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College Crosse Bracketology: Maybe a bit too early?

We’re a month away from Selection Sunday. Buckle up.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Preview David Wallace-USA TODAY Sports

Two thoughts went through my mind earlier in the week: When would the first Bracketology post come in, and should I do a Bracketology series this year.

Someone read my thoughts because US Lacrosse Magazine and Inside Lacrosse came out with their first editions this past week. And so will I.

This season has been crazy once again, but not at the top like we had last year. This year, anyone ranked six down to 20 will give the selection committee headaches. We still have conference play to go and the conference tournaments, and anything could happen during those tourneys, just look at Marquette the past two seasons.

Automatic Qualifiers

There are only nine AQs, and you can thank the ACC for the odd number (please find a sixth team). For this, we’ll take the top team in each conference based off of conference record. If there’s a tie, we’ll go by overall record. If there’s still a tie, we’ll go by whoever has the highest RPI, according to LaxPower.

2018 Bracketology Automatic Qualifiers 1.0

Team Conference RPI SOS 1-5 Ws 6-10 Ws 11-20 Ws 21+ Ls Significant Ws Significant Ls
Team Conference RPI SOS 1-5 Ws 6-10 Ws 11-20 Ws 21+ Ls Significant Ws Significant Ls
Albany America East 1 4 2-0 (Maryland, Syracuse) 0-0 4-0 (Cornell, Harvard, Vermont, UMass) NA NA NA
Maryland Big Ten 2 1 1-1 (Villanova) 2-0 (Penn, Notre Dame) 1-0 (North Carolina) NA NA NA
Villanova Big East 4 10 1-1 (Yale) 1-0 (Penn) 1-0 (Penn State) Brown (27) NA Brown (27)
Yale Ivy League 5 6 0-1 1-0 (Penn) 2-1 (Cornell, UMass) NA NA Bucknell (15)
Bucknell Patriot League 15 25 1-0 (Yale) 0-1 1-0 (Loyola) Navy (23), Richmond (39) Yale (5), Loyola (11) Navy (23), Richmond (39)
UMass CAA 19 26 0-2 0-0 0-1 Army West Point (29) NA Army West Point (29)
Bryant NEC 33 49 0-1 0-0 0-1 Drexel (21), Boston University (38), Providence (44) Robert Morris (25) Boston University (38), Providence (44)
Furman SoCon 48 50 0-0 0-0 0-4 Sacred Heart (40), Canisius (50) Richmond (39) Canisius (50)
Canisius MAAC 50 63 0-1 0-0 0-0 Colgate (24), Hobart (43), Dartmouth (51) Furman (48) Dartmouth (51)
Data from LaxPower

Nothing should come as a surprise other than maybe the CAA and Patriot League. UMass gets the edge over Hofstra due to their conference record, and Bucknell gets the edge over Lehigh due to having a higher RPI. The Bison are making a very good case for a possible at-large team, but will an early season loss to Richmond hurt them?

At-Large Candidates

Eight more teams will be picked to join the nine qualifiers. There’s a wide belief that this year’s bubble is weak, and it appears to be true. But just because the bubble is weak doesn’t mean there’s plenty of fighting for the at-large spots.

