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Bemidji State hockey on verge of gaining at-large NCAA berth

The Bemidji State men's hockey program looks to take another major step forward today, earning an expected at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever.

The Beavers (23-9-4) ended eighth overall in the final Pairwise rankings, according to rankings found at That means BSU should enter the tournament as a No. 2 seed and be a home team in its regional opener.

This morning, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee met to confirm the final team rankings and decide where to place the teams. The final brackets will be unveiled during the NCAA Selection Show, to be shown on ESPN2, at 10:30 a.m. today.

Nothing will be official until the announcement is made by the selection committee this morning. But it's safe to assume the selection committee will not waver far from the final Pairwise rankings.

This is the fourth appearance the Beavers will be making in the NCAA Tournament at the Division I level. In the previous three appearances, the Beavers earned an automatic bid into the tournament by winning the College Hockey America playoff title.

In each case, the Beavers entered the tournament as the 16th seed in the 16-team tournament. As a result, BSU played the top-ranked team in the nation in the tournament opener in its first two appearances - Denver and Wisconsin. Both teams went on to win the national crown.

Last year the Beavers played the No. 2 overall seed Notre Dame and went on to win the Midwest Regional, qualifying for the Frozen Four.

Prediction time

The following is an unofficial prediction of what the final brackets will look like.

First place the schools in the appropriate bands:

No. 1: Miami, Denver, Wisconsin, Boston College

No. 2: North Dakota, St, Cloud State, Cornell, BSU

No. 3: Yale, Northern Michigan, New Hampshire, Michigan

No. 4: Alaska, Vermont, RIT, Alabama-Huntsville

There are four regional sites - St. Paul, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Albany, N.Y,; and Worcester, Mass.

The No. 1 seeds are typically placed in the regional closest to their schools. Miami goes to Fort Wayne, Denver to St. Paul, Wisconsin to Albany and Denver to St. Paul.

The No. 2 seeds are placed so regional finals, if the higher seeds both won, would be 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5. So, BSU (8) goes to Fort Wayne in Miami's bracket. UND (4) goes to Worcester with Boston College. St. Cloud (6) goes to Albany with Wisconsin and Cornell goes to St. Paul in Denver's regional.

The No. 3 seeds are placed so first-round matchups are 5 vs. 12, 6 vs. 11, 7 vs. 10 and 8 vs. 9. That has Yale (9) facing BSU, Northern Michigan (10) against Cornell, New Hampshire (11)facing St. Cloud and Michigan (12) against UND.

The No. 4 seeds are placed 1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, 3 vs., 14, 4 vs. 13. That leaves Alabama-Huntsville (16) playing Miami, RIT (15) facing Denver, Vermont (14) against Wisconsin and Alaska (13) playing Boston College.

That leaves the brackets being:

Fort Wayne -- Miami vs. Huntsville and BSU vs. Yale.

St. Paul -- Denver vs. RIT and Cornell vs. Northern Michigan

Albany -- Wisconsin vs. Vermont and St. Cloud State vs. New Hampshire

Worcester -- Boston College vs. Alaska and UND vs. Michigan.

For attendance purposes move St. Cloud to the St. Paul regional, switching with Cornell, who would also be closer to home in Albany. It's a 6 seed switching with a 7 seed, not really a big move pairings-wise.

So the final prediction:

Fort Wayne -- Miami vs. Huntsville and BSU vs. Yale.

St. Paul -- Denver vs. RIT and St. Cloud vs. Northern Michigan.

Albany -- Wisconsin vs. Vermont and Cornell vs. New Hampshire

Worcester -- Boston College vs. Alaska and UND vs. Michigan.