WCHA first-round capsules
No. 12 Michigan Tech
No. 12 Michigan Tech
at No. 1 UND
Records: Michigan Tech 4-28-4 (2-24-2 WCHA); UND 26-8-3 (21-6-1)
Season series: UND swept Tech with a 6-1 win last Friday and an 11-2 win on Saturday.
Michigan Tech breakdown: The Huskies have suffered so many injuries this season that they had to pick up a forward from campus and he played in five games. But Tech is hoping to get Milos Gordic back this weekend.
UND breakdown: Sioux coach Dave Hakstol said that injured forward Carter Rowney and defenseman Andrew MacWilliam will be game-day decisions. First-team all-WCHA defenseman Chay Genoway returned from injury last weekend
Players to watch: Michigan Tech defenseman Steven Seigo (4-13--17) is a smooth-skating defenseman who can add offense. UND forward Matt Frattin (29-20--49) is the nation's top goal scorer.
Our prediction: UND in two.
No. 11 MSU-Mankato
at No. 2 Denver
Records: MSU-Mankato 14-16-6 (8-16-4 WCHA); Denver 21-10-5 (17-8-3).
Season series: Denver took seven of eight points from Mankato this season, sweeping the Mavs 3-2 and 6-1 in Denver and gaining a 4-4 tie and a 4-3 win in Mankato.
Mankato breakdown: The Mavericks may be one of the most dangerous teams in the first round. They struggled in the second half of the season, but led in 21 of 22 games until last weekend's losses to Alaska-Anchorage.
Denver breakdown: Denver is just 5-5 in the last 10 games, but the Pioneers are expecting to get captain Kyle Ostrow back in the lineup for the weekend series. Rookie Sam Brittain should be the go-to guy from here on out.
Players to watch: Mankato defenseman Kurt Davis (8-17--25) tied for the team lead in scoring. Denver forward Jason Zucker (20-18--38) is the league's rookie of the year.
Our prediction: Denver in three.
No. 10 Bemidji State
at No. 3 Neb.-Omaha
Records: Bemidji State 12-17-5 (8-15-5 WCHA); Nebraska-Omaha 21-13-2 (17-9-2).
Season series: The Beavers took seven of eight points from the Mavericks this season, sweeping them 3-0 and 3-1 in Bemidji and gaining a 2-2 tie and a 3-2 win in Omaha.
Bemidji State breakdown: The Beavers lost captain Matt Read during last Friday's game against Minnesota. He did not play Saturday and is questionable for this weekend. If he doesn't play, it's a huge hit for a team that is not very deep.
Nebraska-Omaha breakdown: The senior class has been huge for the Mavericks. Their top three scorers are seniors Matt Ambroz, Joey Martin and Rich Purslow. Omaha enters the series 3-3 in the last six games, though.
Players to watch: Bemidji State goaltender Dan Bakala (2.44 GAA, .918 SP) needs to be on his game. Omaha defenseman Eric Olimb (3-24--27) is a dynamic player.
Our prediction: Nebraska-Omaha in two.
No. 9 St. Cloud State
at No. 4 Minn.-Duluth
Records: St. Cloud State 15-16-5 (11-13-4 WCHA); Minnesota-Duluth 20-9-6 (15-8-5).
Season series: St. Cloud State took three of four points from Minnesota-Duluth this season. The Huskies won 8-2 on Feb. 11 and tied 3-3 the next night.
St. Cloud State breakdown: After a brutal 5-11-2 start to the season, St. Cloud State is 10-5-3 since Christmas - the second-best mark in the WCHA. Roseau, Minn., product Mike Lee will be the go-to goalie in the playoffs.
Minnesota-Duluth breakdown: The Bulldogs are one of the most talented teams in the league, but they've been sliding into the playoffs with a mark of 2-4-2 in the last eight games. Duluth was ranked No. 1 at one time this season.
Players to watch: St. Cloud State forward Garrett Roe (10-25--35) needs to be at the top of his game. Minnesota-Duluth forward Mike Connolly (23-22-45) is one of the league's top players.
Our prediction: Minnesota-Duluth in three.
No. 8 Alaska-Anchorage
at No. 5 Minnesota
Records: Alaska-Anchorage 14-17-3 (12-14-2); Minnesota 16-12-6 (13-10-5).
Season series: The teams split in their only meeting, which was held in late January. Minnesota won the series opener 5-1 and lost the finale 1-0.
Alaska-Anchorage breakdown: The Seawolves don't score many goals but will likely rely on freshman goalie Chris Kamal to win games in the playoffs. Kamal has won the last three starts for Anchorage and he already beat Minnesota this year.
Minnesota breakdown: The Gophers are hitting their stride at the right time. After starting the season 11-12-4, Minnesota is on a seven-game unbeaten streak. It started with a 7-3 win over the Pioneers on Feb. 12.
Players to watch: Anchorage forward Tommy Grant (15-15--30) has nine more points than anyone on his team. Minnesota forward Nick Bjugstad (8-11--19) is hot, winning back-to-back rookie of the week awards.
Our prediction: Minnesota in two.
No. 7 Wisconsin
at No. 6 Colorado College
Records: Wisconsin 20-14-4 (12-13-3); Colorado College 19-16-3 (13-13-2).
Season series: These teams saw each other for the first time of the season last weekend. Colorado College won the opener 3-2 and Wisconsin won the finale 3-1.
Wisconsin breakdown: The Badgers are 3-11-4 against ranked teams this season and 17-3 against unranked foes. That doesn't bode well for a playoff meeting against Colorado College, which is fighting to get into the NCAAs.
Colorado College breakdown: Colorado College is a dangerous offensive team with seniors Tyler Johnson and Stephen Schultz leading the way. The Schwartz brothers, Jaden and Rylan, aren't far behind.
Players to watch: Wisconsin defenseman Justin Schultz (18-28--46) is a Hobey Baker Award candidate. Colorado College forward Jaden Schwartz (13-20--33) is one of the best players in the league.
Our prediction: Wisconsin in three.