I don't actually think UVA is the third-best team in the country, but then, you should already know that's not what this shows. On the other hand, though, the Hoos' only two losses are to the teams that both RPI and LaxPower's computer consider the nation's top two. So there's that.
In reality, UVA is probably peaking right now in the bracketology realm; it's hard to see them beating both Duke and UNC, and easy to see them losing both. With wins over Cornell and Hopkins, though, it's tough to find teams with two really good wins like that. YES I KNOW Hopkins is 3-5, but they've got such a nice RPI for 3-5 that they're floating the boat of everyone that beats them.
Some other notes:
-- Syracuse is definitely unreal at this point, and if they drop off that top line all season it'll be a huge shocker.
-- Georgetown is a surprise. Awful last year and not having been to the tournament since 2007, right now they'd be in even without the autobid. This bracket hoses them a bit on account of geography; strictly speaking, they should probably be playing Cornell, but since travel is a big consideration, this is how it goes.
-- Yale is in a dogfight with Ohio State for the last spot; the Elis get it for not having any bad losses like OSU's stumble against Detroit.
-- This field gets tougher if Towson claims the CAA autobid, which they can take a big step towards doing by beating UMass next week. Towson is the only CAA team that can avoid the play-in games.
-- Duke and Cornell are almost completely interchangeable right now.
The effects of last week's games to watch:
-- Bucknell 10, Brown 9: Brown's offense decided to go to sleep, predictably throwing them right off the bracket while giving Bucknell no help at all. Brown also got no help from Harvard, which lost in OT to Dartmouth, probably eliminating the Crimson from any tourney consideration at all.
-- Cornell 10, Colgate 9: The RPI, and therefore bracketology, sees no difference between winning by 1 and winning by a billion, so this throws no monkey wrenches into anything as far as Cornell is concerned. Almost, though.
-- North Carolina 15, Harvard 10: In one week Harvard went from reasonable contender to also-ran.
-- Georgetown 13, Loyola 12: Two one-goal wins vaulted Georgetown from the bubble into the field. Loyola has one other chance to prove itself, but are otherwise probably only vying for the Patriot League's one bid.
-- Navy 7, Colgate 6: Navy is 4-1 in the PL, but still has three difficult games remaining.
-- Georgetown 10, Marquette 9: It'll be fascinating to see if Marquette can hang on to their bid; their schedule provides both opportunities and challenges, which is a nice way of saying it's rather brutal from here on out.
-- Princeton 11, Yale 10: Yale has really slipped in the Ivy race, with two losses in a row.
-- Boston U. 11, Bucknell 9: Part of the reason Bucknell got so little boost from beating Brown is this loss to a BU team that's otherwise fattened up its record against nice frosty cupcakes.
-- Notre Dame 9, Ohio State 0: The RPI doesn't take into account margin of victory, but the committee members are human beings with the ability to process complex information. This creates a triangle of doom between OSU, Denver, and ND, or it would if this game weren't likely to serve as comic relief in the committee lockdown room as well as all the reason anyone needed to tiebreak the Buckeyes right out of the tourney.
-- Virginia 16, Johns Hopkins 15: Hop's tournament chances have almost disappeared in about three minutes - the game time it took for them to go from 2 goals and 2 men up, to huddling on one end of the field while UVA celebrated on the other. The Ohio State game in two weeks is, for them, a must-must-must-win.
-- Maryland 10, North Carolina 8: A signature win plus a Big Ten that's good enough to boost the Terps but not good enough to threaten them should ensure a tourney home game for Maryland.
-- Syracuse 19, Duke 7: It wasn't even that close.
Next week's games of interest:
-- Albany at Harvard: There is a very, very outside chance that Albany can set itself as a team not needing its autobid to get in. Without it, they'd right now be sitting between Ohio State and Towson on the bubble. They'll need to win this one to make that happen.
-- Colgate at Loyola: PL madness.
-- Boston U. at Navy: More PL madness.
-- Syracuse at Notre Dame: Heavyweights collide. Just by virtue of being on each other's schedules, they'll both benefit. This game should ensure that both are still occupying the 1 and 2 slots next week.
-- Massachusetts at Towson: Towson is a weird team, with both wins and losses they probably shouldn't have.
-- Army at Bucknell: More PL madness.
-- Georgetown at Denver: I'll be interested to see how Georgetown withstands a loss. Should they win in the altitude, though, the Big East is effectively theirs until conference tournament time.
-- Marquette at Villanova: Marquette needs a bounceback win against a Villanova team that the UVA/Hop announcers called Hop's best win - before, that is, Villanova dropped a bad one to Fairfield.
-- Brown at Princeton: If Brown is the Ivy's real deal, this is their first chance to show it.
-- Duke at North Carolina: Whoever loses this game is the team UVA will badly need to beat in order to avoid the Penn game at the ACC tournament.