May 1, 2009

Three From ALC? Could Happen

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Playing Northwestern twice in a season is like steroids for your RPI.

That’s why I think the American Lacrosse Conference semifinals (tonight) and championship game (Sunday) this weekend will result in three ALC teams dancing Sunday when the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament selections are announced.

Here are the latest RPI rankings published by the NCAA, through last weekend’s games, with the top 20 teams:

1. Northwestern
2. Maryland
3. North Carolina
4. Penn
5. Duke
6. Notre Dame
7. Syracuse
8. Georgetown
9. Virginia
10. Princeton
11. Dartmouth
12. Vanderbilt
13. Boston University
14. Penn State
15. Fairfield
16. Cornell
17. Ohio State
18. Stanford
19. William & Mary
20. Old Dominion

Based on these rankings and the already-determined automatic qualifiers, you can count 12 teams as locks at this point. Northwestern, Maryland (ACC champion), UNC, Duke, Notre Dame (Big East champion), Penn (Ivy League champion), Princeton, Boston University, Colgate (Patriot League champion), Syracuse, Georgetown and Virginia.

Two more automatic bids will be determined this weekend with the winners of the CAA championship (Delaware or Towson) and the winner of Saturday’s NCAA play-in game between MAAC champion Fairfield and NEC champion Sacred Heart.

That leaves two spots for at-large bids. If BU wins its America East championship game Saturday against New Hampshire and Northwestern secures another ALC title as expected, the six teams most likely vying for those two spots are Dartmouth, Vanderbilt, Penn State, Cornell, Ohio State and Stanford.

Dartmouth has already lost to Syracuse this week. A loss to Duke in its regular season finale would give the Big Green four losses in its last five games (performance down the stretch is a secondary criterion in NCAA tournament selection) and drop it to .500.

Cornell failed to build on the momentum of its Vanderbilt win by getting upset by Ivy League also-ran Harvard. However, the Big Red could make things interesting if it manages to upset Notre Dame in Ithaca, N.Y., on Saturday.

Stanford could do likewise if its upsets Penn.

Doable, but unlikely.

That leaves the ALC trio – Vanderbilt, Penn State and Ohio State.

Following a quarterfinal win over Hopkins, Vandy gets its RPI juice Friday when it meets Northwestern in one ALC semifinal Friday. The Commodores also own wins over BU and Notre Dame.

Penn State and Ohio State meet in the other semifinal – and the reward could be another encounter with Northwestern.

Here’s my call: Vanderbilt and the winner of Penn State-Ohio State will receive the final two at-large bids.

To make a comparison to NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse, three teams (Notre Dame, Ohio State and Denver) qualified from the soon-to-be defunct Great Western Lacrosse League in 2008 largely because of the RPI benefits of playing each other in the postseason tournament.

Why do you think the Ivy League is moving to a postseason conference tournament format for men’s and women’s lacrosse in 2010? Contenders only stand to benefit come Selection Sunday.

Of course, Dartmouth and Cornell could both score upsets this weekend to make me look utterly stupid. Ain’t Mayhem grand?

Air Time: NCAA Tournament Selections

For the uninitiated, here's the schedule for selections to be announced Sunday for the NCAA Divisions I, II and III men's and women's lacrosse tournaments, according to the NCAA TV Broadcast Schedule:

Division I Men - ESPNU, 9 p.m.; brackets released ESPN News, 10 p.m.
Division II Men - CBS College Sports, 10 p.m.
Division III Men - CBS College Sports, 10 p.m.

Division I Women - CBS College Sports, 10 p.m.
Division II Women - CBS College Sports, 10 p.m.
Division III Women - CBS College Sports, 10 p.m.


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