Sunday, March 22, 2009

Conference Tournaments Over, Selection Sunday Next!

Congratulations to the UMD Bulldogs, who won their first WCHA Final Five Saturday night with a 4-0 victory over Denver. Goaltender Alex Stalock was incredible in te Final Five, winning three games, posting two shutouts, and gave up only one goal in three games. UMD snags an automatic berth in the NCAA field with their win Saturday. Also, UMD becomes the first WCHA team to win the tournament from the play-in game slot.

Here is what we know:

The six tournament champions receiving automatic bids in the NCAA Tournament are:
  • WCHA - UMD
  • CCHA - Notre Dame
  • ECAC - Yale
  • Hockey East - Boston U
  • CHA - Bemidji State
  • Atlantic Hockey - Air Force

The PairWise "final edition" is as here. We can also assume that we know that in addition to the six teams listed above, Denver, Michigan, Northeastern, North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Cornell, Princeton, and Miami (OH) will also get bids.

What we do not know:

Who is the 16th team?

The Gophers are still alive, if the PairWise is to be believed. After play was concluded Saturday night, Minnesota ended up in a three-way tie with Ohio State and Wisconsin for 15th place. Keep in mind, Bemidji State gets an automatic bid even though they did not finish among the top 16 teams by virtue of their CHA championship. With their victory in Atlantic Hockey, Air Force snuck into the top 14, eliminating the Gophers' requirement of finishing 14th or higher.

The big question is how the selection committee will allocate the "bonus points" to the mathematical formula in determining the final field. The Gophers appear to be in the thick of the consideration, given the tie for 15th place and the fact that they are hosting a regional (although the committee would argue strenuously that this would have nothing to do with the final selection). Still, one would have to think that the prospect of a bunch of empty seats in one of the marquee arenas would help sway the committee.

Either way, it'll be fun to check into the selection show on ESPN2 at 10:30 CDT Sunday morning. Three words for Gopher fans: SECRET. BONUS. POINTS!!!!!!

A new post tomorrow after the field is announced with all four brackets to be previewed before next Friday's action begins.

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