Two weeks remain in the regular season for most men's college hockey teams, so the jockeying for positioning in the conference standings continues. With a lack of cross-conference play to compare teams from different conferences like the PairWise Ratings accomplishes in non-COVID years, subjectivity will play a key role when the NCAA men's hockey committee picks the 10 at-large teams to go along with the six automatic bids given to conference tournament champions. Using a subjective poll – mine – here's a look at what the 16-team field might look like:
The top 16
1. North Dakota (17-4-1): Fighting Hawks have the Penrose Cup as NCHC champs.
2. Boston College (15-3-1): Eagles are 10-1-1 since Jan. 10.
3. Gophers (19-5): Penn State series canceled, so Gophers turn attention to Michigan.
4. Minnesota State Mankato (16-2-1): Mavericks secured a WCHA four-peat with a 4-3 win over Bemidji State.
5. Wisconsin (15-8-1): Badgers are averaging 4.4 goals in their past eight games.
6. St. Cloud State (14-8): Huskies will face an angry Bulldogs team in Duluth.
7. Boston University (9-2): Star defenseman David Farrance set to return this weekend.
8. Michigan (12-8): Wolverines tune up against Arizona State before facing Gophers.
9. Minnesota Duluth (12-8-2): Bulldogs are 1-3 vs. St. Cloud State, their opponent Saturday.
10. Massachusetts (12-5-3): Minutemen hammered Providence 8-1 on Tuesday.
11. Nebraska Omaha (13-8-1): UND took Mavs to woodshed by a combined 11-2.
12. Quinnipiac (14-5-4): Bobcats on a 4-0-1 run.
13. Bowling Green (18-8-1): Falcons beat Alabama Huntsville 5-0 on Wednesday.
14. Clarkson (9-7-4): Golden Knights finish with Colgate, St. Lawrence.
15. Northeastern (9-6-2): Huskies bump Providence to wrong side of bubble.
16. American International (13-3): Yellow Jackets have been idle since Jan. 30.
With the 16 teams picked, it's time to fill the regionals. First-round intraconference matchups are to be avoided, and the NCAA committee would like to limit the number of flights needed. There is one regional host, North Dakota, which automatically is placed in Fargo.
Midwest Regional, Fargo
1. North Dakota vs. 16. American International
8. Michigan vs. 9. Minnesota Duluth
East Regional, Bridgeport, Conn.
2. Boston College vs. 13. Bowling Green
7. Boston University vs. 11. Nebraska Omaha
West Regional, Loveland, Colo.
3. Gophers vs. 15. Northeastern
6. St. Cloud State vs. 10. Massachusetts
Northeast Regional, Albany, N.Y.
4. Minnesota State vs. 14. Clarkson
5. Wisconsin vs. 12. Quinnipiac
There it is. Strictly adhering to bracket integrity – 1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, 3 vs. 14, etc. — would have resulted in an East Regional with four Hockey East teams, along with first-round intraconference matchups in the West (St. Cloud State vs. Nebraska Omaha) and Northeast (Minnesota State vs. Bowling Green). That prompted five teams to be relocated.