May 8, 2011

Late RPI Shifts Cause Ripples in Division I Men's Lacrosse Bracket

by Matt DaSilva | | NCAA Division I Tournament Bracket (PDF)

John Haus and Maryland paid dearly for a season-ending loss to Colgate, falling out of contention for a seed and landing in a first-round game at North Carolina.

After a tumultuous week featuring several upsets in Division I men's lacrosse, the NCAA tournament selections surfaced Sunday with surprises based not so much on who was in and who was out, but rather who landed where.

As expected, Syracuse (14-1) earned the No. 1 seed and will host MAAC champion Siena (13-4) in a matchup that makes as much sense geographically as it does competitively.

The first surprise came on the next rung of that bracket, where it was revealed that Atlantic Coast Conference champion Maryland (10-4) was saddled with a first-round road game at eighth-seeded North Carolina (10-5) -- a team it defeated en route to the conference title. Major RPI shifts occurred on the season's final weekend, with the Terps losing to Colgate -- which did not qualify for the tournament -- and the Tar Heels defeating Notre Dame.

Also in the Foxborough (Mass.) bracket, Penn (8-6) visits fourth-seeded Notre Dame (10-2) and Delaware (12-6) visits fifth-seeded Duke (12-5).

Penn and Notre Dame had seasons of similar trajectories, each earning at-large bids on the backs of signature wins and strong performances early in the season. The Quakers stunned Duke in its season opener and also had a victory over Bucknell, but finished the season with consecutive losses at Virginia and against Harvard in the Ivy League tournament. The Irish started 10-0 and earned the first No. 1 national ranking in program history before stumbling at Syracuse and North Carolina in their last two games.

Duke, the reigning NCAA Division I champion, better beware of Delaware. The CAA champion Blue Hens have caused fits for ACC foes come tournament time. In 2007, they defeated then-defending national champion Virginia 14-8 in Charlottesville en route to a Cinderella appearance in the final four. Last year, they nearly nipped North Carolina before bowing 14-13.

The winners of the four aforementioned games -- Siena-Syracuse and Maryland-North Carolina; Penn-Notre Dame and Delaware-Duke -- will meet in the NCAA quarterfinals Sunday, May 22 at Gillette Stadium.

The other half of the bracket features matchups whose winners are bound for James Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y., on Saturday, May 21. It includes second-seeded Cornell, (13-2) the Ivy League champion after routing Harvard in the conference championship game Sunday, hosting surprise America East champion Hartford (11-6), which upset preseason darling Stony Brook. The winner of that game will face either Patriot League champion Bucknell (14-2) or seventh-seeded Virginia (9-5), who will clash in Charlottesville in the first round.

Hofstra (13-2) nearly played itself out of the tournament by losing twice to Delaware, including Wednesday in the CAA semifinals. But the Pride emerged from a contentious at-large pool -- which included Harvard and Colgate, two bubblers Hofstra beat head-to-head -- to qualify. Hofstra will visit third-seeded Johns Hopkins (12-2), making its record 40th NCAA tournament appearance, in the first round. Hopkins dropped Hofstra from its regular season schedule this year after several close encounters in recent years, including Pride wins in 2008 and 2010.

Hofstra has the added incentive of a potential NCAA quarterfinal appearance in front of its home crowd. Should the Pride upset the Blue Jays to make that happen, it would face either Villanova (11-4) or sixth-seeded Denver (13-2). The visiting Wildcats survived a season-ending loss to Georgetown to qualify for the tournament at large, while the Pioneers earned the right to host a first-round game with an ECAC championship and regular season victory over Duke.

All NCAA Division I men's lacrosse tournament games will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks.

NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Tournament First-Round Games

Hempstead (N.Y.) Bracket (all times Eastern)

Hartford (11-6) at No. 2 Cornell (13-2) – Saturday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Bucknell (14-2) at No. 7 Virginia (9-5) – Sunday, May 15 at 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
Hofstra (13-2) at No. 3 Johns Hopkins (12-2) – Saturday, May 14 at 12 p.m. (ESPN2)
Villanova (11-4) at No. 6 Denver (13-2) – Sunday, May 15 at 5:15 p.m. (ESPNU)

Foxborough (Mass.) Bracket (all times Eastern)

Siena (13-4) at No. 1 Syracuse (14-1) – Sunday, May 15 at 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Maryland (10-4) at No. 8 North Carolina (10-5) – Sunday, May 15 at 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Penn (8-6) at No. 4 Notre Dame (10-2) – Saturday, May 14 at 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Delaware (12-6) at No. 5 Duke (12-5) – Saturday, May 14 at 5 p.m. (ESPNU)

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