For the first time in three years, Michigan will play in the NCAA tournament. The bracket was revealed Sunday night — with the Wolverines getting a two seed.
Michigan is now set to face Minnesota Duluth in Fargo, N.D., on March 26. The Bulldogs won the last two National Championships and went 14-10-2 this year. They should present a tough matchup for Michigan. Should the Wolverines make it through they’ll likely face North Dakota — the number one overall seed in the tournament.
With the plethora of talent across its roster, Michigan expected to be playing for a championship come late March. While that goal still remains, the season hasn’t gone exactly as planned.
The Wolverines hold a 15-10-1 record and have dealt with inconsistent play, injuries and a three week COVID-19 pause throughout the year. They’ve been stronger in the second half of the year, going 10-5-1 since the winter break. Michigan’s most recent game action was in the Big Ten tournament semifinals — where it blew a two goal third period lead and lost in overtime to eventual champion Minnesota.
After the Wolverines Big Ten tournament loss, though, junior defenseman Nick Blankenburg had a simple message:
“We’ll be back.”
Unlike the basketball tournament, the hockey bracket consists of just 16 teams. Two wins to make it to the Frozen Four; four wins for a championship. The Wolverines must string together multiple quality performances to have a shot at the trophy — something that has been a struggle for them this season.
In a normal year, teams would have played non-conference schedules — a good measure for how the conferences stack up. But with all conferences playing conference-only seasons, the tournament will be the first interconference action for any team. Minnesota, Wisconsin and Notre Dame also made the tournament, showing the depth of the conference.
In the 2017-2018 season, Michigan was also a two seed and made the Frozen Four where it ended up losing to Notre Dame on a last second goal. The Wolverines hope to take it a step further this time around, and bring home their first national championship since 1998.
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