I'm not thrilled with this bracket. Not thrilled at all.
It's definitely a weird year where the blue chip names are farther down on the RPI list and you've got squads like Marquette and Loyola higher up. Still though, Marquette taking the six seed is a joke. The Committee obviously wanted to reward the Golden Eagles for its one goal win over Denver in the Big East Championship game. That's fine, I understand that, but just last week Marquette was very much on the bubble still. Three weeks ago Duke beat Marquette by 15 goals. No not by one in overtime, but BY FIFTEEN while the Golden Eagles just managed one. The Denver game aside, Marquette's best wins both came over Villanova. Nevertheless, Duke goes unseeded and Marquette grabs the six spot. Thanks RPI.
Then there's Loyola, remember Duke beating up on the Greyhounds midway through the season? Well the Greyhounds are at the seven seed, that's a team that lost to three unseeded Tournament programs. I think Loyola should have gotten a home game, but having them above SU is a little confusing to me. Loyola's record shows just 3 losses, but it also shows one quality win over Hopkins and two "quality" wins over each Army and Bucknell, with a whole lot of fluff added in. Again, the Greyhounds are seed-worthy but SU should have been seeded above them.
I think the Committee made it very clear what they think about the ACC. Syracuse, the ACC champion was out-seeded by two teams from the Big East and two teams from the Ivy League.
At the end of the day, I think poor seeding and tough first round matchups will leave us with 50% of the seeded teams losing in the first round. Right off the bat I have Duke taking down Loyola. I actually like Marquette, and maybe I've got a little too much ACC-bias, but I think they'll fall to UNC in a close game. Don't look now but Hopkins is in a great position to make a final four run. I like the Blue Jays to beat brown and make it out of that quarterfinals region. Also playing in that region is Yale and Navy. Navy had some issues towards the end of the season and my head is telling me Yale, but I'm going Navy all day long.
Could Syracuse lose to Albany? Certainly, but it's not happening. SU beat Albany by 9 goals in the second game of the season, and the Orange have gotten significantly better since. The defense has come to life behind a new starting goaltender, Nick Mellen is much better acclimated to life in division I, and Sergio Salcido has developed into a dangerous dodging threat on that first line midfield. I think that the Orange are set up for a second round date with Maryland.
Speaking of Syracuse, in 2014 SU was the number two seed and lost to Bryant. I don't think its likely to happen again, but watch out for Towson against Denver, I think that could be a very interesting game. I also would expect Notre Dame to easily down Air Force, but I think that could be another tricky matchup.
I'll have more for you on Syracuse and the NCAA Tournament as the week rolls on.