The NCAA Hockey Tournament starts TODAY!
Although the Gophers don't play until Saturday afternoon, there are four games throughout the day today. Four teams will move one win away from the Frozen Four, and four teams will end their seasons short of the ultimate prize.
Here is where and when you can catch those games. All times Central.
1:00 PM - (3) Union vs (13) Vermont, TV: ESPNU, Stream: WatchESPN - Union is one of the hottest teams coming into the tournament, while Vermont lost in the first round of their conference tournament and squeaked into the 16-team field as the second-to-last At Large team in. Prediction: 4-1 Union.
3:30 PM - (5) Ferris State vs (12) Colgate, TV: ESPNU (Tape Delayed until 9:30 PM), Stream: ESPN3 - Ferris State has been a good team all year, rising to #2 in the nation at one point before settling in with the #5 overall seed in the tournament. The Bulldogs' year-long resume definitely impresses, but they did lose two out of three to Colgate when the two teams played earlier in the year. Both teams made it to the final game of their respective conference tournaments before losing in the championship game (Colgate to Union, Ferris State to Minnesota State). Colgate has been hotter of late, and I think the ECAC is better this year than they have been in years past. I like the upset in this game. Prediction: 3-2 Colgate, in OT
4:30 PM - (6) Quinnipiac vs (11) Providence, TV: ESPNU, Stream: WatchESPN - I haven't seen either of these teams play all year, but as I mentioned earlier I think the ECAC is pretty strong this year, and Quinnipiac has some impressive wins on their resume, including a sweep of a strong UMass-Lowell team early in the season. The Bobcats haven't been as strong lately, going 3-5-1 in their last 10 games, but I would attribute that to the strength of the ECAC more than anything else. Providence also has some solid wins on their schedule and has been hot of late, winning six of their last seven contests. I like Quinnipiac in this game though, setting up an all-ECAC regional final between Union and Quinnipiac. Prediction: 4-2 Quinnipiac
7:30 PM - (4) Wisconsin vs (14) North Dakota, TV: ESPNU, Stream: WatchESPN - If Vermont squeaked into the Tournament, North Dakota REALLY squeaked in with the last At Large bid. The team-with-no-name won the 3rd place game of the NCHC and had to wait on both UMass-Lowell to beat New Hampshire and Wisconsin to beat Ohio State on the last day of the season. Wisconsin's overtime, comeback win over Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament got North Dakota in, so it's fitting that the two teams would meet in the first round. North Dakota has been up-and-down all season long, but Wisconsin has been pretty consistent, especially lately, leaning on a strong senior class and a great defensive scheme. I think Wisconsin is one of the "teams to beat" in this year's Tournament, and they'll have no problem dispatching North Dakota tonight. Prediction: 4-1 Wisconsin