Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.
NCAA men's hockey schedule
(ESPN will have all the regional games available on the Internet, either on WatchESPN, ESPN3 or ESPN syndication)
Friday's games Friday (4 total)
1 p.m.: No. 1 seed in Midwest Regional, Minnesota (26-8-5) vs. No. 4 Yale (18-12-3 ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
3:30 p.m.: No. 1 in Northeast, Massachusetts-Lowell (26-10-2) vs. No. 4 Wisconsin (22-12-7) ... ESPN3 or ESPN syndication
4:30 p.m.: No. 2 in Midwest, North Dakota (21-12-7) vs. No. 3 Niagara (23-9-5) ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
7 p.m.: No. 2 in Northeast, New Hampshire (19-11-7) vs. No. 3 Denver (20-13-5) ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
Saturday's games (6 total)
12:30 p.m.: No. 1 in Midwest, Notre Dame (25-12-3) vs. No. 4 St. Cloud State (23-15-1) ... FSN or ESPN3
3 p.m.: West final, Minnesota/Yale winner vs. North Dakota/Niagara winner ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
4 p.m.: No. 2 in Midwest, Miami (Ohio) (24-11-5) vs. No. 3 Minnesota State Mankato (24-13-3) ... FSN or ESPN3
4:30 p.m.: No. 1 in East, Quinnipiac (27-7-5) vs. No. 16 Canisius (19-18-5) ... ESPN3 or ESPN syndication
5:30 p.m.: Northeast final, UMass-Lowell/Wisconsin winner vs. New Hampshire/Denver winner ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
8 p.m.: No. 2 in East, Boston College (22-11-4) vs. No. 3 Union (New York) (21-12-5) ... ESNPU or WatchESPN
Sunday's games (2 total)
3 p.m.: Midwest final, Notre Dame/St. Cloud State vs. Miama/Minnesota State Mankato ... FSN or ESPN3
5:30 p.m.: East final, Quinipiac/Canisius winner vs. Boston College/Uniion winner ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
In a previous post -- Looking at the NCAA pairings, do they make sense? -- we looked at how the NCAA selection committee did in matching up teams in the first round of the NCAAs. Not too bad, it seemed like to me.
But what about putting regions together? That's another, different question.
Quinnipiac, the No. 1 seed, does indeed play the No. 16 seed, Canisius, the surprise Atlantic Hockey champion. The No. 8 and 9 seeds should be in the East Regional with the Bobcats, too.
But, nope, they are not.
Instead, it is Boston College, the No. 6 seed and defending national champion, and No. 12 Union, a Frozen Four team last season. No doubt, that's done for geography. Four teams from the East are together in Providence, R.I.
So where are the No. 8 and 9 seeds?
The No. 8 seed is North Dakota, which stays as West as possible, in the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich. And the No. 9 team is Denver, another WCHA team, so they can't meet in the first round. They were split up, the Pioneers were sent to Manchester, N.H., the Northeast Region.
Putting BC in same region as Quinnipiac puts a big obstacle in thew way of the No. 1 seed.
So let's look to the West. To see how that region comes together. The Gophers are the No. 2 seed overall and draw the No. 15 seed Yale. So that's all good.
But instead of the No. 7 seed being in the Gophers' region, which would be New Hampshire, the Gophers have No. 8 UND.
A lower seed but, in reality, a tougher opponent. It's a rivalry game. And anything can happen. Remember a year ago, UND beat the Gophers 6-3 in the WCHA semifinals, but the Gophers beat North Dakota 5-2 in the West Regional final to advance to the Frozen Four.
They could be playing again for a trip to Pittsburgh, site of the FF this year.
UMass-Lowell is the third overall seed, and the top seed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H. The River Hawks should have the No. 6 and 11 seeds in their region. Instead they have No. 7 and 9 seeds, New Hampshire and Denver. Maybe a little tougher.
And finally, in the Midwest Regional in Toledo, Ohio, No. 4 Notre Dame plays No. 13 St. Cloud State in the first game. And No. 5 Miami plays No. 11 Minnesota State Mankato. That almost follows the perfect seeding script, except Miami should be playing No. 12 Union. But the Dutchmen are staying East.
