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NCAA women's hockey bracketology: An early look at the contenders for the 2023 NCAA Frozen Four in Duluth

Yale, Ohio State, Minnesota hold the top three spots heading into the final month of the regular season, with five weeks to go before selection Sunday on March 5.

women hockey players compete during game
Minnesota Duluth forward Anneke Linser (13) trips Ohio State defenseman Madison Bizal (9) at Amsoil Arena on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

The calendar has turned from January to February, which means we’re getting closer to the 2023 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.

It’s time to do some bracketology.

The 11-team NCAA 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 are scheduled for March 17-19 in Duluth.

Three weeks remain in the regular season, plus another two weeks of conference postseason play. However, if the season ended on Thursday, Feb. 2, here is what the 2023 NCAA tournament bracket could possibly look like.

This week’s bracket

Yale Regional
1. Yale (ECAC)
8. Minnesota Duluth vs. 9. Clarkson


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

Ohio State Regional
2. Ohio State
7. Quinnipiac vs. 10. Penn State (CHA)

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

Last at-large team in: Clarkson
Last at-large team out: Cornell

The process

The NCAA's National Collegiate Women’s Ice Hockey tournament features 11 teams. The five 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 and 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 seeding 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.


In this week’s bracket, the committee could send Minnesota Duluth to the Ohio State regional and keep Quinnipiac in Connecticut by sending it to the Yale regional to achieve “financial success” and a “playoff-type atmosphere”. However, that would create an ECAC matchup between Quinnipiac and Clarkson in the first round, so the committee should leave the bracket as it falls via the Pairwise. No adjustments are necessary 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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