How Many D1 Hockey Schools Are There? [Facts!]

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With the start of the new season right around the corner, we thought it might be fun to take a quick look at how the NCAA Divisions work and how many teams there are in each division. The biggest takeaway from this article is that there is an overwhelming amount of hockey available in the United States – whether you’re a skilled forward looking for a school or a coach, or you just want to find the next best thing to do with your friends and family. There are numerous Division 1 hockey offers out there, and it would be a mistake to pick just one.[/p>

How Many Hockey Teams Are There In Each Division?

The most basic form of the NCAA Division 1 hockey structure is made up of four divisions, or “conferences”. There are six hockey schools in the Midwest (D1A), Eastern (D1B), and Southern (D1C) conferences, as well as the New England Hockey Conference (D1E) with five members. The remaining members of the Divisions are in the Western (D1W) and Rocky Mountain (D1R) conferences. Each conference has three or four teams in its top division, while the other conferences each have just two teams (D1A and D1E). Here’s a look at how many teams there are in each conference, as well as an example of how the divisions work:[/p>


The most prestigious division in the NCAA is Division 1A, which is composed of some of the best teams in the country. The three “mainstream” hockey conferences – the Atlantic Coast Hockey Association (ACHA), the Big Ten, and the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Hockey League (Miho) – have teams in this division. The ACHA, with members like the University of North Carolina, Boston College, and Colorado College, is one of the largest and most competitive divisions in the country. The NCHC, made up of schools like the University of Nebraska and North Dakota State University, is another of the largest divisions. Finally, the CCHA, with its members including Michigan State University, Michigan, and Ohio State University, is the first of the three “hockey schools” or “ice hockey universities” that were founded in the early 20th century and the oldest of the three conferences. Each of these three leagues has a team in the NCAA Division 1A tournament each year.[/p>


After the success and prestige of Division 1A, it’s no surprise that the other three “mainstream” hockey conferences – the Western, Eastern, and Southern – would want a piece of the action. The WCHA, with schools like the University of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio State University in its membership, is the second-largest “hockey conference” in the country. The NCHC has three members: North Dakota State University, Nebraska, and Colorado College. Finally, the CCHA has schools like Michigan, Michigan State University, and Ohio State University in its membership. This last one is the historic home of two-time, three-time, and four-time national champions – Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.[/p>

D1C:SEC, Summit, and Big Ten

The third, fourth, and fifth largest conferences in the country are part of the NCAA Division 1 circuit. The SEC, the third-largest conference, has six members: The University of Alabama, Auburn University, the University of Georgia, the University of Kentucky, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Tennessee. The Summit, the fourth-largest conference, has 10 members: Stanford University, the University of California, the University of Utah, the University of Colorado, the University of Oregon, the University of Washington, Dartmouth College, the University of Nebraska, and the University of North Dakota. And, last but not least, the Big Ten, with its 12 members: The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Illinois, the University of Minnesota, the University of Ohio, Penn State University, the University of Denver, and the University of Iowa. These leagues are often referred to as the “Big Three” of college hockey, and it’s easy to see why – they each have a team in the NCAA tournament every year, and many of their alumni go on to play professionally. Moreover, the prestige of these leagues is obvious from the fact that five of the last six NCAA Division 1 men’s hockey champions have hailed from one of these three leagues. The only exception was the 2016 NCAA Division 1 hockey championship, which was won by Boston University – marking the first non-membership championship in 30 years![/p>

D1E: Big Ten and NICHL

With the success of the “Big Three”, it’s no surprise that the other two conferences – Eastern and Southern – would want a piece of the action. The Big Ten (also known as the “Ohio State College of Hockey”) has five members: The University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, and the University of Pittsburgh. The New England Hockey Conference (NEC), with six members: Boston College, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire College, Northeastern University, Syracuse University, and the University of Vermont, is the only other league in the country with a team in the NCAA Division One tournament. These two leagues are often referred to as the “little three” because they are the third-largest of the five conferences. Finally, the Northern Iowa Women’s Ice Hockey Program, which is a member of the NCAA and has won two Division 2 national championships, is the only other program in the country to have earned an NCAA Division 1 ranking (T-15th). This ranking is based on wins and losses, with a ranking of between one and four stars corresponding to the different tiers of the NCAA hockey pyramid. Teams can gain or lose a star for an individual performance in a game, such as scoring a goal or making a save. The top-ranked team in the country wins the overall honor of being the best in the country at what they do. The only other team currently in the top 25 is Wisconsin, which is ranked 12th – and it’s not even close!

How Many Teams Are IN The NCAA Tournament?

Now that we’ve established how many teams are in each division, it’s time to take a look at the quality of the teams and how far they can go. The most prestigious tournament in the country is the NCAA Tournament – even the name is enough of a mouthful! The 64-team NCAA Division 1 men’s hockey tournament starts with a 32-team field – the so-called “Field of 32” – which is made up of the best teams in the country, as ranked by the NCAA. After that, the top 16 teams are given byes into the next round, and the same thing happens to the top eight after that. The eight teams that survive this round go on to play for the national championship, which is currently carried out over four days in Tampa, Florida in mid-March. The last four days are dedicated to recapping the previous year’s competition and handing out the awards for best players, teams, and head coaches. For the complete tournament itinerary, as well as details on how to follow the NCAA tournament online, visit the NCAA’s official website.

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