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Syracuse women’s lacrosse: NCAA Tournament bracketology

Who’s in, who’s out, and where the Orange will be?

via @CuseWLax

Although Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse fans were focused on the ACC Tournament last weekend, there were three other conference tournaments going on at the same time. And there will be 11 more battling it out for AQs starting on Thursday.

It’s going to be a hectic final weekend in D1 women’s lacrosse before the NCAA Tournament committee makes their final selections on Sunday evening (May 5 at 9 p.m. ET). What is certain is that Syracuse will be in the tournament as an at-large team and will also be seeded. But who else will get in, and where do the Orange fit in regarding the tournament scheme?

Basic NCAA Tournament Info:

There are 15 automatic qualifiers and 13 at-large spots for a total of 28 teams. Four of these will be in two play-in games (called the opening round) for a 26-team tournament once we get to the main bracket.

There are eight seeded squads; the bottom two (7 and 8) of which play in the first round. Seeds 1-6 get a first round bye, so there are 20 teams/10 games for the first round. First and second round games are played at the seeded teams’ home sites. Quarterfinals are played at the higher seeded teams’ home sites, meaning seeds 1-4 (assuming they advance from the 2nd round) are assured of having a home field advantage in the quarterfinals.

List of Conference AQs

Here are the automatic qualifiers from this past weekend:

  • ACC: North Carolina (15-3, RPI 3), 15-13 win over Boston College
  • Pac-12: Southern Cal (16-3, RPI 9), 12-3 win over Colorado
  • Atlantic-10: Richmond (17-3, RPI 23), 19-18 OT win over UMass
  • Big South: High Point (15-4, RPI 25), 17-10 win over Winthrop

There are 11 conference tournaments still to come and I’ll look at each with possible at-larges (if any):


  • Projected AQ: Florida (11-6), 10 RPI, key wins against Colorado & Stony Brook
  • Potential At-Larges: none

The Gators had problems in non-conference games this year, but had no trouble with their conference foes. Florida should get the AQ, but in the unlikely event that they don’t, they should get in as an at-large. This is one of several conferences where a loss by the favorite could bump one of the other bubble teams out of contention.

Thursday, May 2, Semifinals: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 4 Vanderbilt; No. 2 Cincinnati vs. No. 3 Temple

Final on Saturday, May 4

America East:

  • Projected AQ: Stony Brook (13-4), 20 RPI, key wins against Colorado, Johns Hopkins, USC
  • Potential At-Larges: none

The Seawolves took a step back in 2019 after losing several major players including Kylie Ohlmiller and Courtney Murphy to graduation. This is still a dangerous team though and should win the America East AQ. The biggest threat to them in the AET is probably Albany and it’s likely those two teams will battle it out once again in the final. However, a Great Danes win would likely bump Stony Brook into the at-large, causing problems for other bubble teams.

Thursday, May 2, Semifinals: No. 1 Stony Brook vs. No. 4 UMBC; No. 2 Albany vs. No. 3 New Hampshire

Final on Saturday, May 4

Atlantic Sun:

  • Projected AQ: Jacksonville (14-3), 32 RPI
  • Potential At-Larges: none

The Dolphins are undefeated in ASUN play and are the favorite for the AQ. Liberty has one loss so far in conference and could challenge Jacksonville for the tournament crown. Another team Syracuse fans should be familiar is Coastal Carolina as they faced the Orange earlier this year in the Dome. However it plays out, the tournament champ will move on to the NCAAT, the rest will stay home.

Thursday, May 2, Semifinals: No. 1 Jacksonville vs. No. 4 Kennesaw State; No. 2 Liberty vs. No. 3 Coastal Carolina

Final on Saturday, May 4

Big East:

  • Projected AQ: Denver (13-2), 12 RPI, key wins against Stanford, Stony Brook, Colorado
  • Potential At-Larges: none, but see Georgetown below

The Big East went through another remake of its conference in the offseason as several teams broke away to form the American Athletic Conference. Gone are the days where Florida would rampage to an easy AQ. For the moment, Denver has stepped into the power vacuum and is currently undefeated. Georgetown is probably the biggest threat to the Pioneers at this point and again, this is one of those conferences where the favorite not getting an AQ will get bumped into the at-large pool. The Hoyas are probably just outside of the bubble with a 9-8 record and a 28 RPI, but have no quality wins. Georgetown is probably going to have to win the AQ if they want to return to the NCAAT in 2019.