2018 Bracketology At-Larges 1.0

Team Conference RPI SOS 1-5 Ws 6-10 Ws 11-20 Ws 21+ Ls Significant Ws Significant Ls
Team Conference RPI SOS 1-5 Ws 6-10 Ws 11-20 Ws 21+ Ls Significant Ws Significant Ls
Syracuse ACC 3 3 0-1 2-2 (Notre Dame, Duke) 1-0 (Virginia) NA NA Johns Hopkins (8), Rutgers (10)
Penn Ivy League 6 2 0-3 1-0 (Duke) 1-2 (Bucknell) NA NA Cornell (12), Penn State (20)
Notre Dame ACC 7 7 0-2 0-0 2-0 (Denver, Virginia) Michigan (22) NA Michigan (22)
Johns Hopkins Big Ten 8 12 1-0 (Syracuse) 1-0 (Rutgers) 1-2 (Virginia) NA Syracuse (3) Loyola (11), North Carolina (18)
Duke ACC 9 18 0-1 0-1 3-0 (Loyola, Denver, North Carolina) NA NA NA
Rutgers Big Ten 10 9 1-0 (Syracuse) 0-1 0-0 Army West Point (29), Princeton (36) Syracuse (3) Army West Point (29), Princeton (36)
Loyola Patriot League 11 14 0-0 1-1 (Johns Hopkins) 0-2 NA Johns Hopkins (8) Bucknell (15), Virginia (17)
Cornell Ivy League 12 8 0-2 1-0 (Penn) 1-0 (Penn State) Colgate (24) Penn (6) Colgate (24)
Harvard Ivy League 13 32 0-1 0-0 1-0 (UMass) Holy Cross (41) NA Holy Cross (41)
Denver Big East 14 33 0-0 0-2 1-0 NA NA NA
Vermont America East 16 48 0-1 0-0 0-0 NA NA NA
Virginia ACC 17 15 0-1 0-2 1-0 (Loyola) NA Loyola (11) NA
North Carolina ACC 18 5 0-1 1-1 (Johns Hopkins) 0-1 Hofstra (28), Richmond (39) Johns Hopkins (8) Hofstra (28), Richmond (39)
Penn State Big Ten 20 11 0-1 1-0 (Penn) 0-1 Robert Morris (25) Penn (6) Robert Morris (25)
Michigan Big Ten 22 13 0-2 1-1 (Notre Dame) 0-0 NA Notre Dame (7) NA
Robert Morris NEC 25 52 0-0 0-1 1-0 (Penn State) Georgetown (31), Bryant (33) Penn State (20) Georgetown (31), Bryant (33)
Lehigh Patriot League 26 22 0-0 0-1 0-1 Navy (23) NA NA
Data from LaxPower

In this, I included a few teams that shouldn’t really be in this discussion, such as Vermont and Robert Morris.

Syracuse, Penn, Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Rutgers, Loyola, and Cornell are certainly contenders at this time. But none of them should breathe easy just yet.

Harvard, Denver (that’s weird to type), Virginia, North Carolina, and Penn State are still in it, but need to do some work to solidify their cases. Harvard still has the meat and potatoes of their Ivy League schedule left, with Cornell, Penn, and Yale all on the road (Princeton is at home). Denver does not own a top 20 win yet, but could get a potential top five or top 10 win this weekend against Villanova on the road. It’s been 1,497 days since Virginia won an ACC game, so that takes care of the Cavaliers. North Carolina is free falling on a five-game win streak and a win over the Cavaliers would help them stay afloat, but not by a lot. Penn State needs to be very impressive during Big Ten play and hope that Grant Ament returns to the field very soon.

As for the four other teams, Vermont and Robert Morris are in one-big leagues, but I wanted to show their resumes despite having good seasons. Michigan would need an Iditarod-like run and not only beat Rutgers, Ohio State, Johns Hopkins, and Penn State, but also probably win the Big Ten Tournament. Lehigh does have a small path for a potential at-large bid with Loyola and Cornell at home, followed by a road game against Bucknell before the Patriot League Tournament. I still think the Mountain Hawks would need to win the PL Tournament in order to get in.

Bracketology Prediction 1.0

Before I unveil what I have, here’s the rundown of the bracket, as best described by Patrick Stevens:

  • The committee seeds the top eight teams and then assigns the unseeded teams based on geography in an attempt to limit air travel while trying to maintain bracket integrity.
  • Conference matchups are to be avoided in the first round.
  • If applicable, quarterfinal host schools are funneled into their own site. Hofstra and Navy are this year’s quarterfinal hosts.
  • Of the nine automatic qualifiers, the two with the weakest resumes are assigned to the preliminary round game the Wednesday before the first round. At-large teams are not selected for play-in games.

Here we go:

Last Four In: Rutgers, Cornell, Penn, Loyola
First Four Out: Denver, Virginia, North Carolina, Penn State

Two backyard brawls with Hopkins-Loyola and Nova-Penn? Hey, it’s a cheap way for the committee to save teams from traveling. And plus, it’s very possible given how the bubble looks.

As I said above, there’s still time for everything to change. A team like Denver could get a big win against Villanova and also win the Big East, thus possibly bumping one team out of the picture. We’ll learn much more about these teams this weekend.

I really think Penn needs to do the most work. Despite having the second toughest strength of schedule in the nation and a sixth ranked RPI, they’re 5-5. They should beat Dartmouth and St. Joe’s, but if they lose to Brown and Harvard, it doesn’t look good for the Quakers. The SOS has its limits.