NCAA women's hockey bracketology: Bulldogs up a spot while St. Cloud State joins the hunt

Quinnipiac, UMD and Penn State moved up one spot each this week while Wisconsin and Clarkson dropped. Vermont and SCSU become bubble teams.

womens hockey game
Minnesota Duluth forward Mannon McMahon (16) shoots the puck on goal against Wisconsin at Amsoil Arena on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Duluth.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

We’re getting closer and closer to the 2023 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. That means it’s time for some bracketology.

The 11-team National Collegiate Women’s Ice Hockey tournament field will be announced on Sunday, March 5, with the first round and quarterfinals taking place at teams’ home rinks March 9-12. The national semifinals and championship will take place March 17-19 in Duluth.

Two weeks remain in the regular season, plus another two weeks of conference postseason play. If the season ended on Thursday, Feb. 8, here is what the 2023 NC bracket could possibly look like.

This week’s bracket

Yale Regional
1. Yale (ECAC)
8. Wisconsin vs. 9. Penn State (CHA)

Colgate Regional
4. Colgate vs. 5. Northeastern (HE)


Ohio State Regional
2. Ohio State
7. Minnesota Duluth vs. 10. Clarkson

Minnesota Regional
3. Minnesota (WCHA)
6. Quinnipiac vs. 11. Long Island (NEWHA)

Last at-large team in: Clarkson
Last two at-large teams out: Vermont, St. Cloud State

The process

The National Collegiate Women’s Ice Hockey tournament features 11 teams. The five conference postseason champions from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, ECAC, Hockey East, College Hockey America and New England Women’s Hockey Alliance receive automatic bids ( the current league leaders are noted in the bracket). The selection committee then uses the Pairwise rankings to select the six at-large teams, and seed the 11-team field.

The top four seeds will host the first round and quarterfinal games. The top four seeds will be placed on the bracket so that if they all advance, No. 1 will play No. 4 and No. 2 will play No. 3 in the Frozen Four. The top five seeds get byes into the quarterfinals, with the No. 4 seed “automatically” hosting the No. 5 seed, per the NCAA’s seedings and pairings guidelines .

First-round conference matchups are to be avoided, though if one league has four or more teams seeded between 6-11, then intraconference matchups are permitted to maintain bracket integrity.

Teams are not required to be kept close to home, however, the NCAA lists “competitive equity”, “financial success” and a “playoff-type atmosphere” as keys to a successful tournament.



For the second straight week, I’m leaving the bracket as it falls. Back in the old days, when limiting flights was an actual priority in the NCAA seeding and pairing guidelines, you’d keep Quinnipiac in Connecticut by sending it to the Yale regional and send Minnesota Duluth to the Minnesota regional. Both moves would tarnish bracket integrity, especially if the committee sent No. 6 Quinnipiac to No. 1 Yale. No adjustments are necessary again this week.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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