Men's Lacrosse Bracketology: Beware of Bid Thieves


It’s time to beware of bid thieves. Only this year, there aren’t as many as usual.

In fact, any concerns on that front could be gone a full 48 hours before the 16-team field is unveiled.

In the Big Ten, Michigan and Johns Hopkins could snatch a spot with two more victories apiece. Providence and Villanova loom in the Big East, while Boston University, Colgate, Loyola and Navy could create headaches in the Patriot League.

In the case of Navy in particular, it might not be necessary to win the Patriot League tournament. The Midshipmen’s profile would look pretty good if it added a second defeat of both Loyola and especially Army. And there’s a case to be made for Loyola and Villanova as at-large candidates even if they don’t win their leagues.

Nonetheless, if Friday night arrives and there are Maryland-Rutgers, Denver-Georgetown and Army-Lehigh conference title games set for the weekend, there should not be much tension regarding who’s in and out come Sunday night.

Automatic Qualifiers (8)







Notable Losses (25+)

Maryland 10-0 7 0-0 0-0 2-0 ---
Denver 11-3 9 0-2 0-2 3-3 ---
Delaware 10-2 14 0-0 0-0 3-1 at Mount St. Mary's (43)
UMBC 8-2 16 0-0 0-0 0-0 at Albany (30), at Binghamton (37)
Lehigh 9-1 18 0-0 1-0 2-1 ---
Saint Joseph's 8-3 23 0-0 0-1 0-3 ---
Manhattan 4-4 27 0-0 0-1 0-1 at Monmouth (29), St. Bonaventure (33)
Richmond 6-5 28 0-3 0-3 2-3 Air Force (39)

Maryland, which opens Big Ten tournament play against Michigan on Thursday, will probably benefit from largely compiling blowout victories all season — even if the league’s closed circuit makes it hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison. The Terrapins will likely wind up a top-three seed if it completes the Big Ten double. … Denver is in fine shape for an at-large should it require it, and the Pioneers won’t have anything to worry about so long as they dispatch Providence on Thursday in the Big East semifinals. …

Delaware is two victories away from its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011. The Blue Hens could be an interesting only-in-2021 at-large test case if they lose a tight CAA final to Drexel, but they’d no doubt rather not force that issue. Delaware meets Hofstra in Thursday’s league semifinals. … The America East tournament at UMBC might be as wide open as any this week. The Retrievers (as well as Albany, Stony Brook and Vermont) are all more than capable of winning twice in three days. …

If Lehigh had beaten Villanova, it probably would have been safely in, even with a Patriot League tournament loss. Now, the Mountain Hawks would be well-served at least making the final, just to be safe. … Saint Joseph’s, which is seeking its first NCAA tournament appearance, has won eight in a row heading into the Northeast tournament. The NEC will again be one-bid territory. …

A Metro Atlantic quarterfinal bye probably wasn’t a bad thing for Manhattan. Third-seeded Detroit lost to St. Bonaventure, and undefeated Marist fell to Canisius in Friday quarterfinal action. The Jaspers get Canisius at home on Wednesday. … Wednesday’s Southern Conference semifinals are rematches from the final weekend of the regular season. Richmond, coming off a 9-8 loss to Air Force, faces the Falcons again, while High Point and Jacksonville also meet for the second time in five days.

At-Large (12 teams/8 slots)







Notable Losses (25+)

North Carolina 11-2 1 3-2 5-2 7-2 ---
Duke 12-2 2 3-2 5-2 7-2 ---
Virginia 10-4 4 2-2 3-4 5-4 ---
Notre Dame 7-3 5 1-3 2-3 2-3 ---
Syracuse 6-5 6 2-4 2-5 2-5 ---
Army 7-3 8 0-1 1-1 1-3 ---
Drexel 8-2 11 0-0 0-0 3-1 at UMass (31)
Georgetown 10-2 12 0-0 1-1 3-1 ---
Rutgers 8-2 13 0-0 0-2 0-2 ---
Navy 6-2 15 0-0 1-0 1-1 ---
Villanova 7-4 17 0-0 0-2 1-4 ---
Loyola 7-5 21 0-1 0-2 2-5 ---

