Bracketology: Crowded Scene on the Women’s Lacrosse Bubble

PHOTO COURTESY OF STANFORD ATHLETICS

Stanford's Galen Lew shoots on Colorado goalie Grace Donnelly during an April 1 game in Palo Alto, Calif.


The theme of this year’s tournament selection may be chaos on the bubble. At least two, and possibly up to five teams, will have a gripe on May 8.

Typically, we are left with three or four teams battling for the final two at-large spots on Selection Sunday. This year’s volatility has 10 candidates fighting for five spots with little separation in the middle. Add in the drama of two teams in Notre Dame (8-8) and Virginia (8-8) fighting for their eligibility on Friday and there’s plenty of talking points.

To demonstrate how wacky the bubble proceedings are, let’s examine the teams in question:

  • Michigan lost to Ohio State and beat Notre Dame, Arizona State and Johns Hopkins.

  • Arizona State split with Stanford and swept Colorado.

  • Stanford split Arizona State, swept USC, split with Colorado and lost to Richmond.

  • Notre Dame beat Virginia and lost to Virginia Tech.

  • Virginia Tech beat James Madison and lost to Liberty and Virginia.

  • Virginia beat Richmond and Virginia Tech and lost to Notre Dame.

  • Richmond beat Stanford and lost to Virginia.

  • Just this past weekend, Johns Hopkins beat Ohio State.

There’s a lot going on and the committee has some guidelines to follow, namely RPI, strength of schedule, significant wins and losses, head-to-head matchups and records against common opponents. If all else fails, the committee will lean on recent performance in the past six games.  

Let’s look closely at our final two teams in this week’s field (Stanford and Ohio State) against the first two teams out (Johns Hopkins and Virginia Tech).

 

STAN

OSU

JHU

VT

Record

10-6

9-6

9-7

9-8

RPI

27

21

18

34

SOS

19

18

14

11

vs. 11-20

2-0

1-2

1-1

1-1

vs. 21-40

3-4

2-1

3-1

1-2

Sig W

USC (15) (x2)

Michigan (19)

OSU (21)

JMU (12)

Sig L

Colorado (39)

Colorado (39)

Navy (38)

Liberty (50)

Last 6

5-1

3-3

4-2

2-4

Each of these four teams has lost to a team that isn’t currently in the field.

What stands out for Stanford is sweeping current Pac-12 top seed USC as part of its five wins against the RPI top 40.

For Ohio State, its win over Michigan is a highlight despite last week’s loss to Johns Hopkins.

Then you have the enigma that is Virginia Tech, which took down James Madison but fell to Liberty.

On a head-to-head basis, it seems obvious to put Johns Hopkins in the field because the Blue Jays beat the Buckeyes. However, if that were to take place then Hopkins wouldn’t have a win over a tournament team, whereas the Buckeyes still would (Michigan).

Virginia Tech’s low RPI (34) and loss to Liberty keeps them behind the Blue Jays for now.

With some conference tournaments starting this weekend, unpredictability will continue to reign as the bubble expands and contracts with every result that pours in.

NOTES

  • Records against the top 20, top 21-40, significant wins and significant losses (41st or higher) are based on performance against the current RPI rankings (as of Monday, April 25), not human polls.

  • Results from Monday and Tuesday games are not included.

  • First-place teams are listed as automatic qualifiers.

  • In the event of a tie, the AQ goes to the highest-rated team in the RPI.

  • For the 2022 season, 15 automatic qualifiers will be granted. No play-in games will take place in the 29-team field.

AUTOMATIC QUALIFIERS (15)

North Carolina (15-0) ACC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

1

4

7-0

4-0

6-0

Maryland (14-1) Big Ten

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

5

8

5-2

5-0

6-0

Florida (11-4) AAC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

6

13

2-4

2-0

6-0

Denver (14-1) Big East

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

7

31

2-1

4-0

6-0

Princeton (10-3) Ivy League

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

11

24

2-3

3-0

4-2

Loyola (15-1) Patriot League

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

14

28

3-1

4-0

6-0

USC (12-3) Pac-12

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

15

31

2-1

4-2

5-1

UMass (15-2) Atlantic 10

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

17

47

0-2

5-0

6-0

Jacksonville (11-3) ASUN

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

20

56

0-2

1-1

6-0

Albany (7-7) America East

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

36

42

0-2

1-2

4-2

Drexel (41), Cornell (49)

