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Nov. 12, 2017 — Three Final Fours, but a 13th team to think about

Yesterday, the field for next week’s NCAA Division I, II, and III’s grand jamboree next weekend in Louisville, Ky. were set.

In Division III, the presence of The College of New Jersey looms large, since the program has won 11 titles. Messiah, the defending champion, is also back in the Final Four, along with two-time champion Middlebury and a Franklin & Marshall side which has not made it this far in the tournament since 1983.

In Division I, Maryland and Michigan represent a surging Big Ten when it comes to field hockey aptitude, while North Carolina and No. 1 UConn make up the other half. All four are proven winners, having won 17 out of the last 30 national titles.

Which brings us to Division II. Shippensburg, East Stroudsburg, and Millersville have won the last four D-2 titles, while LIU-Post, a perennial player in women’s lacrosse, is seeing its first field hockey title after suffering three losses in the last four title matches.

But there is one team missing from the Division II bracket, in the humble opinions of many field hockey cogniscenti: West Chester. The Rams won the PSAC postseason tournament and were on a good run of form in the latter third of the season. Yet, when the tournament committee exited its deliberations on Selection Sunday, the Rams did not make the field.

I know that making the bracket for any NCAA championship — whether it is the 68 of men’s basketball, the 64 of soccer and women’s hoops, or the simple six of Division II field hockey — is not easy work.

For some committees, it’s a matter of trusting the “black box” of data and statistics the NCAA forwards committee members receive when making their decisions. Other committee members may have a healthy skepticism.

But the lack of an AQ in Division II field hockey for either the PSAC or Northeast-10 champs is very much a puzzle. And it still will be long after the tournament is a distant memory.

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