Bracketology: Selection Sunday Edition
Losing to Drexel in the CAA semifinals in effect gave Austin Kaut (pictured) and Penn State another RPI top-20 win (against the Dragons in the regular season). The Nittany Lions' strength of schedule (No. 4 nationally) should secure them an NCAA tournament at-large bid, writes Matt Forman.
© Kevin P. Tucker
St. John's sent shockwaves across the lacrosse landscape Thursday when the Johnnies knocked off No. 1 RPI Notre Dame. The Red Storm didn't carry that momentum over Saturday against Syracuse, but they ensured the Big East would be a two-bid league and somebody's bubble burst.
In some ways, the inaugural Big East tournament cleared things up. (We know Syracuse grabbed the automatic qualifier.) In other ways, it muddied the waters. (Which of the at-large teams gets pushed out?)
We'll get all the answers from the selection committee Sunday night. For now, here's one final look how we think the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse tournament bracket will break down, as of Sunday morning. (Here are the links to installments one and two.)
Strength of schedule rankings and RPI numbers are from LaxPower.com, which uses the NCAA formulas.
1. Loyola (ECAC automatic qualifier)
Record: 14-1; SOS: 23; RPI: 1
Wins of note: Duke, Fairfield (twice), Denver (twice), Ohio State
The committee should reward the RPI's new No. 1 team with the top national seed. And make no mistake about it: Loyola is the real deal.
2. Duke (at-large)
Record: 13-4; SOS: 3; RPI: 4
Wins of note: Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina (twice), Syracuse
A loss to Denver at the Mile High Classic might have cost Duke the top spot, but the Blue Devils didn't drop much. They'll be placed on the opposite side of the bracket from Loyola, which beat Duke 13-8 in early March.
3. Johns Hopkins (at-large)
Record: 11-3; SOS: 12; RPI: 3
Wins of note: Loyola, Virginia, Princeton, Syracuse
The biggest feather in Hopkins' hat? The win over RPI No. 1 Loyola. That, plus two other top-10 wins, makes the Blue Jays an easy top-4 seed.
4. North Carolina (at-large)
Record: 11-5; SOS: 15; RPI: 11
Wins of note: Johns Hopkins, Virginia, Princeton, Maryland, Penn State
The Tar Heels dropped 10 spots in the RPI and two in strength of schedule after beating Michigan on Saturday. But Carolina still has four top-10 wins — more than any other team.
5. Virginia (at-large)
Record: 11-3; SOS: 6; RPI: 7
Wins of note: Maryland, North Carolina, Cornell, Syracuse, Drexel, Ohio State
Carolina's fall means Virginia's resume counts only one top-10 win, against Maryland. But Duke is the only other team with a top-10 RPI.
6. UMass (CAA automatic qualifier)
Record: 15-0; SOS: 27; RPI: 2
Wins of note: Penn State, Drexel (twice), Ohio State, Bucknell
Even though the Minutemen have no top-10 wins, the committee should reward them for an undefeated season and the No. 2 RPI. Sixth seems a tad low, but it's hard to envision UMass claiming a seed ahead of Nos. 1-5 on this projection.
7. Notre Dame (at-large)
Record: 11-2; SOS: 14; RPI: 5
Wins of note: Duke, Denver, Syracuse, Drexel, Ohio State
When coach Kevin Corrigan was asked if Notre Dame would host a first-round game after the Fighting Irish lost to St. John's in the Big East tournament, he said: "I don't make those decisions." The Irish were considered a week ago the favorite for the overall No. 1, so it would be difficult to drop them out of the top eight.
8. Lehigh (Patriot League automatic qualifier)
Record: 14-2; SOS: 33; RPI: 6
Wins of note: Colgate, North Carolina, Penn State, Yale, Bucknell
The difference between Lehigh and Colgate for the final hosting spot is like splitting hairs. North Carolina dropping out of the RPI top-10 hurts Lehigh: it now has one top-10 win to Colgate's two. My guess is the Mountain Hawks will have a slight edge, for their overall record and RPI advantage.
