Skip to content

Back to Class: Where March Madness is already underway

Mar 6, 2013, 6:45 AM EST

Connor Hellebuyck

We’re taking you “Back To Class” for our roundup of the weekend’s action in college hockey. Look for more college hockey on NBCSN this Friday night as Maine host No. 4 New Hampshire at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Hockey East and the WCHA will wrap up their final weekend of conference action this weekend while Atlantic Hockey, CCHA, and ECAC all start their conference playoffs. It’s a veritable full weekend of playoffs for everyone if you want to look at it that way as even those who aren’t yet in their postseason are still jockeying for position.

In Hockey East, the battle for the top spot is on between UMass-Lowell, Providence, New Hampshire, and Boston College. Any of those four teams could wind up in first, while Boston University and Merrimack are just outside the top four. Landing in the top four means getting home ice in the first round of the conference playoffs.

In the race for the No. 1 seed, the series to watch is between Lowell and Providence as they’ll have two games to see if they can figure things out. Lowell, thanks to freshman standout and Winnipeg Jets prospect goalie Connor Hellebuyck, lead Hockey East but Providence sits two points back. BC and New Hampshire are each one point out and they’ve got teams from the bottom end of the conference to deal with.

Boston College faces 7th place Vermont while UNH faces a Maine team trying to solidify their spot in the conference playoffs. Only the top eight move on and Maine is trying to keep UMass out. The Minutemen have a pair of games with Merrimack to contend with. Only Northeastern won’t be making the playoffs.

In the WCHA, there’s no threat of missing the playoffs as all 12 teams make it. Figuring out who wins the MacNaughton Cup (first place in the regular season) isn’t quite so easy. St. Cloud State could’ve wrapped it up last Saturday, but were humbled by Michigan Tech. Now, any one of five teams could win the regular season title.

SCSU has a two-point lead on Minnesota and North Dakota and are four up on Minnesota State and Wisconsin. The two weekend match-ups to watch here feature St. Cloud against Wisconsin and Minnesota St. facing North Dakota. Earning the top spot at the end of the season means getting to face a bad Alaska-Anchorage team in the opening round of the conference tourney.

If that’s not enough to get you juiced up, three conferences have their playoffs getting started on Friday night. Here’s how things shape up for them:

CCHA: The top-five teams here all get byes into the quarterfinals. Only difference being that No. 4 Ohio State gets No. 5 Ferris State there. Miami, Notre Dame, and Western Michigan are the top three teams here. Your first-round best of three matchups see the winners re-seeded. Alaska hosts Michigan State, Michigan hosts Northern Michigan, and Lake Superior State gets Bowling Green.

ECAC: All 12 teams make the playoffs and the top four get byes in the first round. Quinnipiac, Rensselaer, Yale, and Union can rest easy this weekend and wait to see what carnage is unleashed with the other eight teams in their best of three series. Dartmouth hosts Harvard, St. Lawrence faces Colgate, Brown hosts Clarkson, and Princeton takes on Cornell in New Jersey. Winning teams are reseeded for the second round. RPI blog Without A Peer shows off how the second round could play out.

Atlantic Hockey: Top four teams have byes (Niagara, Air Force, Holy Cross, UConn). Winners of the first round are re-seeded. The first-round best of three pairings are: Robert Morris-Sacred Heart, Mercyhurst-Army, Canisius-Bentley, and RIT-American International. Anyone on the NCAA tournament bubble (16th in Pairwise) is rooting for Niagara to steamroll through here without issue.

If, somehow, that’s not all enough for you the Division III NCAA tournament gets underway tonight and winds up on March 16 with the national championship game. St. Norbert will be looking for their third title in a row but this writer would like to see Oswego State take it all. That’s called an “alumni plug.”

(Photo: Lowell Sun)

Latest Posts
  1. Video: Niemi robs Toews, Sharks hang on to beat the Blackhawks

    Feb 1, 2015, 1:41 AM EST

    Antti Niemi AP

    Got a little help, too. Quick whistle on Toews chances.

  2. Video: Bickell crushes Hannan, physical play picks up in San Jose

    Feb 1, 2015, 12:07 AM EST

    Bryan Bickell Getty Images

    No call. Got a little testy out there after that hit.

  3. Rask, Bruins complete January with impressive victory against Kings

    Jan 31, 2015, 11:17 PM EST

    Tuukka Rask Getty Images

    Boston maintaining their hold on a Wild Card spot.

  4. Leafs scoring slump hits historical low

    Jan 31, 2015, 10:23 PM EST

    Phil Kessel AP

    Maybe February will be better?

  5. Oilers’ Hall (bone bruise) to sit out versus Flames

    Jan 31, 2015, 9:44 PM EST

    Taylor Hall Getty Images

    Battle of Alberta isn’t what it used to be.

  6. Video: Rangers’ Lundqvist takes puck to the neck

    Jan 31, 2015, 8:57 PM EST

    Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 5.47.56 PM

    Scary moment, but he has stayed in the game.

  7. Wild’s Suter reportedly questionable to play against Canucks

    Jan 31, 2015, 7:43 PM EST

    Boston Bruins v Minnesota Wild

    Starting Sunday, these teams will play each other three times in 16 days.

  8. Loss to Red Wings a ‘wake-up call’ for Islanders

    Jan 31, 2015, 6:19 PM EST

    Jack Capuano AP

    Two losses in a row for the Islanders.

  9. Mike Richards trying to make the best of being sent to the AHL

    Jan 31, 2015, 5:53 PM EST

    Mike Richards Getty Images

    Was put on waivers, cleared, and sent to the minors this week.

  10. Red Wings’ youth shines vs. Isles for ninth win in 11 games

    Jan 31, 2015, 4:47 PM EST

    Gustav Nyquist, Thomas Hickey, Matt Martin, Justin Abdelkader AP

    Detroit is forcing itself into the Stanley Cup conversation.

  11. Price leads Habs past Caps with second straight shutout

    Jan 31, 2015, 4:08 PM EST

    Jay Beagle, Carey Price, Andrei Markov AP

    Montreal has put pressure on Tampa Bay in the battle for the Eastern Conference lead.

  12. Horton shows some improvement, future remains cloudy

    Jan 31, 2015, 2:48 PM EST

    Columbus Blue Jackets v San Jose Sharks Getty Images

    He has a degenerative back injury that might lead to career-ending surgery.

  13. Goalie nods: Smith gets shot at revenge vs. Senators

    Jan 31, 2015, 1:56 PM EST

    Ottawa Senators v Arizona Coyotes Getty Images

    He gave up five goals against them on Jan. 10.

  14. This will be a milestone night for several Flyers

    Jan 31, 2015, 12:57 PM EST

    Jakub Voracek Getty Images

    Meanwhile Philadelphia will try to win its fourth straight game.

Featured video

Kings come back in third to top Blackhawks
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. E. Malkin (3523)
  2. T. Hall (2997)
  3. S. Crosby (2752)
  4. M. Brodeur (2555)
  5. P. Rinne (2512)
  1. C. Price (2318)
  2. M. Richards (2313)
  3. K. Letang (2217)
  4. K. Okposo (2136)
  5. P. Hornqvist (2007)