College Hockey Tournament Watch
With conference tournament play now in full swing across the board, it is the final opportunity for teams to climb the Pairwise and improve their seeding in the NCAA tournament. In addition, teams outside the bubble can save their season by clinching an automatic berth and become college hockey’s cinderella story.
It is do-or-die for every team in the Atlantic Hockey conference, meaning the conference’s tournament champion will be the only representative in the NCAA tournament.
AIC headlines the tournament field as the No. 1 seed and looks to be the favorite to claim the automatic bid.
Eastern College Athletic Conference
A wild final week of the regular season saw Cornell and Quinnipiac split the regular season conference title. Quinnipiac is a lock for the tournament and can possibly steal a No. 1 regional seed based on their ECAC tournament performance.
Cornell could solidify their own tournament berth by taking a series or two in the ECAC tournament, but that is no guarantee, going up against Union, a bubble team fighting to climb into the field, in the quarterfinal.
Clarkson also looks to be a probable lock for an at-large spot, currently sitting at No. 11 in the Pairwise.
Meanwhile, Harvard continues to sit on the bubble. Currently sitting at No. 14 in the Pairwise, a tournament spot is no guarantee for the Crimson, who will need to at least advance past Dartmouth this weekend in the ECAC tournament to lock down a bid.
Union, who upset Harvard two weekends ago, has climbed to No. 17 in the Pairwise. As mentioned earlier, the Dutchmen’s tournament hopes are on the line this weekend as they travel to play Cornell.
Massachusetts already has a No. 1 regional seed all but locked up, as they take on New Hampshire in the Hockey East quarterfinal.
Northeastern and Providence are also essentially locks at this stage. However, both teams can possibly secure a No. 2 regional seed with a deep conference tournament run.
Umass-Lowell is currently No. 20 in the Pairwise and falling off the bubble fast. However, do not rule out the Riverhawks of moving into an at-large position if they make the ECAC championship and teams ahead of them stumble.
National Collegiate Hockey Conference
St. Cloud State’s sweep of both No. 13 Western Michigan and No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth have likely guaranteed them the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, come Selection Sunday.
Duluth will look to make a strong run in the NCHC tournament, in order to maintain its status as a No. 1 regional seed.
Meanwhile, Western Michigan has been dealt a tough quarterfinal matchup at the wrong time. The Broncos will host red hot Colorado College this weekend, who just swept No. 7 Denver this past weekend. Do not rule out the Prowlers to make a deep run in this tournament, especially with St. Cloud State having very little to play for at this stage.
Denver hosts No. 18 North Dakota in its quarterfinal matchup this weekend. The national champions from two seasons ago are one of many teams fighting to maintain a No. 2 regional seed, while the Fighting Hawks are on the bubble in need of signature victories.
The NCHC will significantly alter the shape of the tournament field this weekend to say the least.
Western Collegiate Hockey Association
With Duluth being swept last weekend and Ohio State’s struggles to end the regular season, Minnesota State, leader of the WCHA have climbed up to No. 3 in the Pairwise. A WCHA tournament title clinches them a No. 1 regional seed.
The Mavericks’ semifinal opponent, No. 22 Lake Superior State, will look to keep its own tournament hopes alive.
Bowling Green has been sitting on the bubble for quite some time now. The Eagles are at No. 16 in the Pairwise. Their semifinal opponent, Western Michigan, is currently riding a six-game win streak but is still well off the bubble. This is essentially an elimination series for both teams.
There are four teams left in the Big Ten and the NCAA tournament scenarios are quite simple.
Ohio State is already a lock, but must win the conference tournament to ensure a No. 2 regional seed.
Notre Dame is right on the bubble, sitting at No. 15 in the Pairwise. A home victory this weekend against Minnesota in the conference semifinal should be enough to put them in the field, but it is no guarantee if upsets occur in other conferences.
Penn State and Minnesota both must win the Big Ten tournament to get into the NCAA field.
Arizona State has already clinched an at-large bid. However, a lack of conference tournament games has caused the Sun Devils to lose comparisons in the Pairwise and drop from No. 8 to No. 10 in just one week. It will be interesting to see where they end up by Selection Sunday.
Andre Magaro is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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