College Hockey: National Picture

Justin K. Aller

The college hockey playoffs are heating up and the national picture is coming into focus

Now that the silliness of the #octofinals is over and we are left with the Top 8 teams in the Hockey East tournament, it's now time for the serious business of the college hockey playoffs to heat up. The mad scramble to get into the NCAA tournament and get a good seed begins playing out with conference tournament action, starting with a pair of games tonight. Every conference is into the postseason now, except for the Big 10, because their tournament is three days long and consists of all 6 teams making it to the final weekend, because of course.

Now, a look around the college hockey landscape, including games that will significantly impact BC: All rankings listed are the pairwise ranking, because that's all that matters at this point. *=if necessary.

Big Ten

(All two-game series Fri & Sat)
#1 Minnesota @ #14 Michigan
#23 Ohio State @ #53 Penn State
#4 Wisconsin @ #36 Michigan State

The final weekend of the BI6 regular season is the most important set of games from a BC perspective, as the Eagles need at least one Minnesota loss to Michigan to open the door to reclaiming the #1 overall seed. Michigan will certainly have a lot of motivation as they still need to earn their spot in the tournament.

Elsewhere, Wisconsin hopes to hang on to a 1-seed in their series with Michigan State.

NCHC

#27 Denver @ #26 Nebraska-Omaha (Thu, Fri, Sat*)
#40 Miami @ #5 St. Cloud State (Fri, Sat, Sun*)
#21 W. Michigan @ #19 Minnesota-Duluth (Fri, Sat, Sun*)
#51 Colorado College @ #10 North Dakota (Fri, Sat, Sun*)

Two traditionally strong programs in Miami and CC will try to salvage dumpster-fire seasons with upsets at St. Cloud State and North Dakota. It won't be easy for either; the Huskies and the Redacted are both on quite a roll and look likely to be the NaCHo's only representatives in the NCAAs this year. Western Michigan and Minnesota-Duluth will battle to keep their NCAA hopes alive.

WCHA

#29 Alaska-Anchorage @ #25 Alaska (Thu, Fri, Sat*)
#34 Michigan Tech @ #28 Bowling Green (Fri, Sat, Sun*)
#45 Bemidji State @ #6 Ferris State (Fri, Sat, Sun*)
#39 Northern Michigan @ #17 Minnesota State (Fri, Sat, Sun*)

Not much star power in these pairings; the most intriguing series will be Minnesota State's attempt to get on the right side of the bubble. Also, it will be interesting to keep an eye on Ferris State and see if they are legit contenders to get back to the Frozen Four this year.

ECAC (All series Fri, Sat, Sun*)

#30 St. Lawrence @ #16 Colgate
#24 Clarkson @ #13 Cornell
#18 Yale @ #7 Quinnipiac
#42 Dartmouth @ #3 Union

Doubtful anyone would have seen this coming 5 or 6 years ago, but the ECAC playoffs may well be the most interesting in the nation outside of Hockey East. The obvious headliner is Yale and Quinnipiac in a rematch of last year's national title game, with the Bulldogs clinging to hope of an at-large bid into the NCAAs. They'll need to get past Quinnipiac to do it. Meanwhile, Cornell and Colgate are in the midst of the bubble battle as well, and Union looks to solidify its 1-seed.

AHA

JCNG

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The action gets underway tonight. On Monday, bracketology scenarios will be a lot clearer. Check back tomorrow for a comprehensive look at BC-Notre Dame and the rest of the Hockey East quarterfinals.

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