Life is ashes and the sun is dark in my eyes, but the show must go on. Besides, this is always fun to do, so it's mildly therapeutic, and therapy was also received by seeing MSU lose. (I'm not really one of those hope-they-go-all-the-way types. That's for if we get blown out. Get blown out and it might as well be to the champ. Lose close, especially a game the refs had a large hand in deciding, and every win by the team that beat us just makes me think "that coulda been us.") Whatever, here is lacrosse bracketology.
Some more surprises this week which bear a little further explanation.
-- All three of Syracuse, Penn, and Yale seem overseeded, per their actual records. In fact, my system wanted Cuse to be above both Duke and Maryland, and I was like, dude, no. Sometimes I have to apply a little judgment, and when Team A loses to Team B 21-7, Team A is usually on the wrong end of said judgment. However, the seeds these teams got here isn't as crazy as it seems; the worst loss among all three of them is Princeton, and they've done a solid job of piling up wins against medium-good teams.
-- I was surprised that Fairfield snuck their way in, and their case is not exactly unassailable; still, they've been plugging away and they have wins over UMass and Yale. I still think they can't afford any slipups.
-- UVA's 7 seed is much more defensible than that 2 seed I had them at last week.
-- Loyola is the #1-ranked team in the country, but a weak average RPI of their wins holds them back and suggests that this #5 slot is just about right. Their upcoming schedule, aside from Hopkins in their final game, ain't exactly real hot either - they need some RPI help from the PL tournament or they might be this year's version of 2012 UMass - a team with a really shiny record against not quite the best competition, which causes people to howl when they get too low a seed.
-- The gap between Fairfield and Notre Dame (the first team out) is not large - the gap between Notre Dame and UMass is. Hofstra snuck hold of the CAA autobid this week by knocking off Towson and Drexel, and would slot in between ND and UMass on the at-large list - but much closer to the UMass side of it.
-- Likewise, Albany is fully and completely in autobid-must-have territory now that they have a loss to Canisius on their resume. Albany is quite the darling of computer rankings, efficiency rankings, and suchlike, but I don't think there's anything they can do to rescue an at-large at this point. It's auto or bust now. Where would they fit in the ranks of at-large hopefuls? Between St. John's and Towson.
Last week's games that mattered:
Loyola 10, Colgate 8: It's games like this that are keeping the 9-team Patriot League a one-bid conference.
Syracuse 11, Notre Dame 10: Syracuse's first-ever ACC win, kinda.
Penn 6, Yale 5: Penn did themselves a real solid here, knocking Yale four seeds down from last week and moving themselves into hosting position for now. What's interesting is that Princeton, Penn, and Yale now form a triangle of doom, and there may not be room for all of them in the Ivy tournament.
North Carolina 13, Johns Hopkins 9: Hopkins running low on chances to earn a bid-clinching win. No, Albany would not be a bid-clinching win.
Maryland 9, Virginia 6. Frap.
This weeks games that matter:
Albany at Johns Hopkins: The announcers during the UVA-Maryland game suggested that this one would be just gravy for Albany but a must-win for Hopkins. I think I agree, but not really for the reasons I think they were using. Sometimes there's a game where if one team wins, it does nothing but hurt them both, and this is just that kind of game. If Albany wins, their RPI and resume is such relative junk that Hopkins would just look a lot less inviting.
Duke at Notre Dame: The Irish really have to scrap from here on out. However, they can take solace in the extreme likelihood that there won't be two ECAC teams in the final bracket.
Towson at Massachusetts: Towson is probably no threat to steal an at-large, but they do act as a nice resume-fattener if you beat them - and they are a threat to snag an autobid in the CAA tournament. The race for which, by the way, is basically 5 teams for 4 slots, maybe 4 for 3 now that Hofstra's gone to 3-0, so games like this one are important.
Bryant at St. Joseph's: This is Bryant's big chance. If they win, not only will they move into the field but they could push Albany to the play-ins. If not, well, this isn't real yet anyway, and it'd still be the shock of the year if they didn't make the NEC tourney to play for the autobid.
Brown at Penn: Brown surprised quite a few folks by upsetting Princeton last week; they can continue throwing monkey wrenches into the Ivy race with a win here.
Penn State at Drexel: Big fat raspberry to Penn State, the flop of the year - but they're not past redemption yet. They need this one if they're gonna get a turnaround going.
Harvard at Cornell: Harvard's sitting at 2-0 in the Ivy, but that's after playing Brown and Dartmouth. Time to start really finding out what they're made of.
Virginia at North Carolina: Honestly, probably the Hoos' last best chance to secure a bid to the ACC tournament. Lose this one and we'd be at massive risk of missing out on the RPI-fest.
Siena at Hofstra: Has no bearing on conference races, but if Siena wins and a few stars align their way (OK, a lot of stars, but still) they have the outsidest of outside chances of getting out of the play-ins.