Bracket Breakdown: Division II Men
|The Pioneers won the regular season matchup with Mercyhurst, 4-3, but the two teams will square off again on the Island in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II men's lacrosse tournament.|
The brackets have been released and the teams know where they are heading. Limestone will be entertaining Adelphi while C.W. Post hosts East Coast Conference rival Mercyhurst.
It's time to analyze the field and answer some pertinent questions. Here's the bracket breakdown for the NCAA Division II men's lacrosse tournament.
Last Team In
The wild card is presumptively always the last team in, and the Lakers got the nod. Chris Ryan and his players have to be breathing a sign of relief this morning because, as it turns out, they weren't going up against Adelphi for the wild card. Mercyhurst was actually competing with Le Moyne -- the No. 1 team in the country. The Lakers won the head-to-head evaluation, however, and were the last squad in.
First Team Out
Who else was there?
If we're going to use that term, it has to be Le Moyne. The Dolphins were 12-2 and owned a head-to-head win against Adelphi, but the committee obviously felt that the Panthers' 15-2 record and Northeast-10 championship was good enough to jump Le Moyne.
Best First Round Matchup
Mercyhurst at C.W. Post
The first time the two teams met it was a 4-3 triumph for Post in a game that featured strong goalie play from the Pioneers' Mike Giordano (13 saves) and the Lakers' Zach Nash (14). The rematch will probably not be as low-scoring, but it should still be close. The only drawback to the contest is Mercyhurst has to make the long bus ride across the state of Pennsylvania once again.
The Pioneers beat Mercyhurst by a goal at home in the first matchup. The Lakers are playing better ball now, so the Pioneers are definitely susceptible to the upset. With that said, John Jez and Post haven't won two straight national championships by overlooking teams, especially ECC rivals.
Easiest Title Route
In a two-game tournament, it's kind of tough to have an easy route, but by drawing lightly regarded Adelphi in the first round at home, the Saints fit here. Limestone shouldn't get too complacent. The Panthers have proven to be a serious defensive team that hasn't allowed more than eight goals since mid-March. Still, the Saints' offense won't be intimidated against this new face.
Five Burning Questions
1. Are the rest of the teams in the field relieved that Le Moyne did not make the tournament?
You better believe it. How often do you get to take the No. 1 team in the country out of the mix for the national championship? The loss to Merrimack in the NE-10 semifinals points to flaws with this year's Dolphins, but when it was clicking, Le Moyne had a dominant faceoff man, a high-powered offense and a defense that could go toe-to-toe with the best attacks around. There are no easy games in a four-team field, but having Dan Sheehan's team on the sideline won't break too many hearts.
2. Did not having a conference tournament help the East Coast Conference?
Yes. If the ECC played even a four-team conference tournament, either C.W. Post or Mercyhurst would have picked up another loss, if not handed a defeat in the semifinals. With that scenario, Le Moyne is looking a whole better for the wild card bid in a head-to-head comparison.
3. How did Adelphi manage to wrestle to North region bid from Le Moyne?
The Panthers just kept winning, allowing them to take advantage of Le Moyne's tournament stumble. Even though the Dolphins had one fewer in-region loss and held the head-to-head with the Panthers, the committee deemed that Le Moyne's semifinal loss combined with Adelphi's NE-10 title was good enough to carry the day.
4. What's more surprising: Le Moyne not getting the North bid or the Dolphins coming up short in the wild card race?
With all of the things it had going for it, missing on the regional berth is more surprising, but the Dolphins have to be scratching their heads wondering how they fell short in the wild card, as well. The likely explanation is the committee established that the Central was a stronger region (which it was) and gave the nod to Mercyhurst. The Lakers' win over Limestone and Le Moyne's loss to the Saints could have possibly entered the discussion, as well.
5. Is C.W. Post the favorite to win a third national championship?
No question about it. Despite being a young team, the Pioneers have shown to be the most consistent program over the course of the year. It's tough envisioning any of the other three teams raising the Walnut & Bronze come Memorial Day weekend.