Michigan State, Boston University Lead NCAA Field

A balanced draw of six West and six East teams, led by top seeds Michigan State and Boston University, makes up the 1998 NCAA tournament field as announced today by the selection committee. For the first time ever, the field includes three teams from each of the four major Division I conferences.

MSU and BU, as well as the second seeds, defending champion North Dakota and Boston College, received first-round byes in the 12-team tourney. The remaining eight squads — #3 Michigan, #4 Ohio State, #5 Yale and #6 Princeton in the West, and #3 Clarkson, #4 Wisconsin, #5 New Hampshire and #6 Colorado College in the East — will battle it out in the first round for the right to advance.

The complete schedule:

East Regional — Pepsi Arena (Clarkson University), Albany, N.Y.

Saturday, March 28, Noon ET:
Clarkson (23-8-3) vs. Colorado College (25-12-3)
Saturday, March 28, 3 p.m. ET:
Wisconsin (26-13-1) vs. New Hampshire (23-11-1)
Sunday, March 29, 2 p.m. ET:
Winner of Ckn/CC vs. Boston College (25-8-5)
Sunday, March 29, 5:30 p.m. ET:
Winner of Wis/UNH vs. Boston University (28-7-2)

West Regional — Yost Arena (University of Michigan), Ann Arbor, Mich.

Friday, March 27, 5 p.m. ET:
Ohio State (24-12-2) vs. Yale (23-8-3)
Friday, March 27, 8:30 p.m. ET:
Michigan (28-11-1) vs. Princeton (18-10-7)
Saturday, March 28, 6 p.m. ET:
Winner of OSU/YU vs. Michigan State (31-5-4)
Saturday, March 28, 9 p.m. ET:
Winner of Mich/Prin vs. North Dakota (30-7-1)

National semifinals/finals: April 2 and 4, FleetCenter, Boston, Mass.

In addition to broadcast and cable coverage, for the first time all regional games will be shown live via pay-per-view. The national semifinals will be telecast by ESPN2, while ESPN will carry the championship game.

At the arenas, the hockey championship is coming off record attendance in 1997, with an average of 12,104 fans. This year’s event at the FleetCenter is sold out.

Yale is among the tournament field for only the second time, and the first since 1952. The 45-year hiatus breaks the previous record of 29 years between appearances, set by Dartmouth. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s record streak of 13 consecutive tournament appearances has ended, meaning Boston University’s current streak of nine takes over the top active position. Those two schools now share the lead for most NCAA berths at 24.

First-time bids to Ohio State and Princeton make them the 35th and 36th different schools to compete for the NCAA championship. The most recent tourney debut was by Miami in 1993.

Last year, North Dakota’s Dean Blais became the sixth coach to win an NCAA title in his first tournament coaching appearance, and the first since Minnesota’s Herb Brooks in 1974. This year, coaches making their first tournament appearances are Ohio State’s John Markell, Princeton’s Don Cahoon and Yale’s Tim Taylor.

Also, BC’s Jerry York, making his seventh coaching appearance, becomes the eighth coach to carry two different teams into the tournament. Jack Parker coaches Boston University into the tournament again, looking to add to his NCAA record of 23 victories, and Michigan State makes its fifth straight appearance as Spartan coach Ron Mason returns for an 18th time to lead all coaches. This is Mason’s 15th appearance with Michigan State.