The Minnesota Golden Gophers may have lost to North Dakota Friday in the WCHA Final Five semifinals, but they will be heading to their first NCAA Hockey Tournament since 2008 when the brackets are made official Sunday morning.
ESPNU will broadcast the selection show live at 11 a.m. Central with Sportscenter anchor John Buccigross, NHL analyst Barry Melrose and three-time Stanley Cup champion Aaron Ward hosting. The show is the first step on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla.
The Gophers ended the season eighth in the Pairwise rankings that the tournament committee uses to determine which teams to invite and as the West Regional's host team, they will play at the Xcel Energy Center as a #2 seed. Their likely first-round opponent will either be Boston University or Maine next Saturday. If Minnesota wins, there's a good chance they could rematch the Sioux if UND also ends up in St. Paul.
SB Nation's NHL hub explains how the 16 teams are invited and seeded.
The 16 teams for the NCAA Hockey Tournament are determined by the Pairwise rankings, a system similar to the BCS in college football. They combine four criteria - RPI, record vs. "Teams Under Consideration," record against common opponents and head-to-head record - and compare each against the other teams under consideration to create the rankings. If the comparison ends in a tie, it's broken by the team which has the better RPI.
There are no subjective rankings, extra points for or against teams with injured players, or back-room politics. The five winners of the conference tournaments get automatic bids and the rest of the field is made up of however many at-large bids (normally 13-15) needed to fill up the field.
Time: 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 18
TV Information: Find the Frozen Four selection show on ESPNU (Direct TV channel 208, Dish Network channel 201)