Ohio State, Harvard Get Into NCAA Tournament Over Duke, Notre Dame

PHOTO COURTESY OF HARVARD ATHLETICS

Harvard co-captain Charlie Olmert in a game against Brown on March 19. The Crimson's win over the Bears, as well as triumphs against Boston University and Princeton, loomed large in their at-large selection.


Duke had too many blemishes. Notre Dame’s house of cards consisted of devalued ACC wins.

Saturday’s showdown in South Bend, it turned out, was a merely an exhibition.

Despite superior metrics, neither team qualified for the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse tournament. The 18-team field, including two play-in games, was revealed Sunday night on ESPNU — the most controversial selection show in recent memory.

Six Ivy League teams made the tournament, most surprisingly Harvard (RPI: 15, SOS: 21), which along with Ohio State (RPI: 14, SOS: 10) received the at-large bids projected to go to Duke (RPI: 7, SOS: 13) and Notre Dame (RPI: 11, SOS: 16). They were the only top-12 RPI teams snubbed.

“It was definitely some tense conversations,” said Loyola athletic director Donna Woodruff, chair of the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse committee. “We ended up with six teams (Brown, Duke, Harvard, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Virginia) we were considering for four spots. When Duke and Notre Dame were compared, they ended up with more significant losses especially for Duke and for Notre Dame, just not enough significant wins at the end of the day.”







In addition to Woodruff, the committee consists of North Carolina coach Joe Breschi, Denver deputy athletic director Brandon Macneill, Hobart coach Greg Raymond and Delaware deputy athletic director Jordan Skolnick.

They were excoriated especially for the omission of Notre Dame, which won its last six games, beating Duke and Syracuse each twice during that stretch. But those wins held far less water than they do most years.

“If you watched Duke-Notre Dame yesterday, those are final four-caliber teams,” ESPN analyst Paul Carcaterra said. “Isn’t the goal to get the best teams in the NCAA tournament?”

“This is the year we’ll look back say it’s time to change the formula,” Carcaterra added as the show went off the air. “It’s time for reform.”

Ohio State beat both Harvard and Notre Dame head-to-head. The Buckeyes were the third Big Ten team included in the field, joining No. 1 seed Maryland and No. 6 seed Rutgers, which ousted Ohio State in the conference semifinals. The body of work mattered more.

 “Our job as a committee is to stick with selection criteria, not to consider what time of year it is and whether someone is getting hot at the right time,” Woodruff said.

Two-time defending NCAA champion Virginia was the only ACC team that made it. The last time the powerhouse conference did not have multiple teams competing in the NCAA tournament was 1975.

The Cavaliers landed in the same quadrant of the bracket as Maryland, setting up a potential national championship game rematch in the quarterfinals should both teams advance.

“You’ve done Maryland no favors,” ESPN analyst Quint Kessenich said. “This bracket has zero equity.”

Woodruff defended the committee’s bracketing procedure, which considers travel and conference affiliations when determining matchups.

“Our job is to look at the top eight seeds and stick with seeding those,” she said. “There’s going to be some potential matchups as we move through tournament that people may or may not agree with, but our job at end of day was to seed the top eight and do our best after that to fill out the bracket.”

Maryland earned the No. 1 seed for the fourth time in the last six tournaments. The Terps will host the winner of a play-in game between America East champion Vermont and MAAC champion Manhattan.

Big East champion Georgetown got the No. 2 seed and will host the winner of the other play-in game between Delaware (CAA) and Robert Morris (ASUN).

Ivy League teams soaked up the next three seeds, with conference champion Penn slotted at No. 3 and hosting Richmond (Southern Conference) in the first round. Fourth-seeded Yale and fifth-seeded Princeton will take on Saint Joseph’s (Northeast Conference) and Boston University (Patriot League), respectively.

Rutgers was awarded its first NCAA tournament home game since 2003. The sixth-seeded Scarlet Knights take on Harvard, who received an at-large bid on the strength of wins over NCAA tournament contenders Brown, Boston University and Princeton.

Two more Ivies got first-round home games. Seventh-seeded Cornell will meet Ohio State and eighth-seeded Brown will host Virginia.

The Maryland and Georgetown quadrants will funnel into NCAA quarterfinals in Columbus, Ohio. Winners of the Penn and Yale quadrants will play their quarterfinals in Hempstead, N.Y. Vermont and Delaware are play-in game hosts.

NCAA DIVISION I MEN’S LACROSSE TOURNAMENT
ALL TIMES EASTERN

First-Round Matchups

(1) Maryland vs. Vermont/Manhattan
(8) Brown vs. Virginia

(5) Princeton vs. Boston University
(4) Yale vs. Saint Joseph’s

(3) Penn vs. Richmond
(6) Rutgers vs. Harvard

(7) Cornell vs. Ohio State
(2) Georgetown vs. Delaware/Robert Morris

Saturday, May 14

Boston University at (5) Princeton – 12 p.m.
Richmond at (3) Penn – 2:30 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s at (4) Yale – 5 p.m.
Virginia at (8) Brown – 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 15

Vermont/Manhattan at (1) Maryland – 12 p.m.
Harvard at (6) Rutgers – 2:30 p.m.
Ohio State at (7) Cornell – 5 p.m.
Delaware/Robert Morris at (2) Georgetown – 7:30 p.m.

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