Bracketology 5.0: Here come some late movers
417 of 492 regular season games down, only 75 games to go. We've completed nearly 85% of the regular season. And conference tournaments will begin next week with the Big Ten Quarterfinals. Sheesh!
With everyone playing at least three conference games, we can officially say good bye to a couple of teams:
Holy Cross (0-11 overall, 0-7 in Patriot League)
Syracuse (4-8 overall, 1-3 in ACC - no conference tournament in the ACC)
Merrimack is also ineligible for the NCAA Tournament as they're in the third year of a four-year transition period from Division II.
On the bright side, there are teams that have qualified for their respective tournaments (sans the ACC and Big Ten):
Binghamton (3-1 in America East)
Vermont (4-0 in America East)
Air Force (2-1 in ASUN)
Bellarmine (2-1 in ASUN)
Utah (3-0 in ASUN)
Georgetown (3-0 in Big East)
Saint Joseph's (5-0 in NEC)
Army West Point (5-1 in Patriot League)
Boston University (6-0 in Patriot League)
Lehigh (5-1 in Patriot League)
Loyola (4-2 in Patriot League)
Jacksonville (4-0 in SoCon)
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 falling 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 themselves from the pack and look to be the first team to complete an undefeated season since the 2006 Virginia Cavaliers. Cornell, Georgetown, Princeton, and Virginia are some of the teams that could stop the Terps.
Automatic Qualifiers 5.0
Since everyone has played multiple conference games, we'll take the 1st place team in each conference and call them our AQ. If there's a tie between multiple teams and no head-to-head tiebreaker is available, we'll take the team with the better RPI. RPI comes from the latest official release from the NCAA (games played through Sunday). SOS data comes courtesy of Lacrosse Reference (all data prior to April 19).
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 37.
At-Large Candidates 5.0
Eight more teams will be picked to join the 10 automatic qualifiers and have to finish above .500. It still feels like those eight teams will come all from the ACC, Big Ten, and the Ivy League.
Selection Committee's Top 10
During Saturday's games on ESPNU, the Selection Committee's Top 10 (entering that weekend). It went as follows:
It pretty much followed the RPI from last week, with the exception of Jacksonville at 10. The Dolphins (19th in RPI at the rime) were coming off two big wins in consecutive weeks against High Point and Richmond. This week, they played VMI and Hampton this weekend which hurt their metrics. Jacksonville's RPI is now at 22 with Mercer next week and their 59 RPI ranking.
Six of those teams listed are potential at-large teams. Barring late collapses, they should all be in. Jacksonville is slotted as the SoCon AQ, but might not make the tournament if they lose in the conference tournament. That will bring up memories of High Point in 2019. The Panthers defeated Virginia and Duke in the regular season, but lost in the SoCon title game to Richmond. They also lost to St. John's and Jacksonville. This year's Dolphins team has lost to Johns Hopkins and Utah, much better than High Point's pair of defeats.
As for the bubble, Brown has risen from being a team on the outside to a team sneaking in and keeping the Ivy League at five bids. Meanwhile, Harvard is falling with games against Princeton and Yale left in the regular season.
A trio of ACC teams, North Carolina, Duke, and Notre Dame, are also still alive. Duke's win over Virginia last week was huge for their at-large chances. They have North Carolina and Notre Dame left, but have 12 more days off.
Elsewhere, Denver is now in the top 15 of the RPI but have games against Providence and Marquette left in the regular season. Those games, along with last week's against St. John's, certainly won't help their metrics. Army West Point got a huge nonconference win last week against Cornell. They have a huge game next week against Navy before finishing the regular season with current Patriot League leader BU.
Bracketology Prediction 5.0
Before I unveil what I have for another week, 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: Ohio State, North Carolina First Four Out: Duke, Harvard, Denver, Notre Dame
The final spot this week came down to North Carolina and Duke. North Carolina remains in for this week, even though they lost to Duke earlier in the season. UNC has better RPI and SOS metrics than Duke, along with average RPI wins and losses. But despite Duke having the edge in record against teams 1-20 in the RPI (4-2 for Duke vs. 3-3 for UNC), the Tar Heels are a perfect 5-0 against teams 21 and over in the RPI compared to Duke's disappointing 6-3 mark.
We've also seen the committee not consider head-to-head in the past. Back in 2018, Syracuse got the nod as the 8th seed over a Cornell team that beat the Orange in the regular season. Last year, Syracuse was the last team in over an Army squad that defeated the Orange early in the regular season.
Duke still has a good chance to get into the tournament, especially with another meeting with North Carolina left. Harvard might have the best opportunities with games against Princeton and Yale left in their regular season. They could also get into the Ivy League Tournament if all goes well.
Despite the selection committee preferring bus travel over air travel (when teams are 400 or more miles away from their opponent), there are a total of five flights currently listed with a potential sixth if Utah were to defeat Vermont in one of the play-in games.
Games that matter this week
Here are important games to watch that will have tournament implications (all times Eastern):
Loyola @ Georgetown (Tuesday, 6:30 PM on CBS Sports Network)
North Carolina @ Notre Dame (Thursday, 6 PM on ACC Network)
Navy @ Army West Point (Saturday, Noon on CBS Sports Network)
Brown @ Cornell (Saturday, Noon on ESPN+)
Richmond @ High Point (Saturday, Noon on ESPN+)
Princeton @ Harvard (Saturday, 1 PM on ESPN+)
Boston University @ Lehigh (Saturday, 3 PM on ESPN+)
Virginia @ Syracuse (Saturday, 4 PM on ESPNU)
Maryland @ Johns Hopkins (Saturday, 6 PM on ESPNU)