Bracketology: No Silver Linings for High Point, Which Must Win SoCon

PHOTO BY KEVIN P. TUCKER

Despite early season wins over Duke and Virginia, the numbers show that High Point might need to win the Southern Conference in order to qualify for this year's NCAA tournament.


The NCAA (finally) released its men’s lacrosse RPI for the first time this season on Monday morning, and with it comes good news and bad news.

The good news is it’s now possible to provide a full data breakdown and bracket projection, something the late, lamented LaxPower would have allowed weeks earlier in the past.

(Seriously, though, if anyone has an online RPI replica for Division I lacrosse, please drop us a line).

The bad news is directed at one of the best stories of the first month of the season, which basically is learning with this data its chances of landing an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament are just about nonexistent.

That would be High Point, which upended Duke and Virginia in February and has chugged along reasonably well to get to 10-2 heading into the final two weeks of the regular season. The Panthers have dropped games to St. John’s and Jacksonville along the way and survived some scares, but those high-end victories have held up exceptionally well.

Only the Panthers have a strength of schedule of 47 (out of 72), the worst of any of the 19 teams on the initial at-large board.

They own an RPI of 23, which wouldn’t be ideal even in a year when there were seven or eight projected automatic qualifiers in the top 15. There are only four at the moment.

And Jacksonville (45) and St. John’s (57) are the worst two losses (by RPI) of anyone on the at-large board.

The data has no silver linings for High Point, but the reality of its situation isn’t all bad. The Panthers are a victory away from clinching a spot in the Southern Conference tournament, an event to be played on their own field.

Oddly enough for a team that went to Duke and Virginia and won back in February, High Point’s path to the NCAA tournament is the same as it would have been had it lost those games: Win twice in three days in May.







Automatic Qualifiers (9)

 

RPI

SOS

T5W

T10

T20

26+ L

Penn State 1 16 3-1 5-1 5-1
Penn 2 9 1-3 3-3 4-3
Loyola 9 8 1-1 4-3 5-3
Villanova 11 6 1-3 2-4 3-5 Drexel (29)
Air Force 21 42 0-1 1-2 1-3 Utah (55)
Delaware 28 52 0-0 0-2 1-2
Marist 32 56 0-0 0-2 0-3 Bucknell (34), Detroit (43)
Mount St. Mary's 39 40 0-0 0-3 2-4 UMBC (58)
Vermont 44 62 0-0 0-1 0-2 Hobart (26), Navy (33), UMass Lowell (59)

Penn State is the only one-loss team left in Division I. It would be the top seed if the tournament began today. …Penn has won seven in a row since falling to Penn State. Its other losses (Duke and Maryland) don’t hurt it a bit, but a lack of high-end strength beyond a defeat of Yale might create a ceiling for its seeding. …

Loyola didn’t cost itself a home game in the NCAA tournament with its loss to Boston University, but it did cede some margin of error. The Greyhounds finish with Army and Lafayette on the road, followed by the Patriot League tournament. … Like last year, Villanova is aided by its scheduling strategy. Of course, beating Yale and Denver has helped, too. …

Air Force is now tied for the Southern Conference lead with High Point and Richmond. The Falcons are included thanks to an RPI edge. … Delaware closes out CAA play against Towson and Massachusetts, a pair of games that should help the Blue Hens’ strength of schedule at least a bit. …

The tie in the Metro Atlantic goes to Marist for the moment over Canisius thanks to an RPI advantage, though the teams close out the regular season against each other in Buffalo on April 26. … Mount St. Mary’s needs only a split of its last two games to lock up the top seed in the Northeast tournament. … Vermont has the RPI edge on Albany (47) and Stony Brook (51), the two other America East teams with one league loss.

At-Large Bids (20 teams/8 slots)

 

RPI

SOS

T5W

T10

T20

26+ L

Duke 3 1 4-1 6-2 7-3
Virginia 4 2 2-2 4-2 7-3
Syracuse 5 4 1-2 6-2 7-2 Colgate (41)
Yale 6 22 1-1 2-2 5-2
Ohio State 7 24 1-1 3-2 4-2
Maryland 8 10 1-2 4-2 5-2
Notre Dame 10 3 2-3 3-4 3-5
Towson 12 14 1-1 3-3 3-4
Johns Hopkins 13 5 0-4 2-5 4-5
Cornell 14 7 1-4 2-4 4-4
Denver 15 15 0-2 3-3 4-4
Georgetown 16 26 0-1 1-3 3-3 Marquette (37)
Army 17 27 0-1 1-2 2-3 Lehigh (27)
North Carolina 18 13 1-3 1-5 1-5
Boston University 19 33 1-1 2-1 3-2 Lehigh (27), Harvard (40), Colgate (41)
Rutgers 20 11 1-3 1-5 2-6
UMass 22 29 0-2 1-3 2-3 Hofstra (36)
High Point 23 47 2-0 2-0 4-0 Jacksonville (45), St. John's (57)
Richmond 24 28 1-3 1-3 1-4 Mount St. Mary's (39)
Princeton 25 18 0-3 1-5 1-5 Brown (31)

