Hockey Team On Verge Of NCAA Berth

The season appeared to be over for the No. 18 Ohio State men's hockey team when it lost in the quarterfinals of the CCHA tournament last weekend, but the Buckeyes appear to have been given a reprieve. The Buckeyes look as though they will be one of the teams in the NCAA tournament when the 16-team field is announced Sunday afternoon.

The field will be announced on ESPN2 at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

The Buckeyes spent the entire second half of the season on the bubble for the NCAA championships and stayed there even after losing to Alaska in the CCHA tournament after entering as the fifth seed.

Ohio State was 16th in the PairWise rankings that determine the NCAA tournament after that loss to the Nanooks, but just about everything that the Buckeyes needed to happen to jump onto the right side of the bubble after OSU's CCHA run ended came true.

Most of the conference tournaments ended up with the favored teams winning, and all other conference tournament games featured results that helped the Scarlet and Gray (23-14-4). The final game to go the Buckeyes' way was No. 1 Boston University's 1-0 win against Massachusetts-Lowell on Saturday night in the Hockey East title game.

Ten at-large bids are given after the initial six bids are given to league champions. With all games having ended, the Buckeyes sit 15th in the PairWise rankings. Five conference champions are among the 14 teams above Ohio State, giving the Buckeyes the 10th and final at-large bid.

Ohio State is tied at 15th with Wisconsin and Minnesota for that final spot, but the Buckeyes' RPI of .5338 is enough to give them the nod over the Badgers' mark of .5336 and Minnesota's .5328.

The PairWise rankings, featured on most college hockey websites, mimic the selection procedures used by the NCAA tournament committee. Though the PairWise is not an official ranking, the committee has not strayed from picking the tournament field based on that system over the past few seasons.

A likely scenario has Ohio State as a No. 4 seed facing BU in the first round of a regional in either Bridgeport, Conn., or Manchester, N.H., over the last weekend in March.


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