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BNRinkside: Tourney time hits national polls

This is always a challenging time for me to submit my weekly ballot in the USCHO.com Division I men's hockey poll. A bunch of teams were off this week with first-round playoff byes. How do you penalize a team that didn't play? It's more art than science, at least for me.

Quinnipiac kept my No. 1 vote and remained No. 1 in the national poll although North Dakota did get 11 first-place votes. North Dakota is in the top spot in the Pairwise rankings after improving to 28-5-3 with a weekend sweep, the Bobcats  (25-2-7) were off.

Surging on my ballot was Denver, which at 21-8-5 swept Nebraska-Omaha. Losing favor is Nebraska-Omaha, now losers in six striaght games. Michigan was swept by Ohio State and lost its last three.

Last week's social media buzz was the lack of love for Northeastern. I took a hard look at them this week and put them in my poll. They had a similar record to Minnesota State, but a stronger strength of schedule.

Speaking of strength of schedule, that explains why Minnesota-Duluth is ranked 13th in the Pairwise which currently would give them a spot in the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs are just 15-14-5 overall but they have the second strongest schedule in the country.

My ballot:

1. Quinnipiac
2. North Dakota
3. Providence
4. St. Cloud State
5. Boston College
6. Denver
7. Boston University
8. Notre Dame
9. Michigan
10. Yale
11. Harvard
12. Penn State
13. UMass-Lowell
14. Michigan Tech
15. Nebraska-Omaha
16. Cornell
17. Rensselaer
18. Clarkson
19. Northeastern
20. Robert Morris

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