(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics)
In three days the calendar turns to April, which means the final stretch of the regular season begins in college lacrosse. Across the landscape, every conference except for the ASUN, Big East, and CAA have begun league.
With that, it’s time to start taking a look at bracketology for the 2022 men’s DI lacrosse season.
How It Works
Here is a refresher as to how the NCAA Tournament works for those of you who may be unaware or have forgotten. The 2022 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament will feature eight seeded teams and 10 non-seeded teams. Those teams will make up the 18-team bracket.
10 teams will be automatic qualifiers (AQ) and those 10 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 10 AQ’s, that leaves eight spots for at-large selections.
With the return of the ASUN on the men’s lacrosse scene, the tournament returns to two play-in games featuring the bottom four teams. The winners of those games will have to face the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the first round.
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.
You can find the official NCAA pre-championship manual here.
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 the moment. For the leagues that have yet to begin play, the team with the best overall record or highest RPI rank is listed. Where there is a tie at the top of a conference, highest RPI is used.
|Conference||Team||Record||Conference Record||RPI Rank||SOS Rank|
|Patriot League||Boston U.||7-1||4-0||12||30|
* Bryant, Saint Joseph’s, and LIU each have 2-0 conference records.
Possible At-Large Selections
As previously mentioned, after those 10 automatic qualifiers are set in stone, there are still eight other teams that will get in via at-large berths. This portion of the selection process is always fun, but maybe even more so this year with how tight things have seem to be across the landscape.
For this section this week, we are listing 14 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.
|Conference||Team||Record||Conference Record||RPI Rank||SOS Rank|
|Big Ten||Ohio State||6-3||0-1||11||9|
|Big Ten||Johns Hopkins||5-5||1-0||13||5|
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 at the moment. 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.
Ivy League – Five bids
ACC – Two or three bids
Big Ten – Two bids
ASUN – One bid
Big East – One bid
Patriot League – One bid
America East – One Bid
CAA – One Bid
MAAC – One Bid
NEC – One Bid
SoCon – One Bid
Projected Bracket 1.0
Last Four in: Ohio State, Rutgers, North Carolina, Cornell
First Four out: Johns Hopkins, Brown, Duke, Notre Dame
Who’s Living on The Bubble and Who’s Out?
As usual, the bubble is a little larger and in many ways still gaining its shape at this point in the season. However, just as there are programs that have likely shored up any doubt as to whether they are tournament-quality, there are just as many, if not more, that still have something to prove and could see their seasons go in different directions.
While the Ivy League has been the most intriguing conference to date, due to how successful its teams have been out-of-conference and how competitive the first two weekends of league play have been, many have their eyes on the ACC and are looking at how many teams the conference may get it. Above, I said two or three is the likely number. I’m inclined to believe that will hold.
Virginia looks to be firmly in at the moment and North Carolina looks to be the second-safest ACC, although that could change. Duke hasn’t looked good recently and is coming off a loss to a Syracuse team that seems to be improving. If these teams continue the way they are, it would be a complete 180, in many respects, from the way each were viewed after the first few weeks of the year. Notre Dame may be the most interesting case, though. They are sub .500 at the moment, which would hold them out of an at-large bid. The Irish face Syracuse this weekend in one of two matchups with the Orange. They will also play Duke twice and North Carolina once, and they also have a non-conference game against Marquette left as well.
Playing two teams twice is supposedly a helping hand for the ACC as a whole when it comes to at-large selection. Over the next month, we’ll see just how accurate that assessment is and which team, or teams, can benefit from that schedule quirk the most.
The Big East could play bubble-burster again with Denver and Villanova both sitting on the outside looking in right now. But given what those teams have shown recently, a win over Georgetown by either could put them into much more serious consideration for an at-large pick. And if either the Pioneers or Wildcats win the Big East and Georgetown didn’t fall down to being out of the tournament, it would be another edition of May chaos served by the conference.
Ohio State and Rutgers are among my last four in at the moment, although it’s likely the case that the Buckeyes are in much more trouble than the Scarlet Knights. If Rutgers runs through the rest of the Big Ten, with exception to Maryland, they are likely still in. Ohio State on the other hand might be walking a thin line after their blowout loss to Rutgers on Sunday. Another loss to a Michigan or Johns Hopkins and their at-large hopes may be gone, thus the only path for them would be a Big Ten title.
The Patriot League right now looks to be a one-bid league at the moment with Boston U. getting the AQ if the season ended today. But none of Army, Lehigh, or Loyola have played the Terriers yet. Army and Loyola played last week and the Black Knights won. Things could get messy in that league, as usual. Will we see a Patriot League team sneak in like Loyola did last season?
Any teams in the four aforementioned conference that get hot and end up playing the role of bubble buster, would likely impact the Ivy League. I have them with five bids right now, but I don’t see that sticking. On Selection Sunday, I would expect four Ivies, at the most, to hear their names called.