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Laxcot 2018 bracket NCAA Tournament

Is this NCAA Tournament Bracket Serious?!?

The NCAA Tournament brackets are out! While all men’s and women’s bracket have been released across each division, lets just focus on the men’s D1 right now. There were not too many surprises but this year, more than most, geography really seemed to matter more than anything.

The NCAA Tournament brackets are out! While all men’s and women’s bracket have been released across each division, lets just focus on the men’s D1 right now. There were not too many surprises but this year, more than most, geography really seemed to matter more than anything. There have been years where the committee seemed OK with more flights, but that is not the case this time around.

The other thing I don’t love is there are the three rematches. I like new matchups. But, if there are going to be rematches, I like the ones we have. Almost all of them were pretty great games the first time around.

Now, when it comes to seeding, it’s very, VERY important to remember what the Selection Committee Chair John Hardt said: “The eye test and how a team is trending down the stretch is not part of the criteria.” 

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That makes this very different than your weekly media poll and it’s why you’ll see a ton of differences between the top 8 seeds and your actual top 8 teams. The other major factor here from Hardt was, “It doesn’t matter when a game is played.” A season opening loss is worth just as much as one this past weekend.

So without delaying too much more, onto the bracket!

Who Made It?

By Conference

  • ACC: 4 (Duke, ND, UVA, & Cuse)
  • Big East: 3 (Denver, Nova, & Georgetown)
  • Big Ten: 2 (Maryland & Hopkins)
  • Ivy: 2 (Yale & Cornell)
  • Patriot: 1 (Loyola)
  • SoCon: 1 (Richmond)
  • MAAC: 1 (Canisius)
  • Northeast: 1 (Robert Morris)
  • America East: 1 (Albany)
  • CAA: 1 (UMass)

Interesting notes here: The Big East sent three teams because of the surprise conference title going to Georgetown. All three teams are on the road. The Georgetown bid stole what was likely another Big Ten spot, but it could have gone to the Patriot league. Of the four ACC teams, three are hosting first round games. The bracket is also setup in a way that you could get an all-ACC championship weekend like we had back in 2011. Unlikely, but possible.

The NCAA Tournament Bracket

Laxcot 2018 bracket NCAA Tournament
Art by Jim Fenzel

Play-in Game

Canisius hosting Robert Morris (Wednesday)

Canisius made this tournament on a miracle of a play. They lost the opening faceoff in overtime when Detroit won it backwards. Detroit made a bad pass, it was picked off my Canisius, then scored on an empty net and they now host an NCAA game. What a weekend. Robert Morris also needed overtime to make it this far, avenging a loss to St. Joseph’s to take the Northeast championship. Robert Morris has been in the national conversation all year long, so I would expect them to win this handily. But, that’s why they play the games!

First Round

#1 Maryland vs. Play-in Winner (Sunday Noon ET)

Whichever team wins on Wednesday will travel down to Maryland on Sunday. Maryland is coming off a loss but has been one of the best teams all year long. Their season resume justifies a top seed, even though I don’t even have them as my #1 in my media ballot. This is about the season and the Terps have been incredible all year.

#2 Albany vs. Richmond (Saturday 5 ET)

Richmond, like Robert Morris and Canisius, also needed overtime to make it this far. They are not nearly as strong as they have been in years past, but are still in the same place. For Albany this is a fantastic game since they get a relatively easy matchup by giving Richmond one of the few opening round flights. Remember this is where Syracuse had the #2 last year and was given Yale as an opener. Albany will pack the house and look to make a statement.

#3 Yale vs. UMass (Saturday Noon ET)

Maryland may have been the best team all year long, but Yale has been on fire as of late. Going into the Ivy championship, they looked unbeatable. Now because of that loss, you have a motivated Yale team coming off a loss. UMass will have a short drive down I-91 to see if they’re for real. The Minutemen have had an excruciatingly weak schedule this year, but looked impressive in their CAA title win over Towson. They can definitely play, but a motived Yale squad may be too much.

#4 Duke vs. Villanova (Saturday 2:15 ET)

Villanova was essentially THE bubble team. As they were watching the selection show, I can promise you they already were formulating what type of “Nobody thinks we belong” speech they wanted to really behind this week. The thing with Nova right now is they don’t have really bad losses. Maryland, Denver, Georgetown twice, and Brown. The Hoyas a debatable, but they won the league and are now in. Brown pushed Cornell to the brink. Duke should easily win this, but they have shown the ability to take a game off and not come out very strong. A start like that and we’ll be looking at them like a few years ago when Ohio State went to Durham and waltzed away with a win. This is an upset special, but it’s Duke’s game to lose.

#5 Hopkins vs. Georgetown (Sunday 5 ET)

Can Georgetown catch magic two weekend in a row? Probably not. The Big East Championship run was definitely impressive and turned a lot of heads, but so was Hopkins’ Big Ten title. Hopkins is the only seeded team that actually won all their games this weekend over ranked opponents, and they did it twice. Everyone else not named Maryland was getting lighter confidence building work.

