BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Minnesota and Michigan were busy trying to outdo each other for the underdog label in their Frozen Four semifinal.
"Everyone has made us underdogs, and we like that role," Michigan captain Jed Ortmeyer said Wednesday.
The Wolverines and Golden Gophers, with 13 titles and 86 NCAA tournament victories between them, will meet Thursday night. Top-seeded Cornell faced New Hampshire in the other semifinal, with the title game set for Saturday.
At HSBC Arena
Thursday, April 10
Cornell (30-4-1) vs. New Hampshire (27-7-6), 11 a.m.
Minnesota (26-8-9) vs. Michigan (30-9-3), 5 p.m.
Saturday, April 12
TBA, 6 p.m.
"Michigan talks about how young they are," said Minnesota coach Don Lucia, whose Gophers are the defending champions. "But we have basically half of our lineup who didn't play in the Frozen Four last year. I really believe there is no favorite."
The Gophers (26-8-9) are on an 8-0-2 roll, with their last loss coming in overtime to Minnesota Duluth on Feb. 22.
While featuring only three seniors and five juniors, Minnesota possesses the tournament's most potent offense, averaging 4.2 goals a game, which ranks third in the nation.
The Gophers are led by freshman Thomas Vanek, who had 29 goals and 58 points. They also possess an offensive-minded defensive corps, featuring Keith Ballard and Paul Martin, who have combined for 21 goals and 80 points.
Minnesota's weakness might be in goal, where sophomores Travis Weber and Justin Johnson have combined for a 2.78 goals-against average, which ranks 17th in the nation -- the worst among the final four teams.
Coach Lucia is placing his confidence in Weber (22-8-7).
Michigan (30-9-3) is just the 14th school to make its third straight final four appearance. But the Wolverines haven't won a semifinal game since 1998, when they won the school's tournament-record ninth title.
Facing Minnesota, Michigan has an opportunity to make up for a 3-2 loss to the Gophers in last year's semifinal.
"I don't know if it's revenge," Ortmeyer said. "But it's definitely a lot of motivation that's driving this team."
The Wolverines also are young, with 14 players in their freshmen or sophomore seasons. But they present a more balanced attack than Minnesota, with the nation's sixth-ranked offense and seventh-ranked defense.
Where the two schools agree is on who should be favored: Cornell, making its first Frozen Four appearance since 1980.
"They're the No. 1 seed in this tournament, and they deserve to be," Michigan coach Red Berenson said.
The Big Red have a 30-4-1 record, and they're unbeaten in their last 15 games (14-0-1). The team has one of the country's best defenses. Leading the way is sophomore goalie David LeNeveu, who has an NCAA-best 1.14 GAA.
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