I am from North Dakota and have been a bettor since the early 2000s. Early on, one of the sports I started betting besides football was hockey. My hope for college hockey is to have it available on the board to bet all season. Some Vegas books -- after years of my asking -- finally put up FCS lines during the regular season. With the growth of the NHL, I’m hoping for the same for college hockey.
Based on the bracket, It looks like the championship is coming to the state of Minnesota with three No. 1 seeds. The NCAA hockey tourney is a 16-team, single-elimination field, so there is volatility with it much like basketball.
The West region in Fargo, N.D., has overall No. 1 seed St. Cloud State, which plays long shot American International from Springfield, Mass. St. Cloud would have a tough potential second game vs either Ohio State or Denver.
The Northeast region has No. 1 seed UMass, which won its first hockey East title. It will have to get by pesky Harvard and a tough second game vs either Notre Dame or Clarkson.
The East Region Minnesota State-Mankato is the No. 1 seed. The team has experience and a top NCAA defense, allowing just 1.7 goals a game. If MSUMankato get by Providence in first game, it will have a tough matchup with Northeastern in the second game.
In the Midwest Region, Minnesota-Duluth is the No. 1 seed and plays defending champs Bowling Green. A second-round game with Quinnipiac looks to be a great matchup.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
• St Cloud State has 9 returning seniors and 2 Hobey Baker candidates in Jimmy Schuldt and Patrick Newell.
• Minnesota-Duluth has two top defenseman, Matt Anderson and Dylan Samberg along with top goalie Hunter Shepard.
• UMass has top defenseman in Cale Makar
• Two other top prospects: Bowling Green left wing Brandon Kruse and Providence center Jake Dugan.
The odds aren’t out and probably won’t be till Friday. St Cloud St could face Denver in the second game after winning 4-3 twice at home during the regular season. There would be value on Denver here if it is getting 150 or better. UMass should get through Northeastern if it can get by pesky Harvard. I would recommend taking Notre Dame as a dog vs. Clarkson. In the East Region, I would favor Northeasten to beat Minnesota State. In the Midwest, I like Quinnipiac getting through and beating Minnesota-Duluth in the final. There is usually one No. 1 seed that goes down in the first game.
West - St Cloud State.
N East - UMass
East - Northeastern
Midwest - Quinnipiac
St Cloud State vs. Quinnipiac
Pick: St. Cloud State -- 4 straight years for the NCHC conference