After the top eight, teams are unseeded in the NCAA tournament. Rankings of Nos. 9-16 are included only to help paint a picture of how the unseeded teams compare to one another.
9. Colgate (at-large)
Record: 13-3; SOS: 32; RPI: 8
Wins of note: Lehigh, Maryland, Fairfield, Bucknell (twice)
Commence the Peter Baum for Tewaaraton conversation... Colgate is the top unseeded team.
10. Maryland (at-large)
Record: 9-5; SOS: 12; RPI: 10
Wins of note: Johns Hopkins, Duke
The loss to Colgate dropped Maryland out the hosting picture. The Terps will travel in the first round, though they should avoid facing an ACC rival immediately.
11. Princeton (Ivy League automatic qualifier)
Record: 11-3; SOS: 16; RPI: 9
Wins of note: Cornell, Yale
Villanova dropped from the list of Princeton's RPI top-20 wins, so an Ivy League tournament win Sunday might be the Tigers' only ticket to the tournament.
12. Penn State (at-large)
Record: 9-6; SOS: 4; RPI: 15
Wins of note: Notre Dame, Ohio State, Drexel
Losing to Drexel in the CAA tournament bumped the Dragons' resume inside the RPI top-20, giving Penn State an additional top-20 win. The Nittany Lions should be rewarded for playing a tough schedule, and the Notre Dame victory is a big boost.
13. Denver (at-large)
Record: 8-6; SOS: 8; RPI: 13
Wins of note: Duke, Penn State
That Duke win carries a lot of clout. The way I see it, Denver takes the last at-large spot, though Villanova, Fairfield and Cornell all could make a strong case.
14. Syracuse (Big East automatic qualifier)
Record: 9-7; SOS: 9; RPI: 17
Wins of note: Princeton
It wasn't how most — including John Desko — expected, but Syracuse makes the tournament.
15. Siena (MAAC automatic qualifier)
Record: 11-4; SOS: 55; RPI: 30
Wins of note: None
This spot also could go to Canisius, depending on who wins the MAAC.
16. Stony Brook (America East automatic qualifier)
Record: 7-9; SOS: 38; RPI: 35
Wins of note: None
The Seawolves' impressive turnaround after a 1-7 start lands them in the big show, after a 14-8 win over Albany in the America East championship game. They're just the third team in history to make the tournament with a losing record, joining Hobart (2002) and Providence (2007).
Record: 8-7; SOS: 2; RPI: 21
Wins of note: Lehigh, Syracuse, Bucknell, Drexel
Syracuse, Bucknell and Drexel all re-entered the RPI top 20 this weekend, but Villanova dropped out.
Record: 12-4; SOS: 25; RPI: 12
Wins of note: Denver, Ohio State
The Stags will likely fall one top-20 win short of making the tournament — against Loyola, Ohio State or Colgate, for example — even though they beat Denver head-to-head.
Record: 9-4; SOS: 7; RPI: 14
Wins of note: Denver, Yale, Syracuse
The Yale and Syracuse victories again became top-20 wins this weekend, though Cornell might be considered the "third" Ivy team.
Record: 10-4; SOS: 19; RPI: 16
Wins of note: Cornell
If Yale beats Princeton in the Ivy League championship, the Committee's job would get even tougher. The Bulldogs would get the automatic qualifier, but what of the Tigers? Should the Ivy be a two-bid league?
No. 1 Loyola vs. Stony Brook
No. 8 Lehigh vs. Maryland
No. 4 North Carolina vs. Penn State
No. 5 Virginia vs. Princeton
No. 3 Johns Hopkins vs. Denver
No. 6 UMass vs. Syracuse
No. 2 Duke vs. Siena
No. 7 Notre Dame vs. Colgate
Check back Sunday night for brackets in all divisions, and keep your browser tuned to LaxMagazine.com this week for analysis of the selections.