The puck drops on the first round of the national tournament tomorrow
How it works: The NCAA Tournament has two stages: regionals and the Frozen Four. In tomorrow’s regional semifinals, the six lowest-seeds battle for a (slap)shot at skating to Saturday’s regional final, where the top five squads are lying in wait, well-rested from their first-round bye.
- The weekend’s survivors advance to the pinnacle of collegiate hockey: the Frozen Four. On March 17th, the last gals standing will take the semifinal ice with hopes of lighting lamps during March 19th’s championship game.
The favorites: Back to defend their national title is Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ season was so strong that they snagged the tourney’s top seed despite being upset by No. 2 seed Minnesota in Saturday’s WCHA conference final. But keep those skates laced, because Ohio State’s path to the ’ship isn’t zamboni-ed clear just yet.
- When it comes to hockey, never count out Minnesota. The Golden Gophers are tied with archrival Wisconsin for the most nattys at six, and they’ve been phenomenal all season, as proven by their aforementioned win over Ohio State.
- No. 3 seed Colgate may not be a legacy team — they reached the championship game only once, dropping to Clarkson in 2018’s double-overtime bout — but they’re decidedly deadly this year, notably destroying Clarkson 8–2 in last weekend’s ECAC tourney. Revenge is best served ice cold.
The dark horses: Northeastern skated to a dominant win in last month's Beanpot, an always-cutthroat tournament between Boston’s four prestigious hockey teams. If the No. 5 seed brings that same heat, they could catch fire on the ice and make a run to their first-ever ’ship.
- However, Northeastern lacks title game experience, which is exactly where powerhouse Wisconsin shines. As mentioned, the Badgers are regulars at the natty, and they’re expected to blow past LIU in their regional semi tomorrow.
- Last but not least, Quinnipiac enters their first national tournament with a stellar 29-9-0 regular-season record. Their road to the ’ship goes through the Buckeyes, but if they can pull off their own miracle on ice, who’s to say they won’t take the whole damn thing?