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Big Ten Hockey Tournament Preview/Bracket: Wolverines advance to semifinals

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The Wolverines entered South Bend as the No. 3 seed.

Michigan State v Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Sunday with a 4-0 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes. Strauss Mann had a shutout while Brendan Brisson scored a pair of goals on the evening. Cam York and Eric Ciccolini had the other goals for the Wolverines.

They advance to take on Minnesota in the semifinals on Monday.

Below are the times for Michigan’s three potential games:

  • Quarterfinals vs. No. 6 Ohio State: 4-0 W
  • Semifinals vs. No. 2 Minnesota — Mon. 3/15, 8:30 pm ET (BTN)
  • Finals vs. No. 1 Wisconsin/No. 5 Penn State — Tue. 3/16, 8:00pm ET (BTN)

Original preview follows...

It was a strange year of college hockey, both on and off the ice. The Michigan Wolverines managed to get in 20 of their 24 scheduled games and look on track to make an NCAA Tournament appearance. Playing a conference-only (plus Arizona State) schedule was a little weird, but there cannot be too many complaints about getting through the season.

Michigan ended with a 11-9 conference record, which resulted in a distant third place in the Big Ten. The extremely young squad looked lethal at times, but never really put it all together, dropping too many games against lower competition. Still, a +37 goal difference in no small feat, and a No. 7 ranking in the polls points to the potential of this squad.

The 2021 Big Ten Hockey Tournament

The Big Ten Tournament is single-elimination and will be played entirely on the Notre Dame campus (gross). Michigan has proven that it can skate with anyone this season, but it has also been tripped up at many points, meaning the single-game format may lead to some surprising results on both ends of the scale.

No. 3 seed Michigan first gets a matchup with No. 6 Ohio State, a team it went 3-1 against this season. If the bracket plays out according to seed, the Wolverines would then play No. 2 Minnesota, who they just split a series with last weekend, before seeing No. 1 Wisconsin, who they also went 3-1 against during the year.

It is impossible to know where Michigan stands in terms of the NCAA Tournament, but just about every projection has the Wolverines as an at-large selection. College hockey typically relies on the PairWise rankings, but the lack of non-conference games means that a selection committee will make the choices this year — without any published criteria. Given that they have stayed in the top 10 of the polls for much of the season, though, the Wolverines should be in decent shape.

Of course, it all becomes moot if Michigan goes ahead and wins the Big Ten Tournament. It would only take winning three games, all over teams it has beaten before, so it is definitely within the realm of possibility.