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What we know about Minnesota's Pairwise implications & first round opponent

The Gophers will likely be heading out to Grand Rapids, Michigan as the #1 seed in the West Region. Who they play depends on the outcome of Notre Dame-Michigan.

Minnesota Athletics

A few people have asked me about Minnesota and their Pairwise standing following this weekend, so I thought I'd try to explain it as best I can.

(For a more national explanation, our own Chris Dilks looks at possible brackets.)

It's quite simple. The Gophers will finish second overall and be the #1 seed in the West Regional (Grand Rapids, MI) provided something unprecedented doesn't happen. However, most people around the team are expecting on going out to "Beer City, USA."

Where they were to end up in the NCAA Tournament hasn't been much of a question since they have been unable to pass Quinnipiac as the #1 overall team in the Pairwise the last couple months. Nothing Minnesota, who lost 2-0 to Colorado College Friday night, or the Bobcats did this past weekend would have changed their rankings.

Think of it as like Whose Line Is It Anyway where the points don't matter.

One reason for that is because of common opponents. The Gophers split with Nebraska-Omaha back in November while Quinnipiac swept the Mavericks.

Finishing second isn't a big deal. Although Minnesota would possibly get a rematch of Canisius if they finished #1 in the Pariwise, they would be placed in Grand Rapids, the closest regional to them (why Grand Rapids - 585 miles east of Minneapolis - is the westernmost regional this year is a topic for another day). Even that is no guarantee.

So the biggest question remaining is who Minnesota plays in the first round. With Michigan and Notre Dame playing for the CCHA championship today being the only game remaining, the Gophers have one of two options.

If Michigan wins: The Wolverines have made the NCAA Tournament a record 22 straight years. A win today would make it 23 and cap off an improbable run as a #7 seed through the CCHA conference tournament for Red Berenson's team. Michigan's reward for winning would be hosting the West Regional in Grand Rapids as a #4 seed and a date with the University of Minnesota.

I don't know why Michigan is hosting it it here when Toledo is closer but it's been established that geography is not a strong point for this year's NCAA Tournament.

It'd be a turn of events for the Gophers, who have benefited from hosting a regional in past years, to play the host team in the first round. They would also likely have the chance in this scenario to play North Dakota in the second round. UND would be the likely #2 seed and another "last time ever" game between the two for a trip to the Frozen Four would be epic.

If Notre Dame wins: The Fighting Irish are already in the tournament as an at-large team so winning the automatic berth would let Yale in as the 15th seed and the Gophers' first-round opponent. The other two teams in the regional could change depending on attendance in this scenario. If they defeat the Bulldogs, Minnesota could have a rematch with one of Boston College, Minnesota State or North Dakota.

The NCAA Hockey Selection show airs at 8:00 p.m. CT on ESPNU.


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You can follow Nate on Twitter @gopherstate.