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  • Chris Jastrzembski

2023 College Lacrosse Bracketology 3.0: There's hope below the top 10 in RPI?

We've played 353 of 510 regular season games so far, roughly 69.2% (nice). We've entered April, the temperatures are rising, and so is the pressure for everyone in college lacrosse.

Some big games are on the schedule: Virginia-North Carolina, Michigan-Rutgers, Maryland-Ohio State, UMass-Richmond, Villanova-Denver, Duke-Notre Dame, and Johns Hopkins-Penn State are the ones that jump out the most. But that doesn't mean games such as Fairfield-Delaware or Cleveland State-Mercer don't matter, they sure do for their conference AQ races. Those listed games are going to matter in the at-large discussion.

Take a look at what I forecasted last week to compare with what you're about to see. And as a reminder to check out the primer I wrote back in March.

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.

Notre Dame remained the top team in RPI, but there is a change atop that ranking. Yale still had the toughest strength of schedule, and that has also changed to a team that shouldn't surprise you.

Automatic Qualifiers 3.0

Since most conferences haven't played many conference games, 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 April 7). When we get deeper into conference play, we’ll revert to the team with the best conference record, probably in another week or two.

AQ Changes: Johns Hopkins takes over the Big Ten AQ from Maryland, Georgetown takes over the Big East AQ from Denver, Army West Point takes over the Patriot League AQ from Loyola, Utah takes over the ASUN AQ from Jacksonville

At-Large Candidates 3.0

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.t

The Biggest Movers

What a jump in RPI for Penn this weekend. Previously at 16, the win over Yale vaulted them to seventh in the metric. The Quakers now have the toughest strength of schedule in the country. And despite losing to Johns Hopkins, Rutgers moved from 14th in RPI to 11.

Meanwhile despite beating Holy Cross, Loyola's RPI doubled from eight last week to 16.

Bracketology Prediction 3.0

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 another week, here we go...

Last Two In: North Carolina, Loyola First Four Out: Rutgers, Yale, Denver, Ohio State

The last team in was down to Rutgers and Loyola. And despite losing head-to-head to Rutgers, I still put Loyola in due to having a pair of top six victories while Rutgers had none in the top 15. I'd be curious as to what the committee would value more in this situation. Could input from the RAC based on recent performance matter? If Loyola doesn't mess anything up, they're going to have a very intriguing resume come May.

Also of note: Since 2014, there has been an at-large team with an RPI of at least 15 or higher in the NCAA Tournament four times. The most notable was North Carolina at 17 back in 2016. They won the entire thing. Harvard was 15th in RPI last year and 16th in RPI in 2014.

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