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The 2012 NCAA Hockey Tournament Bracket & Thoughts

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The bracket was announced for this year's men's ice hockey tournament earlier this morning. We already knew which teams would be in the field, but there was still some question of where everybody would end up.

Here's a look at how the bracket ended up:

Midwest Regional

1 Michigan vs. 4 Cornell

2 Ferris State vs. 3 Denver

East Regional

1 Union vs. 4 Michigan State

2 Miami vs. 3 UMass-Lowell

West Regional

1 North Dakota vs. 4 Western Michigan

2 Minnesota vs. 3 Boston University

Northeast Regional

1 Boston College vs. 4 Air Force

2 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 3 Maine

Michigan State was the last team to make the field as an at-large after getting a pretty significant amount of help in the conference tourneys.

The only real controversy in making the brackets came in that 8th overall Minnesota would have likely drawn 1st overall Boston College in the Northeast Regional in a true bracket, but since the Gophers are hosting at the XCel Center, they had to play there. Then it really became a question of which number one seed got the reward of potentially playing a road game against a lower seeded team in St. Paul. North Dakota was the lowest ranked of the one seeds, and a the most logical geographical fit for that region.

Some people are sure to be unhappy about the possibility of Minnesota and North Dakota potentially meeting up for the second straight week at the XCel Center, but that's a dumb argument to begin with, and it's not like the tournament committee did anything funny to get that result; it was just what made the most sense. Plus, North Dakota and Boston University could potentially meet in the second round of the tournament, setting up the 'Racists vs. Rapists' headline I've had locked and loaded for weeks now.

The other three brackets were pretty straightforward. For just sneaking into the tournament, I feel like Michigan State got a pretty solid draw in Union. Maybe Union really is that good, but given the ECAC's NCAA tournament track record, I'd take my chances with them over anyone else. Miami is on the other half of the bracket, but despite being the higher seed, Lowell should feel at home being less than three hours from their campus, and playing in a city with an equal level of blight in Bridgeport.

In Green Bay, Michigan was just happy not to end up in Minneapolis. Ferris State vs. Denver is significant in that Ferris is a very well-rested team, going up against a Denver team that might be running on fumes. Will that make much of a difference in one 60-minute game? Probably not, but whatever result we get will probably be retconned that way.

The Northeast Regional features the best overall team in Boston College, looking to avenge last year's disappointment, and a Minnesota-Duluth team that found some tourney magic last year, and will look to keep their luck going this year.

It's very conceivable that all four regional finals could be intraconference match-ups. Is that good or bad? I don't mind it. It's fun to see inter-conference match-ups in the tournament, especially since many tourney regulars don't necessarily schedule a lot of big inter-conference match-ups during the season. But there's also something to be said for familiarity between two teams that meet during conference play and are ready to go after each other from the drop of the puck.