There you have it. The committee did some tinkering. If it strictly went by the numbers and let teams plays against conference opponents, here is how the regional pairings would have looked like:
East, Providence, R.I.
No. 1 Quinnipiac vs. No. 16 Canisius ... Yup
No. 8 North Dakota vs. No. 9 Denver ... Nope
West, Grand Rapids, Mich.
No. 2 Gophers vs. No. 15 Yale ... Yup
No. 7 New Hampshire vs. No. 10 Niagara ... Nope
Northeastern, Manchester, N.H.
No. 3 UMass-Lowell vs. No. 14 Wisconsin ... Yup
No. 6 Boston College vs. No. 11 Minnesota State Mankato ... Nope
Midwest, Toledo, Ohio
No. 4 Notre Dame vs. No. 13 St. Cloud State ... Yup
No. 5 Miami vs. No. 12 Union ... Nope
Looking at that, clear things up a bit. The committee went strictly by the book with the top four seeds, splitting them up and giving them the opponent the numbers say they should have. Then the tinkering began.
The NCAA hockey selection committee has one of the easiest jobs in the world.
It gets together, looks at the PairWise Rankings -- which a computer somewhere spits out -- and matched teams up.
No. 1 vs. No. 16
No. 2 vs. No. 15 and so on.
Look at the pairings. Five of the eight are exactly what they should be if the highest seeded team plays the lowest seeded team, the second highest seed plays the second lowest, etc.
Start at the top, the first four matchups go in the expected order:
No. 1 Quinnipiac vs. No. 16 Canisius
No. 2 Gophers vs. No. 15 Yale
No. 3 UMass-Lowell vs. No. 14 Wisconsin
No. 4 Notre Dame vs. No. 13 St. Cloud State
and ascending order, but just a little:
No. 5 Miami vs. No. 11 Minnesota State Mankato (should be No. 12 Union)
No. 6 Boston College vs. No. 12 Union (should be No. 11 Minnesota State)
No. 7 New Hampshire vs. No. 9 Denver (should be No. 10 Niagara)
No. 8 North Dakota vs. No. 10 Niagara (should be No. 9 Denver)
So the only four teams flipped were:
Minnesota State and Union. ... Now the Mavericks are in Toledo, Ohio, instead of Providence, R.I., and vise versa for Union. Makes sense geographically.
And Denver and Niagara. .... That avoids a North Dakota vs. Denver matchup in the first round. The committee tries not to schedule opponents from the same conference in that first round.
* Automatic NCAA bids went to the winners of the postseason tournaments in five Division I conferences:
Atlantic Hockey: Canisius
CCHA: Notre Dame
Hockey East: UMass-Lowell
NCAA TOURNAMENT TIDBITS
* Getting the last of the 11 at-large bids was Yale, after Michigan lost 3-1 to Notre Dame in the CCHA title game on Saturday. ... St. Cloud State was the 10th at-large team to get a bid, so the Huskies were close to the bubble, too. ... The first team left out of the tournament was Western Michigan, No. 16 in the PairWise Rankings.
* The Gophers are one of four No. 1 regional seeds. North Dakota is the No. 2 seed in the same region, the Midwest. ... None of the other four WCHA are seeded that high. ... Wisconsin, the Broadmoor Trophy champion, and St. Cloud State, the WCHA regular-season co-champion, are both No. 4 seeds in their region. ... Minnesota State and Denver are both No. 3 seeds in their region.
* In 2005, four WCHA teams were in the Frozen Four in Columbus, Ohio. ... This year as many as three could be in the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh, Pa., April 11 and 13.
* Results from 2005: Semifinals, Denver 6, Colorado College 2; North Dakota 4, Gophers 2. ... Championship, Denver 4, North Dakota 1. ... Pioneers freshman goalie Peter Mannino made 44 saves in the title game and was named the Frozen Four MVP.
*.Hmm, I wonder which WCHA team this year has a freshman goalie who is having a sensational season? Adam Wilcox of the Gophers is one, Stephon Williams of Minnesota State Mankato is another.
* Yale coach Keith Allain has coached the U.S. team in three World Junior Championships, in 2001, '02 and '11. Forwards Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau of the Gophers played for him on the 2011-12 team which won four games, one in overtime, and lost one to take third place in Buffalo, N.Y. ... Maybe Gophers coach Don Lucia can get some tips from Allain. Lucia will coach the 2012-13 team. The World Juniors are in Malmo, Sweden next year.
