Friday, May 7, 2010

lacrosse bracketology

It's been a lacrosse kind of week, for obvious reasons, so let's just finish it up that way. The baseball team is off for final exams and the NCAA selection show for the lacrosse tournament is this Sunday, so this is a logical time for a little bracketology. I don't intend to be "Your Source For The Latest On The UVA Murders!" (imagine that in bright, bold text or neon lights and you'll see why I find that distasteful. Latest headlines: George Huguely Picked Wings Off Flies As A Child and Every School George Huguely Ever Attended Has Culture Of Evil - yeah, we're not going there until there's something worth talking about) so let's act like there's normal stuff going on.

With that in mind I present my tournament projection. There are some games left - notably several conference tournaments - but the NCAA has capricious ways of dispensing with the metrics when the metrics stand in the way of attendance figures and travel costs, so I actually think this is pretty solid. And I swear I didn't look at other sites' bracketologies before I did this - only the NCAA metrics. Without further ado and/or run-on sentences:

I did, of course, take a look at the selection criteria. This is, I think, unlikely to change a whole lot if certain predictions come true this weekend, namely:

- Loyola will beat Johns Hopkins. This will render the Hop ineligible by virtue of not finishing .500. A Hopkins win will throw this all into disarray and I'll have to redo it on Sunday. The likely effect of a Hopkins win would be to turn the CAA into a one-bid league.

- The following teams will win their conference tourneys this weekend: Towson, Stony Brook, Cornell, Siena. Towson and Drexel are probably strong enough to make it as an at-large, assuming no upsets in the Ivy, A-East, or the Loyola-Hop game. The MAAC is a one-bid league regardless of what happens and the winner will almost certainly face UVA, I think, barring an upset in the A-East. Stony Brook is an at-large even if they lose to Albany on Saturday, but that whole conference is such crap besides Stony Brook that it's terribly unlikely.

The NCAA only seeds the top eight teams for a reason: geography plays a role in the matchups. This allows teams to keep travel costs down, attendance to go up a bit, and it also allows the NCAA to fudge things so that the quarterfinal hosts don't play at their home stadiums. That in mind, the considerations that went into these matchups:

- By the NCAA metrics, I figure the last teams out are Brown and Yale, in that order; therefore they could both probably play their way into the show with a win in the Ivy tourney. The CAA loser and Notre Dame, in that order, are the teams at most risk of a fall.

- Princeton falls neatly into the 7th seed; Stony Brook is not as easy to keep out of their own stadium in the quarters. It'd be neat and easy to match them up with Cornell, but that's the Stony Brook side of the bracket. The other option would be to make Cornell the 5 seed - this would also serve to accomplish the NCAA's likely goal of not having an all-ACC Final Four - but the gap between the ACC/Cuse and the rest of the field is so huge you just can't justify that. You never know with the NCAA, but I opted for the minor injustice of shipping the Seawolves out to Duke instead.

- UVA is the brainlessly obvious #1 seed. The Hoos smoke everyone in every metric but one: average RPI of losses. It's hardly our fault we went around raising everyone's numbers in that one. Well, maybe it is, but it's definitely not our fault we didn't lose to ourselves, right? If there's one guarantee in this whole thing, it's UVA as the #1 seed.

- Army did us a big favor by winning the Patriot League, because it gave the committee an excellent candidate other than Siena to geographically match with Syracuse at #2. Siena, as with the rest of the MAAC, is crummy and worse than any other tournament team out there, so we get a ready-made #16 seed to take out some frustrations against. Even better for the NCAA and their geographical fixation if Mount St. Mary's wins that tourney.

- Speaking of Syracuse at #2: by the metrics, it really should be Maryland. There's no way the NCAA will want a reprise of the ACC tournament in Baltimore, though, and that's precisely what would happen if they seeded correctly and all the chalk won out. The way to prevent that is to make sure the 4/5 matchup is an ACC one, and the best way to do that is to make Syracuse the #2 seed. They have an easy excuse in that Syracuse only has one loss, and that's UVA's doing.

So there you have it. If the games this weekend go as planned, then I think you won't see much change from this. The games to keep an eye on if you want to see my projections nuked: Brown/Cornell, Yale/Princeton, Stony Brook/Albany, and Loyola/Hopkins.

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