Even with an expanded NCAA tournament field in the last decade, college hockey’s historical powers haven’t necessarily been sure things to make the national tournament.
Minnesota (33 all-time appearances, second all-time) missed out in three straight seasons. Wisconsin (24, seventh) has been part in only five of the 10 tournaments since the field expanded to 16 teams.
Boston University (32, third) and Boston College (31, fourth) weren’t both in the same tournament from 2008 to 2011.
This season, however, could produce a rare result in terms of which combination of teams sits out when the tournament starts.
It was recently pointed out by a reader who follows our @USCHO Twitter account that some of the traditional college hockey powers aren’t in line for at-large berths to the NCAA tournament as it stands.
The last time Boston University, Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State all missed the NCAA tournament in the same season, you ask? It was 1980, when the field was just five teams.
In 65 NCAA tournaments, only eight have been played without any of those four schools: 1958, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1968, 1969, 1979 and 1980. The first six of those tournaments were four-team fields; like 1980, the 1979 tournament was made up of five teams.
Michigan, of course, has a 22-season NCAA tournament streak that will come to an end unless the Wolverines win the CCHA playoff title and the automatic bid that comes with it.
Michigan State also needs a CCHA title and will have to do it from the 11th and final playoff seed.
Wisconsin is 20th in the PairWise Rankings, so it has an outside shot at an at-large bid with a lot of wins before the field is selected.
Boston University is in the best position to put one team from this quartet into the tournament. The Terriers go into the final weekend of the Hockey East regular season tied for 17th in the PairWise.
For more looks at the potential NCAA tournament field, keep following the Bracketology Blog.