The days of the big-name schools being locks to get into the NCAA men's hockey tournament are long gone.

Still, the 2018-19 season made that fact stand out in stark clarity as it applies to three of the biggest from the Big Ten Conference.

The University of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan all watched the NCAAs from afar. Only the Golden Gophers managed a winning record of the three most-accomplished Big Ten teams by national title banners.

To find the previous time that trio all missed the NCAA tournament in the same season, you have to go back before the conference realignment.

No, not the one in 2013 that split apart Western leagues; the one in 1984 that created Hockey East out of teams from the Eastern College Athletic Conference.

And it's not getting easier for the Big Ten's version of old money. Not with Penn State challenging to reach new levels and Ohio State and Notre Dame doing so in recent years.

After putting three teams in the NCAA tournament in 2017 and four in 2018, only the Buckeyes and Fighting Irish made it last season.

The Nittany Lions will be trying to become the third different team to win the Big Ten regular-season title in the past three years after Minnesota won the first four.

Here are five items of interest around the league in 2019-20:

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