Sunday, May 3, 2015

final lacrosse bracketology

Here it is, the final projection for the lacrosse tournament.  The selection show is at 9:00 tonight, so in about four hours we'll see if I'm any good at this.

Some portions are easy.  The play-in games are not difficult to figure at all.  Geography and resumes converge to make them an easy call.  The top five seeds are relatively simple as well; I think I'd be surprised if they were in any other order than that one, and very, very surprised if it was any but those five teams.

The next three seeds are tough.  UVA is certainly one.  Maryland is almost certainly another, despite their late-season swoon.  (Their loss to Hopkins was huge for UVA.  Maryland had a common-opponent edge by having beaten UNC, and they lost that with their loss to Hop.  Throw in a semifinal loss to OSU in the B1G tourney, and there's no longer a strong justification to put them ahead of UVA.)

Cornell had held down the 8 spot for a while, but they're not the Ivy champion.  Yale is.  And when I was trying to figure out the last couple at-large spots and the Ivy League was well-represented among the contenders, I noticed one thing: they'd all beaten Cornell.  Cornell has one marquee win that didn't also beat them: Yale.  Despite that, I broke with my system and gave the final seed to Yale, based on being Ivy champs and also actually having a marquee win OOC (Maryland.)

The committee has some tough work to do on the last two at-large spots.  As I see it there are six plausible contenders: Georgetown, Princeton, Harvard, Brown, Ohio State, and Marquette.  Harvard has wins over Yale and Cornell, but too many losses, including bad ones to Penn and Dartmouth.  Out.  Georgetown and Marquette don't have strong enough wins.  Marquette did beat OSU; their next best wins are Villanova and Richmond, neither of which are confused for contenders.  And the Hoyas are basically hanging their hat on two wins over Marquette, plus a win over Loyola.  Both out.

That leaves Princeton, Brown, and OSU for the final two slots.  Brown has a win over Princeton, which is hard to ignore.  But from a simple full-resume standpoint, I think Princeton is marginally the strongest.  They took Yale to the bitter end in the Ivy championship after upsetting Cornell, and they've beaten Yale earlier in the year.  They also have a win over Johns Hopkins.

In comparing Brown to Ohio State, you basically have a team that performed at a steady, decent level all year against a team with huge peaks and valleys.  Brown's best OOC win is Marist.  That's not too inspiring.  They did beat Princeton and Cornell.  But at some point, you just have to accept that the whole Ivy League is a blender that has spent a lot of time beating each other up.  Big OOC wins are important, which is why Yale gets a nod over Cornell and why Princeton gets a nod over Brown.  OSU, on the other hand, has been at times totally inspiring and at others a complete disaster.  The inspiring side (wins over Hop, Maryland, and, very importantly, Denver) outweighs the disastrous side (losses to Detroit and Rutgers and getting shut out by Notre Dame.)

So there ya have it.  If this is how it shakes out, it'll be fascinating for UVA.  A peaking-at-the-right-time UVA could put a stop to Lyle Thompson and Albany, who've inflated their stats against lame A-East competition, and then knock off a UNC team they nearly beat in the regular season to get to Philadelphia.  It's just as plausible to see UVA get rolled by Albany's firepower.  Of course, it's also just as plausible to see UVA get a totally different matchup - Princeton, maybe.  We'll find out at nine.

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