- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2012

The NCAA lacrosse committee’s annual evolution took it to one of its most basic tools last season, a development that could also influence the group’s work this year.

Committee chairman Tony Seaman, a special advisor to the athletic director at Towson, said the input of the sport’s regional advisory committee (RAC) grew a season ago and already has provided insight that will help with this year’s selection process.

“It gives us the coaches’ perspective more so than anywhere else we can get it,” said Seaman, whose committee will meet Saturday and Sunday in Indianapolis to choose and bracket the 16-team field, which will be unveiled Sunday at 9 p.m.

The RAC is composed of 10 coaches, one from each of the eight Division I conferences with at least six teams as well as two coaches from schools viewed as independents.

Traditionally, RAC members have submitted a top 20 and ranked the schools in their respective conferences, providing little additional input. Seaman, a longtime coach, said that changed after the group’s first conference call last year.

The committee wanted to know why coaches ranked teams as they did and urged RAC members to use the NCAA’s selection criteria rather than an arbitrary system. That’s continued throughout this season.

“We’ve had some unbelievable discussions in our first two calls,” Seaman said. “Why is this team No. 7 to one guy and No. 19 to another guy? How come nine of the 10 have a team in the top four, but the other one has them down at No. 6 or No. 8? What criteria are you using? It helps us understand everything.”

Some of the committee’s tools remain the same. RPI and a strength of schedule metric based on a team’s 10 best opponents remain important, as does the committee’s hope to have no more than two teams fly to first-round sites. The threshold for requiring a flight is a trip of more than 400 miles.

Then, of course, there’s selection and seeding, something the RAC can assist with but not entirely solve for the five committee members.

“We’ll have some tough decisions,” Seaman said. “I think the seeding will be tougher than anything.”

A league-by-league look at what the committee will face this weekend:

America East (1): Stony Brook will play host to Albany on Saturday for the league title. Neither team owns a winning record.

Atlantic Coast (4): All four ACC teams will safely be in the field. Duke, North Carolina and Virginia are essentially locks to host first-round games, while Maryland should be in good shape to do the same with a win at Colgate.

Big East (2-3): Notre Dame is a sure thing but lost to St. Johns on Thursday in the conference semis. Whoever wins the league final Saturday — St. Johns or Syracuse — will take the other spot.

Colonial (2-3): Unbeaten Massachusetts will play host to Drexel (8-7) in Saturday’s title game, with the Dragons requiring a win to extend their season. Penn State possesses a solid at-large profile despite losing to Drexel in the league semifinals.

ECAC (2-3): Loyola faces Fairfield on Friday in the conference final. The Greyhounds (13-1) are safely in the field, with the Stags (12-3) decidedly borderline. Denver, with its upset of Duke last week, has a credible at-large claim. Wednesday’s loss to Fairfield probably ended Ohio State’s hopes.

Ivy (1-2): There are no at-large certainties in the Ivy, though Princeton and Cornell could make a case if needed. Those schools are the top two seeds in a league tournament that begins Friday at Princeton.

Independents (1): Johns Hopkins will earn an at-large berth for the 41st consecutive tournament.

Metro Atlantic (1): Top-seeded Siena (10-4) is seeking its third NCAA bid in four years, but the Saints aren’t an at-large candidate.

Patriot (2): Lehigh (14-2) is in thanks to winning the league tournament. Colgate (12-3) is in solid position for an at-large and would be especially safe if it upends visiting Maryland on Saturday.

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