Sports | 6:14 pm | March 20, 2011 | By Max de la Bruyere

BOOLA BOOLA | No. 1 Elis to play Air Force in NCAA tournament opener

The NCAA has rolled out the bracket for this year’s national tournament, with Yale the top seed overall.

The Elis gathered for brunch in the Study Hotel Sunday morning, a day after winning the ECAC tournament, to learn who they would play in the first leg of their hunt for a national championship . The scene was a marked departure from last year, when the team spent a few agonizing days wondering whether or not they would make the tournament at all after an early elimination from the ECAC playoffs.

This time around, the only question was who Yale would play. The answer is a familiar opponent: Air Force.

The No. 16 seed Falcons used a third-period comeback to deal the Elis a 4–3 loss in Colorado Springs back in November. It was the team’s first loss of the season.

If Yale can avoid a repeat of that game, it will play the winner of a contest between No. 8 seed Union and No. 9 seed Minnesota-Duluth. Yale split its season series with ECAC foe Union, most recently losing to the Dutchmen on the road by a 3–2 margin. The Bulldogs have not played Minnesota-Duluth — a team also nicknamed the Bulldogs — but dislodged the potential opponents from the No. 1 spot in the national polls early in the season.

A win in that game against Union or Minnesota-Duluth would send the Elis to the Frozen Four in Minnesota on April 7. They would play in the semifinals against the winner of the Northeast Regional.

Yale plays Air Force at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. If the Elis advance, they will play at the same time and in the same Saturday. Both games will be televised on ESPNU.

Full tournament picture:

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut):

No. 1 Yale vs. No. 4 Air Force

No. 2 Union vs. No. 3 Minnesota Duluth

West Regional (St. Louis, Missouri)

No. 1 Boston College vs. No. 4 Colorado College

No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Nebraska Omaha

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire):

No. 1 Miami (Ohio) vs. No. 4 New Hampshire

No. 2 Merrimack vs. No. 3 Notre Dame

Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wisconsin):

No. 1 North Dakota vs. No. 4 RPI

No. 2 Denver vs. No. 3 Western Michigan

Play around with the bracket here.

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