Good Morning Student Section! Good times have come our way. Basketball fans are preparing for their March Madness. This weekend, College will follow suit with the Conference Championships. The college hockey playoffs aren't for the faint of heart.
This weekend, the Minnesota Golden Gophers head to the Joe Louis Arena as number one seed after they won the Big Ten Hockey Conference regular season title. Congrats to the Maroon and Gold for winning the B1G regular season title.
One of the intriguing things about the playoffs is the finality of single elimination game. One bad bounce of a puck can end a team season, an ill-advised penalty can be the final nail in the coffin.
If the NCAA tournament started today, the Gophers 21-12-3 would be a 12 seed in the NCAA tourney. The Gophers await their next opponent and will find out who they play after the Thursday Big Ten play-in games.
From the Big Ten: The tournament will open at 4:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, as fourth-seeded Penn State takes on fifth-seeded Ohio State. Thursday's second game is set for 8 p.m. as third-seeded Michigan challenges sixth-seeded Wisconsin. The Wolverines finished third in the conference standings with 36 points and a record of 12-8-0-0. The Nittany Lions placed fourth with 31 points (10-9-1-0), while the Buckeyes claimed fifth place with 26 points (8-11-1-1). The Badgers finished sixth with 11 points and a record of 2-15-3-2.
Friday's semifinals open with top-seeded Minnesota battling the winner of Thursday's Ohio State-Penn State game at 4:30 p.m. Friday's second semifinal will feature second-seeded Michigan State facing the victor of Thursday's Michigan-Wisconsin contest at 8 p.m.
Taking a look at the Pairwise Rankings
One of the re-occurring themes to emerge this season has been the play of the Big Ten Hockey Conference. It's well documented that the B1G has had down season and the Gophers are currently the only team in the Big Ten that would qualify for an at-large NCAA bid.
While I am not a Pairwise Rankings guru, I do believe that the Gophers are probably in regardless of their performance in the Big Ten Conference tournament. The rest of the league would be on the outside looking in. (Pairwise Rankings Numbers)
Big Ten Pairwise Rankings: UMN 12, UMich 21, PSU 30, MSU 31, OSU 37, UW 55.
NCHC Pairwise Rankings: UND 1, DU 3, UMD 6, MU 7, UNO 8, SCSU 12, WMU 23, C.C. 51.
WCHA Pairwise Rankings: MSUM 2, MTU 5, BGSU 11, UAF 25, BSU 27, FSU 34, NMU 35, UAA 52, UAH 53, LSSU 54,
Suddenly the Huskies are back in the NCAA tourney
Yes, it's true, the St. Cloud State Huskies have had a down season. However, their non-conference schedule helped their Pairwise Rankings immensely. The Huskies (18-17-1) with their sweep of the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks are now in the running for an at-large bid. To make the NCAA tourney as an at-large bid, they would have to have a .500 record. The Huskies are a bubble team and they will need to either win the NCHC conference tourney, and or win at least one game this weekend to have a chance. If they lose both games, they are out.
The Bulldogs have the weekend off
This past weekend, the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (20-15-3) were swept (3-4 L, 3- 4L) by the Denver Pioneers. Lucky for the Bulldogs, they're already in the NCAA tourney. The Bulldogs entered the weekend ranked third in the Pairwise Rankings and dropped to sixth after being swept. In the second year of the NCHC, the Bulldogs have yet to make the Frozen Faceoff.
Mavericks head to the Final Five
The Minnesota State Mavericks (27-7-3) are ranked second overall in the Pairwise Rankings and will probably be a number one seed in the NCAA tourney. This past weekend, the Mavericks dispatched the Lake Superior State Lakers (9-2 W, 4-2 W). This weekend, the Mavericks play the Ferris State Bulldogs in the Final Five Semifinals.
Beavers end 2014-15 campaign
The Bemidji State Beavers (16-17-5) ended their 2014-15 season with a first round series loss (1-4 L, 2-3 L) to the Ferris State Bulldogs. The Beavers made great strides and had quality wins over North Dakota, Minnesota State (X2), St. Cloud and Minnesota-Duluth. The Beavers also won the North Star College Cup Championship.