2021 DI NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Bracketology 2.0

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics)

As of today (April 20th), we are 19 days away from Selection Sunday and have just two weeks left in the regular season. But while we are in the home stretch, there is still much to be determined in the last few weeks and we will certainly see some more shake-ups, as far as bracketology is concerned, just as we did this past weekend.

So, without further ado, here is the second installment of the Lacrosse Bucket bracketology series for the season.

ICYMI: Bracketology 1.0 (4/12)

How It Works

As always, here is a refresher as to how the NCAA Tournament works for those of you who may be unaware or have forgotten. The 2021 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament will feature eight seeded teams and eight non-seeded teams. Those teams will make up the 16-team bracket.

Eight teams will be automatic qualifiers (AQ) and those eight will all be conference champions. Remember, the ACC does not have an AQ because a conference needed six teams to qualify for an AQ. The ACC only has five teams. With eight AQ’s, that leaves eight spots for at-large selections.

Now how does the NCAA selection committee pick teams for at-large bids and seed teams for the tournament? According to the committee, they consider a multitude of things. The committee looks at record, strength of schedule index (based on team’s 10 highest-rated games), RPI results, average RPI wins and losses, head-to-head results, record against ranked teams (1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, and 21+), significant wins and losses, location of games, results versus common opponents, and any polls do not matter. 

However, because of the uniqueness of this season, the selection process will be more different than ever before. For instance, the Big Ten opted for a conference-only schedule whereas the ACC allowed their teams to play non-conference games. Because of such instances, the committee will likely be relying more heavily on the eye test and feedback from their regional advisory committee, which is made up of 10 coaches.

Projected Automatic Qualifiers

We still have a lot of lacrosse to be played, but if the tournament started today this is what the AQ situation would look like. These selections are based on best conference record at this moment.

ConferenceTeamRecordConference RecordRPI RankSOS Rank
America EastStony Brook8-36-12115
Big EastGeorgetown9-18-11334
Big TenMaryland9-09-0638
Patriot LeagueLehigh8-07-0 (4-0)*962
NECSaint Joseph’s6-36-01732

^Monmouth and Quinnipiac have the same conference record, however Monmouth won the head-to-head matchup between the two.

*The Patriot League has split into two divisions this season: North and South. Record in parentheses is division record.

Data from Laxbytes.com – 4/19.

Possible At-Large Selections

While its always interesting who gets chosen as an at-large selection, it will be even more interesting this season given all the differences in scheduling from team to team and conference to conference. And, as always, any upsets in conference tournaments could change at-large selections drastically.

For this section we are listing 18 teams that are in contention for a possible at-large bid after removing the projected AQs. Teams are listed in order based on their RPI rank. However, that number really doesn’t mean much this season at all. And as always, some of these teams listed have little to no chance of getting unless they get an AQ.

ConferenceTeamRecordConference RecordRPI RankSOS Rank
ACCNorth Carolina9-22-212
ACCNotre Dame6-12-147
Patriot LeagueArmy West Point6-24-1 (2-0)*56
Big TenRutgers7-27-21142
Big EastDenver9-37-1149
America EastVermont5-35-12228
America EastUAlbany6-34-22323
America EastUMBC6-25-22451
Patriot LeagueNavy4-22-2 (1-2)*2543
Patriot LeagueLoyola5-53-3 (3-1)*268
Big TenOhio State4-54-53440

*The Patriot League has split into two divisions this season: North and South. Record in parentheses is division record.

Data from Laxbytes.com – 4/19.

Bids Per Conference

Before getting into what I think the bracket could look like at this time, let’s take a look at how many bids each conference could receive. There are a few conference that are sure to get multiple bids while other may get just get one bid. Some of the bottom conferences will obviously only get that one AQ, as usual.

ACC – Five Bids

Big East – Two Bids

Big Ten – Two Bids

Patriot League – Two Bids

America East – One Bid 

CAA – One Bid

MAAC – One Bid

NEC – One Bid

SoCon – One Bid

Projected Bracket 1.0

Last Four In: Army West Point, Denver, Rutgers, Syracuse

First Four Out: Loyola, Ohio State, Navy, Drexel

Who’s Living on The Bubble and Who’s Out?

As things currently sit, Army, Denver, and Rutgers appear to be pretty safe. Georgetown also looks much safer than they did a week ago after beating Denver and taking over that AQ spot at the moment. Additionally, it’s likely that they won’t need to rely as heavily on that season-ending Loyola matchup, which has lost some luster in recent weeks, to boost their resume. Unless either team loses out the rest of the way, the Hoyas and Pioneers should both make the tournament.

Syracuse, who I currently have as the last team in, and Loyola have done the most to hurt their at-large chances over the past week. Syracuse needs to win, at least, one of their last two games against Virginia and Notre Dame and can’t suffer another embarrassing, blowout loss if they want to get in. Loyola, unless they go on a magical run and grab that Patriot League AQ, will likely need to rely heavily on that Georgetown matchup to end the season to up their resume. They need that win if they want even a chance at getting an at-large spot.

Both the America East and CAA have been very tight all season, and while Stony Brook and Delaware sit atop each of those conferences, anything can still happen to shake up that AQ spot, which will very likely be the only bid for either league unless something goes off the rails in one of the current multi-bid conferences. So, as far as conferences to keep your eyes on, those two are it. Also, with Marist getting back on the field for the first time in 37 days and how tight the MAAC usually is, that is also a conference worth watching as they are in a similar boat as the America East and CAA.

Ohio State and Navy appear to be the only two teams that are nearly 100% out at the moment. It would seriously take some craziness for either to get in as an at-large The Buckeyes are the third-best team in the Big Ten and really have no path but a cinderella Big Ten Tournament run. Navy, while out of the Patriot League Tournament unless a format change is indeed made (wink, wink), might have a better chance than Ohio State – but it is still a very small one. While the Midshipmen’s win over Loyola last weekend does help their resume and a win over Army this weekend would be huge, they would still likely need a miracle to get in as an at-large.

Update: The Patriot League has changed their conference back to six teams.

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