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Archive for May 7, 2017

May 7, 2017 — Bracketology 2017 (albeit abbreviated)

The last couple of weekends, thirteen tournaments have been held from coast to coast to determine the 13 automatic qualifiers for the 2017 NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament.

This year, half the field will be qualifiers, and half the field will be at-large teams.

As is the case in field hockey, you’re likely to see a large group of at-large teams coming from two conferences: the ACC and the Big Ten, with a number of teams scrambling for the last spots.

So, who’s in?

As of right now, only North Carolina (ACC), Southern California (MPSF), and Florida (Big East) have won their way into the NCAA Tournament.

Who’s playing today?

Today sees ten finals, all scattered between Jacksonville, Fla. to Buffalo, N.Y. Here are the combatants:

Northeast Conference: Bryant vs. Wagner
Metro Atlantic: Canisius vs. Fairfield
Ivy League: Cornell vs. Princeton
Big South: High Point vs. Campbell
Atlantic Sun: Jacksonville vs. Coastal Carolina
Colonial: James Madison vs. Elon
Patriot: Loyola vs. Navy
Big Ten: Maryland vs. Northwestern
Atlantic-10: Massachusetts vs. Richmond
America East: Stony Brook vs. Albany

Which of these games are high-risk (i.e., only the winner is likely to make it into the NCAA field)?

Have to believe that the Northeast, Patriot, Metro Atlantic, Big South, Atlantic Sun, and Atlantic-10 are tipping point matches for the rest of the season. Only the winners of these games get in the NCAA Tournament.

Which of these games are low-risk (i.e., both teams are likely to make it into the NCAA field)?

The Big Ten final will feature Northwestern, which may only have a record of 10-8, but have a Ratings Percentage Index of 11. They’ll go in against the No. 1 Maryland Terrapins, who are in the field no matter what happens.

In the Colonial, James Madison (15th) and Elon (16th) are right next to each other in RPI ratings. I think both go no matter what happens.

In the Ivy, Princeton (4th in RPI) and Cornell (14th) are in.

And what of the others?

In the A-10, I think Stony Brook (No. 7 in RPi) is in no matter what it does. Albany (19th) could be significantly hurt with a loss because of where it is in the list of RPI teams.

How so?

Let’s assume that the highest-rated RPI teams (as of this morning’s calculations from win today’s ten championship games and get the resulting AQs. The next 13 teams are as follows:

5. Syracuse (ACC)
6. Penn State (Big Ten)
8. Pennsylvania (Ivy)
9. Colorado (MPSF)
10. Virginia (ACC)
11. Northwestern (Big Ten)
12. Boston College (ACC)
14. Cornell (Ivy)
16. Elon (Colonial)
17. Towson (Colonial)
18. Johns Hopkins (Big Ten)
19. Albany (America East)
22. Duke (ACC)

So, what happens with those last three or four teams?

Let’s list them, with their RPI calculations:

19 Albany 0.5969
20 Massachusetts 0.5947
21 Loyola 0.5936
22 Duke 0.5846
23 Notre Dame 0.5840
24 Denver 0.5783

The key match in the whole bracket, I think, is the America East final between Albany and Stony Brook. If Albany loses, they could fall out of the pool of At-Large teams; they are just four 1000ths of a point from falling behind Loyola. Mind you, Loyola needs to win as well or else they are going to lose RPI points in relation to Duke and Notre Dame.

So, where’s the cut line?

At this moment, it’s at 22nd place. I believe Notre Dame makes it into the field if Albany beats Stony Brook and Navy beats Loyola. But that’s if the tournament committee goes with RPI ratings.

Surely the Ratings Percentage Index isn’t the only measure to use in choosing at-large teams, isn’t it?

No, it isn’t. There are certain other criteria that NCAA selection committee is allowed to use, including strength of schedule, the performance the last few games of the season, and key wins and losses.

While the NCAA field hockey committee often goes “straight chalk” when it comes to the RPI ratings, the women’s lacrosse committee has often strayed from the RPI, bringing sometimes as many as two teams from below the lowest-ranked RPI team into the field.

It’ll be an interesting few hours until the selection show, that’s for sure.