NCAA tournament conference participation possibilities

Conference recreation in NCAA tournament

Conference representation in NCAA tournament by share of possible scenarios
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Atlantic Hockey 100%
Big Ten 25% 75%
ECAC 2% 60% 38% 0%
Hockey East 2% 63% 35%
NCHC 49% 51%
WCHA 96% 4%

Big Ten

Michigan is in for sure. If the Big Ten tournament is won by anyone else, that will be a second representative for the Big Ten.


North Dakota, St Cloud St, and Denver are in for sure. Minnesota-Duluth can make it at-large or by winning the conference tournament.

Atlantic Hockey

Only the Atlantic Hockey tournament winner will get a bid.


Michigan Tech can make it at-large, and the conference tournament tournament winner will get a bid.

Hockey East

Boston College, Providence, Mass.-Lowell, and Boston University are in. Notre Dame and Northeastern each stand a chance at-large, and Northeastern is the only team that can win the conference tournament that isn’t already guaranteed a bid.

It’s possible for neither Notre Dame nor Northeastern to make it, limiting HE to four teams, but far more likely that they send five or even six.


Quinnipiac is the only ECAC team guaranteed a spot. Yale, Harvard, and Cornell each stand a chance of an at-large bid. The tournament winner, if not Quinnipiac or Harvard, also gets a spot.

Though it’s possible for the ECAC to only send two teams, three or even four are more likely. Perhaps the biggest surprise of this article is that five is possible in about 1 in 1700 scenarios (each of Yale, Harvard, and Cornell must make it at-large despite the conference tournament being won by either St. Lawrence or Dartmouth).

January forecast follow-up

Back in January, I published a forecast of how many teams each conference was likely to put in the NCAA playoffs. That forecast has held up remarkably well, confirming that PWR in January is a pretty good predictor of PWR in March.

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