The Northeast region has talented players, the Midwest region has solid goaltending and the East region has an intriguing first-round series, but the West region features all three. With two conference tournament winners, a regular season champion playing nine miles from campus and a team that spent most of the season in the top five, it's safe to say this is the "region of death." Any of the four teams in the West Region could end up in Tampa and it wouldn't be shocking.
No. 1 North Dakota Fighting Sioux (25-12-3) vs. No. 4 Western Michigan Broncos (21-13-6)
Saturday, March 24, 1:30 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN3.com, FS North
No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers (26-13-1) vs. No. 3 Boston University Terriers (23-14-1)
Saturday, March 24, 5 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN3.com, FS North+, NESN
More Coverage: The Daily Gopher, SB Nation Minnesota
The regional final is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 25.
All games at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
North Dakota and Western Michigan won automatic bids as WCHA and CCHA tournament champions, respectively. Minnesota won the WCHA regular season title but lost to UND in the WCHA Final Five semifinals to receive an at-large bid. Boston University received an at-large bid after finishing second in Hockey East during the regular season and losing to Maine in the conference tournament.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
- North Dakota: No. 29, F Brock Nelson (New York Islanders), No. 7, F Danny Kristo (Montreal Canadiens), No. 32, G Aaron Dell, and No. 4, D Derek Forbort (Los Angeles Kings)
- Minnesota: No. 27, F Nick Bjugstad (Florida Panthers); No. 19, F Erik Haula (Minnesota Wild); No. 29, D Nate Schmidt; and No. 35, G Kent Patterson (Colorado Avalanche)
- Boston University: No. 9 F Alex Chiasson (Dallas Stars); No. 5, D Adam Cleandening (Chicago Blackhawks); No. 31, G Kieran Millan (Colorado); No. 17, F Matt Nieto (San Jose Sharks)
- Western Michigan: No. 16, F Chase Balisy (Nashville Predators); No. 5, D Danny DeKeyser; No. 7, D Matt Tennyson; No. 1, G Frank Slubowski
- Boston University hasn't let off-ice issues distract them.
- Minnesota carried by potent offensive attack.
- Western Michigan's not your typical No. 4 seed.
- North Dakota has overcome injuries and adversity to earn the No. 1 seed in the West.
For more on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa, stick with our 2012 NCAA hockey tournament StoryStream.