Bracketology: Weighing the Fields Factor When Seeding Albany


Albany's Connor Fields can only watch Saturday as Yale dismantles the Great Danes in a 14-6 loss. Fields status is unknown after appearing to aggravate a right knee injury, a development that could cause consternation for the NCAA selection committee.

The NCAA lacrosse committee is always faced with a plethora of variables. Most of them are sorted out on the field, and there’s a way to quantify them in some fashion.

But then there are trickier, often less-pleasant questions. And two weeks out from Selection Sunday, the committee might already be staring at one now.

If Albany attackman Connor Fields — a Tewaaraton finalist last year and again one of the country’s top players this season — is out for an extended period with a knee injury, what exactly does the committee do with the Great Danes?

It’s really a question with two underlying issues: Selection and seeding. Even minus Fields, Albany will be favored to beat Hartford in its regular-season finale and win the America East tournament and an automatic bid. Even without a league title, the Great Danes are unlikely to completely collapse over the next two weeks. Their resume goes beyond one player, and it should be enough to land an at-large bid regardless of what’s to come.

But seeding is another matter. Without Fields, Albany has lost at UMBC (which, at the moment, is the worst loss on the board for any serious at-large contender). It also played much of Sunday without him in a blowout loss at Yale. The Great Danes aren’t the best (or second-best) team in the country without their best player.

Fields’ injury has the potential to force the committee to apply much more subjectivity than it normally would when it seeds the field. Don’t be surprised if Albany’s seed and matchup are among the most discussed topics when the field is unveiled May 6.

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 3 0-1 1-1 6-2
Albany 2 17 1-1 2-1 4-1 UMBC (44)
Yale 4 14 1-0 1-0 3-2
Loyola 5 13 0-1 1-2 2-3
Denver 7 25 0-1 0-2 2-2
UMass 25 41 0-2 0-2 0-2 Harvard (28), Army (37)
Richmond 31 37 0-1 0-3 1-3 UMBC (44), Furman (59)
Saint Joseph’s 38 62 0-0 0-0 1-0 St. John’s (42), Providence (43), Fairfield (47)
Quinnipiac 51 66 0-0 0-0 0-1 Holy Cross (45), UMass Lowell (46), Fairfield (47), Hartford (58)

Maryland paid for its sluggish play Sunday against Ohio State, but the Terrapins would still be in fine shape for a top-two seed if the tournament began today. … That’s two losses in three games for Albany, but the Connor Fields question lingers over the Great Danes far more than their April results. …

It’s going to be tough to dislodge Yale from a top-four seed at this point. The Bulldogs close with rival Harvard and then the Ivy League tournament, which it usually dominates. … There are a lot of teams rooting for Loyola this weekend in the Patriot League tournament. The Greyhounds’ numbers would likely land them an at-large berth if they trip up. …

Denver’s moved into the top 10 of the RPI, and the Pioneers were No. 9 in the selection committee’s top 10 entering the weekend. Winning out would probably land Bill Tierney’s team a first-round home game. … UMass will be the No. 1 seed in the Colonial tournament after handling Fairfield 11-4 on Saturday. The Minutemen wrap up the regular season Friday against Hofstra. …

Richmond clinches the No. 1 seed in the Southern tournament with a victory over Air Force on Saturday. … Saint Joseph’s ran its winning streak to nine last week with victories over Penn and Mount St. Mary’s. The Hawks will claim an outright Northeast Conference regular season title with a defeat of Robert Morris. … Quinnipiac is already assured the top seed in the Metro Atlantic tournament.

