TEMPE, Ariz. -- They are No. 1 in the polls, and now they are No. 1 in the championship bracket.
To no one's surprise, Arizona State was named the top seed in the 20-team ACHA National Tournament field.
As the top seed, ASU (32-2) will enjoy a first round bye, and await the winner of the opening round game between No. 16 Rhode Island (21-11) and No. 17 Lindenwood (12-18). The Sun Devils have not faced either team this season.
In recent years, ASU head coach Greg Powers has built his alma mater into a national powerhouse, and this year's team is arguably the best he has had. The Sun Devils currently lead the ACHA in both scoring offense and scoring defense, and boast both the ACHA's leading scorer (Kale Dolinski) and top goaltender (Robert Levin).
It is worth noting that the last three teams to enter the ACHA tournament as the nation's leader in defense have won the title, and no team has allowed fewer goals per game than ASU's 1.4 mark.
ASU's arch rival Arizona parlayed their victory over their Sun Devils (breaking a 37-game losing streak to the Sun Devils) on Feb. 1 into a spot in the field. The Wildcats will open up against No. 18 Illinois. The other team to beat ASU this year—fellow WCHL rival Oklahoma—enters the tournament as the No. 2 seed, setting up a possible rematch.
Last year, ASU entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed, and caught what was thought to be a major break when No. 1 seed Adrian was upset in the quarterfinals. However, the Sun Devils were upset 6-4 by ninth-seeded Lindenwood in the Final Four, putting an end to ASU's pursuit of the national title that eventually went to Minot State.
This year's Nationals will start on March 6 and conclude with the national championship game on March 11, with games hosted by the University of Delaware.