Sunday, April 29, 2012

lacrosse bracketology

What a mess.  Lot of upsets this week.  Lot of teams acting like the tournament is something they could take or leave thank you very much.  And so two new teams enter the bracket this week.  One I told you very specifically to watch out for.  And one I stuck the dagger in a long time ago, buried, and threw the dirt on their grave, and yet they've risen from their tomb and make a new appearance.

Yes, the Ohio State Buckeyes refuse to die no matter how much you kill 'em.  (They're sort of like that everywhere else, too.)

The "last four in" is really a last three.  Penn State is solid.  The rest is a tough call.  Bucknell, RMU, Syracuse, and Cornell, you can get rid of fairly easily.  Only Cornell is even remotely close in the RPI to what it takes to get it.  Robert Morris is a nice story but their top three wins are OSU, Bryant, and.... I guess Air Force.  They haven't even been competitive in their three losses, either.

Villanova's a little harder to bounce, with stronger numbers across the board.  Except for a weak RPI.  They do have a 10-goal win over Lehigh, a decent SOS, and one of the best average RPI of their wins.  That said, THEY LOST TO PROVIDENCE BY FOUR GOALS.  When you become Providence's second win of the year, you don't get a tournament berth unless the only reason you lost was because you spent the whole week literally turning water into wine.

So that left Colgate, OSU, Denver, and Fairfield - four teams for three spots.  Colgate is relatively strong.  Good RPI, good quality wins factor, and they did beat Lehigh before losing to them today.  Wins over Bryant, RMU, Fairfield, and twice over Bucknell.  In a common-opponents comparison among the five teams considered for the final three spots (these four plus Villanova), after you remove all the teams they all lost to or all beat, Colgate is the only one without a loss in that bunch.  In.

Which leaves us with three ECAC teams for two spots.  Ohio State is 2-0 against them both and has at least decent numbers across the board.  And though people don't always like it that you can, in their words, "lose your way into the tourney," five of OSU's six losses are rock-solid tourney teams and they were competitive in four of those.  In.

That left it down to Denver and Fairfield.  Agonizing choice.  Honestly, if you came at me and said it ought to be Fairfield and not Denver, you'd have a case.  Denver is 0-2 against the other ECAC teams we're comparing them against.  But they've also been strong outside the conference, which the NCAA does care about.  They blew out - not just beat, but blew out - RMU, Duke, and PSU.  They also have stronger numbers in general than Fairfield.  So even though they lost to Fairfield, even though Fairfield is 11-3, the Stags are the first team out.

The rest of the bracket wasn't much easier to put together, but I think the order of the seeds looks about right.  Duke is a strong #1 even though they lost to Denver this weekend.  If they hadn't lost it'd be a no-brainer.  As it is you could probably ask four different people who should be #1 and they'll give you four different answers.

Matching up seeded teams with unseeded ones was tricky too.  Remember, you can't have teams from the same conference play each other.  (Maryland and UNC played last year but all that means is that we don't count as a conference.  No autobid, no conference.  A good reason to find a sixth team.)  The NCAA considers travel, of course, but not at the expense of making the absolute worst teams play the best ones, which is why the A-East and MAAC champions aren't budging from effectively the 15th and 16th seeds. 

Stripped of hosting duties this week, Maryland is visiting Hopkins.  They're actually the "9th seed" in the pecking order, but obvious travel considerations flip them and Penn State.  Theoretically, as the last two teams in, one of OSU or Denver should play the 3rd seed - but they can't.  Loyola's the third seed.  Which is where it got tricky.  Princeton's an obvious choice to go to Loyola.  Would've liked to send Colgate to UMass, for easy travel reasons, but it can't be done without 1) twisting the hierarchy too much or 2) sending an ECAC team to Loyola, which is a no-no.

This is also the first week in which I've entered in the quarterfinal sites.  The NCAA considers Philly "North" and Annapolis "South" so I took the top four seeds in their pods, and the two northernmost ones go to Philly and the two southernmost to Annapolis.

Here are the scores from last week's games to watch, and the results as pertains here:

-- Colgate 14, Bucknell 9
-- Lehigh 13, Army 7
-- Lehigh 16, Colgate 14: As I figured from last week, the Patriot League would still be a two-bid conference as long as its two favorites made it to the final.  They did, and so they are.  Lehigh has secured the autobid and possible hosting duties.  Colgate is in, for now, but must hope that something ridiculous doesn't happen in one of the conference tournaments.

-- Denver 15, Duke 9: Lo, another prediction comes to pass - Denver is in after a convincing win over Duke.

