MD2 Bracket Breakdown: Just As We Suspected
|Le Moyne head coach Dan Sheehan
was hoping his team would get a No. 1 seed after two impressive
road wins against Merrimack and Adelphi over the weekend, but the
Dolphins capped out as a No. 3 seed in the North.
The Division II men's bracket expanded to eight teams this year and the regions pared down from three to two, but even with the new format, there was very little drama when the teams were announced on Sunday night. With no automatic qualifiers in D-II, there are no Cinderellas able to make a late season run and crash the party.
What we're left with is the best eight teams who have been doing it from start to finish this spring.
It's time to analyze the field. Here's the bracket breakdown.
The Top Seeds
In the South, it was Mercyhurst, which has been a slam dunk for a couple of months now. The Lakers posted a perfect 16-0 season and cruised through the inaugural ECAC tournament. In the North, Adelphi took a 7-5 loss in the finals of the Northeast-10 tourney on Sunday, but it wasn't enough to knock them off their perch atop the bracket.
Last Teams In
In the North, NYIT had the resume to outkick Merrimack for the final spot in the field. The Bears have won seven straight, and their hot streak was probably the difference in convincing the committee that they were the right fit at No. 4. In the South, it came down to Lake Erie and Pfeiffer, and on the strength of the Storm's win over Seton Hill in the ECAC semifinals, they got the nod.
First Teams Out
Merrimack in the North, Pfeiffer in the South. It came down to Friday's game against Le Moyne in the NE-10 semifinals for the Warriors, and the Dolphins proved too tough. Pfeiffer, which has been idle for several weeks, never managed to pick up the regionally-ranked victory that are so important on Selection Sunday.
Tough to say any team got snubbed. There might be some griping about seeding — Le Moyne head coach Dan Sheehan said on Sunday afternoon on the bus ride back from Adelphi that he thought the Dolphins should be the No. 1 seed in the North — but everything pretty much played out to form.
Best First-Round Game
There's not a bad game in the bunch, but the most intriguing is Seton Hill at Limestone in one of the South semifinals. Both programs love to get up and down the field and each has a heavy Canadian influence on their style of play. Goals should not be a problem when these two square off in Gaffney, S.C.
Seeded Too High
Again, things played out as expected. One could argue that Adelphi didn't deserve top billing in the North after losing in the finals of their conference tournament to Le Moyne, but who was going to fill the spot? With all due respect to Sheehan, the Dolphins weren't going to hop LIU Post. And Post lost to Adelphi head-to-head during the season. Everything made sense.
Seeded Too Low
In the South, Lake Erie might have an argument about not being ahead of Seton Hill after beating the Griffins in the ECAC semifinals, but the season-long accomplishments of both teams couldn't be ignored after just one game. And it's not like the seed would have made their path to the championship any easier.
After chewing up the best teams in Northeast-10 tournament, Le Moyne appears to rounding into its usual stingy postseasons self. The Dolphins held Merrimack to four goals and Adelphi to five, and haven't given up double digits in a month. That'll be a big challenge for LIU Post and its roster of young guns. The Pioneers have seen plenty of solid backlines this year, but nothing like Le Moyne when they are at optimum efficiency. Post is definitely on upset alert.
Best Potential Matchup
Limestone vs. Mercyhurst. The two biggest bullies in the South region didn't meet up this year in the regular season, but they could very well tangle in the regional finals. Both are playing their best ball heading into the postseason and have styles that would make for a very entertaining contest.
Three Players to Watch
Riley Loewen, Limestone, Sr. A
The face of the Saints, Loewen leads his team in both goals (46) and assists (32), and is a terror on the extra-man unit. Limestone is by no means a one-man show. Corey Rich (49 points) and Tor Reinholdt (42) have played huge roles this spring for the Saints. But J.B. Clarke's outfit will only go as far as Loewen takes them.
Greg Puskuldjian, Adelphi, Sr. FO
The Panthers will have a huge advantage at the dot against any team they match up against thanks to Puskuldjian. He is winning 68.4 percent of his draws this spring and has been critical in allowing Adelphi to run its style of lacrosse. Puskuldjian is helped by his able backup, Rashad Cureton (68.8 percent), and the two have combined to create a devasating one-two FOGO combo.
Matt Beccaris, LIU Post, Fr. A
The rookie hasn't needed much time to acclimate to the college game, leading the Pioneers in goals (34) and assists (14). He'll be the primary focus of every opposing defense in the postseason, which should create opportunities for Ryan Slane and Joe Costello.
Don't Be Surprised If...
The national semifinals feature just two conferences. While the seeds in the North have created a couple of ECC-Northeast-10 clashes, the chances that one of the conferences shows its domination of the region are pretty high. With three of the four teams in the South coming from the ECAC, the probability is even better that one league will rise to the top.