Thursday, May 2, Semifinals: No. 1 Denver vs. No. 4 Villanova; No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 3 Georgetown

Final on Saturday, May 4

Big Ten:

  • Projected AQ: Maryland (17-0), 1 RPI, key wins against Florida, North Carolina, Syracuse, Penn, James Madison, Princeton, Virginia, Michigan, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins
  • Potential At-Larges: Northwestern (12-4) 6 RPI, Michigan (15-2) 8 RPI, Johns Hopkins (10-7) 18 RPI, see Penn State below

The Terrapins are the lone undefeated team in D1 right now and are a favorite to win the B1GT AQ. However, Northwestern gave them a game in Evanston a couple weeks ago, so don’t count the Wildcats out. Michigan is having a breakout year in 2019 with their only losses coming in-conference to Maryland and Northwestern. The NU/UM game was pretty close earlier this year and these two will face off again in the semifinals. Johns Hopkins missed out on the B1GT with a loss to Penn St. a week ago, but with a key win against Loyola and a decent RPI, could be one of those rare occurrences where a team doesn’t make their conference tournament but still gets into the NCAAT. Penn St., at 8-8, is in a must win situation against Maryland in their B1GT first round matchup. A loss puts the Nittany Lions under .500 and knocks them out of the NCAAT picture. However a win against the Terrapins, coupled with their recent win over Johns Hopkins (and a 19 RPI), would probably be enough to slide into the tournament. This is definitely a conference tournament to pay attention to. You can probably pencil in Northwestern and Michigan in as definite at-larges should Maryland win the AQ.

Friday, May 3, Semifinals: No. 1 Maryland vs. No. 4 Penn State; No. 2 Northwestern vs. No. 3 Michigan

Final is on Sunday, May 5


  • Projected AQ: James Madison (14-3), 16 RPI, no key wins
  • Potential At-Larges: none, but see Hofstra and Towson below

The Dukes are unlikely to repeat as NCAA champs in 2019, but are still a solid team that’s stayed in the top 10 for most of the year. However, they don’t have any key wins to speak of, though they don’t have any bad losses (North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland). James Madison has had little trouble in the regular season in the CAA, but a loss in the tournament could put them on the bubble. Hofstra, with an 11-6 record but a 27 RPI is, like Georgetown, just outside the bubble and will have to win the AQ to get into the NCAAT. Towson, the other traditional CAA power alongside the Dukes, has struggled in non-conference play this year and is 7-9, but the 2 seed in the conference. The Tigers have their backs to the wall and must win the AQ if they want to return to the NCAAT this year.

Friday, May 3, Semifinals: No. 1 James Madison vs. No. 4 Elon; No. 2 Towson vs. No. 3 Hofstra

Final is on Sunday, May 5

Ivy League:

  • Projected AQ: Princeton (12-3), 7 RPI, key wins against Stony Brook, Florida, Dartmouth, Loyola, Penn
  • Potential At-Larges: Dartmouth (11-4) 13 RPI, Penn (11-4) 17 RPI, but see Cornell below

The Ivy League has had an interesting year and should place three teams in the NCAAT. Princeton is the favorite as they beat both Dartmouth and Penn, but I don’t think you can count out the latter two for the AQ either. The Big Green and the Quakers will play each other in the ILT first round and expect that to be a hard fought contest as the winner will be in a more comfortable position if either wind up as at-larges. Cornell at 8-7 and a 40 RPI will probably have to win the AQ in order to get in, but could make things interesting in the bubble picture if they can upset the Tigers in the first round and get their first key win of the season.