Drexel (9-6) CAA

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

41

38

0-3

2-3

4-2

Penn (40)

Siena (10-7) MAAC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

44

69

0-1

0-1

4-2

6 losses of 40+

Mercer (11-4) Big South

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

45

90

0-3

0-0

5-1

High Point (53)

Bryant (10-3) NEC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

63

111

0-0

0-1

5-1

Brown (57), UNH (68)

Robert Morris (8-7) MAC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

87

103

0-0

0-1

4-2

5 losses of 40+

North Carolina smoked rival Duke to claim the outright ACC regular season title. … Maryland staked its claim to the Big Ten by taking out Northwestern. …  Florida dispatched its only two threats in the AAC the past two weeks. An in-state rivalry matchup with Jacksonville awaits on Wednesday. …

Denver has a loose grip on the No. 8 seed as of now. … Princeton has beaten everyone it’s supposed to thus far. … Loyola will be an interesting case study for how the committee evaluates a team with quality wins (Florida and Princeton) but a lower-than-expected RPI (14). …

USC gets the Pac-12 bid this week due to a superior RPI over Stanford. … UMass is the top seed for this week’s Atlantic 10 tournament. The Minutewomen likely have to win the AQ as a slipup in the current bubble environment would prove costly. … Jacksonville looks to spring another upset on the Gators this week before the ASUN tournament next week. …

Albany faces Stony Brook for the America East regular season crown. Even a loss won’t knock the Great Danes out of the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament, since the CAA-bound Seawolves are ineligible. … Drexel is back as the CAA’s entrant on the fact the Dragons have won one more game than Towson. … Siena is the team du jour in the MAAC, which had six of its nine teams finish at .500 or better. Anyone can win this tournament. …

Mercer suffered its first Big South loss against High Point and is now in a three-way tie for first with the Panthers and Campbell. … Bryant can clinch the top seed and hosting rights to its final NEC tournament by beating Central Connecticut on Wednesday. … Robert Morris stumbled in MAC play for the first time against Central Michigan but will be favored in its final three conference games as it tries to get the top seed in its final NEC season.







AT-LARGE (23 TEAMS/14 SPOTS)

Northwestern (13-3) Big Ten

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

2

2

5-3

5-0

5-1

Boston College (14-2) ACC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

35

6

4-2

5-0

5-1

Syracuse (13-4) ACC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

4

1

4-4

6-0

4-2

Stony Brook (13-2) America East

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

8

25

3-2

2-0

6-0

Rutgers (13-3) Big Ten

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

9

17

4-2

2-1

4-2

Duke (15-2) ACC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

10

21

1-2

6-0

5-1

James Madison (12-4) CAA

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

12

16

2-2

4-2

6-0

UConn (13-2) Big East

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

13

48

1-2

2-0

5-1

Temple (10-5) AAC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

16

35

0-4

3-0

4-2

Delaware (67)

Johns Hopkins (9-7) Big Ten

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

18

14

0-6

3-1

4-2

Michigan (10-5) Big Ten

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

19

12

1-3

3-1

2-4

Ohio State (9-6) Big Ten

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

21

18

1-5

2-1

3-3

Notre Dame (8-8) ACC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

22

5

1-6

3-2

4-2

Virginia (8-8) ACC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

23

3

0-7

4-1

3-3

Yale (10-4) Ivy League

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

25

50

0-2

3-1

5-1

Arizona State (9-7) Pac-12

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

26

10

2-2

3-4

5-1

Stanford (10-6) Pac-12

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

27

19

2-2

3-4

5-1

Army (11-5) Patriot League

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

28

53

0-3

1-1

3-3

Bucknell (76)

Vanderbilt (9-6) AAC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

30

27

0-4

2-2

3-3

Richmond (14-3) Atlantic 10

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

31

66

0-2

3-1

5-1

Virginia Tech (9-8) ACC

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

34

11

1-5

1-2

2-4

Liberty (50)

Saint Joseph's (11-6) Atlantic 10

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

37

41

0-3

2-3

4-2

Colorado (10-5) Pac-12

RPI

SOS

1-20

21-40

L6

40+L

39

28

0-2

4-3

3-3

Northwestern and Syracuse predictably fell a spot after their losses to conference rivals. … Boston College holds steady at No. 2 with a bounceback win over the Orange. NU slots in at No. 4, while Syracuse falls to the No. 5 seed. …

