Bracketology 3.0: Feels like the framework is there...
301 of 492 regular season games down, 191 games to go with just over a month left. We've completed 61.18% of the regular season as we enter the final month of the regular season.
By the end of the weekend, everyone will have played at least one conference game. And as I've noted in the past two Bracketology posts, everyone still has a chance of making the NCAA Tournament. However, some teams already have multiple losses in conference play, risking the chance of extending their seasons.
10 out of the 11 Division I men's lacrosse conferences have automatic qualification status, the first time we've had double-digit AQs since 2016. That was the year the ACC was in the second year of a two-year grace period after going below six members thanks to Maryland heading to the Big Ten. The ACC does not have an AQ and also does not have a conference tournament.
We're back to having two play-in games featuring the four lowest ranked automatic qualifiers as determined by the selection committee, regardless of conference RPI. The winner of one matchup will take on the #1 overall seed, while the winner of the other matchup will take on the #2 overall seed.
Maryland has separated from the pack, but others are right behind them. Cornell, Georgetown, Penn, Princeton, and Virginia are some of those teams, with Rutgers not that far behind.
More questions will be answered in the coming weeks. The bubble continues to form, but the focus has shifted toward the ACC, Big Ten, and Ivy League. The intrigue continues to build as the weather warms up. In most places.
Automatic Qualifiers 3.0
For another week, we'll take the top team in each conference based off whoever has the highest RPI, with those numbers coming directly from the NCAA. For the SOS, we'll take those numbers from LaxNumbers (all data prior to March 29). When we get deeper into conference play for every conference, probably in a week or two, we’ll revert to the team with the best conference record.
Due to their upcoming move to the CAA in July, Stony Brook is ineligible to compete in the America East Tournament. They have the best RPI in the conference at 35.
At-Large Candidates 3.0
Eight more teams will be picked to join the 10 automatic qualifiers and have to finish above .500. With the Ivy League off to a hot start, it's very reasonable to have three conferences take up all eight at-large bids.
Will a non-ACC/Big Ten/Ivy League team get an at-large bid?
Short answer is no.
Long answer is probably not. The only possibility is if Georgetown doesn't win the Big East Tournament. Then they'd more than likely be the only team outside of those three conferences listed.
Bracketology Prediction 3.0
Before I unveil what I have, here's the official pre-championship manual from the NCAA. The cliff-notes from the NCAA are below:
Results of the RPI:
Record against ranked teams 1-5; 6-10; 11-15; 16-20; 21+
Average RPI of all wins
Average RPI of all losses
Results versus common opponents
Significant wins and losses (wins against teams ranked higher in the RPI, losses against teams ranked lower in the RPI)
Locations of contests
Input is provided by the regional advisory committee for consideration by the Division I Men’s Lacrosse Committee
Coaches’ polls, media polls, and/or any other outside polls or rankings are not used by the committee
For yet another week, here...we...go.
Last Two In: Harvard, Ohio State
First Four Out: Duke, Brown, Denver, Johns Hopkins
In terms of multi-bid leagues, the Ivy League leads the way with five (four of them have seeds), followed by the Big Ten with three (one seeded team), and the ACC with two (both seeds).
Harvard has plenty of regular season games left to improve their resume. They have conference wins over Brown and Dartmouth, which leaves the remaining four teams currently projected in the NCAA Tournament left to play. They also have a shot of reaching the Ivy League Tournament. Ohio State just has Big Ten play left and at least one extra game in the conference tournament. Notable opponents left are Maryland and Johns Hopkins.
Duke is 8-4 and their 12 games are the most played by anyone this season. They'll be at North Carolina this weekend before hosting Notre Dame and Virginia before Easter. Then they take on UNC at home on May 1 before ending their regular season at Notre Dame a week after. All of those teams are still in the top 16 of the RPI, but a couple more losses could mean the Blue Devils miss out on postseason play for the first time since the team cut their season short in 2006.
Duke has the 9th toughest SOS remaining (.658) while Ohio State is 16th (.595).
Right above Duke in toughest SOS remaining is Brown (.659). Their next four games are Princeton, at Penn, Yale, and at Cornell. So this stretch coming up is the Bears' season.
Denver hosts Georgetown this weekend in a very important game for the Pios before traveling to Villanova the following week. Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins is at Rutgers and Ohio State for their next two games.
Come back here again next week and see what we have.