On one side are a pair of college hockey blue bloods in Michigan and North Dakota. The Wolverines won the first NCAA tournament in 1948 and lead all schools with nine titles. The Fighting Sioux are tied for second with seven crowns. Together, they have reached the national semifinals 41 times.
In the other semifinal are Minnesota-Duluth and Notre Dame, programs of promise and potential not yet realized. Between them they have zero championships and only four Frozen Four appearances.
Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson isn't a complete stranger to this environment — he won titles at Lake Superior State in 1992 and 1994 and brought the Fighting Irish to the brink of a title before losing to Boston College in...