NCAA Hockey Tournament Preview

by The Cowl Editor on March 23, 2017


Photo courtesy of PC Athletic Media

by Max Anderson ’18

Sports Staff

With the entire country swept up in the craziness of the opening weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament, many forgot to tune in to the NCAA Division I hockey tournament selection show.  For those that missed the selection show, here’s a breakdown of each team that made the tournament and how each region shaped out.

Let’s start with the East Region, where our very own Providence College Friars were placed. The Friars, who were seeded fourth by the selection committee, will take on number one seed Harvard.  While it’s always tough playing the one seed in the opening round, especially a team that has lost just five games the entire season, the Friars will have the crowd advantage, as the game will be played at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.  And do I even need to remind you of what happened the last time the Friars were a four seed in the tournament?

The other game in the East Region will be played between the two seed, the Western Michigan Broncos, and the three seed, Air Force.  Neither of these teams have made the tournament since 2012, with the Broncos, who are 0-6 all time in the tournament, looking to finally score a win.  They face an uphill challenge, however, against an Air Force team that just secured their sixth Atlantic Hockey title in the past 10 years.

In the West Region, number one seed Minnesota-Duluth will be taking on Ohio State.  The Buckeyes, who will be making their first tournament appearance in eight years and just their seventh tournament appearance ever, will be thinking upset against a Minnesota-Duluth squad that secured their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010.

Boston University, meanwhile, secured the two seed in the West Region, setting up a date with North Dakota.  This could end up being one of the best matchups in the entire tournament, as both of these schools have made 30+ NCAA Tournament appearances, and have practically been stables since the tournament came into existence.  Despite having four more losses than BU, it wouldn’t shock me one bit if the Hawks ended up pulling off the upset here.

In the Midwest Region, Denver will take on Michigan Tech in the opening round matchup.  Despite dropping a National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) tourney game to North Dakota, it’s hard to argue that Denver has not been the most impressive team in Division I this season, posting a 29-7-4 record.  As good as Michigan Tech has looked at points during the season, I don’t see Denver dropping this game, especially after taking a premature exit in the NCHC Tournament.  In the second game, two seeded Union College, will take on three seeded Penn State.  Consider Penn State the Northwestern of this year’s tournament, as this will be the first ever appearance by the Nittany Lions. Unfortunately, I it probably will  not last long, as Union could take out Penn State early.

Finally, in the Northeast Region, the one seed Minnesota will take on the four seed, Notre Dame.  Another game that could come down to the final minutes, Notre Dame has the possibility to pull this one out. They are a much better team than people think, and they might be a little under-seeded here.  For the two vs. three game, UMass Lowell takes on Cornell, in a game that UMass will most likely take handedly.

Overall, the committee did a great job of selecting the teams for this year’s tournament, and some of these first round matchups could make this year’s tournament a great one to watch.