Maryland’s ACC tournament title was probably the most notable result of the weekend in lacrosse.
For the purposes of projecting a 16-team field, Penn State’s pummeling of Delaware was just as significant.
There’s a three-way tie atop the Colonial, and with RPI as a tiebreaker, Hofstra gets the nod. That opens up an at-large bid for a giant scrum of teams that aren’t particularly accomplished but could be dangerous on a given day.
While certainly not finalized, it seems likely the four ACC schools, the top three from the Big East (Notre Dame, Syracuse and Villanova), Johns Hopkins and Penn are in solid shape for at-large invites. Obviously, Penn could win the Ivy tournament, which would mean Cornell would be among those safely in the field.
That leaves one spot for one of the following teams: Army, Colgate, Delaware, Drexel, Harvard, Loyola, Massachusetts, Penn State or Yale.
The following chart, filled with RPI and schedule strength data courtesy of LaxPower, doesn’t do much to solve the question of who actually warrants an NCAA berth (top-5, top-10 and top-20 wins refer to RPI):
Well, doesn’t that look fun?
The one thing that stands out in that scrum is Army’s top-five victory, which came early in the season against Cornell. There’s only one other top-10 win in play (Delaware over Hofstra). Of the six other top-20 wins scattered among these teams, five came against sub-.500 Georgetown and Princeton. Oh, and Drexel beat Penn State to account for the other top-20 win.
Trying to differentiate between this bunch wouldn’t be an easy task, and perhaps someone will emerge in the next two weeks. For now, Army takes the last spot in this projected field —- even though it’s clear there’s no right answer to this quandary for the moment.
Here’s the full projection based on the best read possible of the selection committee’s criteria:
(1) Syracuse vs. METRO ATLANTIC/Siena
(8) Maryland vs. Penn
Syracuse can effectively lock up the No. 1 seed with a victory over Notre Dame on Saturday at the Dome. … Siena clinched its fifth consecutive 10-win season this weekend. Brian Brecht has quietly done a solid job building that program. … Maryland now has both an RPI and schedule strength of 11. Common sense says the Terps are seeded higher, but this is about what the numbers suggest. … Penn dispatched Saint Joseph’s and Dartmouth to improve to 8-4. With wins over Duke and Bucknell and great computer numbers, the Quakers are almost certainly headed to the tournament.
(4) IVY/Cornell vs. PATRIOT/Bucknell
(5) Johns Hopkins vs. COLONIAL/Hofstra
A Cornell-Bucknell pairing is almost too easy considering the committee’s geography concerns. Both teams will host their respective conference tournaments. … Bucknell has a top-10 RPI and a profile slightly better than Hofstra. The Bison could be in decent shape for an at-large even if they lose in the Patriot final. … Hopkins is like Maryland, hurt by typically solid teams (notably Navy and Towson) struggling this season. That could ultimately damage the Blue Jays’ seeding. … If Hofstra fell in the CAA tournament, it could still be the king of the near-bubblers. It owns victories over Colgate, Harvard, Drexel and Massachusetts.
(3) Duke vs. Army
(6) Villanova vs. North Carolina
Duke has a top-five RPI, the country’s best schedule strength and victories over every ACC team. The Blue Devils are poised to wind up with a better bracket placement than a year ago, when they won it all as a No. 5 seed … Army’s getting this slot based on its win over Cornell. Of course, Brown possessed probably the best win among the bubble teams last year. Little good it did the Bears. … The treatment of Villanova will be fascinating. The Wildcats’ five best victories: Penn, Princeton, Penn State, Drexel and Delaware. Not an overwhelming resume despite solid numbers. … North Carolina still has a chance to work its way back into the conversation for hosting a first-round game, but it will need to beat Notre Dame in its regular season finale to do so.
(2) Notre Dame vs. AMERICA EAST/Stony Brook
(7) Virginia vs. ECAC/Denver
The Irish close with trips to Syracuse and North Carolina; their seeding is very much at stake in the next two weeks. … Stony Brook clinched home field in the America East tournament this weekend … Virginia isn’t playing particularly well; it has dropped four of five and needed overtime for the lone victory in that stretch. But the Cavaliers have a great profile and victories over Cornell, North Carolina and Stony Brook. If they add a win over Penn on Saturday, they’ll open the postseason at home. … The Pioneers have everything working for them except strength of schedule. That’s enough to cost them a home game. Still, a trip to Charlottesville would make for one of the most fascinating first-round games since the tournament expanded to 16 in 2003.
—- Patrick Stevens