A total of 60 ice hockey teams (as of the 2015-16 season) compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I hockey. There are also 21 schools are in Division II or III athletic programs that "play up" to Division I.
Wagers on the NCAA hockey tournament centers around the Men's Ice Hockey Championship – considered as the highest level of collegiate men's hockey competition in the United States.
Inaugurated in 1948, the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship is a single elimination competition that determines the collegiate national champion. The tournament features 16 teams representing six Division I conferences (Atlantic Hockey Association, Big Ten Conference, ECAC Hockey, Hockey East Association, National Collegiate Hockey Conference and Western Collegiate Hockey Association).
The teams are divided into four regional tournaments (Northeast, East, Midwest and West Regionals) with four teams each. The winner of each regional tournament advances to the Frozen Four (equivalent of basketball’s Final Four) to compete for the national championship.
For many years, 5 teams earned automatic bids through winning conference tournament championships, while 11 earned at-large berths through a selection committee. With the addition of the Big Ten Hockey Conference for the 2013–14 season, the tournament now features 6 automatic qualifiers, and 10 at-large bids.
The NCAA started a Women's Frozen Four during the 2000-01 season.
Broadmoor Ice Palace in Colorado Springs, Colorado hosted the tournament for the first ten years and has hosted eleven times overall, the most of any venue. Michigan has won the most tournaments with nine, while Vic Heyliger has coached the most championship teams, winning six times with Michigan between 1948 and 1956.
Denver and North Dakota is tied for the second winningest collegiate hockey program with 8 championships.
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