At least, that seems to be the case in Inside Lacrosse's latest bracketology. (Ed. Note - I'm not blaming IL for just using the system exists...hate the game...) Despite being on the verge of finishing the season 11-1, with their lone loss coming at the hands of the No. 1 team in the nation by a mere goal, Syracuse could very well end up at the No. 4 seed in the Tournament. Syracuse's crime? Not playing in the ACC Conference.
The Top 8 teams run in order of the RPI rankings, with Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and then Syracuse taking the four first-round byes. That doesn't make the difference between No. 2 and No. 4 sound like a lot but when you factor in that it could be the difference between
playing the winner of #7 Princeton/#10 Army or #5 Duke/#12 Denver, you'd much rather want to play that first group (no offense, P-town).
Inside Lacrosse with a correction - "all eight seeds play home games in first round - so Cuse at 4 would host a first-round game, not a bye." I should pay attention more. So it's the difference between playing No. 5 Duke and No. 7 Princeton...still a big difference.
There's actually two issues holding back the Orange. One is that ACC RPI overload. Since all four teams are ranked in the top five and have played each other multiple times, it's practically impossible for any of them to come away from the season with an RPI out of the top ten.
The other issue though is the lack of Top Five victories for the Orange this season (zero). They lost to Virginia and Hopkins/Princeton are not their usual selves, lessening the impact of SU's schedule. Of course, Cornell and Princeton are No. 6 and No. 7 and Georgetown is No. 10 so it's not like they're a steep drop-off from the others. If you're just looking at "wins over top 20 teams," the Orange match 10-3 Maryland and have more than 11-2 North Carolina.
If Cornell is one spot higher in the polls, does that make Syracuse a better team and worthy of a No. 2 or 3 seed? I guess so.
The Glaude is more of an expert on the RPI itself and its inherent flaws. He lays the truthiness smackdown:
If the RPI is going to influence so many metrics in the NCAA selection criteria, shouldn't the RPI be less flawed? That's the real issue.
As long as college lacrosse continues to be a Wild West of made-up conferences and suspect ranking systems, this is how it'll go. And unfortunately, because of this RPI system, the sport will never truly grow because why should Syracuse schedule an up-and-coming program from the West when it needs to schedule Virginia to ensure its RPI status?