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On the Bubble: Tuesday Tournament Update

Who is on the Bubble?
Who is on the Bubble?

With only 16 teams making the tournament in Division I lacrosse, we know that some good teams will get the snub in 2011.  Year in and year out we see some top ranked teams on the brink of making the tournament, but Automatic Qualifiers and Strength of Schedule have hurt them. This leads to the question, are they really a top team?

Like any other year, we will see some snubs and we as fans will have some questions but as for today, Tuesday April 26th, it is all speculation as to who the top eight seeds will be and where the rest will fall.  With two weeks left in the season, some teams need big wins to close out the year and strong showings in their conference tournaments.

Some people will debate that a strong loss means more than a win.  I disagree.  A team like Bucknell who sits at 12-2, deserves an invite to the tournament but the strength of their wins are just so-so. 

Lets start with the Army Black Knights.  Coach Joe Alberici's team sits at 9-4 on the year and sit at 16/17 in the country.  With a 4-2 recrord in the Patriot League, the Black Knights will be in the running to take home to AQ from the Patriot League. 

With a huge win early in the season against Cornell, no other win really jumps out at you.  I am a strong believer that wins count more than losses.  Some will argue that the Knights have lost to UMass, Bucknell, Syracuse and Colgate, and those losses should count for something more than their lone win against Cornell.

A huge opportunity lies ahead this weekend as the Black Knights take on Johns Hopkins in a game that could jettison Army from on the bubble to in the tournament, even without the Patriot League. 

This has been a team that sort of went under the radar in terms of nobody really knowing they were only 9-4.  With a top player in Jeremy Boltus, a top goalie in Tom Palesky, young attackman Garret Thul and long stick midfielder Tim Henderson, this team isn't done yet.  I can assure you that.

Again, on the debate of whether a loss means more than a win, North Carolina is on the bubble as of now. Yes, wins over Penn and Maryland look very good as of right now (Maryland just won the ACC title) but an early season loss to Ohio State is hurting them.  Wins over Robert Morris and Princeton aren't meaning what people thought they might have early in the season.

The 'Heels are ranked ninth in the country and losses to Duke, Hopkins, and Virginia are respectable, but if we look at the record, five losses and a 1-2 in-conference record is questionable.  If we base rankings of wins, UNC is a topic up for debate.

Let's look at Bucknell and their resume.  They sit at 12-2 and are ranked 12th in the country.  A midseason loss to Robert Morris will be what doubters will point to but wins over Villanova, Army, Penn State, and Colgate are all enough reason for Bucknell to make the tournament.  Obviously, a win in the P.L. tourney and they are in.

So that leads to the question of Colgate?

Can the Patriot League really have three teams that make it into the tournament?  This is where teams like Colgate and Army need a P.L. tournament win to make it in because then it makes the case for the remaining teams (Bucknell and Colgate/Army) much stronger.

Colgate has a record of 9-4 with only a major win over Army.  In my mind, they don't make it.

What about the Ivy league?  We know Cornell is a top-eight seed.  That narrows it down to teams like UPenn and Yale. 

UPenn is 13th in the country with a record of 8-4.  A bit of a roller coaster season, UPenn came out of the gates with a huge win over Duke then followed that up with a win over Bucknell.  Losses to Villanova and UNC won't exactly hurt their resume, but the Brown loss three weeks ago will.  Nonetheless, a major run in the Ivy League tournament and UPenn can stamp their name in the 2011 tournament.  Not to mention a win this weekend over Virginia.

As for Yale, they sit at 10-2 but with a very weak strength of schedule.  Losses to Cornell and Penn don't look bad, but their wins just don't jump out at you.  They beat up Georgetown last weekend, but Georgetown isn't much of a win in 2011.  Yale will be left out of the tournament.