* On the NCAA hockey selection show on ESPNU, analyst Barry Melrose picked a Union defenseman and Wisconsin goalie Joel Rumpel as players to watch in the tournament. ... He picked the Badgers to win the Frozen Four, too. ... Dave Starman picked Gophers goalie Adam Wilcox and St. Cloud State forward Drew LeBlanc as his players to watch. ... He picked UMass-Lowell to win the national title.
* While the WCHA has six teams in the NCAA field, the most any other conference has is three. ... Hockey East and the ECAC have three apiece, Atlantic Hockey and the CCHA have two each.
* North Dakota is appearing in its 11th consecutive NCAA tournament, that's the longest current streak. ... This is the first NCAA tournament for Canisius. ... The Golden Griffins, the No. 16 seed, played the Gophers tough in an early season game before losing 1-0.
* Yale has four players on its roster from New Jersey; three from Alberta, Michigan and New York; two from Illinois and one from eight other states or provinces and one from Norway. The lone Minnesotan on the roster is sophomore defenseman Tommy Fallen from Plymouth. He played for Armstrong High School. He leads the Bulldogs' blue-liners in scoring (7-15-22) and is the fourth-leading scorer overall. Of his seven goals, four have come on the power play. ... He was Yale's rookie of the year last season.
* Nicholas Weberg, a sophomore forward from Oslo, Norway, also has Minnesota connections. He played for Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault in high school. In 24 games for Yale, he is 4-7-11.
FROZEN FOUR PAIRINGS
These are the pairings in the national semifinals -- and what WCHA could be playing:
East (No WCHA teams, No. 1 seed Quinnipiac is in this region, so too is defending NCAA champion Boston College) vs. Midwest (St. Cloud State, Minnesota State Mankato)
West (Gophers, North Dakota) vs. Northeast (Wisconsin, Denver)
Critics of the WCHA -- some of them now leaving the league -- have often said it is not a very progressively run league, that it is stuck in the past.
There is some truth to that, perhaps. Its commissioner, PR machine and supervisor of referees have been the same for a long, long time. And they seem to do things the same way.
But the WCHA fired back a little shot on Saturday, unveiling ... trumpet horns, please -- a new logo.
It seems like only a couple years ago, the WCHA changed its longer, adding a bigger W. Now it is adding a red hockey player -- did the red Mavericks, Nebraska Omaha push for the color I wonder -- to the left side of the logo. He used to be black in color and on the right side.
He is shooting at the five-hole on the W in the logo. But you can't see the puck, just his follow-through.
That should create a buzz about the new-look WCHA, right?
Seriously, here is part of the WCHA news release on the new logo:
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association, college hockey’s most historic and successful league and owners of a record 37 national championships since its founding in 1951, today unveiled a dramatic new look to the league’s iconic logo, one that catapults the Association into an invigorating new era in 2013-14.
(Really, this isn't a joke. They're serious about the new logo's importance.)
The WCHA, which will sport a highly-competitive, new-look 10-team men’s league next season, has continued to build on a successful decade-long relationship with Adrenalin, Inc., one of the country’s top design, marketing and brand expansion teams. Adrenalin, Inc., was a key player for the league throughout it’s season-long 50th anniversary campaign of 2001-02.
“This powerful, eye-catching and colorful update to our brand identity keeps the WCHA out front and on track as we move into a new era,” said WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod. “With this unveiling today we carry on our mission of both honoring our distinguished past and setting the stage for the continued success of our brand in the future. We sincerely appreciate and commend the efforts of Dan Price and the top-notch team at Adrenalin, Inc.”
(They paid a company to come up with this logo change? My 4-year-old grandson could have thought of this idea. Of course, his hockey player wouldn't have such precise lines.)
