Below, we take a look at how things have shifted for SU since the ACC Tournament loss.
Locks: Duke, Notre Dame
- Virginia (11-5), RPI 9; Big wins: Loyola, North Carolina, Vermont, Syracuse
- Syracuse (7-6), RPI 12; Big wins: Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame, North Carolina
Notre Dame moved themselves off the bubble and into “lock” territory by picking up two huge wins over Duke and Virginia. Coupled with their No. 2 RPI overall, they’re in along with Duke. Virginia has potentially vaulted over Syracuse after the win, but it’s still a pretty tight margin between the two programs.
Bubble: Vermont (11-3), RPI 19; Good wins: N/A | Bad loss: N/A
Vermont is not an at-large team, but can still win the America East (and is a quality outfit), so are worth mentioning here for that alone.
- Villanova (10-4), RPI 10; Big wins: Penn State, Yale | Bad loss: Brown
- Georgetown (10-4), RPI 20; Big wins: Robert Morris, Villanova | Bad loss: Drexel
Nothing’s changed for either of these squads since late last week, beyond picking up expected victories. They’ll face off in the Big East Tournament semifinals on May 3, however. With a win, Villanova would be even closer to lock territory. Georgetown is probably only in via auto-qualifier but a season sweep over the Wildcats could hold some water as well.
Locks: Maryland, Johns Hopkins
- Ohio State (8-6), RPI 15; Big win: Maryland, Rutgers | Bad loss: Towson
- Rutgers (9-5), RPI 13; Big wins: Robert Morris, Syracuse, Penn State | Bad loss: Army
- Penn State (8-6), RPI 18; Big wins: Ohio State, Johns Hopkins
Not long ago, the Buckeyes appeared to be way out of the field. Now, they’ve reeled off two straight big wins (Maryland, Rutgers) and now have the strongest bubble resume in the league. Rutgers ended up qualifying for the Big Ten Tournament, but may have to beat Maryland to get back into serious at-large consideration. Penn State’s probably out at this point since they missed the conference tourney by losing to Michigan.
- Cornell (10-4), RPI 16; Big wins: Syracuse, Penn State, Penn | Bad loss: Colgate
- Penn (8-7), RPI 11; Big wins: Duke, Navy, Bucknell | Bad loss: Brown
Cornell was in lock territory last time, but after a blowout loss to Princeton, their fate is very much thrown into some doubt now. The win over Penn helps give them an advantage over the Quakers in the at-large pool, but a win over Brown in the first game of the Ivy League Tournament isn’t going to seal the bid. If Penn beats Yale (their next opponent), it has the potential to loft them past the Big Red.
- Bucknell (11-4), RPI 14; Big wins: Loyola, Lehigh
- Navy (9-5), RPI 17; Big wins: Bucknell, Syracuse, Lehigh | Bad loss: Jacksonville
This seems fairly likely to be a one-bid league at this point. Lehigh upset Navy in the second round of the conference tournament over the weekend, and Bucknell lost to Boston University in the first. RPI is good for both, and the Bisons’ win over Loyola very much counts for something, though. Consideration for that is Bucknell’s best shot while Navy’s hopes are likely dashed.
NEC: St. Joseph’s
That leaves us with the following breakdown of bids (reminder — there are 17 total, including AQs):
AQ: Albany, Denver, Maryland, Yale, Loyola, UMass, Quinnipiac, St. Joseph’s, Richmond
At-large locks: Duke, Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame
Like last time, that’s 12 spots accounted for (the major changes were just swapping St. Joe’s for Robert Morris and ND for Cornell), leaving five at-large spots available.
Syracuse’s loss in the first round was harmful to the overall resume, though other at-large contenders also fell earlier than they could have really afforded to. This still leaves an ultra-thin margin of error if any of the conference tournaments wind up with an unexpected winner. Plus, there’s the matter of Syracuse needing to beat Colgate before selections are announced. A loss would almost certainly doom the Orange.
LaxBytes’ current at-large probabilities currently list those five remaining at-large teams as (in order) Virginia, Syracuse, Villanova, Cornell and Penn. SU gets a 64-percent shot of getting in, but Penn is at 47 percent and still has a big game or two to play. Bucknell and Rutgers are also right outside that field and the Scarlet Knights possess a win over Syracuse already (plus have an opportunity to upset Maryland). US Lacrosse Magazine had yet to update their bracketology picks at the time of this writing.
Being far from an expert on my end, I’d alter my own picks slightly from what they have above. Virginia and Villanova get my nod over Syracuse (third), then Cornell and Ohio State would get the final two at-large spots. Buckeyes wins over Rutgers and Maryland just matter too much here when up against Penn, especially given the diminished value of the Quakers’ major victories over Bucknell and Navy.
If we’re going with my own picks, here’s what the bracket would look like:
No. 1 Maryland vs. Qunnipiac/UMass
No. 2 Duke vs. Richmond
No. 3 Yale vs. St. Joseph’s
No. 4 Albany vs. Ohio State
No. 5 Loyola vs. Cornell
No. 6 Denver vs. Syracuse
No. 7 Johns Hopkins vs. Virginia
No. 8 Notre Dame vs. Villanova
It’s tough to see Syracuse go any higher than this, and realistically, they could go lower. In some ways, that may not be the worst thing from a travel perspective to face a team like Loyola instead of a road game at Denver. But no matter what, the bracket sets up poorly for the Orange at this point, without any shot at a home game.
The “first four out” in my scenario are probably Penn, Rutgers, Georgetown and Bucknell. Those first three will all have a chance to pad the resume in the coming week, though (and same goes for Villanova, Cornell and Ohio State).