Earlier this week, we hinted that the NCAA D1 Men’s Lacrosse could expand in 2014 due to a new NCAA rule, allowing certain sports (like lacrosse) to count play-in games as tourney games. This means the NCAA can pay expenses, and the games will count as official tournament appearances.
The 2014 D1 tourney will feature 18 teams as opposed to 16 teams, and this means the bottom four AQ teams will have to battle for a spot before anyone else has to play a game. Their reward? Facing the #1 or #2 seed. The Atlantic Sun and ACC will get AQs this year, and this brings the total number of AQ conferences to 10. The same will hold true in 2015 when the ECAC disbands because the Big Ten will get an AQ bid.
The NCAA D3 tourney will also expand, moving from 29 teams to a more even 30. There is a new AQ conference in the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC), and the Pool B (Independent) and Pool C (at-large) categories remain at 5 slots apiece. With two more teams added in, D3 will reach the “magical” 32 number, where the current regional playoff format (North-South) could potentially expand.