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Syracuse women’s lacrosse: Updating Orange NCAA Tournament chances

SU is still in contention, but also winless in the ACC...

2014 NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team split their games last week between No. 10/8 Loyola (overtime win) and No. 14/13 Virginia Tech (overtime loss). That result did not really impact the Orange too much in the polls. They actually went up two spots to No. 16 in the ILWomen Cascade Media poll but did drop back one in the IWLCA poll to No. 15. Syracuse now has three games to get to that magic number of 10 wins. But those of those contests are against top five opponents. Here’s the list:

Saturday, April 14 vs. No. 5/5 North Carolina (9-3, 4-1 ACC): The Tar Heels took care of business on Saturday with an expected 16-6 win over an outmatched Louisville team. SU is still looking for its first ACC win of the year and will likely end up with the No. 7 seed in the ACCT with Saturday’s loss to Virginia Tech. UNC can secure the No. 2 slot in the ACC Tournament with a win in the Dome.

Outlook: Favors North Carolina. The Tar Heels are playing well right now, but have had problems on defense this year. However, Syracuse is not playing with any consistency. There is an opportunity for an Orange upset, but not if they continue to be a miscue machine. This is probably a must win situation, for SU otherwise they’ll have to pick up their 10th win in the ACCT, where they would almost certainly play UNC again in the first round.

Thursday, April 19 at No. 3/2 Boston College (15-0, 5-0 ACC):

The Eagles continue to roll with an 18-8 win over No. 18/19 Duke on Saturday. BC can wrap up the No. 1 seed in the ACCT with a win over No. 14/13 Virginia Tech this Saturday. As stated in the previous NCAAT article, excellent play on both ends of the field and a dominance in the draw control will make this an extremely difficult game for Syracuse to win.

Outlook: Heavily favors Boston College. Oh, did I mention that this game will be Senior Day for the Eagles? It could get really ugly with a BC win in the double digits. By the way, I would be ecstatic to be proven wrong for this game.

Sunday, April 22 vs. Louisville (6-8, 0-5 ACC):

The Cardinals were crushed by No. 5/5 North Carolina (see above). With only two games left against No. 11/15 Virginia and Syracuse, I don’t see a situation beyond winning the ACCT where Louisville can make it in. If they lose to Virginia on Saturday, they’ll mathematically finish the regular season with a losing record regardless of what happens against the Orange.

Outlook: Favors Syracuse. This is obviously the easiest game left for the ‘Cuse. However, given the way they’ve played the last couple of weeks, who knows what will happen? It will be Senior Day in the Dome, so that should give the Orange an emotional lift. They certainly have a talent advantage over the Cardinals.

Magic Number for a NCAAT Lock:

I still think that SU will lock a spot if they can get to 10 wins. With key victories already secured against Florida and Loyola, a 10th win would have to be against North Carolina (barring a miracle against Boston College). Obviously, beating the Tar Heels in the Dome would be preferable to winning in Charlottesville. I don’t see how they can be turned away with their SOS and those wins. Needless to say, Louisville has to be a win as I’m not sure SU can beat Boston College at this point if they wind up with the bottom seed in the tournament. While the Orange would have a reasonable chance with a 9-9 record post-ACCT, they’re probably going to be sweating a bit.

Updated At Large Pool for the NCAAT:

There have been some changes from last week’s list. I have finally found news that there are actually 13 at large slots in addition to the 14 AQs. US Lacrosse Magazine has put out their bracketology this week (Bracketology: Tough Decisions for Hosting Duties, Final At-Large Berths) and there would be a play in game to get into the 26 team tournament. Here is the updated conference list:

ACC (assuming a Boston College AQ):

Locks: North Carolina (9-3), Virginia (8-6), Virginia Tech (11-4)

Bubble: Duke (7-6), Notre Dame (7-7), Syracuse (8-6)

North Carolina has been in the top-five all year. No question that they’re in.

Virginia Tech went into the lock category with their win over Syracuse. Even if they lose to BC and Virginia, they’ll still be 11-6 and a likely 4-seed in the ACCT. However...

Virginia is currently on a four-game losing streak, but with Louisville, James Madison and Virginia Tech left they still have a chance to pick up another quality win. Right now, the Virginia Tech game at the end of the season could determine who picks up the 3-spot in the ACCT.

I dropped Duke out of the lock position, though I still think they’re a strong candidate. The reason for this comes down a pair of losses to Boston College and High Point and the Saturday matchup against Notre Dame. This contest could could mean the season for either team. The loser could wind up with a .500 record going into the ACCT and will have to win their first round game to finish at least .500.

Big East (assuming a Florida AQ):

Bubble: Georgetown (8-4), Denver (8-4)

I added Georgetown (as much as I hated doing so) because of their 8-7 win over Denver last week. Georgetown is now No. 23 in the IWLCA poll and are “receiving votes” in the Cascade poll. While they don’t have any bad losses, they don’t have any big wins outside of Denver. However, they do play Loyola in a couple of weeks and if they can win that one, they could be making some noise for the postseason. Denver still has to play Florida for a possible key win, but they already have a couple of good ones against Stanford and Colorado. They also have losses to Georgetown and Temple. I have to believe that the Hoyas have the inside track due to their head-to-head win. I really don’t think either of these teams could beat out Syracuse for a spot, but it’s a bubble situation nonetheless.

