Saturday, March 23, 2013

For all the marbles

The WCHA Final Five on Saturday night will have a couple of surprise teams in the championship game, as Wisconsin will play Colorado College. If you picked those two teams in your bracket, well, I have some money I'd like you to manage for me.

Wisconsin, after beating Minnesota State on Thursday, stayed hot (and got a few bounces) and knocked off league co-champ St. Cloud State on Friday. Colorado College, on the back of Mankato-born goaltender Joe Howe (he only lived here a year), spoiled a pair of marquee matchups by beating North Dakota on Thursday (thus preventing a UND-Minnesota prime-time semifinal) and Minnesota on Saturday (preventing a Minnesota-Wisconsin final).

One cool thing about the WCHA championship game is that the winner will get an NCAA bid and the loser will not.

Speaking of the NCAAs, Minnesota State will be among the teams doing a lot of scoreboard watching today and Sunday to see if it makes the 16-team field.

According to Jim Dahl of, who has been doing a lot of statistical analysis (he's the Nate Silver of college hockey, apparently), MSU has a 96% chance of making it to the dance. But that 4% has to be making the Mavericks nervous, considering all of the upsets that have been taking place in the conferences tournaments and the big, been-there-done-that powers who have been on the outside looking in most of the season but are in position to steal those auto-bids (Michigan, Boston University).

If you're an MSU fan, you're rooting for most of the top seeds, although 3-Ohio State beating 2-Notre Dame in the CCHA semifinals apparently is better for the Mavericks. That means put on your Miami, UMass-Lowell, Union and Quinnipiac caps today.

And while there are some nightmare scenarios out there that drop MSU to 12th or 13th in the PWR while as many as five teams below them pick up their conferences' auto-bids, there are situations that move them as high as No. 8, which would mean a No. 2 seed for one of next week's regionals.

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