Friday, May 3, Semifinals: No. 1 Princeton vs. No. 4 Cornell: No. 2 Dartmouth vs. No. 3 Penn

Final is on Sunday, May 5


  • Projected AQ: Fairfield (13-3), RPI 35, no key wins
  • Potential At-Larges: none

The MAAC had their first round contests this weekend with Marist and Siena advancing to the semis. The Stags have been undefeated in conference play this year and are a favorite to win the MAACT. However, Fairfield has only beaten the remaining contenders (Marist, Monmouth and Siena) by a goal each in the regular season contests. The winner moves on to the NCAAT, the rest stay home.

Thursday, May 2, Semifinals: No. 1 Fairfield vs. No. 5 Marist, No. 2 Monmouth (12-5) vs. No. 3 Siena

Final is on Saturday, May 4


  • Projected AQ: Mount St. Mary’s (15-2), RPI 36, no key wins
  • Potential At-Larges: none

The Mountaineers were undefeated in Northeast Conference play with few problems, however, their contest against Wagner (who picked up the 2 seed) was a two goal affair. This conference has been dominated by either Bryant or Wagner the last few years. There are/were a number of ties to Syracuse University in this conference. Former Bryant and Wagner coaches and former Orange lacrosse stars Jill Batcheller and Katie Rowan moved on to coach Drexel and Albany respectively. However, Wagner hired another Syracuse women’s lacrosse great Michelle Tumolo, who has picked up where Rowan left off last year. The Seahawks went 13-3 in 2019 and their lone conference loss was to Mount St. Mary’s by an 11-9 score. Look for Wagner and the Mountaineers to battle it out in the final for the AQ.

Thursday, May 2, Semifinals: No. 1 Mount St. Mary’s vs. No. 4 Bryant, No. 2 Wagner vs. No. 3 Robert Morris

Final is on Saturday, May 4

Patriot League:

  • Projected AQ: Loyola (13-4), RPI 14, key wins against Florida, Navy; Navy (14-3), RPI 11, key wins against Florida
  • Potential At-Larges: Loyola or Navy

The assumption is that both the Greyhounds and Midshipmen will face off in the PLT final. Loyola won the regular season contest by 10, but if they meet in the final, it’s anyone’s game. The Greyhounds have beaten up the Midshipmen in the regular season the last two years only to fall short in the PLT final. Loyola and Navy still have to get through Colgate and Army respectively in the semis though. The Red Raiders and Black Knights (which advanced through the PLT first round this past weekend) will have to get the AQ in order to reach the NCAAT. Loyola and Navy should get in as an at-large should they not get the AQ.

Thursday, May 2, Semifinals: No. 1 Loyola vs. No. 5 Colgate, No. 2 Navy vs. No. 3 Army

Final is on Saturday, May 4

Southern Conference:

  • Projected AQ: pick ‘em
  • Potential At-Larges: none

The “pick ‘em” comment is not meant to be sarcastic. Of the four teams going into the SCT, Detroit Mercy, Mercer and Furman all have 4-1 conference records while Central Michigan comes in at 2-3. Furman goes into the SCT as the only one that has an overall winning record (10-7), but is the 3 seed. Last year, Mercer as the 4 seed ended up getting the AQ and moving on to the NCAAT, so it’s anyone’s guess as to who could wind up winning this tournament.

Thursday, May 2, Semifinals: No. 1 Mercer vs. No. 4 Central Michigan; No. 2 Detroit Mercy vs. No. 3 Furman

Final is on Saturday, May 4

Overall Potential At-Larges:

As it stands right now, I think these are the teams that will make the tournament via at-larges due to a combination of key wins, RPI and head to heads.

