College hockey crowned its six men's conference tournament champions on Saturday night, and the 16-team NCAA tournament bracket will be announced at 5:30 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU. Michigan (Big Ten), Minnesota State Mankato (CCHA), Minnesota Duluth (NCHC), Massachusetts (Hockey East), Harvard (ECAC) and American International (Atlantic Hockey) clinched automatic NCAA bids with conference tournament crowns. The 10 at-large teams will be determined via the PairWise Ratings, the computer formula the NCAA uses to seed the tournament.
The PairWise top 16 plus automatic bids are:
1. Michigan, 2. Minnesota State, 3. Western Michigan, 4. Denver, 5. Minnesota Duluth, 6. Gophers, 7. North Dakota, 8. Quinnipiac, 9. Notre Dame, 10. St. Cloud State, 11. Massachusetts, 12. Michigan Tech, 13. UMass-Lowell, 14. Northeastern, 18. Harvard, 20. American International. No. 15 Ohio State and No. 16 Clarkson are bumped by automatic qualifiers Harvard and American International.
Using the PairWise, here is a projection on how the brackets will look when the field is announced. This is not the actual bracket. The NCAA can move teams around for attendance reasons:
Albany (N.Y.) Regional, Thursday and Saturday
1. Michigan vs. 16. American International
8. Quinnipiac vs. 9. Notre Dame
Allentown (Pa.) Regional, Friday and Sunday
2. Minnesota State vs. 15. Harvard
7. North Dakota vs. 11. Massachusetts
Note: No. 10 St. Cloud State would face North Dakota if bracket purity held, but the NCAA wants to avoid intraconference first-round matchups. Massachusetts moves into this regional in place of St. Cloud State, which is projected to go to Worcester (and face the Gophers in the first round).
Worcester (Mass.) Regional, Friday and Sunday
3. Western Michigan vs. 14. Northeastern
6. Gophers vs. 10. St. Cloud State
Loveland (Colo.) Regional, Thursday and Saturday
4. Denver vs. 13. UMass-Lowell
5. Minnesota Duluth vs. 12. Michigan Tech
Note: Denver is the host of this regional and must be placed in Loveland.