The college hockey world got a shakeup earlier this week when Arizona State announced they are ready to launch a Division I hockey program thanks to $32 million in donations for the cause.
The Sun Devils will play a hodge-podge schedule of D-I and Club teams next season with a full D-I schedule slated for year number two. After that, ASU plans to be in a conference, but where they will ultimately end up remains uncertain. In my mind the NCHC makes the perfect match for the 60th NCAA Division One hockey member. The proximity to the Colorado schools is a plus for travel. The biggest question may be how competitve does Arizona State want to be in the early years? There's no question the NCHC would be the toughest league for ASU to jump into with a bit softer landing in the WCHA also a possibility. But if the Sun Devils are serious about contending with the best - then the NCHC would be the way to go.
This is also a big opportunity for the NCHC. Sure, ASU may only be a rental (especially if they have early success and other Pac-12 schools jump on board), but the exposure to a new landscape and adding a market the size of the Phoenix would be great for the league. So, the big question - will it happen?
I don't see a competitve bid coming in from the Big Ten. The sole purpose of starting up that conference was to include only Big Ten schools and exclude everyone else. Adding a Pac-12 team doesn't make sense in that regard. The WCHA will certainly make a big push to add ASU as they would benefit the same as the NCHC. But, ultimately I believe the NCHC has the inside track on this one - there's too much that makes sense about it for it not to happen. Although, that could be my desire to hope UND gets scheduled for a January series in Tempe and I get to go on the roadtrip. Either way - it's a win-win-win for those involved.