Men's Lacrosse Bracketology: What RPI Means is Up for Debate


The NCAA’s decision to allocate the first round of the Division I men’s lacrosse tournament to four sites — with an announcement of those locales likely coming soon — and keep its predetermined quarterfinal and championship weekend hosts doesn’t make the process of picking the 16-team field any easier.

It does, however, make it clear geography will play a role in how the field is bracketed.

That’s nothing new. The NCAA lacrosse committee routinely tries to minimize flights to first-round games by keeping teams within a 400-mile radius of their campuses.

Applying that standard, it would make sense for at least one of the first-round hosts to be a northern school (New England, New York and maybe even New Jersey), one host to be south of the Potomac River and at least one situated between Philadelphia and Washington.

What wouldn’t be logical is to select a host that three teams would need an airplane to reach. (Sorry, Denver).

This week’s projection assumes the fourth host site to be in the Mid-Atlantic for obvious geographic reasons. A small sampling of cities within 400 miles of Baltimore: Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, Amherst and Providence to the north. All three Division I schools in North Carolina (Duke, High Point and North Carolina) are also in that window. Two Mid-Atlantic sites would provide flexibility to create the fairest bracket possible.

In the projection at the bottom, first-round games are listed as generic northern/Mid-Atlantic/southern sites. The bracket is built to ensure only two teams (Denver and Notre Dame) have to fly to first-round games, and future projections will account for the NCAA’s pending announcement of the first-round sites.

One other change this week: The NCAA released its first RPI update, so that figure is included in the charts. But what it might mean is up for debate. Setting aside the garden-variety complaints about the RPI, it was never designed to be seriously used in a season with many teams playing minimal (or nonexistent) non-conference schedules.

Automatic Qualifiers (8)






Notable Wins

Notable Losses

Lehigh 6-0 6 5-0 2-0 Army, Loyola, Navy ---
Maryland 8-0 8 8-0 4-0 Rutgers, at Rutgers, at Ohio State ---
Denver 9-2 11 7-0 4-2 Georgetown, Villanova ---
Monmouth 5-1 13 4-1 1-1 --- at Manhattan
Delaware 7-2 23 4-1 3-1 at Drexel, Saint Joseph's at Mount St. Mary's
Richmond 4-4 25 3-0 2-1 --- ---
Stony Brook 7-3 26 5-1 3-3 Albany, Bryant ---
Saint Joseph's 5-3 30 5-0 3-3 --- at Towson

Lehigh sure looks like it will be the Patriot League tournament host. It gets two games this week against winless Lafayette, then it faces Bucknell the following weekend to close out league play. … Another week, another win for Maryland by a comfortable margin. The closest anyone has come to the Terrapins is Rutgers’ 13-9 loss late last month. …

Denver can clinch the top seed in the Big East tournament with a victory at Georgetown on Saturday. … Monmouth remains a magnet for close contests. Its six games have been decided by a total of 10 goals. …

If player availability because of COVID issues is going to be taken into consideration by the committee, that could help Delaware. The Blue Hens were quite shorthanded in their opening loss at Mount St. Mary’s. … Saturday brings the game of the year in the Southern Conference, as Richmond plays host to Jacksonville. But no matter who wins, the league tournament will be at Richmond next month. …

Stony Brook has the potential to be a fun team in the postseason. The Seawolves have scored at least 12 goals in nine of their 10 games. … Saint Joseph’s cleared the first of three key hurdles in a row in the Northeast title race, edging Hobart 13-12. The Hawks visit Bryant on Saturday.

At-Large (19 teams/8 slots)






