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  • Chris Jastrzembski

2023 College Lacrosse Bracketology 1.0: The first look

We've played 267 of 510 regular season games down, roughly 52.4% of the regular season. Don't cry because it's almost over, smile because it happened.

The Big Ten Quarterfinals are roughly five weekends away. We're creeping closer and closer to the postseason. Which also means these are the games that count for everybody, including those in conferences that will only send one team to the NCAA Tournament. For teams like Bellarmine or Manhattan or NJIT, this is essentially their season. Reach the conference tournament and you have a chance to play into May.

We'll get into our first look at Bracketology this week, and as a reminder to check out the primer I wrote last week.

Nine out of the 10 Division I men's lacrosse conferences have automatic qualification status, down from 10 AQ conferences last season. Due to having fewer than the minimum six teams, the ACC does not have an AQ and also does not have a conference tournament.

We'll also return to one preliminary round game between the two lowest-ranked, automatic qualifying teams as determined by the Division I National Committee, regardless of conference RPI. The winner will take on the #1 overall seed.

The eye test and media polls say that Duke, Maryland, Notre Dame, and Virginia are the top tier of teams in the sport. But which one leads everyone in RPI? And how many of them are in the top five in RPI? This is why you're here.

Automatic Qualifiers 1.0

Since many conferences either haven't begun conference play or haven't played many conference games so far, we'll take the top team from each conference based on who has the higher RPI. RPI and Strength of Schedule data will come courtesy of Lacrosse Reference (all data entering March 24). When we get deeper into conference play, we’ll revert to the team with the best conference record.

At-Large Candidates 1.0

Eight more teams will be picked to join the nine automatic qualifiers. Those teams must have a record of .500 or better. Those eight teams will probably come all from the ACC, Big Ten, and the Ivy League. The Big East could also get an at-large bid.

The At-Large Update

In last week's primer, I listed 19 teams to focus on in the last month and a half or so. I didn't include Denver, but now it's time to do that.

Based on the data we have, Jacksonville is getting removed. Outside of Duke, their best win is High Point (RPI of 37). Utah is their toughest remaining opponent with an RPI of 28.

Typically, a team like Princeton wouldn't get featured since they're below .500 with no top 20 wins. But since it's the first iteration of this, they're getting featured. They're in huge trouble and have Yale this weekend before Cornell in the final weekend of the regular season. Princeton needs to win at least one of those two games, preferably both games.

Georgetown is also in big trouble and have a big stretch coming up with Lehigh (18) and Denver (15) before taking on Loyola (11) and Villanova (8) later the season. Currently their best win is Richmond (31). That's not great.

Speaking of big stretches, Ohio State is in the middle of one as we speak. They started with a win over North Carolina (10) but then lost three straight to teams in the top 10. They lost to Denver (15) last week and begin Big Ten play with Rutgers this weekend before playing Penn State, Maryland, and Johns Hopkins. That's brutal.

Bracketology Prediction 1.0

Before unveiling this week's prediction, here's the selection criteria directly from the Pre-Championship manual:

  • Eligibility and availability of student-athletes for NCAA championship

  • Win-loss record (must be at least .500 and have played at least 10 games against Division I opponents)

  • Strength-of-schedule index.

  • Results of the RPI:

  • Record against ranked teams 1-5; 6-10; 11-15; 16-20; 21+

  • Average RPI win (average RPI of all wins)

  • Average RPI loss (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 and losses against teams ranked lower in the RPI)

  • Locations of contests

Additionally, input is provided by the regional advisory committee for consideration by the Division I Men’s Lacrosse Committee. Coaches’ polls and/or any other outside polls or rankings are not used by the committee for selection purposes.

For the first time in 2023, here we go...

Last Two In: Johns Hopkins, Rutgers First Four Out: Denver, Penn, Ohio State, Georgetown

This is our early picture of how things might look. It certainly won't be the same in a few weeks. In last year's first projection, Maryland was a four seed. Virginia was a three seed and ended up unseeded. Lots of lacrosse left.

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