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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service, Published March 18 2013

UND hockey a virtual lock for NCAA tourney

GRAND FORKS – When the NCAA tournament bracket is announced Sunday night, North Dakota will be in for the 11th consecutive year.

According to Jim Dahl of SiouxSports.com, who ran all 393,216 combinations of results for the final weekend across college hockey, there are no scenarios that leave UND out of the 16-team field.

UND currently is ranked No. 7 in the Pairwise Rankings, which would earn the team a No. 2 seed for the NCAAs, yet it is still mathematically possible for UND to get as high as a No. 1 seed or as low as a No. 4 seed.

The appearance will be a program-record 11th in a row.

If Michigan does not win the Central Collegiate Hockey Association tournament, UND will have the longest NCAA-tournament streak in the country.

UND will take on Colorado College in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Thursday in St. Paul. UND has won the tournament a record three straight years.

If UND makes it four in a row, there’s a 65 percent chance it would reach a No. 1 seed. If it loses to Colorado College, it would most likely be a No. 3 seed.

The four regional sites are Grand Rapids, Mich., Toledo, Ohio, Manchester, N.H., and Providence, R.I.

There are six other teams that have secured NCAA tournament berths: Quinnipiac (locked up the No. 1 overall seed), Minnesota (locked up the No. 2 overall seed), Miami, Boston College, UMass-Lowell and New Hampshire.

Minnesota State-Mankato (99.7 percent chance), Denver (98 percent) and St. Cloud State (94.1 percent) are close to securing bids as well from the WCHA.

Wisconsin, currently ranked No. 16 in the Pairwise, needs to reach the Final Five title game in order to have a shot at an at-large bid.

The Badgers play Minnesota State at 2 p.m. Thursday and the winner will take on St. Cloud State at 2 p.m. Friday.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald