Sunday, April 14, 2013

lacrosse bracketology

Hey, look who I told you wouldn't be out of commission too long if they took care of business, and took care of business:

 Yup, it's the Orange.  A midweek win over Cornell lifted Syracuse into the bracket, and far enough up that they're actually assigned hosting duties.  Hopkins's win over Maryland probably helped as well.  Hopkins themselves, on the other hand - still scuffling.  The Hopkins article about the win over the Terps claims the win gave them "new life" but no, it didn't really.  I guess I wouldn't count them totally out, since they have Loyola in a couple weeks, but I don't see it happening in the end.

The #1 and #2 spots are very easy this week.  3 through 7, on the other hand, is a major jumble that needs some sorting out.  The ACC tourney should be useful in that regard, so I'm not too worried.  The surprise there is Penn State, whose resume looks a little dull outside of the win over Denver, but whose metrics are as good as any of the other four competitors.  I think what's helping them is that, other than Michigan, they haven't played anyone dreadful.  The rest of their wins are of at least middling quality, with Denver and some decent ones sprinkled in.

This week's edition brought bad news for Hopkins, but good news for Albany.  Which is that, this week anyway, they would rank at the tail end of the at-larges and would be strong enough to have one if a proper Big East team and not Villanova was earning that conference's autobid.  Their edge over Yale is small but clear.  For now - Yale obviously plays in a much stronger conference.  But whether Albany could earn an at-large is something worth watching.

The other instructive piece about this week's edition is that Loyola is strong enough to earn an at-large bid without an autobid (and should stay that way if they beat Hopkins later on) but that Bucknell is not.  Bucknell's next opponent - Colgate - is not strong enough to lift the Bison there, either.  Both Patriot contenders require the autobid.

Last week's games of note:

-- Syracuse 13, Cornell 12: This hurt some other Ivy League team more than it hurt Cornell.  Cornell is good enough not to have to worry about one loss to a contender, but it waters down the Ivy a bit, and if the Cuse had lost it might be Yale in the last at-large spot.

-- Lehigh 11, Bucknell 7: I guess we'll never know if Bucknell would've been at-large-worthy if they'd won.  What this game did is basically ensure the PL is a one-bid league.

-- Denver 13, Loyola 12: This one went to OT.  Interesting that losing didn't knock Loyola out of the bracket, but Denver is the kind of wicked-good RPI team that makes yours look better win or lose.

-- Johns Hopkins 7, Maryland 4: To be honest, I thought Hopkins would rise higher than they did with a win.

It's also worth noting that Princeton's drop out of the bracket is only partly due to Syracuse and partly due to the fact that they totally honked one at Dartmouth, the perennial worst team in the Ivy League.  Nice going.  That has potential to be seriously ruinous for the Tigers, as if it's not already, because unless Dartmouth also knocks off Penn next week, it'll only be one of Harvard and Princeton in the Ivy tournament.  And wouldn't you know, those two teams play next week.  A real chance Princeton just sunk their season.

Next week's important games:

-- Harvard at Princeton.  Winner likely goes to the Ivy tourney; loser likely does not.  Harvard is completely not a threat to get to the NCAAs, but that doesn't mean they can't take someone down with them.

-- Yale at Maryland.  Unlike the Hop, Yale is knocking on the door.  Maryland would be quite a pelt, and a win might essentially let the Elis replace Princeton (the one we saw last week, not the one we have this week) in the food chain.

-- Villanova at Notre Dame.  Now I'm not here to suggest it's real likely Nova could beat the Irish.  They probably won't.  What's more likely to happen here is that Villanova relinquishes its hold on the autobid, and we get to see what the at-large field looks like without a bid thief running around.

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