UND hockey teams on bubble of NCAA tournamentGRAND FORKS — If you come across the Pairwise Rankings online, bookmark them.
By: Brad Schlossman, The Dickinson Press
GRAND FORKS — If you come across the Pairwise Rankings online, bookmark them.
They will come in handy during the coming days and weeks.
Both the University of North Dakota men’s and women’s hockey team are on the bubble of making the NCAA tournament as selection day closes in.
The men are ranked No. 14 in the Pairwise Rankings, which mimic the process that the NCAA uses to determine the 16-team field. At best, the top 15 in the Pairwise will make the field because the last spot will go to Atlantic Hockey’s automatic qualifier.
The women are ranked No. 7 in the Pairwise. Eight teams make the women’s field.
So, if the regular season ended today, both would probably be in the national field, but they have plenty of work to do to ensure that remains the same come decision day.
The men have three weeks of work until their national tournament field is unveiled, starting with the regular-season series finale against Minnesota State-Mankato.
Jim Dahl of SiouxSports.com, a Pairwise expert, mathematically calculated that UND would likely rise to No. 13 with a sweep of the Mavericks, but would drop to No. 15 or 16 with a split and plummet to 18th if they get swept.
“I think we’re right on the bubble,” UND captain and senior Mario Lamoureux said. “I think if we don’t come out with the attitude this weekend that we have to take both games, there’s that chance we won’t get in. We have to have that real good mentality. We have to get wins in both of them.”
After the series against the Mavericks, UND will host a first-round playoff series against an opponent to be determined. Those games, as well as a possible trip to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five, also will count toward the Pairwise.
UND coach Dave Hakstol says he’s well aware of his team’s position nationally.
“I don’t spend a lot of time on the computer trying to figure out numbers,” he said. “I know the best way to affect or improve where we’re at is by winning. We’re trying to spend time worrying about winning hockey games.
“I don’t think we’re looking too far down the road. We know our big picture situation. We’re very realistic about everything we’re doing and all the possibilities. We’re spending our energy trying to get ready for Friday night.”
The women’s side
The women will find out their NCAA tournament fate during a selection show Sunday night.
But before that, the conference tournament weekend will decide their fate. The Sioux play Minnesota at 7:37 p.m. Friday night in the WCHA Final Faceoff in Duluth. If they lose that game, there’s a good chance they could get knocked out by percentage points for the second straight year.
“Friday’s game is as much of a must-win game as it can be,” junior alternate captain Monique Lamoureux-Kolls said. “If we lose, we’re on the bubble. We want to be in control of our own fate and destiny. It’s do or die. We’ve got to bring our ‘A’ game. I don’t think we’ve played our best game against Minnesota yet. It would be the best time to do it.”
UND’s NCAA hopes would suffer if a team outside of the top eight in the Pairwise wins a conference tournament, and that’s looking likely in Hockey East. Boston University, ranked 10th in the Pairwise, has been dominant since getting star Marie Philip-Poulin back from an injury, going 10-1 in the last 11.
Schlossman is a sports reporter for
the Grand Forks Herald,
which is owned by
Forum Communications Co.