Stony Brook can cap its time in the America East with yet another perfect season by defeating Albany this weekend. … Rutgers moved up in the RPI and back within striking distance of a seed line. The Scarlet Knights must be wary of this week’s opponent, bubble dweller Ohio State. … Duke was outclassed by UNC and now must face a desperate Notre Dame, which hosts the ACC quarterfinal matchup Friday. …

James Madison closes its CAA tenure with a road game at Drexel on Saturday. … UConn took care of business against in-state foe Yale to maintain its hold on an at-large bid. … Temple is still without a marquee victory, and thus, is out of this week’s field. …

Johns Hopkins made some noise in beating Ohio State. The Blue Jays must beat Penn State this weekend to keep their season alive. … Michigan was idle last week and managed to withstand the chaos around them. Maryland visits Ann Arbor on Saturday. … Ohio State finds itself in real trouble after losing to Johns Hopkins. A win over Rutgers would do wonders.

Notre Dame has fought all the way back to .500 to be tournament eligible. A quarterfinal win over Duke on home turf could clinch an at-large bid. … Virginia has yo-yoed on the .500 line all season. Facing Syracuse in the ACC quarterfinals is a tall task, but one where a victory would assure the Cavs a trip to the dance. … Yale couldn’t get it done against UConn and in Monday’s game against Stony Brook fell just shy of an upset. Saturday at Princeton is another opportunity. …

Arizona State didn’t get it done against USC and now will rest this week before hosting the Pac-12 tournament May 4-7. … Stanford clinched a share of a Pac-12 title by beating Cal. The Cardinal now await Colorado or Oregon in the Pac-12 semifinals May 5, which will be just their second game in 25 days. … Army will not likely receive an at-large bid this season, but the Black Knights did take down Navy for the first time in women’s lacrosse. …

Vanderbilt remains 30th in the RPI and likely needs the AAC automatic bid to make the NCAA tournament. … Richmond was bumped down a couple slots after Notre Dame and Virginia re-entered the at-large pool. … Virginia Tech’s loss to Virginia allowed the Cavs back into the field and pushed the Hokies down the pecking order. …

Saint Joseph’s is the No. 3 seed for this week’s Atlantic 10 tournament, where the Hawks hope to advance to the semifinals and play Richmond. … Colorado’s RPI tanked again — down to No. 39. The Buffs need at least two wins in the Pac-12 tournament, and likely three, to reach another NCAA tournament.

PROJECTED BRACKET

Bracketing procedures:

  • The committee seeds the top eight teams to host first- and second-round games. The top three seeds will receive byes into the second round. All other teams are unseeded and will be placed with geographical considerations (e.g., teams will drive vs. fly), while maintaining bracket integrity when possible.

  • Schools located more than 400 miles from any host institution will fly to their assigned location.

  • Conference matchups must be avoided in the first round.

  • It’s possible a seeded team may not host due to factors such as facility availability. We anticipate each seed hosting and bracket them accordingly, but the committee may not have that option.

Chapel Hill, N.C.

Arizona State vs. Virginia
Winner plays at (1) North Carolina (ACC)

Denver

Jacksonville (ASUN) at (8) Denver (BIG EAST)
Florida (AMERICAN) vs. Stanford

Evanston, Ill.

Mercer (BIG SOUTH) at (4) Northwestern
Michigan
vs. Notre Dame

Syracuse, N.Y.

Robert Morris (MAC) at (5) Syracuse
Princeton
(IVY) vs. Albany (AMERICA EAST)

Newton, Mass.

USC vs. UConn
Winner plays at (2) Boston College

Baltimore

Siena (MAAC) at Loyola (PATRIOT)
Duke vs. Drexel (CAA)

Stony Brook, N.Y.

Bryant (NEC) at (6) Stony Brook
Rutgers
vs. UMass (A-10)

College Park, Md.

James Madison vs. Ohio State
Winner plays at (3) Maryland (BIG TEN)

Last four in: Notre Dame, Virginia, Stanford, Ohio State

First four out: Johns Hopkins, Virginia Tech, Richmond, Colorado

Next four out: Temple, Vanderbilt, Yale, Saint Joseph’s

Moving in: Notre Dame, Virginia

Moving out: Colorado, Virginia Tech

Conference call: ACC (6), Big Ten (5), Pac-12 (3), America East (2), Big East (2), CAA (2)

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