Lucia's Gophers put themselves back in the NCAA tourney picture

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The Gophers weren't an NCAA tournament team in the eyes of bracketologists just one week ago, but things have changed since Minnesota (13-10) swept Wisconsin in dominating fashion.

According to USCHO bracketologist Jayson Moy, who claims he's correctly predicted 100 percent of the NCAA tournament selections and match-ups four of the last five years, Minnesota is in position to be invited to the tournament.

Reaching the tournament seemed like a pipe dream when the Gophers were 4-7 heading into December, and it didn't seem realistic after they lost to Penn State to fall to 8-10 on Jan. 8. Since then, it's been all good for the Gophers, who have rattled off five straight wins – all of them in dominating fashion, and four of them after a local article used anonymous sources in a critical review of head coach Don Lucia.

Minnesota is ranked No. 15 in the latest Pairwise rankings, which usually serves as an accurate prediction for which 16 teams are invited to the tournament. No. 2 on the list is former Gophers WCHA foe St. Cloud State, which is tied with North Dakota for an NCAA-leading 20 wins.

  1. Quinnipiac
  2. St. Cloud State
  3. North Dakota
  4. Providence
  5. Harvard
  6. Michigan
  7. Boston College
  8. Notre Dame
  9. Nebraska-Omaha
  10. Yale
  11. Boston University
  12. Massachusetts-Lowell
  13. Denver
  14. Cornell
  15. Minnesota
  16. Rensselaer

Winning the Big Ten championship would give the Gophers an automatic bid to the dance, and the Gophers – currently leading the conference (3 points ahead of Michigan and 6 on top of Penn State) – wrap up the remaining seven weeks like this:

  • vs. Bemidji State & SCSU/MSU - North Star College Cup
  • vs. Penn State (2 games)
  • at Ohio State (2 games)
  • vs. Michigan (2 games)
  • at Michigan State (2 games)
  • vs. Wisconsin (2 games)

Then it's on to the Big Ten Tournament at Xcel Energy Center March 17-19.

If the Gophers do get in, they'll automatically be placed in the West Regional because it's being hosted at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Whatever happens, the Gophers have at least played well enough of late to put themselves back in the race.

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