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THANKS, WE THINK: North Dakota reached the tournament with help from a traditional rival. Wisconsin beat Ohio State 5-4 in overtime for the Big Ten title, knocking the Buckeyes out of the running and opening an at-large berth for North Dakota. Some of the players sent texts and tweets to the Badgers thanking them for the assist. That was before they learned that they’d be facing each other in the semifinals.

“It’s kind of ironic we’re playing them,” said sophomore defenseman Jordan Schmaltz, one of those who celebrated Wisconsin’s win. “So maybe I’ll recant that statement.”

WISCONSIN’S SENIORS: The Badgers’ nine seniors give them a lot of experience, but it’s their experience in one game that helps them now. They reached the tournament last year and got beat by UMass-Lowell 6-1, an ugly ending that taught them a few things that helped them get ready for this one.

“Last year it caught us by surprise a little bit when we got to that regional game,” captain Frankie Simonelli said.

“This year, there’s a different demeanor in the locker room,” junior defenseman Jake McCabe said. “We have this No. 1 seed and a lot of confidence. We’re not done with playing hockey right now.”

THIS AND THAT: North Dakota has seven national titles (1959, 1963, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, 2000), while Wisconsin has three (1977, 1983, 2006). … Wisconsin and North Dakota will be playing for the 164th time. … The Badgers are 0-2 in the tournament against North Dakota, losing 5-2 in the 1982 title game and 3-2 in overtime in a 2008 regional final. … Ferris State is in the tournament for the third time, also making it in 2003. The Bulldogs are the only Michigan team in the tournament. … Colgate is one of the youngest teams in the nation with 17 freshmen and sophomores. It’s in the tournament for the first time since 2005.


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