Big Ten (assuming a Maryland AQ):

Locks: Northwestern (11-3), Penn State (9-4)

Bubble: Johns Hopkins (8-5)

The Wildcats already have a number of key wins so far and while they still have to play Maryland and Penn State, they should be 12-5 worst case scenario which will easily land them in the NCAAT. Penn State’s demolition of Virginia on last Friday gave them the big win they were lacking so far. They still have a stretch with Northwestern, Maryland and Stony Brook in a 10-day period but a win over Michigan at the end of the year should be enough for a worst case 10-7 record and a spot in the NCAAT. I had a hard time trying to place Johns Hopkins. The Blue Jays don’t have any bad losses and they did beat Loyola earlier in the year. I decided to put them on the bubble for now, but that could change with an upset win against Stony Brook or Towson later on in the month.

Colonial Athletic Association (assuming a James Madison AQ):

Locks: Towson (10-2)

The Tigers are in the top 10 in both polls have been consistently good all year long. The matchup with fellow top five conference rival James Madison at the end of April should be a good one.

Ivy League (assuming a Penn AQ)

Bubble: Dartmouth (7-3), Princeton (6-5)

The Big Green are inside the top 20 for now but don’t have any big games left. They have losses to Penn, Boston College and UMass (not a terrible loss, but not super great either). However, they did beat Princeton, so that gives them a head to head advantage over the Tigers. Princeton should have an above .500 record at the end of the regular season and they do have a big win against Penn State. I pulled both Yale (7-5) and Cornell (6-5) from the bubble watch because of their respective losses to Columbia (5-7) and Brown (8-4 but no worthwhile wins). Both teams still have some big games that they could win but they’re off the list for now.

Pac-12 (assuming a Stanford or Colorado AQ)

Bubble but looking like a lock: Colorado

With USC (7-7) losing to both Colorado (9-4) and Oregon (8-5) last weekend, that leaves the Buffaloes or Stanford (11-3) as a probable AQ in this conference. The Women of Troy could very well win their final two games against San Diego State and Arizona State as well as their first round matchup in the Pac-12T, so that would leave them with a likely 10-8 record. Stanford has a big game against Colorado this weekend and this will probably decide the No. 1 spot in for the tournament as both teams are 6-1 in the conference. Stanford currently is within striking range of the top 10 in both polls while Colorado is firmly in the top 15. USC is no. 20 in the IWLCA poll while they are only “receiving votes” in the Cascade poll. I think the Women of Troy will have to make a serious run in the tournament now to catch up with the Buffaloes and Cardinal.

The Ducks’ win over USC put them in a position to make an interesting run for the PAC12T, and are neck and neck with USC for third right now. However, Oregon still has to face another game with both Colorado and Stanford. As it stands, I do not have Oregon as a possibility for the NCAAT, but if they can win these two, all bets are off. On a side note, the Ducks’ win over USC is the biggest of the Coach Katrina Dowd since she took over last year. Dowd has ties to SU as she was the assistant coach under Coach Gait during the SU 2012 championship run. Members of that team, Michelle Tumolo and Becca Block are now assistant coaches for the Ducks.

Patriot League (assuming a Loyola AQ)

Bubble: Navy (10-3), Loyola... see below

Despite the loss to Syracuse, Loyola (9-3) is still in the top 10, and this is probably due to them knocking off Patriot League rival Navy last weekend. Navy has entered the bubble discussion due to their win over Virginia on Wednesday night. I said last week that the Midshipwomen needed to win against either Loyola or Virginia to get a resume boosting win and they did just that against the struggling Cavaliers. This will set the stage for a very likely rematch between the Greyhounds and Navy in the PLT final. A Loyola win would put Navy in a precarious position as they have a good win over Virginia, but that’s about it. Loyola has wins over Towson, Penn State and Virginia that should give them a good chance at getting in as an at-large bid.

Tally for 13 at-large slots:

6 Locks

10 Bubble (includes Syracuse)

While the Orange do have the advantage of a strong strength of schedule and a pair of good wins over Florida and Loyola, they also have a lot of losses to potential bubble teams. If Syracuse wins against North Carolina and Louisville, that should put them over the top as far as a lock. I can’t see a 10-7 SU team with three quality wins/strong SOS not get in. And they have a history of doing well in the ACCT. However, losses to North Carolina and BC would see them at 9-8, a 7 seed and another shot at the Tar Heels. Better to do it in the Dome than on a neutral turf. If it’s any consolation, the US Lacrosse magazine bracketology article link above does have the Orange in the NCAAs. My personal take is that it will be close, but we should be able to just sneak in.