With the regular season over, it's fun to look ahead and see what could happen.
One possibility is a great West Regional at the X later this month. Minnesota Duluth seems like it could be headed there. And, if it gets there, and wins its first game, the Bulldogs could meet the Gophers for the regional final.
A lot has to happen before that, but it is setting up that way.
If the Gophers make the NCAA field, they will for sure be assigned to the X.
If the top two teams in the WCHA do meet, it could be an epic battle. They met twice in Duluth in October and both games were nail-biters. The Gophers won both 5-4, the first game in overtime.
The Bulldogs put 50 shots on goal each night. The Gophers nearly matched them the first game.
Of course, even before that, the Gophers and UMD are on a collision course to meet in the Final Five if both win their first-round series next weekend and their semifinal game in the Final Five. Both would have byes in the quarterfinals.
HOW NCAA FIELD SHAPING UP
Based on the latest PairWise ratings -- which obviously will change -- the four top regional seeds today would be:
1. Boston College ... Hockey East regular-season champion, 25-10-1 overall, alone at No. 1 in PairWise ratings.
2. Michigan ... tied for second in CCHA, 21-11-4, lost in NCAA title game last year
3. Massachusetts-Lowell ... tied for second in Hockey East, 22-10-1, including 11-3-1 at home
4. Minnesota Duluth ... defending NCAA champion, second to Gophers in WCHA, 22-8-6
The second seeds would be:
5. Ferris State ... the CCHA champion, 22-9-5, hard-working team with good goalie
6. Boston University ... tied for second in Hockey East, 21-12-1
7. Gophers ... WCHA champion, 20-8 in conference, including 13-1 on Saturdays, 24-12-1 overall
8. Union -- ECAC champion, 20-7-7 overall, 10 road wins
The third seeds would be:
9. Miami .... fourth in CCHA, 21-13-2, perennial NCAA team in recent years
10. Maine ... fourth in Hockey East, 20-11-3 overall
11. Denver ... third in WCHA, 21-11-4 overall, swept Gophers at home
12. Michigan State ... fifth in CCHA, 10-13-4, won and tied against Gophers
The fourth seeds would be:
13. North Dakota ... fourth in WCHA, 20-12-3, strong second half as usual under Dave Hakstol
14. Northern Michigan ... sixth in CCHA, only 11-11-6 in conference, but 6-2 in nonconference
15. Cornell ... second in ECAC, 15-7-7 overall, given up only 65 goals
16. Air Force ... Atlantic Hockey champion, a 12-team league., 17-9-7 overall, 29th in PairWise, so only way Falcons get into NCAAs is by winning their conference tournament. I'm presuming they do to fill out the field today.
NCAA breakdown by conference
5 from CCHA: Michigan, Ferris State, Miami, Michigan State, Northern Michigan ... somehow Western Michigan, which tied for second is not in
4 from WCHA: UMD, Gophers, Denver, North Dakota
4 from Hockey East, Boston College, UMass-Lowell, Boston University, Maine
2 from ECAC: Union, Cornell
1 from Atlantic Hockey: Air Force (or whoever wins conference tournament)
Regional sites on March 23-25 ... and likely assignments for the top four seeds:
Bridgeport Arena, Bridgeport, Conn. ... UMass-Lowell
DCU Center, Worcester, Mass. .... Boston College
Resch Center, Green Bay, Wis. ... Michigan\
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul ... UMD