are favorites, they don't win."
B.U., while not setting the hockey world aflame, has a couple of solid players in Mike Kelfer (19 goals, 16 assists for 35 points) and Mike Sullivan (11-15--26). The goaltending chores have been shared by Peter Fish (4.74 goals-against average) and John Bradley (4.80). Bradley, who has started the Terriers' last three games, is likely to get the call against Harvard.
Meanwhile, Harvard will throw four potent lines at the Terriers, including a first line of Steve Armstrong, Tod Hartje and Andy Janfaza that has been playing like first lines of old.