Every SINGLE year, the same conversation comes up, and every SINGLE year, it’s justified. The NCAA Division 2 tournament field is simply WAY too small. It is expanding by 150% next year I believe, but that is still going to be too small. Before you jump down my throat for calling a 150% expansion too small, remember that it only means D2 will jump from 4 teams to 6.
This year, Adelphi travels down to Gaffney, South Carolina, to take on perennial South power, Limestone. I like Limestone to win this game, as it’s at home, but it’s no guarantee. Limestone’s only loss this season came on neutral ground against Merchurst by a score of 12-8. Adelphi plays in the NE-10 conference and the only team that Limestone played from the NE-1o, was LeMoyne, who they beat at a neutral site 11-9, when LeMoyne was ranked #1. Whatever the result, it should be a great contest.
In the other Semifinal, CW Post hosts Mercyhurst. Hurst is 12-2 and Post is 16-1. The two played earlier in the year, and Post took a 4-3 win at home back on April 9th. These two have really battled for the past couple of seasons and this game has the potential to be one of the best games of the year in D2. I like Post to pull out the close W in another low-scoring game and make another run at their third consecutive national championship. They have a good D, a solid O and simply know how to win. I remember watching them play live last year vs Dowling in the Semis and even when they were down, they looked like they knew how to win.
Both of these games are going to be fantastic match-ups, and that is EXACTLY where the problem lies… there should be MORE games! There was a time in DIIville where the top 2-4 teams really we heads and shoulders above the rest, but that’s simply not case anymore. There are now 5-8 teams that can REALLY compete each year and it’s a shame to see 1-4 teams left out, especially when they are pretty deserving.
This year, LeMoyne, Merrimack, Dowling, Mars Hill, Mercy and Catawba could all have made a push for bids, and as the WILA improves each year, teams like Dominican and NDNU should also be considered. The move to 6 teams will be an improvement, but still only means that 14% of the teams in the division get a shot at a NC. In D1, around 27% of the teams get a bid, and in DIII, 15% of the teams get bids, but this means 26 teams are dancing, and only 1 or 2 legitimate squads are usually left out each year. Right now, D2 gets 10% of their teams in.
DII is a small division, and it’s a little top heavy, in that the top 10 (ish) teams are noticeably better than the lower 30. In order for this division to grow, the opportunity to make the NCAAs must be extended to more teams, in more places. Schools like Mercy and Chestnut Hill are already competing for bids, but it is because they are in established hot bed areas, and play other top teams regularly. For WILA teams, or teams down South, this isn’t quite as easy. So the tourney simply must expand. 6 teams is a start, but if the NCAA goes a little bigger, the number of schools participating will surely increase, especially in non-traditional areas. And this is good for the game.
DII lax is fantastic. It’s played at a very high level, by excellent athletes, who really know their lax. 4 teams is clearly insufficient, 6 teams is a start, but 8 teams should really be the goal. With 8 teams, 20% of the Division would be represented, DII would be in between DI and DIII, and the smallest division in college lacrosse would be incentivized to grow rapidly.