The vibes around the Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team are not in a good place at the moment.
The Orange have lost two out of their last three games and, in the last two specifically, their play has resembled nothing of the team that won their first 15 games.
It’s kind of happened out of nowhere, which is the most puzzling and concerning part. It wasn’t that long ago that we were watching an undefeated team continue to roll over every opponent as the weeks went by. But things turned on a dime at the exact wrong time of the season.
Whatever has happened in these last few games, it’s quite clear that Kayla Treanor and her squad have a lot to work on if they are going to get themselves right before we see them play again in the NCAA Tournament a week and a half from now.
The only thing we know for sure at the moment is that we’ve seen them play their last game before the committee makes their final determinations this Sunday, May 7 when they reveal the official bracket.
After yesterday's action, here is how the WLAX LaxElo Bracketology looks. pic.twitter.com/Ml9GCeLlCJ— Lacrosse Reference (@laxreference) April 30, 2023
Given what’s happened recently, there’s a feeling that the team may have played themselves out of one of the coveted top three seeds that receive a first round bye in the tournament.
But there is potentially good news for Orange fans amidst the recent downturn in play, and that is that the computer numbers are still very much in favor of this Syracuse team, according to Lacrosse Reference.
Let’s take a look at where we sit as of right now (listed in order of current RPI ranking):
- Northwestern — SOS 4, 8-1 vs. RPI Top 20
- Syracuse — SOS 1, 7-2 vs. RPI Top 20
- North Carolina — SOS 2, 5-4 vs. RPI Top 20
- Boston College — SOS 3, 6-3 vs. RPI Top 20
- Denver — SOS 22, 5-0 vs. RPI Top 20
- James Madison — SOS 17, 5-1 vs. RPI Top 20
- Maryland — SOS 5, 5-4 vs. RPI Top 20
- Florida — SOS 18, 3-3 vs. RPI Top 20
- Loyola — SOS 26, 3-2 vs. RPI Top 20
- Stony Brook — SOS 20, 3-2 vs. RPI Top 20
Now, this is obviously just a quick snapshot of what the committee will be looking at, but I was pleasantly surprised to see just how well ‘Cuse is fairing in the all-important categories of RPI and SOS. They have the best SOS in the country, the second-best RPI, and the second-most wins against teams in the RPI Top 20.
I think that the above serves as a reminder that the computer numbers and the committee look at the entire season when building a tournament field, and sometimes we tend to fall into the trap of recency bias when evaluating teams and where they might get seeded. Obviously, the Orange have played quite poorly in the last week and a half, but we can’t forget that they won 15 games in a row to start the season and beat a lot of top-tier teams along the way.
Those games are weighted exactly the same as the last three games where the Orange didn’t play well, and that’s exactly why we see them still sitting on top of North Carolina and Boston College in RPI despite their recent losses to each.
The great news for SU is that with the ACC Tournament complete, it’s very unlikely they’ll get jumped in RPI by BC or UNC before the field is announced. Teams like Denver and James Madison do still have games, but it’s difficult to see them jumping over the Orange even if they do win their conference tournaments this week because they don’t have the schedule or the volume of quality wins to match up with the ACC teams.
There are still plenty of games to be played this week and you never know what craziness might unfold or what deliberations the committee will have, but by the numbers, it’s looking like ‘Cuse has a chance to still find themselves getting that first round bye come Selection Sunday.