#1 Denver vs. #10 Michigan Tech
A tenth seed has never upset a number one seed(EDIT: Since Tech beat CC in 1994. My bad), and it isn't going to happen this year. Tech will fight valiantly and maybe make things more difficult for Denver than some would expect, but there's basically no chance of the Huskies winning two out of three games.
#2 Wisconsin vs. #9 Alaska-Anchorage
Wisconsin is a little bit below, but not by much, and Anchorage is a little above Tech, but not by much. Wisconsin blew out UAA twice at home earlier this year, and I can't see Wisconsin losing two games on their home ice.
#3 St. Cloud State vs. #8 Minnesota State
This is potentially an interesting one. These two teams played this past weekend, and on Saturday night, St. Cloud had the opportunity to win and face Alaska-Anchorage in the first round of the playoffs--and really, an overtime win shouldn't have been too hard given they were playing a team that brought a stellar 0-4-2 overtime record into the game. The Seawolves have literally never won a game at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud in some thirty-odd tries. Instead, they draw Minnesota State, who is 7-1-1 in their last nine games in St. Cloud.
Minnesota State's one win and one tie last weekend in their only series against St. Cloud matched their total of wins and ties against the other five teams in the top 6 of the WCHA combined this season. And they didn't need the other team to take back-to-back five minute majors, or start their back-up goalie, or get attacked by a pterodactyl terrorizing the arena to get that win and tie either. This match-up was definitely their best hope at a competitive series.
#4 North Dakota vs. #7 Minnesota
So many unanswered questions. How many fans will die if this series goes to three games? What color will the Gophers go with on their annual trip to the beauty salon in search of team unity? How is the world disrespecting North Dakota this week?
This is a pretty close match-up, but I think the Sioux sweep the series. They're playing well down the stretch, as they always seem to do, having won 7 straight games, and Minnesota just hasn't shown the toughness it would take to win a tough playoff series, especially against a physical team like North Dakota.
#5 Minnesota-Duluth vs. #6 Colorado College
Somebody has to win this series? Right? Ok. Somebody has to win this series.
A couple months ago, these two teams were at the top of the WCHA and in solid position for an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament, but both have really faded in the second half of the season. Duluth is 4-8-0 in their last 12 games. Colorado College is 6-10-0 in the second half of the season. Colorado College is 21st in the Pairwise, while UMD temporarily played themselves out of NCAA tournament territory with their loss Friday night, before getting back onto the good side of the bubble with a win on Saturday.
As per usual, Duluth is a much stronger team at home than they are on the road, and I have a feeling they'll prevail in this series. Colorado College put together a remarkable first half of the season with smoke and mirrors, but their lack of depth exposed them in the second half of the year.