Sunday, April 12, 2015

lacrosse bracketology

Lacrosse TV announcers - and Paul Carcaterra in particular - have this really annoying habit where instead of calling the game in front of them, they instead host a lacrosse talk show with a live game in the background.  Thus it was that during the Michigan-Ohio State game, Carc and his announcing partner got in a heated debate over whether UVA would be a lock to make the tournament or not.

It was a pretty stupid debate, because neither of them, in their spirited repartee over whether wins over Cornell and Loyola were good enough to be tournament material, managed to remember the upcoming game against Georgetown.  At times though, the debate veered in the direction of sanity; Carcaterra (who took the side of UVA and declared the Hoos a lock) demanded to know who in the at-large realm had anything better.

Therein lies UVA's salvation.  An 0-4 record in the ACC is a failure by all definitions, but the other salient point made by announcers (this one by Ward and Shraf during the UVA-Duke game) was that even the loser of that game would probably be the best team in any other conference.  Only two teams anywhere outside the ACC can claim a win over an ACC team - Denver (twice) and Maryland.  For this reason I struggle to say UVA would be the best team in the Big East or Big Ten this year, but Bill Tierney and an ACC exile is not bad company either.

Denver and Maryland are accordingly seeded above UVA, where they'll stay.  Take a look at the rest of the at-large contenders and their resumes; you might say you shouldn't get to the tournament based on who you lost to, but UVA combines a win over Cornell (still a strong contender) with no bad losses.  (Detroit over Ohio State, anyone?  Bellarmine over Marquette?  And those are teams actually in the bracket.)

So if you're tempted to worry UVA isn't even a tournament team let alone a seeded one, don't.  UVA can lock in a seed with a win over Georgetown, and even, heaven forbid, with a loss, isn't out of contention to host a game.

Some other notes:

-- Princeton, already with a tenuous grip on their tourney spot, shat the bed like crazy with a loss to Lehigh.  They can't be counted totally out, but that loss was absolutely murder.

-- If it weren't for that pesky rule about not matching up teams from the same conference, this bracket would've been fairly easy to put together from both a geography and a seeding standpoint.  (The committee claims that they don't seed the road teams because travel is the main concern, but results have shown they do in fact care about, say, not putting the #9 or #10 team against the #3 or #4 seed.  They don't totally scramble the pecking order in favor of travel.)  Yale ought to play Cornell and Marquette ought to play Denver in this bracket, but they can't.

-- The system I use says Syracuse should stay above UNC.  I was like, nah, they shouldn't.

Last week's games to watch:

-- Notre Dame 14, Marquette 7: As it turns out, Marquette can in fact get back into the field just by losing this game.  They needed that Princeton loss, too, though.

-- Maryland 11, Loyola 10: An incredibly close game that would've put Loyola in the field had they won it.  Drop Marquette, move Georgetown to the Duke game, and give Loyola a rematch against Maryland; that's what the field would look like this week with just a break or two the other way.

-- Yale 16, Brown 10: The Bears are starting to play the Hopkins role of boat-floater.

-- Navy 10, Army 7: Big win for the Middies that secures them a top-two seed in the very parity-laden PL tournament.  Despite the loss, though, Army is also in, and the field is set with Colgate and Loyola rounding it out.  Right now, Navy sits in the play-in game, but whoever comes out on top of the PL tourney will have a big resume-booster that should get them into the real first round.

-- Towson 8, Fairfield 7: The Tigers are slowly locking up the CAA, which they'll need to do with no blemishes in order to stay out of the play-in.

-- North Carolina 17, Syracuse 15: Goes to show how much lacrosse is really left in the season even when it's technically half-over; Syracuse looked unassailable a few weeks ago.

-- Duke 15, Virginia 8: One of these years, man.

Next week's games to watch:

-- Maryland at Ohio State: To borrow Bubble Watch terminology, OSU "should be in" but beating Maryland would make them a lock.

-- Duke at Marquette: Meanwhile, Marquette has "work left to do" - although they quite honestly could lose their way into the tournament.  They have Duke, Denver, and then almost certainly Georgetown in the Big East tournament - all of which are on their way to being in the bracket themselves.

-- Georgetown at Virginia: I'll guarantee you right now that UVA hosts a first-round game if they win this one.  Write it in stone.  If not....maybe still, but I'd rather not think about that.

-- Cornell at Brown: Cornell has two big games in a row; Brown and then Princeton.  Both teams will be gunning for the Big Red as their only path to a dance ticket.  Your rooting interest is Cornell so as to keep it a marquee win for UVA.  If Cornell crashes, the committee will look at Yale and Ohio State and probably consider that a team with a marquee win and a bad loss is a better hosting choice than a team with decent wins and no bad losses.

-- North Carolina at Notre Dame: A battle between #1 and #2, both in the conference and nationally.

-- Yale at Albany: The Elis are knocking on the door of a seed, and probably ahead of Ohio State in the pecking order to get a home game.  Since UVA is one of the teams they'd be taking that seed from, an Albany win would be helpful here.

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