DukeVirginia and Syracuse: Three ACC teams that can already feel comfortable about their postseason prospects, regardless of how the conference tournament goes. … Defending champ Yale is a perfectly solid team, and the numbers bear that out. The Bulldogs will get a home game in the NCAA tournament if they win out, and quite possibly even if they don’t. …

Ohio State really needed that comeback victory at Johns Hopkins. It created some separation for the Buckeyes from the edge of the field. … It really is an unusual year: It’s mid-April and Maryland probably has a little more work to do to feel comfortable about its postseason prospects. The Terrapins are the only program to reach the tournament every year since 2003, the year it expanded to 16 teams. …

Notre Dame has a top-10 RPI, a top-five schedule and a pair of high-end victories (Maryland and Syracuse). The Irish’s chances of inclusion will be pretty good if they fend off North Carolina this weekend. … What a crummy Saturday it was for Towson. The Tigers lost to Massachusetts, and so did Johns Hopkins and Loyola, the two best teams they beat earlier in the season. …

Johns Hopkins has more opportunities left than just about anyone. The Blue Jays must go to Penn State and Maryland the next two weekends before a potential trip to the Big Ten tournament. … Cornell was one of the weekend’s big winners thanks to upending Notre Dame on the road on Sunday. The Big Red finishes the regular season against Brown and Princeton and would be wise to win those as well as at least one in the Ivy League tournament. …

It’s getting hard to see a path to an at-large for Denver, which faces Providence and Marquette to close out Big East play. However, the Pioneers do host the Big East tournament. … Georgetown’s strength of schedule is only going to go down the next two weeks with NJIT (RPI of 71) and St. John’s (57) on the horizon. … Army would make its profile quite a bit more interesting if it can defeat Loyola on Saturday. …

Life in the ACC means North Carolina has some hope despite its so-so numbers. The Tar Heels still have their regular-season finale against Notre Dame plus the ACC tournament. If they can pick up a couple more victories, they’ll be in the conversation on Selection Sunday. … The victory over Loyola is great for Boston University, but having a pair of questionable losses does the Terriers no favors. …

Rutgers isn’t going to be able to ride its defeat of Ohio State into the NCAA tournament. It needs to do more, which means it probably needs to knock off Michigan and Penn State to close out the regular season. …UMass’ path to the postseason is winning the CAA tournament. Victories over Fairfield and Delaware will give the Minutemen home field for that event. …

Not sure anyone in the history of Division I lacrosse has ever produced a line like the one High Point has in that chart. … As nice as the Notre Dame victory was early in the season, Richmond needs to win the Southern Conference tournament to get in. … First things first for Princeton: Go beat Harvard and Cornell to earn entry into the Ivy League tournament.

PROJECTED BRACKET

A few reminders on piecing together the bracket:

  • The committee seeds the top eight teams and then assigns the unseeded teams based on geography in an attempt to limit air travel while trying to maintain bracket integrity.

  • Conference matchups are to be avoided in the first round.

  • If applicable, quarterfinal host schools are funneled into their own site. Hofstra and Fairfield are this year’s quarterfinal hosts.

  • Of the nine automatic qualifiers, the two with the weakest resumes are assigned to the preliminary round game the Wednesday before the first round. At-large teams are not selected for play-in games.

Hempstead, N.Y.

(1) BIG TEN/Penn State vs. AMERICA EAST/Vermont-NORTHEAST/Mount St. Mary's

(8) PATRIOT/Loyola vs. Ohio State

East Hartford, Conn.

(5) Syracuse vs. BIG EAST/Villanova

(4) Virginia vs. COLONIAL/Delaware

Hempstead, N.Y.

(3) IVY/Penn vs. METRO ATLANTIC/Marist

(6) Yale vs. Notre Dame

East Hartford, Conn.

(7) Maryland vs. Cornell

(2) Duke vs. SOUTHERN/Air Force

Last four in: Maryland, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Cornell

First four out: Towson, Johns Hopkins, Denver, North Carolina

Multi-bid conferences: ACC (4), Big Ten (3), Ivy (3)

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