Boston College, Boston University Beanpot Final a True Coin Flip, Though Game’s Importance Not Debatable

Boston College, Boston University Beanpot Final a True Coin Flip, Though Game's Importance Not DebatableFlip a coin.

Because the probability of you correctly predicting whether it'll land on heads or tails — which we all know is an exact science — is also the probability that Boston University will bring home the highly sought after Beanpot in any given year, as the Terriers enter Monday's clash with the Boston College Eagles in search of their 30th title in the tournament's 60-year history.

But this particular showdown, which marks the 21st time the teams have battled in the final, is too close to call, with the only sense of clarity being that its ramifications extend well beyond tournament glory.

We've seen the momentum that a Beanpot win can generate in the past, with recent victors having gone on to enjoy success in the Hockey East and NCAA tournaments. But a glance at this week's USCHO.com national rankings offers further validation of this game's magnitude.

Boston University (17-9-1) and Boston College (18-10-1) check in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in the rankings as of Monday, trailing only Ferris State (Mich.). The two teams are also deadlocked for second in the Hockey East standings with 27 points, a point behind conference-leading UMass-Lowell.

With the Hockey East tournament set to kick off March 9 and the NCAA regionals beginning on March 23, the two teams are running out of opportunities to flex their muscle before the true championship grind begins.

BU was sitting atop USCHO.com's national rankings, barely edging out Minnesota for the distinction of No. 1, as they entered last Monday's opening-round matchup against Harvard. The Terriers took down the Crimson, 3-1, but struggled to carry that momentum into Agganis Arena on Friday, and fell to UMass, 3-2.

It was quite the opposite for Boston College, which built off its 7-1 rout of Northeastern last Monday to pick up a 6-1 victory over Vermont on Friday. The two wins catapulted BC up three spots in the rankings, with the Eagles even receiving more first-place votes than the Terriers.

As the two jockey for position from both a conference and a national standpoint, Monday's game could go a long way toward showing which team's more prepared for the big stage at the end of the season.

BU has taken two of the teams' three meetings thus far this season. The Terriers won 5-0 on Nov. 13 and 5-3 on Dec. 2, both in Chestnut Hill, while dropping a 6-1 decision to the Eagles in their own backyard on Dec. 3.

This year's crop of BC seniors knows a thing or two about thriving in the pressure-packed Beanpot tournament, though, which the Eagles hope translates into a slight edge on Monday despite the teams' close proximity in the rankings.

The sextet of BC seniors — Tommy Cross, Barry Almeida, Paul Carey, Tommy Atkinson, Edwin Shea and Chris Venti – has registered a 6-1 record in Beanpot play thus far, with the only loss coming in a 6-1 first-round dismantling at the hands of Northeastern in the 2009 tournament. They've won every matchup since — a streak that, if continued, would result in BC's third straight Beanpot title.

That's enough to get anyone's nerves going, but the Eagles are remaining even-keeled, ready to convert their energy and excitement into something more memorable.

"Beanpot Monday is what everyone looks forward to all year round, ever since you were a little kid living in the Boston area," said Shea, who understandably described BC's back-to-back Beanpot titles as his most memorable tournament moments thus far. "You want to play in the Beanpot, you dream about it. Waking up on Beanpot Monday, it feels like like Christmas."

Over in the Terriers' locker room, however, the team isn't ready to let the Eages' recent Beanpot success dictate the way Monday's championship tilt is played.

"When you have a BU-BC matchup, it's something that you just have to get up for," said BU defenseman Patrick MacGregor, who is seeking his first Beanpot title. "It's the easiest game probably to be ready to play."

For many of the players taking the ice on Monday night, more important games lie ahead, especially for those 19 players (10 on BU, nine on BC) who've already been selected in the NHL Entry Draft. But don't expect that to cross their minds, as for 60 minutes on the TD Garden ice, earning that big 'ol pot of beans is all that matters.

So, go ahead and flip that coin now. Just don't be surprised if it sits on its side for a few hours, as we could be in store for one of the more heavily contested Beanpot finals to date.

Click here to see the top 60 moments in Beanpot history >>

Click here to see the Beanpot all-time team >>

Click here to follow Monday's Beanpot action with NESN.com's live blog >>

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