Notable Wins

Notable Losses

Virginia 9-2 1 2-2 3-1 at Notre Dame, at North Carolina, Army, at Loyola, Richmond ---
Duke 10-1 2 2-1 3-1 North Carolina, Syracuse, Denver, at Richmond ---
Army 5-2 3 3-1 3-2 at Syracuse, at Loyola, Saint Joseph's ---
North Carolina 8-2 4 1-2 2-1 at Virginia, Denver, at Richmond ---
Syracuse 5-3 5 1-2 0-1 Virginia, Vermont, Stony Brook, Albany ---
Notre Dame 6-1 9 2-1 1-0 Duke, at Syracuse ---
Rutgers 6-2 10 6-2 3-1 at Ohio State, Ohio State ---
UMass 3-3 12 3-2 1-2 at Hofstra, Drexel ---
Drexel 5-2 14 3-2 1-1 at Delaware, UMass ---
Georgetown 8-1 15 7-1 5-1 at Villanova, Villanova ---
Bryant 5-2 17 3-1 2-1 Vermont Hobart
Albany 6-3 18 4-2 2-2 UMass, UMBC ---
UMBC 5-2 20 4-2 1-2 Stony Brook, Vermont at Binghamton
Villanova 4-3 21 4-3 2-2 --- ---
Loyola 5-4 22 3-2 2-2 at Richmond at Towson
Vermont 5-3 34 5-1 3-3 at Albany ---
Hofstra 6-3 35 3-2 3-1 Stony Brook, at UMass at Towson, St. John's
Ohio State 4-4 37 4-4 2-2 --- at Penn State


Duke’s profile remains strong despite its loss to Notre Dame. One thing that might hold the Blue Devils back is the absence of a truly high-end road victory — a problem they can rectify Thursday at Virginia. … Speaking of the Cavaliers, Virginia owns the only victory over Notre Dame and one of two against North Carolina — both away from Charlottesville. Even with two losses, you could argue the Hoos into a No. 1 seed at the moment. …

Notre Dame is only playing 10 regular-season games, so every one carries a bit more influence in the bracketing process than the larger schedules other ACC teams are facing. The upshot: The Irish’s victories over Duke and Syracuse will likely carry them far. … North Carolina’s back-to-back losses to Duke and Virginia are a hit to its seeding, but its overall profile remains strong.


Army is the only team to win a non-conference game against an ACC school, and the Black Knights’ victory over Syracuse is a valuable asset. Of course, more performances like Saturday’s 12-7 defeat of Loyola could lead to a Patriot League tournament title and no at-large anxieties. … Syracuse is probably the most vulnerable of the five ACC teams, but that’s nothing a couple more league victories couldn’t solve. That, of course, is easier said than done against North Carolina and at Virginia and Notre Dame. …

Rutgers has to be in full control-what-you-can-control mode for the next two weeks, much like it was while blistering Penn State 22-10 last week. The Scarlet Knights close the regular season against Johns Hopkins and Michigan, a pair of 2-6 teams. … There might be only one other team with more to gain this week than Georgetown, which gets a second shot at Denver after losing in the Mile High City last month.


… Ohio State, which is 4-4 with a trip to Maryland looming on Sunday. If the Buckeyes win that game, they’ll own one of the best victories on the board and create a far wider path to the postseason. Lose, and they’ll pretty much be on the spot to make a lot of noise in the Big Ten tournament.


There is enough parity in both the CAA (DrexelHofstra and UMass, as well as league leader Delaware) and the America East (AlbanyUMBC and Vermont, plus projected automatic qualifier Stony Brook) that no one has been able to dominate. That reduces the chances of either league producing multiple NCAA teams. …

It’s looking more and more like Loyola will have to win the Patriot League tournament to earn its way into the field after falling to Army. The Greyhounds’ most valuable remaining opportunity in the regular season is a May 1 visit from Georgetown. … Villanova had a similar experience, losing at Denver to fall to 0-3 against the Big East’s top two teams. The Wildcats will need a run in the league tournament to earn their way in.


Hempstead, N.Y., quarterfinal

(1) BIG TEN/Maryland vs. METRO ATLANTIC/Monmouth                 (Mid-Atlantic site)
(8) Army vs. Syracuse                                                                                 (Northern site)

Notre Dame, Ind., quarterfinal

(5) North Carolina vs. COLONIAL/Delaware                                         (Mid-Atlantic site)
(4) Duke vs. SOUTHERN/Richmond                                                        (Southern site)

Notre Dame, Ind., quarterfinal

(3) Notre Dame vs. AMERICA EAST/Stony Brook                                (Mid-Atlantic site)
(6) BIG EAST/Denver vs. Rutgers                                                             (Northern site)

Hempstead, N.Y., quarterfinal

(7) PATRIOT/Lehigh vs. Georgetown                                                      (Mid-Atlantic site)
(2) Virginia vs. NORTHEAST/Saint Joseph’s                                          (Southern site)

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