“College hockey is going through significant changes with the WCHA right in the thick of it all,” said Dan Price, Principal/President of Adrenalin, Inc. “When redesigning the WCHA logo and working on their visual identity, recognizing their historic standing as the winningest college hockey conference was of the upmost importance. Working with Bruce and his staff members, Adrenalin determined that their logo was not in need of an overhaul, but that a few minor adjustments would be necessary in order for the logo to accurately represent the conference as a continued leader. By moving the player from the right to the left side of the logo, the message is clear that the WCHA puts the players first and that exciting times are ahead – for them and the WCHA. Adding red as a third color addresses the aggressive and powerful style of hockey that is played in the conference. It was a pleasure working with Bruce and his group to deliver a winning mark.”
(Hopefully, this isn't the biggest change the WCHA makes to keep pace with college hockey these days.)
* So who will be in the new-look WCHA in 2013-14?
-- two WCHA holdovers in Minnesota, Bemidji State and Minnesota State Mankato ... plus Alaska Anchorage and Michigan Tech from the WCHA
-- independent Alabama Huntsville
-- five teams from the disbanding CCHA., Alaska Fairbanks -- should spike up rivalry with UAA -- Bowling Greem Ferris State, a Frozen Four team last season, Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan.
The WCHA's Final Five as been a tournament of upsets. Lower seeds have won all four games so far. And if the trend continues, Colorado College, which finished eight in the regular season, will beat Wisconsin in the title game tonight and get an automatic spot in the NCAA tournament.
Upsets have happened across the board in the four other Division I tournaments this week.
And that's a problem for St. Cloud State. The Huskies lost 4-1 to Wisconsin on Friday in the Final Five semifinals and now are tied for No. 11 in the PairWise Rankings, a mathematical formula which mimics how the NCAA seeds and fills out its 16-team tournament field.
No problem, you say? Actually, it is. The Huskies are "tied" for No. 11, but they lose the tiebreaker to both Niagara and Minnesota State, who have higher RPIs, a measurement of a team's strength of schedule.
So the Huskies are actually No. 13. They got themselves in that predicament by going 3-5-0 in nonconference games. (The Gophers were 8-0-0 in nonconference play, the only team in the country without a loss or tie outside its league. Minnesota State was 6-0-2.)
But there are 16 spots, right?
Yes, but two of them already will be taken by teams not in the PairWise's top 16.
The winner of the Wisconsin-Colorado College game will grab one. Wisconsin has the best RPI of teams tied for No. 17; ditto for CC among teams tied for No. 25.
The Atlantic Hockey champion also will be a team not among the PairWise's top 16. In fact, Canisus and Mercyhurst are not in the PairWise Rankings at all because their RPI is under .500.
What that means is the NCAA already can go 14 deep at most from the top of the PairWise Rankings. Remember St. Cloud State is No. 13.
If another team not in the PairWise's top 14 wins a tournament, the NCAA cutout drops to 13. And so on.
SCSU has to root for the favorites to win tournament games today and Sunday.
Here are the games the Huskies have to watch today:
Hockey East championship: UMass-Lowell, No. 3 with highest RPI, vs. Boston University, tied No. 17 with Wisconsin, but really No. 18, 6 p.m. in Boston ... Huskies need UMass-Lowell to win
ECAC championship: Union, No. 14, vs. Brown, No. 20 with highest RPI, 6 p.m. at Atlantic City, N.J. ... Huskies have to root for Union while at the same wondering if the Dutchmen could jump them in the PairWise with a win.
Notre Dame, No. 8 with highest RPI, vs. Ohio State, tied for No. 25, but really No. 26, 1 p.m. in Detroit
Miami, tied for No. 3 but really No. 4, vs. Michigan, No. 29, 4:35 p.m. in Detroit
Huskies need Notre Dame and Miami to win
SIX FOR WCHA?
If St. Cloud State can get in as at at-large team, the WCHA, in its final year with the present teams, would have six teams in the NCAA tournament. The other four conferences would have 10.
Hooray for the WCHA, huh?
Already securely in are the Golden Gophers as the No. 2 seed in the overall field behind Quinnipiac.
The Gophers are No. 2 in the PairWise, hence their seed. No. 6 North Dakota, No. 10 Denver, which lost in the first round to CC, and Minnesota State Mankato, the team with the highest RPI among teams tied for No. 11, are also in.
The Gophers will be the top seed in whatever region they are assigned to, probably the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich.
North Dakota will probably be a second seed wherever it goes, DU and MSU third seeds.
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