A look at where the UND hockey team sits in the NCAA tournament picture

Feb. 14—GRAND FORKS — This week, College Hockey News published the first edition of

its Probability Matrix

this season.

The CHN Probability Matrix ran 20,000 potential scenarios of how the rest of the season could play out up until NCAA tournament selection day March 24.

It shares the highest a team could rise in the Pairwise Rankings and the lowest a team could fall. The Matrix helps give a clearer picture of where everyone stands.

Here are five takeaways:

Although there are still eight regular-season games and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs remaining, UND is already a lock to make the NCAA tournament according to the Matrix.

College Hockey News' formula gives UND a 90% chance of holding a No. 1 seed, a 9.5% chance of being a No. 2 seed and less than a 1% chance to be a No. 3 seed.

UND will now work on its next two goals: winning the Penrose Cup as NCHC regular-season champions for the fourth time in five years and getting the highest seed possible in the tournament.

Teams with better seeds are designated home teams for NCAA tournament games. That means they get last line change. After whistles, the road team has to put its players on the ice first and the home team can counter with whatever matchup it wants.

The Probability Matrix also reveals nobody from Atlantic Hockey or the Central Collegiate Hockey Association has a chance to be in the top 16 of the Pairwise Rankings.

But the league playoff champions from those conferences will take up two of the 16 spots in the NCAA tournament, which means any team No. 15 or lower in the Pairwise will miss the NCAA tournament.

If there are upset winners in the other four conference tournaments, the cut line could move even higher.

There's more than a month until the NCAA Selection Show, but the at-large field is already starting to clear up.

According to the Probability Matrix, nine teams are 99% or higher to make the NCAA tournament — Boston College (100), North Dakota (100), Boston University (100), Wisconsin (100), Michigan State (100), Maine (99.9), Denver (99.8), Minnesota (99.7) and Quinnipiac (99).

If you add in the auto-bids from Atlantic Hockey and the CCHA, there are only five spots up for grabs right now.

UMass (89% chance), Cornell (80), Western Michigan (76), Providence (77), St. Cloud State (57) and Michigan (50) are the top contenders. Colorado College (39) is lurking.

Arizona State, sitting at No. 17 in the Pairwise Rankings, already is in a tight spot.

The Sun Devils only have a 2% chance of making it, according to the Probability Matrix.

Part of the reason for that: Arizona State is not yet in a conference so it only has six games left. Two are against Long Island (No. 52 Pairwise) and two are against Alaska Anchorage (No. 46 Pairwise).

If the Sun Devils were in a league, they'd have conference playoff games, too, giving them more opportunities to rise.

That problem will be solved next season when they join the NCHC.

Omaha's chances to make the NCAA tournament aren't great.

The Mavericks, No. 18 in the Pairwise Rankings, have just a 6% chance, according to the Probability Matrix. It gives the Mavericks a 3% chance to get an at-large bid and a 3% chance to win the NCHC tournament.

Omaha is a team to watch for UND fans.

If Omaha sneaks into the tournament as a No. 4 seed, UND will not be placed in the Sioux Falls Regional if the Fighting Hawks remain a No. 1. The NCAA Committee avoids conference matchups in the first round.

Since Omaha is the host in Sioux Falls, it would automatically be placed there and UND would get sent to Maryland Heights, Mo., Providence, R.I., or Springfield, Mass.

When: 8 p.m. Central on Friday, 7 p.m. Central on Saturday.

Where: Ed Robson Arena, Colorado Springs, Colo.

TV: Midco Sports (GF Ch. 27/622 HD) on Friday only.

Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).