At-Large Bids (17 teams/8 spots)







26+ L

Duke 3 6 1-0 4-1 4-2
Johns Hopkins 6 8 0-1 2-1 4-2
Notre Dame 8 5 0-2 2-3 3-3 Michigan (26)
Syracuse 9 1 1-1 3-2 3-5
Virginia 10 7 1-1 1-4 2-4
Villanova 11 12 1-1 1-2 3-2 Brown (27)
Rutgers 12 15 0-1 1-2 3-2 Princeton (30), Army (39)
Cornell 13 20 0-2 1-2 3-2 Colgate (35)
Penn 14 2 1-2 1-2 3-5 Brown (27), Saint Joseph's (38)
Bucknell 15 25 2-0 2-0 2-2 Richmond (31)
Navy 16 19 0-2 1-2 2-3 Jacksonville (33)
Penn State 17 9 0-1 1-1 3-5
Ohio State 18 10 1-0 1-3 1-4
Robert Morris 19 54 0-0 0-0 1-1 Bryant (37)
Vermont 20 57 0-1 0-2 0-2 Stony Brook (34)
North Carolina 21 3 0-1 2-5 2-5 Richmond (31), Hofstra (41)
Georgetown 22 30 0-1 0-2 2-2 Drexel (32)

Duke owns the most top-10 victories of anyone in the field. The Blue Devils would be a solid choice to land the No. 1 seed if they win out (Notre Dame, potentially Virginia/Syracuse and Boston University), though Maryland and perhaps Yale will have a say in that. … Johns Hopkins probably locks in a first-round home game with a victory over Maryland on Saturday. …

Notre Dame isn’t in danger of falling out of the field — yet. The Irish do have to win one more game; losses to Duke and Army to close the year would sink them below .500. … The numbers say Syracuse is a top-10 team with the best strength of schedule and solid work against the top 10. The guess here is the Orange gets a first-round home game if they can go 2-1 or better the rest of the way. …

Virginia: Proof that all the games count the same. The Cavaliers’ victory over Loyola on Feb. 10 looms large, though the Hoos really need to knock off Syracuse on Friday to have a decent case. It’s also worth a reminder that Virginia’s RPI will take a hit simply by playing 2-9 VMI on May 1. … Villanova and Cornell own very similar resumes. Cornell is slightly ahead in this projection based on the committee’s weekend rankings release, but the numbers give a slight nod to Villanova. …

Rutgers took care of business against Penn State. Now it needs to bag a win at surging Ohio State to lock up a place in the Big Ten tournament. … Penn is sitting at .500 on the button. If it lands an Ivy League tournament berth, Penn will need to win a semifinal simply to be eligible for the NCAA tournament. …

Bucknell has a pair of top-five road victories (Yale and Loyola), which makes it one of the more intriguing teams in the at-large pool at the moment. Of course, that was a fair description of Army last year, and it wasn’t enough to get the Black Knights into the field. …  Navy didn’t get quite the expected bump from winning at Syracuse. The Midshipmen might have to win the Patriot League tournament to get in, but at least there’s some hope of an at-large. …

Penn State and Ohio State both probably need to win their next two (regular-season finales plus a Big Ten semifinal) to land an at-large berth. … Robert Morris’ path to the postseason lies in winning two games in the Northeast Conference tournament. … Same goes for Vermont in the America East, though Albany’s problems should give the Catamounts some hope. …

North Carolina’s regular season is complete. Even with a pair of top-10 victories (Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame), the Tar Heels just don’t have enough to get into the field. … Georgetown is a stretch for inclusion on the at-large board, but it has the potential to create all sorts of problems in the Big East tournament.


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) Duke vs. NORTHEAST/Saint Joseph’s-METRO ATLANTIC/Quinnipiac
(8) Syracuse vs. Cornell

Hempstead, N.Y.

(5) PATRIOT/Loyola vs. Virginia
(4) AMERICA EAST/Albany vs. Bucknell

Hempstead, N.Y.

(3) IVY/Yale vs. COLONIAL/UMass
(6) Johns Hopkins vs. Villanova

Annapolis, Md.

(7) BIG EAST/Denver vs. Notre Dame
(2) BIG TEN/Maryland vs. SOUTHERN/Richmond

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

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

Moving in: Virginia
Moving out: Penn

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