Women’s Lacrosse Bracketology: The Ripple Effects of AQ Thieves
Sat May 8 2021 | Jeremy Fallis | College
Saturday has the potential to be one of the most exciting of the season with eight champions set to be crowned. As such, the excitement is ratcheted up by bubble teams’ worst nightmares: bid thieves.
We have 12 teams on the bubble — the last four in (Rutgers, Towson, Penn State and Vanderbilt), the first four out (Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Colorado and Elon) and the next four out (UConn, Albany, Louisville and Saint Joseph’s). All 12 teams are hoping the favorites hold serve.
We will identify the potential bid thief, what it would mean and the level of concern the bubble teams should have about that happening.
Thief: Albany gets a third shot at Stony Brook.
Consequence: Albany would take an at-large bid from the bubble pool and Stony Brook would fall out of a seeding line.
Level of Concern: 3/10. Albany could turn the surprise, after all UMBC was frisky for one half against Stony Brook in the semifinals.
Thief: Liberty, which lost 22-11 earlier this season to Jacksonvile, would also steal a bid. Liberty was 0-2 against Jacksonville this season.
Consequence: Jacksonville would be squarely on the bubble. Few teams have the quality of the Dolphins’ early season victory over Florida. Jacksonville would also carry two significant losses to Coastal Carolina and Liberty. In our S-Curve, Jacksonville sits between Towson and Penn State.
Level of Concern: 2/10. Jacksonville is an overwhelming favorite, but a second bad loss would likely knock them out of at-large contention altogether.
Thief: UConn is the fourth team out as of now and dropped narrow games to Denver earlier this season.
Consequence: Denver would be in a similar position to Jacksonville. The Big East wasn’t quite strong; therefore, the chances to rack up big time wins were limited. The Pioneers have a non-conference victory over bubble squad Colorado, but nary a bad loss. They are just below Penn State and Vanderbilt in our S-Curve but might snag a bid.
Level of Concern: 7/10. UConn is good, and it’s difficult to beat a team three times in a season. Additionally, Denver has a strong case as an at-large team.
Thief: Colorado has a similar profile to Jacksonville — a quality win over a tournament team (Denver) but a couple significant losses to their name (Louisville, Arizona State and USC). Now those three losses aren’t that bad, but they do weigh down the resume a bit.
Consequence: Stanford hasn’t lost this season, and despite having just one victory over a Top 30 RPI team, the Cardinal should be in. The bubble would definitely shrink.
Level of Concern: 8/10. The Buffaloes are good enough to beat Stanford, which has squeaked by a few times this season, and is a strong candidate for an at-large bid.
Thief: Lehigh tries to win three-straight Patriot League tournament games for a surprise bid over league stalwart Loyola.
Consequence: Loyola would definitely be in the field of 29 and could possibly fall out of a seed line. An at-large spot would disappear.
Level of Concern: 5/10. Lehigh played Loyola tough in the regular season, falling 15-11, in a game that was closer than the four-goal margin. With that said, the Greyhounds haven’t dropped a game since Feb. 24.
If you pay attention to this space, you’ll see some shaking up of the bracketing this week. Generally, we follow the NCAA guidelines on geographical placement. In the current field of 29 we have projected, a minimum of five flights would be used, which is economically prudent. Nevertheless, that’s at the expense of bracket integrity, namely Furman (or Mercer, potentially), which is 29th in our S-Curve. The only predetermined site near Furman is North Carolina. This created the potential of a lower seed to face a quality at-large team (last week it was No. 8 Stony Brook hosting Penn State), when it should be facing a slightly lower ranked squad. It should be noted that Mercer would fly, as it’s more than 400 miles from Chapel Hill.
The 29th team should face the No. 4 team in the field, in this case Boston College. In today’s projection, we made the decision to put Furman in the BC pod and that gave flexibility to have the winners from the NEC, MAAC and Big South to play higher-ranked teams. That does create six flights, and the NCAA Selection Committee may elect to put forth just five flying teams or add another southern pod (currently No. 6 Drexel isn’t slated to host, therefore we have Maryland hosting a pod).
Note: First-place teams are listed as automatic qualifiers. In the event of a tie, the AQ goes to the highest rated team in the RPI. There are a total of 15 automatic qualifiers and 14 at-large teams to comprise a 29-team field. Significant wins include all teams in the RPI Top 30 and projected NCAA teams, significant losses are those RPI 31+. For the Big Ten and MAAC, we used significant wins as those over teams in the field and significant losses as those among the teams not being considered for at-large bids. All records are through May 2. * denotes Automatic Qualifiers.