North Carolina and Duke split two games and have similar profiles. What separates them? In this more subjective year, probably the Tar Heels winning some lopsided games while all of Duke’s truly high-end victories were close. The seeding edge should go to North Carolina. …

Both Virginia and Notre Dame are in the clubhouse, and barring a surprise Maryland loss in the Big Ten tournament, look like the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds in some order. Virginia won the lone head-to-head and upended North Carolina but also got swept by a Syracuse team the Fighting Irish clobbered twice. Worth noting: Notre Dame is a quarterfinal host, so a 4/5 game between the teams would be played in South Bend regardless of who gets seeded higher. …

It would not be a good idea for Syracuse to lose to Robert Morris on Friday. Considering the Colonials played Duke tough for more than three quarters and were tied with Virginia with 10 minutes left, it’s not an outlandish possibility. … Army is leaning heavily on that February victory at Syracuse. The Black Knights probably have work to do in the Patriot League tournament to firm up their standing; potentially getting swept by Navy would not make for a favorable head-to-head comparison. …

Both of these things can be true: Drexel is playing as well as it has since its 2014 quarterfinal appearance, and its early loss at UMass sticks out in a bad way compared to other at-large candidates. … Georgetown’s clunker at Loyola on Thursday places a greater onus on its Big East semifinal against Villanova than the Hoyas wanted. Kevin Warne’s team should be in with a win, but a loss would make for three nervous days on the Hilltop. …

Rutgers is downright impossible to evaluate vis-à-vis the rest of the at-large field, so it needs to avoid offering any reason to leave it out. So far, so good. The next step: Beat 3-8 Johns Hopkins in the Big Ten semifinals. … Navy needs to win the rubber game of its season series against Loyola to realistically stay in the hunt, but the Midshipmen are playing well. They take a three-game winning streak into the Patriot tournament. …

Villanova needed to do something last week to stay on the at-large board. Walloping Lehigh counts. Now the Wildcats need to pick off Georgetown to advance to the Big East final. … Loyola’s upset of Georgetown keeps it in the at-large conversation, but it needs more. Beating Navy (Tuesday) and Army (Friday) would keep the Greyhounds in the mix right up to the last day of the regular season.


A few notes worth remembering …

  • The NCAA plans to use four predetermined first-round sites that it will announce on Selection Sunday, with two games played at each.

  • Limiting air travel remains a priority for the NCAA, so this won’t necessarily be a 1-through-16 bracket. Historically, the NCAA tries to bracket the field so only two teams must travel more than 400 miles for a first-round game, though it isn’t a completely inflexible rule.

  • Quarterfinal hosts are funneled into their home sites. So whichever quadrant of the bracket Notre Dame lands in will play a second-weekend game on the Fighting Irish’s home field. The same would be true for Hofstra if it wins the Colonial tournament.

Hempstead, N.Y., quarterfinal

(1) North Carolina vs. METRO ATLANTIC/Manhattan
(8) Army vs. Rutgers

Notre Dame, Ind., quarterfinal

(5) Notre Dame vs. COLONIAL/Delaware
(4) Virginia vs. AMERICA EAST/UMBC

Notre Dame, Ind., quarterfinal

(3) Duke vs. SOUTHERN/Richmond
(6) BIG EAST/Denver vs. Syracuse

Hempstead, N.Y., quarterfinal    

(7) Georgetown vs. PATRIOT/Lehigh
(2) BIG TEN/Maryland vs. NORTHEAST/Saint Joseph’s

Last three included: Army, Rutgers, Syracuse
First three on the outside: Navy, Drexel, Villanova

Moving in: ---
Moving out: ---

Conference call: Atlantic Coast (5), Big East (2), Big Ten (2), Patriot (2)

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