By @MichaelCaples –
None of the Michigan-based D1 hockey programs were anxiously awaiting the results of the NCAA Tournament reveal on ESPNU Sunday night.
It’s now official – the State of Michigan will not have a team competing for a spot in the Frozen Four.
The NCAA officially announced its bracket for the 2019 Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament, following the conclusion of Saturday’s conference tournament championships.
The Great Lakes State was a no-show in the 2013; that brought to an end a 32-year streak of Michigan teams appearing. Before this decade, you had to go all the way back to 1979 to find a time where no Michigan team appeared in the tourney.
Western Michigan came closest in the quest of keeping Michigan’s postseason hopes alive – the Broncos fell to Colorado College in the NCHC quarterfinals, keeping them just a few wins shy of what they would have needed in the ‘Pairwise’ rankings that establish the tournament field.
It’s certainly a unique collection of teams for this postseason tournament – surprising for more than just the lack of Michigan representation. The ESPNU broadcast showed the list of hockey ‘blue bloods’ that aren’t in the national tournament – Minnesota, Boston University, Boston College and North Dakota join Michigan’s state of affairs.
Meanwhile, American International won the Atlantic Hockey conference championship for the Yellow Jackets’ first NCAA bid, while Arizona State becomes the first independent to reach the tournament since Alaska Anchorage in 1992.
St. Cloud State is the No. 1 seed in the tournament for the second consecutive season – a modern day college hockey first, as well.
Here’s what we wrote in 2013 about Michigan’s absence in the tournament:
It also ends a streak of 32 straight years where the state of Michigan has had a team competing in the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Division 1 Tournament. This season will mark the first time since 1979 that no Michigan-based NCAA D1 schools participate in the national tournament.
The NCAA officially announced the 16 teams selected to this year’s field during their selection show on ESPNU, with no Michigan teams making the list.
The University of Michigan played a large part in the streak – having reached the tournament every season since 1991. However, before Red Berenson’s Wolverines dynasty got underway, their main rival, the Michigan State Spartans, were reaching the postseason tournament season after season.
The Spartans reached the NCAA Tournament every season from 1982 to 1990. And before MSU, Northern Michigan was representing the state in postseason play, even reaching the NCAA title game in 1980.
Ironically, the last time a Michigan team didn’t make the NCAA Tournament was a year that the state of Michigan actually hosted the tournament – the Frozen Four took place in Detroit in 1979.
The Wolverines, who started the season as the No. 3 team in the country according to the USCHO Poll, struggled throughout the season and needed to win the CCHA Championship to make the national tournament.
The Wolverines’ quarterfinal series sweep of now-No. 12 Western Michigan hurt the Broncos’ chances of returning to the NCAA Tournament. Upsets in other conferences – Canisius winning Atlantic Hockey – took the Broncos from the bubble to the outside looking in.
Last season, four Michigan-based schools made it to the NCAA Tournament – Ferris State, Michigan, Michigan State and Western Michigan. The Bulldogs made a run all the way to the NCAA title game; they were the only school to win a game in the postseason tournament.