#6 Loyola vs. Virginia (Saturday 7:15 ET)

Rematch #1. This has been an annual tradition for a while, but this edition will carry much more weight. UVA won this game at home back on February 10th in double overtime. And while UVA did have Ryan Conrad back then, they have no learned how to win without him and I worry much less about that. They still need to find a way to neutralize Pat Spencer as much as possible. Holding him to 3-2 the first time around was a good effort, but they need much better this time. Getting five goals from Laviano again would be a great start.

#7 Notre Dame vs. Denver (Sunday 2:15 ET)

Another game that is been seen year after year, Notre Dame won this one at home by two back in March. This is one of the games I also see as a total toss-up. Notre Dame is trending way up while Denver is trending down. But from where those trends were starting, I’m not sure you can say Notre Dame is in a significantly better place right now. They’re obviously the favorite by seeding alone, but Denver can win this game. Both of these teams have built their reputations on championship weekends in the month of May, but only one will get a chance to even see the quarterfinals.

#8 Syracuse vs. Cornell (Sunday 7:15 ET)

This game will be ridiculous. This is hands down by favorite rivalry in college lacrosse. Others might have better and longer history, but this has been an absolute battle for years. Cornell won the first round by 5 down in Ithaca, but that was still a Syracuse team in a little bit of a funk. The biggest question is if they are out of it. Brown gave everyone a great blueprint on how to contain the Big Red and Jeff Teat, but Teat wasn’t why Cuse lost the first time. They need major help at the midfield defensively, and they really need to up their scoring. I honestly see Syracuse as the home underdogs in this one, but I wouldn’t plan on your Sunday night ending in relaxing fashion. This will be a good one.

Who didn’t get in?

Rutgers, Bucknell, Navy, Ohio State.

Navy wasn’t in major consideration for those final spots, but thank Cornell and Georgetown for making this conversation much harder. The Georgetown Big East win without question took one of these spots. Cornell also getting an AQ took them out of the comparison equation, but that isn’t to say they would not have been in anyway.

So it was really Villanova that was in over these teams. According to the committee, it was Villanova’s Yale win, they have the best non-conference SOS of the group, the best RPI of the group, and the best win/loss record of the group. The fact that they beat Yale months ago doesn’t matter for selection purposes. So let’s take a quick look at what costs these other teams their chance at more games:

Rutgers

Why they can complain: Wins over Robert Morris, Cuse, Penn State. Losses to Maryland twice, Ohio State, and Hopkins. 7-2 out of conference record.

Why they’re out:  9-6 record, #15 RPI, with losses to Army and Princeton. The committee says the timing of losses doesn’t matter, but it’s hard to picture 2-4 vs. the Big Ten not mattering.

Bucknell

Why they can complain: 11-4 record with wins over Yale, and Loyola. 2 seeded tournament teams.

Why they’re out: Losses to Richmond, Navy, Penn, and BU. 4 wins over teams with winning records.

Navy

Why they can complain: Wins over Syracuse and Bucknell. Improved significantly as season progressed. 2 losses are to Maryland and Loyola.

Why they’re out: 9-5 record, #17 RPI. Losses to Jacksonville, Penn, and Lehigh.

Ohio State

Why they can complain: Wins over Maryland and Rutgers. Losses to Denver, Notre Dame, Hopkins (twice).

Why they’re out: 8-7 record, #18 RPI. Losses to Marquette, Towson, and Penn State.

So Long, Friends

That’s all for this bracket. There will be plenty to discuss and we’ll check in after this round completes to see how the quarterfinals will shake out. Last but not least, we had one more media poll ballot to submit.

You’ve already heard enough of me, so here’s my basic final regular season list:

  1. Yale LW: 1
  2. Hopkins LW: 6
  3. Duke LW: 4
  4. Maryland LW: 2
  5. Albany LW: 5
  6. Cornell LW: 9
  7. Loyola LW: 7
  8. Denver LW: 3
  9. UVA LW: 10
  10. Bucknell LW: 11
  11. Notre Dame LW: 12
  12. Rutgers LW: 8
  13. Syracuse LW: 13
  14. Navy LW: 15
  15. Penn State LW: 16
  16. Villanova LW: 14
  17. Ohio State LW: 19
  18. Georgetown LW: UR
  19. UMass LW: UR
  20. Robert Morris LW: UR

Just For Fun!

Artist Jim Fenzel has made it clear who he thinks is making it to Foxborough. Can you argue with him? Try it in the comments below.

Just For Fun! Artist Jim Fenzel has made it clear who he thinks is making it to Foxborough. Can you argue with him? Try it in the comments below.
Art/Picks by Jim Fenzel.
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