Beavers to face Michigan in Midwest Regional at Fort Wayne
The Bemidji State men's hockey team, as expected, was awarded an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament Sunday morning as a No. 8 seed.
The official announcement was made Sunday morning during the NCCA Selection Show on ESPN.
Bemidji State (23-9-4) was sent to the Midwest Regional in Fort Wayne, Ind. where the Beavers will face Michigan at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night. The Wolverines earned a trip to the national tournament by winning the CCHA playoff title in a 2-1 victory over Northern Michigan.
The other Midwest Regional semifinal will have top seeded Miami facing the University of Alabama-Huntsville, which won the automatic bid for winning the CHA Tournament.
The winners will square off for the regional title and a trip to the Frozen Four on Sunday.
Matching Bemidji State with Michigan was a bit of a surprise. For bracket integrity, the selection committee usually makes every effort to match No. 1 vs. No. 16, No. 2 vs. No. 15, No. 3 vs. No. 14, etc., as long as first round match ups with two schools in the same conference can be avoided. In addition, an effort is made to keep travel to a minimum for teams.
Using that scenario Bemidji State, the No. 8 seed, was expected to face the No. 9 seed Yale. That wasn't the case as the selection committee moved all the No. 3 seeds around.
Yale was flopped with Michigan with Yale being sent to Northeast Regional to face North Dakota, the No. 5 seed. That means the game will feature a No. 5 vs. a No. 9. BSU vs. Michigan is a No. 8 vs. No. 12.
It's not unusual to move teams within a band, but to move a No. 9 seed to a No. 12 was seen as improbable. It's speculated the move was made by the selection committee to boost attendance at the Midwest Regional with many more Michigan fans expected to attend games in Fort Wayne, rather than Worcester, Mass.
At the West Regional in St. Paul, Wisconsin (3) will face Vermont (14) with St. Cloud State (6) taking on Northern Michigan (10) March 26-27.
The Northeast Regional finds in Worcester, Mass. will have Boston College (4) facing Alaska (13), while UND (5) will square off against Yale (9) March 27-28. This will be the first ever national tournament appearance for Alaska-Fairbanks.
The East Regional in Albany, New York finds Denver (2) vs. RIT (15), while Cornell (7) will face New Hampshire (11) March 26-27.