The release of the 94X WCHA Preseason Media Poll means all the meaningless information is out in the open.
Now, it's time for me to be a total nerd, pouring through the 29 ballots to find things I find interesting or quirky.
We'll start by listing the highest and lowest positions on the ballot that each team was placed.
St. Cloud State
Looking quickly, it appears the least disagreement was -- outside of North Dakota, obviously -- with UMD and Minnesota State. UMD was picked second or third on 26 of 29 ballots. MSU was voted ninth or tenth on 20 of 29 ballots. They also had the lowest range in votes -- again, outside of North Dakota.
No one likes Alaska-Anchorage or Michigan Tech. The two were voted 11th and 12th, in one order or the other, on an amazing 23 of 29 ballots. This virtually guarantees that one or both will finish outside of the bottom two. Let the debate begin.
Additionally, these two and Minnesota State were the only three of the league's 12 teams to not get one vote for sixth place -- home-ice position -- or higher.
Everyone likes North Dakota, UMD, and St. Cloud State. The three were 1/2/3 -- again, in some order -- on 21 of 29 ballots. This virtually guarantees that one or more of the three will finish outside of the top three. Let the debate begin.
We don't know for sure what to make of the noobs. Bemidji State drew one third-place vote, and they were placed in a home-ice position (top six) by seven of the 29 voters. Meanwhile, four voters put the Beavers in tenth place.
Nebraska-Omaha was even harder to place. Maybe it's because of Dean Blais. The Mavericks got a second-place vote, but also received a 12th-place vote. Overall, it doesn't seem like anyone likes UNO's chances at home ice. The only vote they got for a top-six spot was their second-place vote. No one else picked them higher than seventh (three votes). Nearly half -- 14 -- of the voters picked UNO to finish ninth.
People can't decide between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Gophers and Badgers were placed back-to-back on the ballots of 12 voters. 17 of the 29 voters have Wisconsin ahead of Minnesota.
Many think at least one of them will be traveling for a first-round playoff series in March. 14 voters have one or both of them on the road.
How did UMD finish second when St. Cloud State got the other first-place vote? Consistency, my dear reader. The Bulldogs were second or third on 26 of 29 ballots, while SCSU was voted in the top three on 24 of 29 ballots. That the Huskies drew a seventh-place vote and two fourth-place votes hurt them.
Also, UMD was ahead of the Huskies on 16 ballots ... more than half. It was enough to make up for the Huskies getting that single first-place vote that kept this thing from being unanimous for the Fighting Sioux.
If the voters are right, here are your first-round playoff matchups:
Michigan Tech at North Dakota
Alaska-Anchorage at UMD
Minnesota State at St. Cloud State
Nebraska-Omaha at Denver
Bemidji State at Wisconsin
Colorado College at Minnesota
Enjoy the season, everyone.