May 7, 2010

DaSilva: NCAA Division I Tournament Projections (Women)

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Division I Men's Projections

 

Several important games loom in the next two days before Selection Sunday, but here’s my best assessment of the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament.

Primary selection criteria:
* Rating Percentage Index (RPI)
* Head-to-head competition.
* Winning percentage vs. common opponents.
* Evaluation of 10 highest-rated teams on schedule (determined by strength of schedule and winning percentage)

Secondary selection criteria:
* Significant wins and losses.
* Late-season performance (last six games)

RPI Rankings (Source: NCAA; May 4)

1. Maryland
2. Northwestern
3. North Carolina
4. Duke
5. Virginia
6. Georgetown
7. Penn
8. Vanderbilt
9. James Madison
10. Towson
11. Syracuse
12. Notre Dame
13. Loyola
14. Stanford
15. Albany
16. Dartmouth
17. Penn State
18. Boston College
19. Hofstra
20. Denver

21-60. Click here

Who’s in:
Maryland
North Carolina
Duke
Virginia
Penn
Marist
 
NCAA play-in games
Sacred Heart at Navy
UMass at Stanford

AQs to be determined
America East (UMBC vs. BU)
Colonial Athletic Association (Hofstra at James Madison)
ALC (Northwestern/Penn State vs. Florida/Vanderbilt)
 
Important games

1. Dartmouth at Maryland – The Big Green gets a big RPI boost from this either way. An upset of Maryland, and Dartmouth’s dancing.

2. UMass at Stanford (NCAA play-in game) – Stanford has a good enough RPI (No. 14) to make its case for an at-large bid even with a loss, but as you’ll see below, that’s anything but a certainty.

3. Hofstra at James Madison (CAA championship game) -- Shelley Klaes Bawcombe’s current team boasts fairly good standing for an at-large berth, should top-seeded James Madison lose this AQ. Her former team probably needs the AQ.

4. ALC championship game – Penn State meets Northwestern and Florida meets Vanderbilt in the semifinals. Obviously, the five-time defending champion Wildcats are in even if one of these teams from a conference they have so thoroughly dominated manages to upset them. Vanderbilt and Penn State are in the at-large conversation, in that order.

5. UMBC vs. BU  (America East championship game) – You could have made a case in years past for two bids from the America East. Not this year. Not after feel-good story Albany lost in the semifinals.

DaSilva’s field

I’m picking Navy to make its first NCAA tournament appearance in program history and Stanford to use its West Coast home-field advantage to hold off surging UMass. I’ve got BU retaining its America East crown, Hofstra notching an upset of James Madison in the CAA final (against its former coach, no less) and (shocker) Northwestern cruising to another ALC championship. Lastly, I like Georgetown’s momentum enough for the Hoyas to beat Syracuse again, this time for the Big East conference championship and automatic qualifier.

I also think Dartmouth will slow Maryland down some, but ultimately lose.

Those results considered, here’s who would be in, no doubt: Maryland, Northwestern, North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, Georgetown, Penn, Stanford, Hofstra, BU, Navy and Marist.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Vanderbilt and James will also likely qualify as at-large candidates.

That would leave two at-large berths for the following field of bubble teams: Towson, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Loyola, Albany, Dartmouth and Penn State.

Here’s how those teams would shake out based on the current standings

Team RPI* SOS**
Towson 10
16
Syracuse 11 10
Notre Dame 12 9
Loyola 13 11
Albany 15 44
Dartmouth 16 26
Penn State 17 14

 

 

 

 

 

      

          
        

* Source: NCAA
** Source: LaxPower

Head-to-Head Competition

Towson lost to Syracuse, 18-10 and beat Loyola, 14-10. (1-1)

Syracuse beat Towson, 18-10; lost to Notre Dame 6-5; beat Notre Dame, 12-11 (4OT); beat Loyola, 13-11 and lost to Dartmouth 17-10. (3-2)

Notre Dame beat Syracuse 6-5; lost to Syracuse, 12-11 (4OT); beat Loyola, 11-10; and lost to Dartmouth, 12-8. (2-2)

Loyola lost to Towson, 14-10; lost to Syracuse, 13-11; lost to Notre Dame, 11-10; and lost to Penn State, 9-8. (0-4)

Albany did not play any of the bubble teams in consideration here.

