An early look at the 2021 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four, with UMass, Minnesota Duluth, St. Cloud State and Minnesota State

St. Cloud State is into the Frozen Four for only the second time (photo: Rich Gagnon).

For only the second time in the 16-team NCAA tournament era, the Men’s Frozen Four won’t include a No. 1 regional seed.

It’ll be No. 2 seeds UMass, St. Cloud State and Minnesota State joining No. 3 seed and two-time defending national champion Minnesota Duluth in the 2021 semifinals in Pittsburgh on April 8.

The only other time since the tournament expanded in 2003 that none of the No. 1 regional seeds advanced to the Frozen Four was 2007.

St. Cloud State will play Minnesota State in the 5 p.m. ET semifinal at PPG Paints Arena. UMass will face Minnesota Duluth in the 9 p.m. ET game. The winners play at 7 p.m. ET on April 10 for the national championship.

Here are four quick notes on the 2021 Men’s Frozen Four field:

Land of three Frozen Four teams

Minnesota got all five of its Division I men’s teams into the NCAA tournament for the first time this season and now it’s only the second state to advance three teams to the Frozen Four.

The other was Michigan, which had the Wolverines, Michigan State and Lake Superior State in the 1992 event. The Lakers won the championship.

A dynasty or a new champion

Minnesota State is in its first Frozen Four while it’s the second for UMass (also 2019) and St. Cloud State (also 2013, also in Pittsburgh). All three are in search of their first NCAA title.

The Bulldogs can become the first team to appear in four straight championship games and the first since Michigan (1951-53) to win three straight championships. The 2020 tournament was canceled because of the pandemic but UMD won titles in 2018 and 2019 and lost to Denver in the 2017 final.

A Frozen Four repeat

Minnesota Duluth and UMass have played only one time but it was a consequential game. The Bulldogs won the 2019 NCAA championship with a 3-0 victory against the Minutemen in Buffalo, N.Y.

The other semifinal matches a WCHA team against a former WCHA foe. St. Cloud State and Minnesota State have played 137 times including both teams pre-Division I eras, starting in the 1969-70 season. The Mavericks lead the series 72-55-10 but the Huskies are 9-3 in the last 12 meetings. As Division I teams, St. Cloud State leads the series 27-18-7.

WCHA back in play

Minnesota State is the first WCHA team to make the Frozen Four since conference reorganization in 2013.

The Mavericks lost in the first round of their first six NCAA tournament appearances, in 2003, 2015, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019. They got their first tournament victory Saturday by rallying from a two-goal deficit for a 4-3 overtime triumph against Quinnipiac.