Sunday, March 31, 2013

lacrosse bracketology

This week's lax bracket is....a little interesting.  Let's go straight to it.

The results turned out a little strange because of the way autobids are handed out.  To recap:

-- Best record gets it.  3-0 is better than 2-0.

-- Tiebreaker is the LaxPower computer rankings.

Well, this week the two undefeated Big East teams (at 1-0) are also two of the three with losing records overall.  And the tiebreaker gives it to 2-6 Villanova over 4-5 Georgetown.  Villanova did beat Syracuse, so it's not as if their chances of at least making the BE tourney are wildly remote, but - 2-6, man.  (And Bryant is 2-8, but the NEC is pretty lame overall so that's not messing anything up, really.)

To add to the confusion, Drexel is 3-0, making another bid thief out of the Dragons, who would be wallowing in the "next four out" category otherwise.  Drexel is more of a lurking threat, however.  They're a very legitimate candidate for the autobid, since 3-0 is halfway through the CAA schedule.

So despite the oddness, think of this week's bracket as an illustration of how precarious the at-large situation really is.  By all rights, Ohio State and Penn State are having tourney-worthy seasons.  They should both be in.  But St. John's filched a spot by actually beating Notre Dame, and Villanova and Drexel filched the rest.  Bryant, too, or the NEC in general.  It's the case for tourney expansion right here.  Surprise bid thieves are not to be ruled out when conference tourney season rolls around, and even though this week's bracket isn't especially realistic (nobody is going to bet on Nova to win that conference) in a way it sort of is.

The NEC may not be able to maintain its autobid next year as they're losing Quinnipiac and Wagner to the MAAC (as well as Monmouth, which is starting a program of their own and could've helped them back to six teams) but the Atlantic Sun will start on up and get a bid right away, so at a minimum we keep the eight autobids.  The hour grows late for the NEC to fix itself for next season, but we can't rule out a ninth autobid just yet next year.  Tourney expansion is on the horizon.

More notes:

-- I was a little surprised that Notre Dame's loss to St. John's didn't knock them off the top.  But Denver didn't have anything too exciting going on.  ND did lose a sizable part of their cushion, though, and SJU edged OSU, PSU, and Yale - in that order - for the last spot.  It's those four teams and then a decent-sized gap.

-- The 4 and 5 seeds are razor-close, as are the 7 and 8 seeds.  They'd've been much easier to decide if the 5 seed hadn't beaten the four seed, and the 8 seed the same for the 7.

-- Hofstra sure took a dump.  Losing to Towson this week put them so far out of contention that I don't even know if beating UNC later this season can bring them back.

-- UVA is in a massive predicament.  Namely, unless the Hoos win two of the next three they won't go to the tournament.  It's an ugly spot.  You have to have at least a .500 record to get an at-large bid, and if they lose two of the next three the only way they can stay above .500 will be to win the ACC tourney.  Not bloody likely.

-- Plus, UVA's sucking has put Hopkins in a pickle too.  If the Hop loses to Maryland two weeks from now, they'll almost certainly be on the outside looking in.  If UVA had even just beaten Syracuse - or maybe Cornell, both of which were 1-goal games - both UVA and the Jays might be in this week.

The big games from last week:

-- Penn State 11, Bucknell 3.  And yet PSU still falls out of the bracket.  I think they'll be alright in the end, and this game will help.

-- North Carolina 18, Brown 12.  The Bears have dropped off the bubble entirely, and that's the last we'll see of them barring an Ivy upset.  Which will be tough given the competition in that league this year.

-- North Carolina 11, Johns Hopkins 10.  Win your faceoffs, man.  Hopkins lost six seconds into OT against the Heels, and blew a chance to shake up the bubble.  They remain in limbo, while Carolina just about punches a dance card.

-- St. John's 12, Notre Dame 10.  Discussed above.  It's possible, however, that the Johnnies have peaked.  The remainder of their schedule has a losing record, save Providence which even at 7-3 doesn't make nearly enough RPI waves to be considered for the bracket.  They basically have to win out and even then may need the autobid.

-- Princeton 15, Brown 8.  See above re: Brown.  As for Princeton, they're in decent shape but their work is not yet finished.

-- Yale 7, Penn 6.  Not enough, though, to knock Penn off a fairly strong perch, nor to boost Yale up off the bubble.  The Elis are still lacking in the strong wins department.

-- Loyola 9, Ohio State 4.  Loyola isn't the juggernaut they were last year, but they're slowly building a tourney resume.  This win will come in mighty handy should they fail to earn the ECAC autobid, and they're in fact a hair above St. John's and the other three bubble teams in the pecking order.  It's still precarious, though.

-- Maryland 9, Virginia 7.  Fuck a duck sideways.

This week's games to watch:

-- Drexel at Penn State.  The CAA needs some sorting out.  Drexel can legitimize their bid with a win here, and Penn State for their part can take care of a pesky potential bid thief.

-- North Carolina at Virginia.  My kingdom for some damn offense.

-- Syracuse at Princeton.  Cuse's case right now is pretty lame, in no small part because UVA and Hopkins (their signature wins) are even lamer.  As you might guess it's not a normal year.  A win here could take out a marginally vulnerable bubble rival and move the Orange up a few notches.  Lose and they'll have to trust their luck to beating Cornell and/or Notre Dame.

No comments: