April 16, 2014

MCLA Notes: Projecting the Postseason Bracket

by Tim Haslam | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

No. 1 Arizona State seems like a lock to make it to the national tournament in California. Who else will punch their ticket this month? (Jodi Vosika)

MCLA Top 5 (Via MCLA.us - Full Top 20 Here)

Division I

1 Arizona State
2 Colorado
3 Brigham Young
4 Colorado State
5 Chapman 

Division II

1 Dayton
2 North Dakota State
3 St. John's
4 St. Thomas
5 Grand Valley State

As the regular season winds down, more and more games become meaningful for each team and ultimately decide if teams will get into their conference playoffs. For MCLA Division I, each of the 10 conferences get an automatic qualifier which means there are six at-large bids up for grabs. After evaluating each conference, the job of the selection committee could be very difficult and there will be some very good teams following the tournament from home.


The CCLA was shaken up last weekend with Davenport grabbing a 9-8 overtime win over Michigan State. It was a key victory for the Panthers to keep their postseason push alive. The CCLA conference tournament should be interesting as these two squads will likely meet again in the championship. A Davenport win would move bubble teams out of the tournament as Michigan State would likely grab an at-large bid.


The GRLC has no clear favorite with Illinois State, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri leading the charge. What is clear is that the AQ spot will likely get a 13-16 seed in the tournament and will face a tough opening opponent.


The LSA conference schedule is completed with Texas State taking the No. 1 seed into the playoffs, earning a first-round bye. SMU takes the No. 2 seed and also earned a first-round bye. The LSA quarterfinals are this weekend with No. 3 Texas taking on No. 6 UL Lafayette and No. 4 Texas A&M facing No. 5 Oklahoma. Texas State, SMU and Texas could all walk away as champions, however. I don't see the LSA having an at-large bid, making the championship game on April 27 a must-win game in order to earn a trip to Southern California.


Northeastern burst onto the scene this season after an 8-7 2013 campaign. The Huskies are locked and loaded for the postseason after beating Boston College in overtime in late March. A conference championship for Northeastern would mean the hopes for another bubble team would be burst. The Eagles of Boston College should get an at-large bid if they don't win the conference tournament. They've been ranked in the Top 10 all season and have beaten great teams including BYU, Chapman and Georgia Tech.


Simon Fraser has dominated the conference, going 7-0 with one conference game remaining at Montana on April 26. Should Oregon State win their remaining games (Idaho, Montana and Oregon), they may have a chance to steal and at-large bid, but would need help from outside sources. That is of course unless they find a way to get past Simon Fraser in the playoffs.


The 'Conference of Champions' could have a legitimate argument to send four teams to Southern California in May. Once again, BYU, Colorado and Colorado State are locks for the tournament. The last time those three teams weren't in the tournament was 2008 when Colorado went 3-7. The RMLC playoffs are typically a formality (in terms of AQs and at-large bids), but if Westminster can make it to the championship game, they will have a strong case to get an at-large bid with wins over UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly (and a win over CU, CSU or BYU to get to the championship game). They had a strong showing against Colorado last weekend, falling 12-9 which was the closest margin of victory for the Buffs this season. The difference for the Griffins could be an overtime loss to Arizona in mid-March. However, the latest poll has Westminster above Arizona by one spot.


With a slew of teams comes a slew of opportunity for teams to emerge victorious and grab an AQ slot. Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Liberty each have a shot to take home the SELC conference title and earn a spot in Irvine. There are still several key games left in the SELC to determine playoff spots. On Friday, Liberty and Virginia Tech will battle for the No. 1 seed from the North West division and Florida and Florida State will be fighting for the No. 1 seed from the South East division.


The SLC could also argue they should have four or even five teams in the mix and maybe a little hometown love might swing in their favor. Arizona State will likely win the conference playoffs, but Grand Canyon, Chapman, UCSB and Arizona will all have strong cases to be included in the tournament. There are two key showdowns that could help teams strengthen their outer bubble shell with Grand Canyon taking on Arizona State and Chapman heading to play UCSB in Santa Barbara. A win for the Gauchos could go a long way.


Minn.-Duluth looks to be the favorite but Minnesota will have to play their best in the playoffs to get a spot in the tournament.


The WCLL has two real title contenders with Sonoma State and Cal Poly. Cal Poly is 4-0 in conference play but don't count out the Seawolves come playoff time though. If Cal Poly wins the WCLL playoffs, Sonoma State should get an at-large bid but if the Seawolves win the title, Cal Poly could be left out.

Bubble Teams

At this point, there are seven bubble teams fighting for the six at-large slots. If we say that the favorite to win a conference is their highest ranked team in the polls, No. 3 BYU, No. 4 CSU, No. 5 Chapman, No. 6 Grand Canyon, No. 9 UCSB, No. 11 Westminster and No. 12 Arizona are those bubble teams. It's likely that BYU, CSU, Chapman and Grand Canyon will get at-large bids unless there are several 'upsets' in conference tournaments like Davenport beating Michigan State. That leaves UCSB, Westminster and Arizona left for two spots.

Westminster has beaten UCSB in overtime and lost to Arizona in overtime. Arizona and UCSB did not play each other this year. So, if we look at common opponents (which the selection committee doesn't necessarily do), each team has played BYU. Westminster and Arizona both lost 14-11, while UCSB lost 12-5. Both Arizona and UCSB lost to Grand Canyon and both Westminster and UCSB beat UNLV by two goals and both beat Cal Poly. Arizona and UCSB both beat Sonoma State by one goal.

If you look at final records, Arizona is done with its season and finished 10-5. Westminster has two games left (Boise State and Washington) and will likely come away with wins which would put them at 10-4. UCSB has one game left against Chapman which means they'll be 11-4 or 12-3. So then if you look at the losses, Arizona lost to San Diego, No. 3 BYU, No. 10 Simon Fraser, No. 1 Arizona State and No. 6 Grand Canyon. Westminster has lost to No. 12 Arizona, No. 3 BYU, No. 2 Colorado and No. 4 Colorado State. UCSB has lost to No. 6 Grand Canyon, No. 11 Westminster and No. 3 BYU. The only bad loss is the Arizona loss to San Diego which was their first game of the year. It's about as even as it can be.

Projected Bracket

  • 1 - Arizona State (SLC Champ)
  • 2 - Colorado (RMLC Champ)
  • 3 - Michigan State (CCLA Champ)
  • 4 - BYU (At-large)
  • 5 - Simon Fraser (PNCLL Champ)
  • 6 - Colorado State (At-large)
  • 7 - Chapman (At-large)
  • 8 - Grand Canyon (At-large)
  • 9 - Boston College (PCLL Champ)
  • 10 - Sonoma State (WCLL Champ)
  • 11 - At-large (UCSB, Arizona, Westminster)
  • 12 - At-large (UCSB, Arizona, Westminster)
  • 13 - Texas State (LSA Champ)
  • 14 - Florida State (SELC Champ)
  • 15 - Minn-Duluth (UMLC Champ)
  • 16 - Illinois State (GRLC Champ)

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