Dartmouth beat Syracuse, 17-10 and beat Notre Dame, 12-8. (1-1)

Penn State beat Loyola, 9-8. (1-0)

At this point, I’m nuking Loyola (too many losses, with only Virginia to show for a significant win) and Albany (schedule too weak).

That leaves us with Towson, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Dartmouth and Penn State. Five teams for two spots.

Syracuse’s quadruple-overtime win over Notre Dame in the Big East semifinals -- combined with the RPI boost it will get from playing Georgetown again in the conference championship game (albeit losing, according to my predictions) -- gets the Orange in the door.

Now we’re down to four teams for one spot to run through the remaining criteria.

Common Opponents

Towson vs. Notre Dame
- Towson and Notre Dame both beat Loyola, 14-10 and 11-10, respectively.
- Towson lost to Syracuse, 18-10; Notre Dame beat Syracuse, 6-5, and lost to Syracuse, 12-11 (4OT).
- Towson beat Hofstra, 9-7, and lost to Hofstra, 9-8; Notre Dame beat Hofstra, 13-12.

Towson vs. Dartmouth
- Towson lost to Syracuse, 17-10; Dartmouth beat Syracuse, 18-10.
- Towson lost to Maryland, 12-10; Dartmouth plays Maryland on Saturday.

Towson vs. Penn State
- Towson and Penn State both beat Loyola, 14-10 and 9-8, respectively.
- Towson beat Johns Hopkins, 11-10; Penn State lost to Johns Hopkins, 12-7.
- Towson and Penn State both lost to Maryland, 12-10 and 17-9, respectively.
- Towson and Penn State both beat Delaware, 17-8 and 12-8, respectively.
- Towson and Penn State both beat William & Mary, 12-6 and 11-8 respectively.

Notre Dame vs. Dartmouth
- Notre Dame and Dartmouth both beat BU, 7-6 (OT) and 15-10, respectively.
- Notre Dame beat Syracuse, 6-5, and lost to Syracuse, 12-11 (4OT); Dartmouth beat Syracuse, 18-10.

Notre Dame vs. Penn State
- Notre Dame and Penn State both beat Loyola, 11-10 and 9-8, respectively.
- Notre Dame and Penn State both lost to Vanderbilt, 10-9 and 20-14, respectively.
- Notre Dame and Penn State both lost to Northwestern, 15-5 and 13-6 respectively. Penn State plays Northwestern in the ALC semifinals Friday.
- Notre Dame beat Ohio State, 12-11; Penn State beat Ohio State twice, 18-12 and 14-12.

Dartmouth vs. Penn State
- Dartmouth’s and Penn State’s only common opponent is Maryland. Penn State lost to Maryland, 17-9. Dartmouth plays Maryland on Saturday.

With common opponents not offering any real further differentiation, it seems a combination of primary and secondary criteria will be needed to decide the final two teams.

Towson gets in based on its high RPI (a loss to Hofstra won’t hurt it all that much) and a strong finish to its season (5-1 in its last six games).

Dartmouth misses the cut after stumbling down the stretch (the predicted loss to Maryland would have the Big Green finish 2-4 in its last six games) -- a rare one-bid year for the Ivy League.

That leaves out Notre Dame and Penn State. It will be interesting to see how much of an RPI boost the Nittany Lions get from playing Northwestern twice in one season, but their losses to Florida and Hopkins hurt. Notre Dame’s loss to Rutgers hurt.

My view of the 16-team field, with the eight teams seeded and their first-round opponents based primarily on geography.

1. Maryland vs. Marist
2. Northwestern vs. Stanford
3. North Carolina vs. Navy
4. Duke vs. BU
5. Virginia vs. Hofstra
6. Georgetown vs. Towson
7. Penn vs. Syracuse
8. Vanderbilt vs. James Madison


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