-- Ohio State 8, Fairfield 3: Lo, a prediction fails to come to pass, as OSU moves into the tourney when I thought even a win here would fail to do the job.  I think this is because VILLANOVA LOST TO FRIGGING PROVIDENCE.

-- Johns Hopkins 10, Loyola 9: Hopkins does not behave.  Whenever I have a nice easy #1 seed all set up, they find a way - whether that means winning or losing - to screw it up.

-- Princeton 14, Cornell 9: The Rumbling Bears now require the autobid.  The Ivy is weak this year, and Cornell's opponent in the Ivy tournament (Yale) isn't good enough to push them to a bid if they win and then lose the final.  Princeton probably requires the autobid too, but there's a slim chance they get in if they lose the final.  Wackiness elsewhere would have to ensue, however.  And the problem is that some of the teams most likely to cause the wackiness (Fairfield, say) are fellow competitors for the final at-larges.  So it's basically safest to assume the Ivy is a one-bid league.

This is as good a time to confess something: I don't know what the fuck is the Big East's deal.  Here is their media guide:

And here is their policy manual:

You can flip to page 4 of both of them and see if you can find the discrepancy.  Or you can take my word for it: the media guide says the regular season champ gets the autobid and the policy manual says it goes to the tournament champion.

Well done, Big East, King of Having Your Shit Together.  And they wonder why every school in the conference wants to get the hell out and has to be replaced with Guam State.

For now, we're sticking with the idea that Notre Dame has already earned the autobid.  And yet it's possible that's wrong, and that would make the Big East tournament ripe for shenanigans.  So let's see what this week's games to watch are:

-- CAA tournament: Penn State vs. Drexel and UMass vs. Towson.  Probably not much drama here, as PSU and UMass are heads and shoulders above the rest of the conference and both are near-locks for at-large bids.

-- America East tournament: Stony Brook vs. Hartford and UMBC vs. Albany.  I don't consider any of those teams especially more likely to win than any other.  And unless Siena gets beat in the MAAC tourney, the winner here is certainly destined for the "16 seed."

-- Big East tournament: Notre Dame vs. St. John's and Syracuse vs. Villanova.  So does the winner get the autobid, or does ND already have it?  Hm, Big East?  Idiots.  At any rate, Villanova needs to win here.  Lose to Cuse and they're done.  Beat Cuse and lose in the final, and it's totally up in the air.  Also, if Villanova does win their first-round game, it makes Syracuse 7-8 and not only with no case at all for consideration, but below .500 and ineligible.

-- Ivy tournament: Cornell vs. Yale and Princeton vs. Brown.  Mostly discussed above.  Neither first-round underdog is good enough to push the favorites to an autobid.  A 90% chance this is a one-bid league, IMO.

-- MAAC tournament: Siena vs. Marist and Detroit vs. Canisius.  A twist of the tiebreakers (it's a four-way tie between Detroit, Marist, Canisius, and Jax) means that the Siena-Marist game is probably the ultimate winner as well.  It so happened that Detroit beat all of those teams, but lost to two of the world's worst - Manhattan and VMI.  Regardless: go Titans.  (My grad school.)  Again, one-bid league, the winner probably getting the "15 seed."

-- ECAC tournament: Denver vs. Loyola and Ohio State vs. Fairfield.  I saved the best tourney for last.  This is really where it'll be decided who gets the embossed invite to the dance and who winds up in Hokieland.

-- Maryland at Colgate: Yup, the Terps are headed up to upstate New York, and with a lot at stake.  Colgate would cement a tourney berth with a win, and Maryland would probably cement a top-8 seed if they came out on top.

Sometime this week - Wednesday, Thursday, or maybe Friday night, or maybe more than once - I'll post a supplementary bracketology.  Then the final one will be out Sunday afternoon before the selection show.


Anonymous said...

lmao @ Guam State!

Michael said...

I love picking on the Big East as much as (or more) than the next person, but I would go with the assumption that the policy manual has it right. This is the first time they've had a post-season tournament and I would guess no one bothered to properly edit the media guide. Whereas the policy manual had to be created from scratch this year because it's the first time.

Brandon said...

I heard a comment from an analyst over the weekend to the effect of "syracuse now has to earn the auto-bid or it'll be their 2nd missed tourney in blah blah blah"... whether that means the tourney decides it or that the analyst was also confused I don't know.

Brendan said...

The Biggish Eastish's weekly press release this week says it's the tournament, not the regular season. So I guess it's the tournament. I'll fix it next time I update the bracketology.

That said, the Big East is still dumb. I think we can all agree on this. It's not like they simply forgot to update their media guide from last year, because they didn't have an autobid last year.