March Madness will arrive a month early for fans of Liberty University's Division I men's hockey team and other American Collegiate Hockey Association DI programs around the country.
On Wednesday at 9:45 p.m., the announcement of the season's 17th and final ACHA Men's DI national poll will be broadcast live from Liberty University's LaHaye Ice Center through streaming web TV. This will be the first time the ACHA has held a selection show.
The top 20 teams, including six automatic bids, qualify for the March 1-6 national championship tournament at The Edge Ice Arena near Chicago. The seedings, brackets, and tournament schedule will bedisclosed at this time.
"That's real exciting," Liberty head coach Kirk Handy said. "We're very, very privileged to have Liberty University's School of Communication so involved in what we do and it makes such a big difference.It'll create a lot of buzz, a lot of excitement."
Members of the Flames' team will be on the ice to watch the show as Liberty's Club Sports student broadcast staff provides all of the on-site production work, staying in close contact with the ACHA for up-to-the-minute rankings updates and tournament bracket information.
Rett McGibbon, a Club Sports broadcaster who covers both the Flames' hockey and lacrosse programs, will host the live rankings and tournament bracket reveal show.
The show will offer additional commentary and special interview segments with coaches and players from teams across the country as each portion of the tournament bracket is unveiled.
"This is a very exciting addition to our usual process of releasing rankings and the National Tournament berths," ACHA Public Relations Director Chris Ostrander said in a statement on the league's website. "Adding a live broadcast of the event will hopefully add the feel of March Madness for those programs who have earned a ticket to Chicago."
Followers of the webcast are encouraged to offer feedback and ask questions by logging in to their Twitter or Facebook accounts and submitting tweets or posts before and during the show using the hashtag #ACHAChicago2013.
Adrian College remained No. 1 in the nation for the third week in a row, when the top 10 spots also stayed the same for thethird-straight week. Adrian already received an automatic bid to nationals as champion of the Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League, along with tournamenthost Robert Morris Illinois, the No. 4-ranked team; Central States Collegiate Hockey League champion Illinois, ranked No. 9; Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association champion Navy, ranked No. 14; Northeast Collegiate Hockey League champion Niagara, ranked No. 20; and College Hockey Mid-America champion John Carroll, which debuted at No. 25.
In the past 10 seasons, eight different schools have won the ACHA DI national tournament, twice each by Lindenwood, now an NCAA Division I team, and Illinois.
Penn State claimed an ACHA DI record five titles before moving up to the NCAA Division I level last year.