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  • Chris Jastrzembski

Bracketology 6.0: We're in the home stretch

456 of 492 regular season games down, only 36 games to go. We've completed 92.7% of the regular season with what really is the final week of the regular season happening this week. Duke-Notre Dame caps off the regular season next Saturday. And a day later, it's Selection Sunday!

The Big Ten opens up their conference tournament with their quarterfinals on Saturday. Maryland and Rutgers are the top two seeds and have earned byes. #5 Penn State will take on #4 Johns Hopkins, while #6 Michigan faces off against #3 Ohio State for a second straight week.

This past weekend decided a lot of teams to move on to their respective postseason conference tournaments. Those teams and conferences (excluding the no conference tournament ACC and everyone making it in the Big Ten):

  • America East: Binghamton, UAlbany, UMBC, Vermont

  • ASUN: Air Force, Bellarmine, Robert Morris, Utah

  • Big East: Denver, Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova

  • CAA: Towson

  • Ivy League: Nobody

  • MAAC: Manhattan, Marist, St. Bonaventure

  • NEC: Bryant, LIU, Saint Joseph's

  • Patriot League: Army West Point, Boston University, Bucknell, Lehigh, Loyola, Navy

  • SoCon: High Point, Jacksonville, Richmond, VMI

There's still three spots open in the CAA, all four spots open in the Ivy League, and one open spot in both the MAAC (either Monmouth or Siena) and the NEC (more than likely Hobart but could be Mount St. Mary's).

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. Georgetown, Princeton, and Virginia are some of the teams that could stop the Terps come May.

Automatic Qualifiers 6.0

We'll take the 1st place team in each conference and call them our AQ. If there's a tie between multiple teams, we'll go through the necessary tie-breaking scenarios for the respective conference. 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 25).

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 6.0

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.

Six Ivies In?

Thanks to Brown's recent surge and Harvard getting a huge win at home over Princeton, along with struggles from the ACC, there remains a legit possibility of SIX Ivy League teams in the NCAA Tournament.

Brown, Cornell, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Yale are all still alive to make the Ivy League Tournament. Nobody has yet claimed a spot into the conference tournament. All of those teams except Penn are 3-2, the Quakers are 3-3 and are done with conference play. Dartmouth, winless in Ivy League play, is the only team eliminated from postseason tournament contention.

All six of those aforementioned Ivy teams are in the top 11 in the RPI, half of them are in the top five. Duke and Notre Dame appear to be the two other teams looking for an at-large bid. They'll play each other in the regular season finale on May 7, one day before Selection Sunday. Both teams are in action on Sunday, as Notre Dame travels to Syracuse and Duke hosts North Carolina.

Bracketology Prediction 6.0

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:

  • Strength-of-schedule index

  • 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

  • Head-to-head competition:

  • 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: Notre Dame, Duke, North Carolina, Denver

Harvard moves into the NCAA Tournament thanks to their big win over Princeton. Ohio State is now the last team in the field instead of the second-to-last team in. Notre Dame moves into the first team outside the picture with their win over North Carolina, which feels like they're eliminated from tournament contention. It feels like Duke and Notre Dame will have to win both of their remaining games to stay in contention.

The play-in games are slightly altered this week. St. Bonaventure-Towson stays the same. But Vermont will now travel to Saint Joseph's to play the Hawks.

If we're looking at the four lowest automatic qualifiers, St. Bonaventure, Towson, and Vermont are still in that group. But Jacksonville now leads that pack at 23. Utah is now at 20. But as we saw last week, the Selection Committee really likes Jacksonville. I don't think Jacksonville gets into a play-in game scenario.

I also don't think Utah would be in a play-in game due to travel. If everything stays as is, a team would have to travel all the way to Utah to play on Wednesday. If the Utes win that game, not only would the losing team need to fly back home, but the Utes would also need to fly east to play one of the top two seeds before flying back home.

Games that matter this week

Here are important games to watch that will have tournament implications (all times Eastern):

  • Bryant @ Brown (Tuesday, 7 PM on ESPN+)

  • Saint Joseph's @ Penn (Tuesday, 7 PM on ESPN+)

  • Georgetown @ Villanova (Friday, 7 PM on FloSports)

  • Army West Point @ Boston University (Friday, 8 PM on ESPN+)

  • Cornell @ Princeton (Saturday, Noon on ESPN+)

  • Penn @ UAlbany (Saturday, Noon on ESPN+)

  • Harvard @ Yale (Saturday, 2 PM on ESPNU)

  • Michigan @ Ohio State - Big Ten Quarterfinals (Saturday, 6 PM on BTN)

  • Notre Dame @ Syracuse (Sunday, Noon on ESPNU)

  • North Carolina @ Duke (Sunday, 5:30 PM on ESPNU)

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