May 7, 2010

DaSilva: NCAA Division I Tournament Projections

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | updated 05/07/10 at 2:34 p.m.

Well, it didn't take long for Delaware to throttle my neatly-laid plans for Drexel to win the CAA championship. The emotional Blue Hens rode the hot hand and heavy heart of Noah Fossner to a victory over the Dragons in the semifinals, so Drexel must now be added to the pool of teams from at-large consideration.

See below for adjustments.

*****

With just five days remaining until Selection Sunday -- and a slew of crucial games before then -- here’s my best assessment of the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse tournament.

It looks like this one will go right down to the wire, with Sunday’s Ivy League championship game likely to stir up the ratings percentage index (RPI) at the last minute and leaving the selection committee precious little time to adjust.

Primary selection criteria:

* Strength of schedule index (based on team’s 10 highest-rated contests)
* RPI results (record against teams 1-5; 6-10; 11-20; 21+; average RPI win; average RPI loss)
* Head-to-head competition
* Results against common opponents
* Significant wins and losses (wins over higher-RPI teams; losses over lower-RPI teams)
* Locations of contests.

RPI Rankings (Source: NCAA; May 3)

1. Virginia
2. Maryland
3. North Carolina
4. Syracuse
5. Duke
6. Cornell
7. Princeton
8. Loyola
9. Stony Brook
10. Georgetown
11. Denver
12. Johns Hopkins
13. Hofstra
14. Towson
15. Yale
16. Drexel
17. Army
18. Notre Dame
19. Brown
20. Fairfield

21-60. Click here

Who’s in:
Virginia
Maryland
North Carolina
Syracuse
Duke
Loyola
Georgetown
Denver
Army
 
AQs to be determined (contenders in seed order):
America East (Stony Brook, UMBC, Albany, Vermont)
Colonial Athletic Association (Towson, Delaware, Drexel, UMass)
Ivy League (Cornell, Princeton, Yale, Brown)
MAAC (Siena, Mount St. Mary’s, Manhattan, Marist)

Important games

1. America East Tournament -- Stony Brook has dominated the America East this season, looking almost untouchable. But should the Seawolves get upset in their own conference tournament, they would almost assuredly warrant an at-large bid.

2. Johns Hopkins at Loyola -- Should the Blue Jays upset the Greyhounds, their strength of schedule would propel them into the NCAA tournament for the 39th straight year despite a mere .500 record. With Loyola in firm standing for an at-large bid, the Hounds could nab a seed and eliminate Hopkins from contention in one fell swoop.

3. Ivy League Tournament -- This is where it gets interesting. Regardless the results, Cornell and Princeton are safely in the tournament. But what about Yale? A semifinal win over Princeton would push the Bulldogs into a more comfortable spot on the right side of the bubble. Brown’s only way in would appear to be to the Ivy League’s automatic bid. It would not be earth shattering if the Bears did just that. So if that were the case, would we see four Ivy League teams in the tournament? Eh, probably not.

4. CAA Tournament -- The CAA is a victim of its own parity. As these teams have beaten each other up, their strength of schedule and RPI numbers have suffered. Despite a decent RPI (No. 14) Towson must win the CAA championship to make the tournament. Anything less would put the Tigers under .500. Drexel would appear to have at-large potential, but the Dragons don’t have the strength of schedule to stack up against any of the Ivies or Hopkins. That said, they do own head-to-head wins over Villanova, CAA foe Hofstra and Notre Dame. Hofstra did not qualify for the conference tournament, but ironically boasts the best RPI of any CAA team.

5. Georgetown at Villanova -- Despite a No. 11 ranking in the USILA coaches poll (which has no bearing on NCAA tournament selection), the Wildcats’ RPI ranking is way down there (compared to other potential bubble teams) at No. 21. An upset of the Hoyas might give Villanova the nod it needs.

DaSilva’s field

I’m picking Stony Brook to run the table in the America East, Johns Hopkins to complete its resurrection against Loyola, Princeton to win the Ivy League, Drexel to win the CAA and Georgetown to beat Villanova. I think Mount St. Mary’s will pull out the MAAC, too.

