Bracketology: Others' Missteps Put Penn Back in the Mix


Penn's win over Duke in February and rigorous scheduling (No. 6 SOS) — not to mention losses last week by Bucknell, Cornell, Navy, Penn State and Rutgers — have kept the Quakers teetering on the edge of an NCAA tournament berth.

So, does anyone want to make the NCAA tournament?

That’s not an entirely fair question to ask. Loyola is already assured a berth, and Notre Dame did its part to avoid a harrowing Selection Sunday by winning the ACC tournament. There’s no automatic bid attached to that title, but the Irish are now comfortably in the field.

And even though Virginia lost to Notre Dame in the ACC final, it still bagged a defeat of Syracuse to make its week a success.

Still, a lot of teams had chances to improve their postseason prospects and let them slip by. Cornell, Navy, Penn State and Rutgers all took losses in their only games of the week. So did Bucknell, which fell to Boston University in the Patriot League quarterfinals. It seemed like that could have doomed the Bison’s NCAA tournament hopes. Instead, they sit at the edge of the field (though they don’t have a chance to help themselves this weekend).

Perhaps the most interesting beneficiary of all these missteps is Penn, which owns a standout victory (Duke) and quality RPI (11) and strength of schedule (6) numbers. It’s also 7-7 entering the Ivy League tournament.

If it defeats Yale, it will probably finish in the top 10 of both the RPI and strength of schedule. No team in the top 10 of both has missed the tournament since Loyola in 2009. It would also own a pair of high-end victories, likely enough to secure an NCAA bid even if it loses the Ivy final.

If the Quakers lose Friday in the Ivy semifinals, they’ll finish under .500 and be ineligible for selection.

For the moment, Penn occupies the final spot in the US Lacrosse Magazine bracket projection. But that’s subject to change — based both on its performance and the possibility of conference tournament chaos that could knock the likes of Albany, Denver and others into the at-large pool.

Records against the top five, top 10 and top 20 and losses to teams outside the top 25 are based on performance against the current RPI rankings, not human polls. Strength of schedule is based on the average RPI of a team’s 10 best opponents. Data courtesy of the NCAA.

Automatic Qualifiers (9)







26+ L

Maryland 1 4 1-1 3-1 7-2
Albany 3 25 1-1 1-1 4-1 UMBC (43)
Yale 4 13 1-0 1-1 3-2
Loyola 6 15 0-1 1-2 3-3
Denver 8 24 0-2 1-2 4-2
UMass 24 45 0-2 0-2 0-2 Harvard (29), Army (40)
Richmond 30 38 0-2 0-3 1-3 UMBC (43), Furman (57)
Saint Joseph’s 32 62 0-0 0-0 1-0 St. John’s (42), Providence (44), Fairfield (50)
Quinnipiac 51 66 0-0 0-0 0-1 Holy Cross (45), UMass Lowell (46), Fairfield (50), Hartford (53)

It’s looking like the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament is Maryland’s for the taking if it can win a third consecutive Big Ten title. No easy task. … Albany got Connor Fields back for Saturday’s rout of Hartford. Assuming the Great Danes win the America East tournament, look for them to be seeded not too far off their RPI. …

Yale might bag a couple top-20 victories at the Ivy League tournament, but the Bulldogs have more to lose than to gain with their seeding this weekend in New York. … Loyola is locked into the tournament after winning its fourth Patriot League tournament in five years. No team with a top-six RPI has been sent on the road for the first round since at least 2009. …

Denver is a bit like Yale, only there isn’t any help coming from simply beating Marquette in the Big East semifinals. The Pioneers are the clear favorites in the event, but the same was true the last two years and they tripped up both times. … UMass surrendered 22 goals over its last four games. The Minutemen could be a major nuisance in a low-scoring NCAA tournament first round game if they win the Colonial tournament at home. …

Richmond hosts the Southern Conference tournament, with High Point, Jacksonville and Furman also in the field. … Saint Joseph’s is the top seed in the Northeast tournament for the fourth time in five years, but is still seeking its first NCAA tournament berth. … Quinnipiac completed a perfect run through the Metro Atlantic with a defeat of Marist. Third-seeded Monmouth is the MAAC tournament host.

