The NCAA men’s ice hockey committee might have had attendance on the mind when it put together the bracket for the 2010 NCAA tournament.
Miami, Denver, Wisconsin and Boston College earned No. 1 seeds, but the variations from complete bracket integrity with the third seeds appeared to be to get some teams closer to home, where they could bring more fans to fill the seats.
Michigan goes to the Midwest Regional in Fort Wayne, Ind., to play Bemidji State. New Hampshire goes to the East Regional in Albany, N.Y., to play Cornell.
Northern Michigan is headed to St. Paul, Minn., to play St. Cloud State; Wisconsin also appears at the Xcel Energy Center.
RIT, the fourth seed in Albany, is one of the teams that stands to benefit from being closer to home.
“Being so close, it’s great for RIT — the student body, the administration, and our fans,” Tigers coach Wayne Wilson said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a lot of people cheering us on.”
The Tigers face Denver in the first round in their first Division I tournament.
“It was a goal we set for ourselves when we moved to Division I five years
ago,” Wilson said. “It’s been a lot of hard work over five years and I give the
credit to this team and the ones in the past.”
Boston College gets to stay near home as the No. 1 seed in Worcester.
“It’s great that our students and our local people can watch the game without traveling a great deal,” Eagles coach Jerry York said. “The No. 1 seed gives you the advantage of playing on ‘home ice.’ With Worcester, we’ve been there a number of times.”
Miami is the No. 1 overall seed, and it drew CHA tournament champion Alabama-Huntsville in the first round in Fort Wayne.
“We’re obviously very excited to the No. 1 overall seed,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi told the Dayton Daily News. “It’s a credit to the team and what they did all season.
“But now it’s anybodyâ€™s game. It’s 16 teams for a national championship.”
Alabama-Huntsville, which won the CHA tournament for an automatic bid, is the lowest seed in the tournament and therefore drew Miami.
“I don’t know if you look forward to playing Miami, but we’ll do what we’ve done all year and play the way we play and see how we do,” Chargers coach Danton Cole said. “Rico does a heck of a job, and I’ve seen most of their guys play in juniors out doing recruiting. They’ve got some dynamite kids there.”
With two CHA teams and two CCHA teams in Fort Wayne, there’s a chance for an all-league regional final.
Yes, even an all-CHA final.
“I’d love to play anybody on Sunday,” Cole said. “Our focus has to be on Miami.”
Wisconsin returns to St. Paul, where on Saturday it defeated Denver in the WCHA Final Five third-place game.
“I think we believe in each other and we believe that [we can make a run],” Badgers captain Blake Geoffrion said. “But right now, we are focusing on Vermont. That’s all we can control for right now. We’ll take it one game at a time.”
The WCHA and CCHA shared the lead with four teams selected each. Hockey East had three, ECAC Hockey and the CHA have two each and Atlantic Hockey has one.
“I’m really excited to get three teams in from our conference,” York said of Hockey East. “During the last few weeks we were always talking about is it going to be one, is it going to be two. Three looked like a reach there for a while. Also with Hockey East, it’s all different brackets. Now we can really root for each other. Now it’s, ‘Hey let’s get as many teams.’ We can get three teams in the Frozen Four. It happened in Anaheim [in 1999]. I’ll be texting [Vermont coach] Kevin [Sneddon] and [New Hampshire coach] Dick [Umile] this morning, ‘Iâ€™ll see you at Ford Field.'”
North Dakota, which faces Yale in the Northeast Regional, won the WCHA Final Five by winning three games in three days.
“I know it’s a tough matchup,” Sioux coach Dave Hakstol said. “I know that kind of year that they’ve had. They’re an extremely talented team, especially in terms of team speed. Keith Allain has them playing as well as anybody. It’s a great matchup, and it’ll be an exciting game.”
Here are the matchups with times and TV plans:
At Times Union Center, Albany, N.Y.
â€¢ No. 1 Denver (27-9-4) vs. No. 4 RIT (26-11-1), 3 p.m. Eastern Friday (ESPNU HD)
â€¢ No. 2 Cornell (21-8-4) vs. No. 3 New Hampshire (17-13-7), 6:30 p.m. Eastern Friday (ESPNU HD)
â€¢ Semifinal winners, 6:30 p.m. Eastern Saturday (ESPNU HD)
At Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn.
â€¢ No. 2 St. Cloud State (23-13-5) vs. No. 3 Northern Michigan (20-12-8), 4:30 p.m. Central Friday (ESPN Syndication HD/ESPN360.com/tape delay 10:30 p.m. Central, ESPNU)
â€¢ No. 1 Wisconsin (25-10-4) vs. No. 4 Vermont (17-14-7), 8 p.m. Central Friday (ESPNU HD)
â€¢ Semifinal winners, 8 p.m. Central Saturday (ESPNU HD)
At DCU Center, Worcester, Mass.
â€¢ No. 1 Boston College (25-10-3) vs. No. 4 Alaska (18-11-9), 1:30 p.m. Eastern Saturday (ESPN Syndication/ESPN360.com/tape delay 9:30 a.m. Sunday, ESPNU)
â€¢ No. 2 North Dakota (25-12-5) vs. No. 3 Yale (20-9-3), 5 p.m. Eastern Saturday
(ESPN Syndication/ESPN360.com/tape delay noon Eastern Sunday)
â€¢ Semifinal winners, 5:30 p.m. Eastern Sunday (ESPNU)
At Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Ind.
â€¢ No. 1 Miami (27-7-7) vs. No. 4 Alabama-Huntsville (12-17-3), 4 p.m. Eastern Saturday (ESPNU)
â€¢ No. 2 Bemidji State (23-9-4) vs. No. 3 Michigan (25-17-1), 7:30 p.m. Eastern Saturday (ESPN Syndication/ESPN360.com/tape delay 11:30 p.m. Eastern Saturday, ESPNU)
â€¢ Semifinal winners, 8 p.m. Sunday (ESPNU)
Contributing: Jim Connelly, Chris Lerch, Patrick C. Miller, Geof F. Morris, Benjamin Worgull