[UPDATE: Drexel lost in the CAA semifinals to Delaware (doh!), and thus enters the at-large discussion below. All other picks remain in play.]

Those results considered, here’s who would be in: Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Syracuse, Duke, Princeton, Cornell, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Denver, Stony Brook, Army, Drexel and Mount St. Mary’s.

That would leave one at-large berth for these teams on the bubble: Hofstra, Yale and Notre Dame.

Here’s how those teams would shake out based on the current standings.

 

Team RPI* SOS** vs. 1-5 vs. 6-10 vs. 11-15 vs. 16-20
Hofstra 13 24 0-0 0-1 2-0 2-1
Yale 15 39 0-0 0-2 0-0 1-0
Drexel 16 29 0-1 0-0 1-1 1-0
Notre Dame 18 12 1-1 1-1 1-0 0-2

 

 

 

 

 

* Source: NCAA
** Source: LaxPower (SOS using NCAA formula)

Head-to-Head
Drexel defeated both Hofstra (13-11) and Notre Dame (7-6 OT) this season. None of the other teams met head-to-head.

Common opponents – Hofstra vs. Yale
- Hofstra and Yale both lost to Princeton, 17-14 and 7-6, respectively.
- Hofstra and Yale both beat Brown, 14-12 and 14-11, respectively.
- Hofstra lost to UMass 11-9; Yale beat UMass 13-12.

Common opponents – Hofstra vs. Notre Dame
- Hofstra lost to Penn State, 11-10 (OT); Notre Dame beat Penn State 12-8.
- Hofstra and Notre Dame both lost to Drexel, 13-11 and 7-6 (OT), respectively.
- Hofstra and Notre Dame both beat St. John's, 13-4 and 13-6, respectively.

Common opponents – Yale vs. Notre Dame
- Yale and Notre Dame both beat Providence, 7-5 and 11-3, respectively.

Common opponents - Drexel vs. Yale
- Drexel and Yale both beat UMass, 12-6 and 13-12, respectively.

Common opponents - Drexel vs. Notre Dame
- Drexel and Notre Dame both beat St. John's, 11-4 and 13-6, respectively.
- Drexel and Notre Dame both lost to Villanova, 10-8 and 9-8, respectively.
- Drexel and Notre Dame both beat Penn State, 12-7 and 12-8, respectively.

Common opponents- Drexel vs. Hofstra
- Drexel and Hofstra both beat St. John's, 11-4 and 13-4, respectively.
- Dexel beat Penn State, 12-7; Hofstra lost to Penn State, 11-10 (OT).
- Drexel lost to Towson, 8-7; Hofstra beat Towson, 12-10.
- Drexel lost to Delaware twice, 10-6 and 15-12; Hofstra beat Delaware, 12-11.
- Drexel beat UMass, 12-6; Hofstra loss to UMass, 11-9.

If strength of schedule and significant wins factor as much as they have in the past -- despite Drexel's head-to-head victories over Hofstra and Notre Dame -- I'm still giving the nod to Notre Dame with its victories over Duke and Loyola (and despite its 0-2 record against teams in the 16-20 RPI range).

My view of the 16-team field, with the eight teams seeded and their first-round opponents based primarily on geography. (I was really tempted to project Bill Tierney and Denver at Princeton in the first round; how sweet would that be?)

1. Virginia vs. Mount St. Mary’s
2. Maryland vs. Drexel
3. North Carolina vs. Notre Dame
4. Syracuse vs. Army
5. Duke vs. Loyola
6. Princeton vs. Stony Brook
7. Cornell vs. Denver
8. Georgetown vs. Johns Hopkins

Maybe Loyola will stick a fork in Hopkins. Maybe Stony Brook chokes in the America East championship game. Maybe Towson and ‘Nova make me eat my words. Maybe Yale or Brown surges to the Ivy League title.

Massive RPI shifts and realignment of these picks would ensue.

That is, after all, why they play the games.


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