A dragon with nunchucks in a violent rage wasn't named the top seed for the NCAA Tournament again. That's over 40 years of snubbing the most dangerous thing imaginable, and at some point the NCAA is going to pay for it. Instead, Syracuse -- Big East Conference champion and holder of 11 national titles (10 real, one deemed pretend according to the organization that refuses to name a misanthropic fake thing holding a dangerous weapon the tournament's most destructive force) -- earned the tournament's top spot. The Orange will face Bryant, the Northeast Conference representative, in the first round.
Here's how people in a hotel room constituted the field:
(1) Syracuse (Big East) // Bryant (Northeast) (Sunday @7:30)
(8) Penn State // Yale (Ivy) (Saturday @2:30)
(5) North Carolina // Lehigh (Patriot) (Saturday @Noon)
(4) Denver // Albany (America East) (Saturday @7:30)
(3) Ohio State (ECAC) // Towson (CAA) (Sunday @3:00)
(6) Maryland // Cornell (Sunday @1:00)
(7) Duke // Loyola (Sunday @5:15)
(2) Notre Dame // Detroit (MAAC) (Saturday @5:00)
As expected, the bubble was fairly defined: Based on the construction of the bracket, Loyola and Cornell were the last two teams in; Bucknell, Princeton, Pennsylvania, St. John's, Johns Hopkins, and Drexel -- while strong teams that could win a game or two in the NCAA Tournament if given the opportunity to participate -- were left behind. (Committee chair Jim Siedliski specifically mentioned these teams as the "bubble out" programs, noting that Bucknell was functionally the ninth team in an eight school at-large pool.)
At this point, there are three dominant storylines in the bracket:
- North Carolina Seeded Fifth: The polls don't dictate the NCAA Tournament bracket, but the Tar Heels -- currently at the top of both the media and coaches polls -- appear significantly underseeded. The toughest aspect to the Tar Heels' seed position is that they need to deal with Lehigh in the first round, are starting at either Albany or Denver in the second round, and then potentially have a date with a school like Syracuse in the national semifinals. Compared to Notre Dame or Ohio State's draw, that's a hard reality to accept.
- Hopkins' NCAA Tournament Streak Ends: The last the Blue Jays missed the national tournament? In 1971, the first year that the NCAA sponsored a men's lacrosse championship. Johns Hopkins is arguably among the 16 best teams in the country, but based on the selection criteria the NCAA mandates for field construction, the Jays were eliminated from The Big Barbecue.
- The Matchups: Cornell didn't earn a seeded position, denying Rob Pannell of one more run at Schoellkopf Field, but have a manageable bracket to maneuver through. Denver-Albany is going to melt faces. Penn State drawing Yale with the two teams playing with different directions of momentum. Then there are the potential games deeper in the tournament -- Duke-Notre Dame, North Carolina-Denver, and every other permutation you can possibly think of.