At-Large Bids (16 teams/8 spots)







26+ L

Notre Dame 2 2 1-2 4-2 5-3
Duke 5 5 1-1 4-1 4-3
Johns Hopkins 7 9 0-1 1-2 4-3
Virginia 9 3 0-3 1-4 3-5
Villanova 10 17 1-1 1-2 3-3 Brown (31)
Penn 11 6 1-2 1-3 3-5 Brown (31), Saint Joseph's (32)
Syracuse 12 1 2-1 3-3 3-6
Rutgers 13 14 0-1 0-2 2-3 Army (40)
Bucknell 14 29 1-0 2-0 2-2 Richmond (30), Boston U. (33)
Cornell 15 19 0-2 0-2 3-2 Colgate (41)
Ohio State 16 10 1-1 1-3 2-4 Towson (28)
Navy 17 22 0-1 0-2 2-3 Lehigh (27), Jacksonville (37)
Penn State 18 11 0-1 1-2 3-4 Robert Morris (26)
Vermont 19 58 0-1 0-2 0-2 Stony Brook (34)
Georgetown 20 36 0-0 1-2 1-2 Drexel (36)
North Carolina 21 8 1-2 2-4 2-5 Richmond (30), Hofstra (39)

With a full data dive, it’s hard to imagine Notre Dame landing anything less than a No. 5 seed if it beats Army on Saturday, and there’s a good chance the Fighting Irish do better than that. … Duke’s chances of earning the No. 1 overall seed came to an end with an ACC semifinal loss to Notre Dame, but the Blue Devils will definitely land a home game if they beat Boston University this weekend. …

Johns Hopkins would have to feel good about hosting a first-round game if it beats Ohio State in the Big Ten semifinals. … The numbers definitely work in Virginia’s favor. A first round home game is a stretch, but the Cavaliers could easily be sent to Loyola, Johns Hopkins and perhaps Denver. …

Villanova remains an RPI darling, but it still probably needs to beat Georgetown in the Big East semifinals to maintain its NCAA tournament hopes. … Penn would fall under .500 and off the board with a loss to Yale in the Ivy League semifinals. But the Quakers would have a real shot at an at-large with a victory over the Bulldogs. …

Should anyone trust Syracuse? Not really. But the Orange’s three top-10 victories and stout schedule will likely carry it to an at-large bid if it beats Colgate on Saturday. A home game, though, is probably a reach at the moment. … The Orange’s struggles also hurt Rutgers and Cornell. Both teams banked on a defeat of Syracuse having more value than it does at the moment. … Speaking of Cornell, the Big Red took a larger-than-expected hit after losing to Princeton.

Of the potential at-large teams that don’t play this week, Bucknell stands the best chance at landing a bid, followed by Penn StateNavy and North Carolina. The Bison have two stellar victories but not much else. It’s a resume similar to Army’s last year, and that was good enough for the Black Knights to be just outside the field.

Ohio State should probably view Thursday’s meeting with Johns Hopkins as an NCAA round of 32 game. A win likely ensures the Buckeyes a place in the field. … Vermont and Georgetownneed conference tournament titles to get in, but are included in this chart to account for the top 20 of the RPI. 


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 Navy 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.

Annapolis, Md.

(1) BIG TEN/Maryland vs. NORTHEAST/Saint Joseph’s-METRO ATLANTIC/Quinnipiac
(8) BIG EAST/Denver vs. Syracuse

Hempstead, N.Y.

(5) AMERICA EAST/Albany vs. Penn
(4) Notre Dame vs. Ohio State

Hempstead, N.Y.

(3) IVY/Yale vs. COLONIAL/UMass
(6) PATRIOT/Loyola vs. Villanova

Annapolis, Md.

(7) Johns Hopkins vs. Virginia
(2) Duke vs. SOUTHERN/Richmond

Last four in: Virginia, Villanova, Ohio State, Penn
First four out: Bucknell, Cornell, Rutgers, Penn State

Multi-bid conferences: Atlantic Coast (4), Big Ten (3), Big East (2), Ivy (2)

Moving in: Ohio State, Penn
Moving out: Bucknell, Cornell

Most Recent

The Final Step: Lenoir-Rhyne Throttles Mercyhurst for First D-II NCAA Title

Lenoir-Rhyne had been building a contender for the last 12 years.

They're Back! Northwestern Wins First National Championship Since 2012

The Wildcats beat Boston College 18-6 on Sunday at WakeMed Soccer Park.

Snubbed in 2022: Duke, Notre Dame Meet for a Chance to Flip the Script

Two programs left out last year have handled 2023 differently, but will meet on its final day.

Brian Tevlin Sends Notre Dame to NCAA Championship Game

Tevlin's OT goal lifted Notre Dame to its first NCAA title game since 2014.

Twitter Posts