With NCHC teams playing their final regular season games, it’s finally true — the college hockey postseason is finally in full swing. Several teams in the other five conferences have already seen their seasons come to an end in the preliminary rounds of their league tournaments. Even though there weren’t too many surprising upsets, the tournament bubble has seen some movement since last week. Let’s take a look at where we stand heading into the second weekend of postseason action.

Automatic Bids

Atlantic Hockey: Mercyhurst
Big Ten: Notre Dame
ECAC: Cornell
Hockey East: Boston College
NCHC: St. Cloud State
WCHA: Minnesota State

No changes here, as Minnesota State was the only top seed without a bye in their first round but easily cruised past Alaska Anchorage in two games. The Mavericks, along with St. Cloud State, Notre Dame and Cornell will be locks for the NCAA tournament even with what would be surprising losses this weekend.

Other Locks

Denver (NCHC)
Ohio State (Big Ten)
Clarkson (ECAC)
Minnesota Duluth (NCHC)

UMD gets a bump up to this list after bouncing back from a Friday loss to Omaha with a 4-1 win. Sitting at #9 in the PairWise rankings, even a surprising loss in their first round series against Western Michigan is unlikely to drop them far enough to lose out on a at-large bid. Ohio State handled Michigan State easily in the Big Ten quarterfinals, while Clarkson and Denver host quarterfinal series this weekend.

Not Quite Locked in Yet

Michigan (Big Ten)
Penn State (Big Ten)

The biggest bubble winner from last weekend was Penn State, who moved up a tier from being one of the last teams in after sweeping Minnesota in the Big Ten quarterfinals. Likewise, Michigan could also cause trouble for some bubble teams with an upset run to the conference championship.

Last Four In

Northeastern (Hockey East)
Providence (Hockey East)
Minnesota (Big Ten)
Omaha (NCHC)

Still holding from last week is the fact that Northeastern, Providence or another surprise HEA team winning their tournament could knock BC, who still has a debatable at-large case, out of the bracket. Personally, I would have BC as my first team out if they weren’t slotting in as Hockey East’s auto bid. A quarterfinal loss would hurt that case substantially. Minnesota is a deserving tournament team but lost control of their own destiny with a quarterfinal loss to Penn State, meaning that they could end up the victim of some unexpected upsets of top teams.

First Four Out
North Dakota (NCHC)
Bowling Green (WCHA)
Union (ECAC)
Northern Michigan (WCHA)

UND came out on top of a logjam at spots 4-7 in the NCHC to earn home ice in the first round. The winner of their series versus Omaha will land on the right side of the bubble next week. Northern Michigan had a scare, needing three games to knock out Alabama-Huntsville. The loser of their semifinal with Bowling Green will have a very tough time making their way into the bracket.

Key games

Michigan versus Ohio State
North Dakota versus Omaha (3-game series)
Bowling Green versus Northern Michigan

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