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ACC Women’s Lacrosse Tournament Preview: Who are Syracuse’s possible opponents?

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The field’s not finalized yet, but we’re close.

via @CuseWLax

The Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team finished the regular season on Tuesday night (with a strong win over Cornell), but the season isn’t over yet. There’s still the ACC Tournament next week, and then the NCAA Tournament a couple weeks later. So who will the Orange play to kick off the ACC Tourney?

Well, it’ll be either Virginia or Virginia Tech for certain. I’m going to start with the current standings in the ACC and then break down the scenarios for a couple of key games this weekend.

  1. Boston College: 6-0 (plays Louisville on Saturday, has the No. 1 seed in the ACCT)
  2. Syracuse: 5-2 (done with ACC play)
  3. Notre Dame: 5-2 (done with ACC play, has the No. 3 seed in the ACCT)
  4. North Carolina: 4-2 (plays Duke on Friday)
  5. Duke: 2-4 (plays North Carolina on Saturday)
  6. Virginia: 2-4 (plays Virginia Tech on Saturday)
  7. Virginia Tech: 1-5 (plays Virginia on Saturday)
  8. Louisville: 0-6 (plays Boston College on Saturday, has the No. 8 seed in the ACCT)

Of the three games left in conference play, we can ignore the Boston College/Louisville game as it has no impact whatsoever on Syracuse. However, the Duke/North Carolina game on Friday night will decide where the Orange are seeded (2 or 4), while the Virginia/Virginia Tech game on Saturday afternoon will decide who Syracuse will play in the first round. There are only a few possibilities left, so here’s the breakdown (hint: we’re rooting for Duke...):

Duke beats North Carolina: The Blue Devils finish 3-4, the Tar Heels are 4-3. North Carolina gets the 4th seed, while SU/UND are still tied for 2nd due to identical 5-2 records. SU gets the 2-seed due to the tiebreaker win over the Fighting Irish earlier in the year.

(should Duke beat UNC) Virginia beats Virginia Tech: Virginia would be 3-4 and get the 5-seed because they beat Duke (also 3-4) in the regular season and would get North Carolina in the first round. Duke would be the 6-seed and play Notre Dame. The Hokies would be the 7-seed and face SU.

(should Duke beat UNC) Virginia Tech beats Virginia: Duke at 3-4 would get the 5-seed and face UNC. Virginia Tech and Virginia would both be 2-5, and the Hokies would get the tiebreaker with the Saturday win. Virginia Tech would face Notre Dame, the Cavs would get SU.

If North Carolina beats Duke: Duke would fall to 2-5. North Carolina would move to 5-2 and there would be a 3 way tie for 2nd with SU and UND. The first tiebreaker is head to head competition, which yields no result as the Orange beat the Irish, Notre Dame beat the Tar Heels and UNC beat SU.

The second tiebreaker involves head to head against teams above them. Boston College is the only team in that category and they’ve all lost to the Eagles.

The third tiebreaker comes down to goal differential between the three teams and SU is at a disadvantage due to their big loss on Saturday to North Carolina. Notre Dame has a +1 goal differential (1 goal loss to SU, 2 goal win over UNC), Syracuse is at a -5 (1 goal win over the Irish, 6 goal loss to UNC) and North Carolina is at a +4 goal differential (2 goal loss to UND, 6 goal win over SU). That means that the Tar Heels will take the No. 2 seed, Notre Dame the 3 seed and Syracuse the 4 seed.

(should North Carolina beat Duke) Virginia beats Virginia Tech: Virginia would be 3-4 and play Syracuse as the 5-seed, Duke would be the 6-seed and face Notre Dame and the Hokies would be the 7-seed against North Carolina.

(should North Carolina beat Duke) Virginia Tech beats Virginia: All three teams would have a 2-5 record and the same tiebreaker process would occur as above with similar results. No advantages in head to head competition (VT beat UVA, UVA beat Duke, Duke beat VT).

The second tiebreaker also yields no result since all three have losses against BC, SU, UND or UNC. The third tiebreaker is goal differential where Duke is at a disadvantage. They are -4 (1 goal win over VT, 5 goal loss to UVA) and will finish 7th regardless. The 5 and 6 seeds would depend on how much the Hokies won by. If VT wins by a goal or two, the goal differential still favors the Cavaliers (+4/+3 vs. 0/+1 respectively). However, if Virginia Tech wins by four, then they get the advantage (+3 to +1). A three-goal win would even both teams up at +3 each. In that situation, Duke would get the 7 seed and drop out of the group. A new mini group would form around Virginia/Virginia Tech and the Hokies would still get the 5 seed due to the head to head win. Confused yet?

On a side note, Notre Dame has a big non-conference matchup against Northwestern on Saturday as well that could have NCAA Tournament implications for SU. The Orange have already beaten the Wildcats and the Irish earlier in the year, and that could be a factor in the seeding in a couple of weeks. It’s certainly a game worth paying attention to.

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Part 2 will come out next week once all of the seeds have been finalized and I’ll go into more detail about each team.