*Boston College (19-1) RPI 2, key wins over Syracuse (twice), Dartmouth, Southern Cal, Navy, Northwestern, North Carolina, Virginia, Notre Dame, Duke

*Syracuse (15-4) RPI 4, key wins over Northwestern, Loyola, Virginia (twice), Florida, Notre Dame, Duke

*Virginia (12-6) RPI 5, key wins over Navy, Princeton, Loyola, James Madison, Duke

*Northwestern (12-4) RPI 6, key wins over Dartmouth, Duke, Penn, Johns Hopkins, Michigan, Notre Dame

*Michigan (15-2) RPI 8, key wins over Dartmouth, Colorado, Denver, Johns Hopkins

*Navy (14-3) RPI 11, key wins over Florida, Georgetown

*Dartmouth (11-4) RPI 13, key wins over Penn

*Notre Dame (13-4) RPI 15, key wins over Virginia, North Carolina, Duke

*Penn (11-4) RPI 17, key wins over Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, Duke

*Colorado (10-7), RPI 21, key wins over Stanford (twice), Southern Cal

*Johns Hopkins (10-7), RPI 18, key wins over Loyola, Georgetown

*Stanford (13-5), RPI 24, key wins over Stony Brook, Colorado

*Duke (10-8) RPI 26, key win over Notre Dame

UMass currently has a 22 RPI, but with no more games to play and no significant wins, it’s unlikely to be selected for the tournament this year. Duke’s win over Notre Dame in the ACCT 1st Round on Wednesday night likely put them in position to get in as the final at-large team.

There are several scenarios, though, that could bump teams off this list. One is regarding the B1GT semifinals between Maryland and Penn St. The Nittany Lions (8-8) at an RPI 19, would need a win over Maryland to be eligible. A win over the Terps would improve their RPI. Even a subsequent loss to Northwestern or Michigan (the other pair in the tournament) would not really hurt that. They already have a win against Johns Hopkins, so a win over the Terps should be enough to land them in the NCAAT.

Other scenarios involve projected favorites not winning their conference AQ. Florida in the American Athletic (RPI 10), Stony Brook in the America East (20 RPI), Denver in the Big East (RPI 12) and James Madison (RPI 16) in the Colonial, would all be bumped into the at-large pool should they fail to win their conference tournaments. Particular attention should be paid to those four tournaments to see if they upset the proverbial apple cart.


These are projections as of this time. I’m just taking an educated guess as to where teams will be slotted. This can and will probably change a bit after this coming weekend.

1. Maryland

2. Boston College

3. North Carolina

4. Syracuse (this assumes that Northwestern does not win the B1GT against Maryland, otherwise the Wildcats will probably go here)

5. Northwestern (unless they win the B1GT AQ, but it has to be over Maryland)

6. Notre Dame

7. Virginia

8. Princeton

At this point, I do think Syracuse is in the 4 position, which would mean a first round bye and home field advantage in the second round and (assuming a win) the quarterfinals. With no wins against the three teams ahead of them, there’s no way the Orange can move up further. At the same time, their head to head wins over Northwestern, Notre Dame and Virginia should not drop them any lower. However, should Northwestern win the B1GT AQ with wins over Michigan and Maryland, I think those two big wins could very well be enough to vault them ahead of Syracuse for the 4 spot, despite the head to head loss.

Notre Dame, with a 15 RPI, might seem like a surprise, but I think their wins against North Carolina and Virginia are high enough quality victories that it should move them past the other teams. Virginia also has several good wins, including a head-to head win over Princeton. It came down to Michigan, USC and the Tigers for the final spot. I ended up with the Tigers because of their higher RPI, but their wins are also “better.” Of course, if the Wolverines beat Northwestern (or even win the B1GT AQ), that could change things. But for now, my bet is on Princeton.

I’m also going to take a stab at who the first round opponents will be for the Orange and I’m picking Stony Brook and Dartmouth. The NCAA selection committee usually, though not always, goes with geography as a factor. Given the last few years of SU opponents in the NCAAT, I think Stony Brook will be one of them due to proximity. I think Dartmouth would also be a solid pick due to geography, but also due to the quality. A 13 and 16 RPI first round game just feels right. Either way, it would not be a cakewalk for the ‘Cuse in the second round.


I will be writing another article this weekend that will take a look at the updates as there are sure to be many changes between now and Sunday.