Automatic Qualifiers (15)
|Jacksonville||15||79||1-0||1-0||5-1||Coastal Carolina (42)|
|Mount St. Mary’s||24||69||0-0||2-2||6-0||—|
|Furman||44||61||0-1||0-2||5-1||East Carolina (58)|
North Carolina will be the No. 1 seed and host an opening weekend pod … Drexel survived Towson’s upset bid and will be a seeded team … Northwestern went a perfect 12-0 against Big Ten teams. The Wildcats are a national title contender …
Stony Brook faces Albany for the America East crown. A win gets the Seawolves another step closer to a seed, while a loss puts that in jeopardy … Loyola hosts the Patriot League title game against Lehigh on Saturday … UMass will likely be placed in Boston College’s pod …
Florida will try to make it a clean sweep of Temple in the AAC title game in Gainesville. The Gators could hop into seeded position (and a hosting designation) with a win … Another favorite that is hosting a conference title game is Stanford against Colorado … Top-seeded Denver plays second-seeded UConn in what could be an all-or-nothing event in Washington, D.C. …
Jacksonville faces a must-win game against Liberty in the ASUN championship game in Kennesaw, Georgia. The Dolphins likely can’t afford a loss … Top-seeded Fairfield faces Siena, the only team it lost to this season, in the MAAC title game … Mount St. Mary’s hosts Bryant in the NEC championship game …
High Point took the Big South title and will likely face a seeded team in the first round … Robert Morris continues its perfect run through the MAC ahead of the NCAA tournament … Furman faces host and No. 3 seed Mercer in the Southern Conference title game.
At-Large (23 teams/14 spots)
|Virginia Tech||43||7||0-8||2-3||2-4||Louisville (31)|
|Elon||27||73||0-0||1-2||3-3||Virginia Tech (43)|
|Colorado||29||24||1-3||3-3||4-2||Louisville (31), Arizona State (33), USC (39)|
Syracuse (14-3) and Boston College were idle this week and remain seeded second and fourth, respectively … Notre Dame (9-6) looks to maintain its slot at No. 5, although the Irish could be passed by Drexel pending Sunday’s CAA championship game …
Maryland (9-6) is also idle after last week’s runner-up appearance in the Big Ten tournament … Temple (12-4) brushed aside Vanderbilt in the AAC semifinals to set up a title matchup with Florida … Hofstra (6-6) fell to James Madison in the CAA semifinals Friday evening and should easily be in the field …
Duke (9-7), Johns Hopkins (8-6) and Virginia (8-8) were all idle and await their at-large bids … James Madison (10-4) cruised into the CAA final to face Drexel …
Rutgers (6-8) will be the first of two teams we list with losing records projected in the field. The Scarlet Knights defeated Maryland, Johns Hopkins and Penn State each this season … Towson (9-8) nearly got off the bubble on Friday night but fell to Drexel in overtime. The Tigers finished the season 1-7 and are among the final four teams in our projected field …
Penn State (4-9) and Northwestern are the only teams to defeat Maryland more than once this season. One wonders if that will be enough … Vanderbilt (12-6) has just one win over a projected NCAA team and that’s Temple, a team it also lost to twice …
Ohio State (4-9) did sweep Penn State at home, but on common opponents and significant wins, Penn State still stays ahead … Virginia Tech (5-11) might be projected too high here as the second team out, but its win over Virginia is better than almost all the other bubble dwellers …
Elon (8-3) lost three of its final six, including crucial matchups to Virginia Tech and Towson in the CAA play-in game … UConn’s (12-5) has to beat Denver to make it in … Albany (11-6) lost to UConn earlier this season, holds a solid win over Hofstra, but needs to upset Stony Brook to get in …
Louisville (5-11) had 10 chances to win a game against Top 20 opponents and couldn’t get the job done … With Louisville’s RPI dropping a few spots, Colorado (8-6) now carries three significant losses on its resume. A win over Stanford in the Pac-12 title game is the only way in right now …
Saint Joseph’s (10-7) played a good schedule but couldn’t muster a resume-defining victory … Lehigh (9-3) is playing spoiler right now and trying to make the Patriot League a two-bid league.
The committee seeds the top eight teams. Predetermined sites are being used to host first- and second-round games. All other teams are unseeded and will be placed geographically to limit the number of flights, while keeping bracket integrity when possible.
The top three seeded teams will receive a bye into the second round and host one first-round game between two other teams. The remaining five seeded teams will be bracketed with three unseeded teams.
Conference matchups are to be avoided in the first round.
This year, there are 29 slots with 15 automatic qualifiers, unless the Ivy League declares a champion before Selection Sunday, which would make it 16. As it stands now, 14 at-large teams will be selected. There are no play-in games this season.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Virginia vs. James Madison
Winner plays at (1) North Carolina (ACC)
Stony Brook, N.Y.
Florida (AAC) vs. Penn State
Mount St. Mary’s (NEC) at (8) Stony Brook (AMERICA EAST)
Hofstra vs. UMass (A-10)
Furman (SOUTHERN) vs. (4) Boston College
Notre Dame, Ind.
Stanford (PAC-12) vs. Denver (BIG EAST)
Robert Morris (MAC) at (5) Notre Dame
Rutgers vs. Towson
Winner plays at (2) Syracuse
Temple vs. Johns Hopkins
High Point (BIG SOUTH) vs. (7) Loyola (PATRIOT)
Jacksonville (ASUN) vs. Vanderbilt
Winner plays at (3) Northwestern (BIG TEN)
College Park, Md.
Maryland vs. Duke
Fairfield (MAAC) vs. (6) Drexel (CAA)
Last Four In: Rutgers, Towson, Penn State, Vanderbilt
First Four Out: Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Colorado, Elon
Next Four Out: UConn, Albany, Louisville Saint Joseph’s
Moving In: N/A
Moving Out: N/A
Multi-bid Conferences: ACC (6), Big Ten (5), CAA (4), American (3)