Michigan, Minnesota State, Denver, Western Michigan top 4 seeds in NCAA men's hockey tournament

Michigan and Minnesota State, the two most dominant teams all season, are the top seeds in the NCAA men's hockey tournament in pairings released Sunday night.

The tournament begins with regional play March 24-25, with the Frozen Four being held at TD Garden in Boston. The national semifinals will be April 7 and the title game will be April 9.

The four top seeds are Michigan (No. 1 in the Allentown, Pennsylvania region), Minnesota State (Albany, New York), Denver (Loveland, Colorado) and Western Michigan (Worcester, Massachusetts).

The six conference champions and 10 at-large teams make up the 16-team field. Michigan (Big Ten), Minnesota State (CCHA), Minnesota Duluth (NCHC), UMass (Hockey East), Harvard (ECAC) and American International (Atlantic) earned the six automatic bids.

With Harvard beating Quinnipiac in the ECAC final and the Bobcats assured of an NCAA spot win or lose, the Crimson essentially took what would have been an at-large spot, leaving Ohio State, the next-highest-rated team, on the outs.

With a roster that includes four of the top five picks in the 2021 NHL draft, Michigan (29-9-1) defeated Minnesota 4-3 in the Big Ten championship Saturday night. The Wolverines, who are the No. 1 overall seed and are making their 39th NCAA appearance (tied with Minnesota for the most all time), open play against AIC.

The other first-round game in Allentown matches No. 2 seed Quinnipiac against No. 3 St. Cloud State.

Minnesota State (35-5-0), which beat Bemidji State 2-1 in Saturday night's CCHA tournament final, will open play against Harvard. The Mavericks, who are seeking their first national title, made the Frozen Four for the first time last season, losing to St. Cloud State in the semifinals.

In the other Albany regional game, North Dakota faces Notre Dame.

Defending national champion UMass, which beat UConn 2-1 in the Hockey East tournament, is the No. 3 seed in the Worcester regional and will play No. 2 Minnesota in its first game. Also in Worcester, Western Michigan of the NCHC faces Northeastern, the Hockey East regular-season champ.

In the Loveland regional, top seed Denver will open against UMass Lowell and NCHC tournament champ Minnesota Duluth meets No. 3 seed Michigan Tech of the CCHA. Five NCHC teams are in the field -- Denver, North Dakota, Western Michigan, Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State -- with all five in the top 10 of the PairWise rankings.

The Big Ten and Hockey East each have three teams in the field.

The balance of power is in the western conferences, with only one team from the east -- Quinnipiac -- garnering a top-two seed. Six eastern teams are in the field, including five from Massachusetts (UMass, UMass Lowell, Northeastern, Harvard and AIC).