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Archive for May 8, 2019

May 8, 2019 — Women’s lacrosse’s “First Four” is a bad idea

Yesterday, the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse championship got under way with Atlantic Sun champion Jacksonville beating Southern Conference champion Mercer, while Wagner, the Northeast Conference champions, beat MAAC champion Fairfield. The winners were sent to two of the top-eight seeds in what was an established 26-team bracket.

What yesterday’s games, what we’ll call the “First Four,” did was kill off two conference champions right from the get-go and send two more against mid-level seeds, but some pretty tough teams in Princeton and Michigan.

For the life of me, I can’t understand exactly how the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament committee dreamed this up. It’s not exactly like field hockey, where play-in games cut the field to exactly 16 teams, meaning that everyone else had to win four straight matches to win the national championship.

But it’s also not a straight-up 28-team bracket where only the top four teams got a bye into the second round. That would have been appropriate this season as Boston College and Maryland have been the best two sides all season, although No. 3 seed North Carolina beat BC in the ACC Tournament, and No. 4 seed Northwestern beat Maryland in the Big Ten final.

Instead, you have a situation where you have six teams which need only win four games to win the NCAA final, and two (Wagner and Jacksonville) would need to win six games in order to win the title.

I don’t think that’s fair, do you?