ICE TIME: NCAA tournament berth on the line for all Frozen Faceoff teams
MINNEAPOLIS -- There is one very distinct and unique fact about this year's National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff. All four teams at the Target Center need to win to assure themselves of an NCAA tournament berth. That includes UND,...
MINNEAPOLIS - There is one very distinct and unique fact about this year’s National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff.
All four teams at the Target Center need to win to assure themselves of an NCAA tournament berth.
That includes UND, which entersFriday’s game against Miami University (7:38 p.m., CBS Sports Network) on the bubble, despite an 18-5-1 run in the last 24 games.
UND currently sits at No. 13 in the Pairwise Rankings and will, at a minimum, need to stay in the top 14 or 15 to continue the longest streak of NCAA appearances in the nation, which is at 11 years right now.
The easiest solution for UND is to win two games at the Frozen Faceoff and come away with the league’s automatic bid into the NCAAs. In that scenario, UND would likely wind up as a No. 3 seed and be placed in Cincinnati or Bridgeport, Conn., for the regional.
If UND loses twice this weekend - in the semifinals and in the third-place game - it has no chance at making the NCAA tournament. Of the 3.1 million possible combinations of outcomes this weekend, none have UND in the national tournament with two losses.
If UND wins once at the Frozen Faceoff, whether it be the semifinal game or the third-place game, things become much more murky and UND will have to rely on help from others around the country.
What should UND fans watch in other conferences in hoping that the team could make the NCAAs with only one win in the Frozen Faceoff?
1. The Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) semifinals. If both Union and Quinnipiac win their games today over Cornell and Colgate, it would be of significant help to UND. This may be the most important development to watch.
2. If Bowling Green beats Minnesota State-Mankato today, it also would help UND, but only if Ferris State goes on to win the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five.
3. No upset winners. That means hoping that New Hampshire does not win Hockey East and that either Minnesota or Wisconsin win the Big 10. UND also needs to hope that neither Bowling Green nor Alaska Anchorage win the WCHA.
For the other three teams at the Frozen Faceoff, it is very simple.
Miami, Western Michigan and Denver all need to win the tournament in order to get into the 16-team NCAA tournament field, which will be revealed at 11 a.m. Sunday (ESPNU).
“Everybody knows what the Pairwise scenarios are,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “Win and move on. That’s the scenario. Win and move on.”
Entering the final weekend before the NCAA tournament, eight teams have locked up NCAA spots - Minnesota, Boston College, Union, Ferris State, Wisconsin, Quinnipiac, UMass-Lowell and Notre Dame. Providence and St. Cloud State are essentially locks for the tournament as well.
Since the Atlantic Hockey tournament champion will claim one more spot, that leaves five spots open to be claimed this weekend. There are still 20 teams that are in the mix for those five spots.