Big Ten champion Michigan earns a No. 1 seed in NCAA hockey tournament
Michigan hockey, coming off an upset of top-ranked Minnesota on Saturday to win its second straight Big Ten Tournament title, is a No. 1 seed in the Allentown Regional of the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
Minnesota is the No. 1 overall seed in the 16-team tournament unveiled Sunday night. Quinnipiac and defending national champion Denver, which defeated the Wolverines in overtime in the national semifinals last year, are the other No. 1 seeds.
Michigan Tech (24-10-4) and Western Michigan (23-14-1) also made the tournament. The Frozen Four will be in Tampa April 6-8.
The Wolverines (24-11-3) will face Colgate (19-15-5) Friday night at 8 :30 p.m. at PPL Center on ESPNU. Host Penn State, the No. 2 seed, will face No. 3 seed Michigan Tech in the other regional semifinal in Allentown on Friday at 5 p.m. also on ESPNU. The semifinal winners will play Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2 for a spot in the Frozen Four.
Western Michigan (23-14-1) faces Boston University (27-10-0) on Thursday at 2 p.m. on ESPN2. The Broncos are in the Manchester Region of which Denver is the No. 1 seed and will face Cornell. The regional final will be Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPNU.
Michigan technically was the third No. 1 seed and Denver the fourth.
“As close as any two teams I’ve ever seen,” Jeff Schulman, the NCAA Hockey committee chair said on the ESPNU broadcast when asked how Michigan and Denver were seeded. “We had to go out six decimal points to break that (and) Michigan prevailed just slightly over Denver.”
For Michigan, led by interim coach Brandon Naurato, this is the second straight season as a No. 1 since the tournament expanded to 16 teams in 2003.
The Wolverines, who have won four straight, earned an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament after winning the Big Ten Tournament championship, 4-3 over Minnesota. Michigan was trailing 3-2 early in the third period when freshman defenseman Seamus Casey tied the game 5:29 mark. Dylan Duke scored the game-winner with 8:14 remaining.
Colgate enters the tournament after upsetting Harvard on Saturday to win the ECAC Hockey Championship, its second title in program history and first since 1990. Colgate coach Don Vaughan said Sunday night on ESPNU he doesn’t know much about the Wolverines but is diving into game preparations.
“We know we can beat anyone,” Vaughan said. “We respect them. We know how good they are. We’ll bring our game and see what happens.”