As the NCAA Tournament approaches, The Michigan Daily hockey beat sat down and hammered out the winners and losers, seeing it out to the very end in Tampa Bay, Fla. There were some upsets, some favorites and even some shouting matches. No matter what we think, it’s going to be a crazy postseason.

NORTHEAST

First Round

(1) Boston College (29-10-1) vs. (4) Air Force (21-10-7): Air Force has played Boston College five times in program history and has lost all five times. Don’t expect anything different this time around — the Eagles are the No. 1 overall seed and have won 15 straight games.

Pick: Boston College

(2) Minnesota-Duluth (24-9-6) vs. (3) Maine (23-13-3): The No. 1 point-scorer in the country, Maine’s Spencer Abbott, goes against the No. 2 point-scorer in the country, Minnesota-Duluth’s Jack Connolly, and both teams have three players each in the top 20. Having six of the top 20 point-scorers in the nation playing in one game certainly makes things interesting, but the Bulldogs have the experience from last year’s title run.

Pick: Minnesota-Duluth

Second Round

Boston College vs. Minnesota-Duluth: The Eagles will have the toughest second-round matchup of the tournament if they have to play Minnesota-Duluth, but they should still be favored. Goaltender Parker Milner and his 1.82 goals-against average are having a very good year, which could be the difference here.

Pick: Boston College

WEST

First Round

(1) North Dakota (25-12-3) vs. (4) Western Michigan (21-13-6): Western Michigan went into the CCHA Tournament on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament, needing to string together some big wins to earn a spot. The Broncos ended up winning the whole thing, and have a full head of steam headed into the Tournament. They have a freshman goalie, Frank Slubowski with a cool nickname, The Big Slubowski (if you don’t get the reference then you don’t know good cinema), and he has been on an absolute tear. If there was a No. 4 seed to upset a No. 1 seed, it’s this game. If Western had drawn say Union or Michigan, they would have had more of a shot, but North Dakota is a horrible matchup for the Broncos.

Pick: North Dakota

(2) Minnesota (26-13-1) vs. (3) Boston University (23-14-1): Minnesota has a fairly deceiving record — of its 13 losses, nine have been by one goal. The Golden Gophers are basically playing a home game at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul. The Terriers have been inconsistent and have lost three of their past five games.

Pick: Minnesota

Second Round

North Dakota vs. Minnesota: Without the home-ice, this matchup wouldn’t be as close. North Dakota doesn’t have great goaltending, but is balanced offensively and has a ton of experience.

Pick: North Dakota

EAST

First Round

(1) Union (24-7-7) vs. (4) Michigan State (19-15-4): The Spartans were dangerously close to not making the Tournament after losing to Miami (Ohio) in the quarterfinals of the CCHA tournament, losing both games by a combined score of 10-1. Extra rest could help, but not that much.

Pick: Union

(2) Miami (24-14-2) vs. (3) Mass.-Lowell (23-12-1): Before Miami lost to Western Michigan in the semifinal of the CCHA tournament, they were one of the hottest teams in the conference. That loss to the Broncos was the RedHawks’ only loss in their last 10 games.

Pick: Miami

Second Round

Union vs. Miami: Union has one of the best goaltenders in the country in Troy Grosenick and is favored by many to do some damage in the Frozen Four. But Miami plays in one of the best conferences in the country, and the experience of playing good teams night in and night out is going to help the RedHawks. I think.

Pick: Miami

MIDWEST

First Round

(1) Michigan (24-12-4) vs. (4) Cornell (18-8-7): The goaltender for Cornell, Andy Iles, is 5-foot-9, only a couple inches taller than Michigan goaltender Shawn Hunwick. After practicing against the smaller Hunwick all year, playing against Iles is going to be refreshing for the Wolverines.

Pick: Michigan

(2) Ferris State (23-11-5) vs. (3) Denver (25-13-4): Ferris State won the CCHA regular-season crown for just the second time ever, but the Bulldogs fizzled down the stretch, losing three of their last four games. This could be one of the best No. 2 seed vs. No. 3 seed matchups in the tournament.

Pick: Denver

Second Round

Michigan vs. Denver: Michigan coach Red Berenson switched up the lines this week in practice, switching junior forward Chris Brown onto a line with junior Kevin Lynch and sophomore Luke Moffatt. Who knows if that line could stick throughout the playoffs, but that is a big, hard-hitting line that could wreck some teams down the road.

Pick: Michigan

FROZEN FOUR

Semifinals

Boston College vs. North Dakota: Boston College, on paper, is the best team in the country. But hockey is a game where odd bounces decide games and seasons — and the tournament gods favor the underdog.

Pick: North Dakota

Michigan vs. Miami (Ohio): How great would this matchup be? Two teams that can’t stand each other, being coached by two coaches who can’t stand each other, a CCHA throwback down in Tampa. A boy can only dream.

Pick: Michigan

National Championship

North Dakota vs. Michigan: Hunwick watched the clip of last year’s national championship game, the clip where Minnesota-Duluth forward Kyle Schmidt beat him in overtime, over and over again in the offseason. You can bet he hasn’t forgotten that moment, but last weekend was concerning for the Wolverines. Hunwick has always given up a lot of rebounds, but the Michigan defense is prepared and expects what’s coming. In the CCHA final, Hunwick gave up three goals, all of which were off of rebounds. The defense didn’t clear the pucks they usually do — and even then, Western Michigan didn’t capitalize on every chance they had. North Dakota will.

National Champion Pick: North Dakota

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