The committee not selecting Notre Dame for an at-large bid for the 2022 NCAA lacrosse tournament is undoubtedly the biggest snub that we have ever seen on Selection Sunday. But the question is, why is this snub so much worse than other snubs we have seen in the past?
Carrying a modest 8-4 record, Notre Dame closed out the regular season with a dominating six-game win streak. They beat the entire ACC with the exception of Virginia, and they had no “bad” or blowout losses. This was nothing historic, but a solid resume for sure. What makes the decision to not include Notre Dame the biggest snub of all time, was the decision to include Harvard instead.
When you look at Harvard’s final six games, it is the complete opposite of Notre Dame. Harvard would go 3-3 in their final stretch of games including a blowout loss to Cornell by a score of 17-9, and they were nearly upset by Colgate in a 7-6 game. Meanwhile, Notre Dame was convincingly beating their opponents down the stretch of the season. The only team who came close to defeating them down the stretch was the Duke Blue Devils, who ultimately lost both times by a combined 3 goals. Clearly, when it came to which team was playing their best lacrosse down the stretch of the season, it is hard to say that Harvard had any argument to be made over Notre Dame.
The next big difference between these teams is the quality of their out-of-conference schedules. Notre Dame played Georgetown, Maryland, and Ohio State. Three high quality teams that Notre Dame played competitively with for all four quarters and ultimately came up short by a handful of goals or less. The strongest out-of-conference game that Harvard possesses is Ohio State, another at-large bid team who the Crimson lost too. Their best out-of-conference-win came in a close match against Boston University at home back in March. The rest of their out-of-conference games were layups for the most part (NJIT, Fairfield, Michigan, Colgate).
The Ivy League has a dominant presence in the 2022 NCAA lacrosse tournament this year featuring Princeton, Penn, Yale, Harvard, Brown, and Cornell. Selecting Notre Dame for the tournament over Harvard would have brought more competitive value to the tournament. Looking at the final stretch of the season, Harvard lost to Cornell, Penn, Yale, and barely squeaked by Princeton during final four games of the season. It was pretty clear that they were not amongst the upper echelon of their own conference let alone the nation. Meanwhile, Notre Dame was showing dominance in all of their late season matchups and the ability to beat conference opponents multiple times. Not to mention Notre Dame was the only team this year to hold Maryland to 11 goals when they played them to a 9-11 final.
At the end of the day, you want the best programs competing in the tournament. When you look at the records for both Harvard and Notre Dame, they are the exact same at 8-4. But when you consider the quality of play and momentum that each program could have brought to this year’s tournament, it is hard to deny Notre Dame was the go-to decision and would have been a serious underdog contender for a run at Championship Weekend.
Seeing Notre Dame be sidelined for a less dynamic lacrosse team that has shown less in-conference play and is not carrying the same level of momentum, is what makes this undoubtably the biggest snub of thsi season, and potentially of all time.