We are shifting bracketology to Monday from Thursday to hopefully give it a shelf-life of longer than a few hours. With so many good games happening later in the week, we wanted to move our analysis earlier. So here we are on Monday with Bracketology week 2.
We’ve got a lot to say about each team, but before we get started, we have to start with our Top 15.
2. South Carolina
8. Grand Canyon
9. Boston College
10. Virginia Tech
12. Georgia Tech
13. Florida State
14. New Hampshire
As you will see, this doesn’t perfectly translate to the bracket, but it gives us a baseline to start from. Let’s dive right in.
Here’s the bracket, with explanations and bubble teams below.
They control their own destiny at this point. After beating UCSB to complete an undefeated regular season the only thing that would cost them the one seed would be a loss in the SLC tournament. If they come away with the SLC AQ, they will be the one seed. The Margin Hounds could have tried to make a case for Utah based on HOW they beat the teams they played, but the OT win against CSU probably lays most of those arguments to rest.
Their best win, Colorado, lost a bit of its luster this weekend with BYU and Utah both handing the Buffs a loss at home. On the flip side, their win against Virginia Tech looks a bit better after VT handled Liberty on the road. Either way, they are likely to end up with a minimum of 4 top 10 wins if they win the SLC.
The Panthers are a lock, regardless of what happens in the SLC tournament. They are playing for seeding.
They current have wins over #3, #8, #10, #12, #14, #19, and #25 with no losses.
I’m still feeling pretty confident about this pick without any good reason. UMLC will be a 1 bid conference, and will almost certainly be the 16 seed.
#2 South Carolina
#15 Texas A&M
Living outside ACC territory by a few thousand miles, I wasn’t familiar with how intense the Clemson/USC rivalry was. Our twitter account was mentioned in a string of tweets between the two schools, and we got a good taste of how intense it actually is. It’s pretty awesome.
With no stream to watch, we are left to guess about how the game went from some tweets, but it seemed like Clemson was able to hang tight for the majority of the game before the Gamecocks pulled away in the 4th quarter to win comfortably.
Like Chapman, South Carolina has completed their season undefeated. Something worth celebrating, especially since it turns them into a tournament lock. The Gamecocks are getting an invite to Salt Lake, and they have a chance to make it as a top 3 seed if they arrive as SELC champs.
In our last Bracketology we had the RMLC AQ in the 2 spot, something I still think is pretty realistic, but I’m not sure getting the RMLC AQ is harder than getting the SELC AQ this year.
The SELC tournament features 8 teams, all of which are ranked higher than the presumed RMLC 4 seed. It’s a ridiculously deep tournament of ranked teams, and if South Carolina beats Florida, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech (assuming seedings hold), they will have a very, very strong argument to take a top 2 seed.
The Gamecocks have wins over #9, #10, #16, #17, #22, #23 and no losses.
The Aggies won the first round of the LSA tournament in commanding fashion, and now eye a date with SMU on Saturday.
LSA is a one-bid conference, and A&M seems like the best bet at this point to snag the AQ.
#14 Simon Fraser
If you tuned into the CSU periscope of the last minute and half of the Utes game in Fort Collins, you probably thought the Utes took their first loss. What’s impossible to tell from the live sideline stream was what the count on the clock actually was when Utah put in the last second tying goal to push the game to overtime, where they would eventually win. CSU calls it “controversial”, Utah calls it “correct”.
We’ve said all year how you win matters a lot less than the fact that you win. The Utes had their first real gut check game and they walked away with the win.
They followed up their nail-biter with a relatively boring win over Colorado. The Utes jumped out to an early 5-1 lead and used methodic possessions and aggressive defense to continually hold off any Buff rallies. Every time CU pulled within 3, the Utes had an answer to stretch the lead back out. It was a solid, uneventful win.
The Utes now turn their focus to a game they have had, by their own admission, circled all year. The Utes and Cougars square off for the final time in the regular season. They are catching BYU at their peak this season. A Utah win would lock down their first-ever undefeated regular season, and net them the #1 seed in the RMLC tournament.
A big question mark for Thursday will be faceoffs. Utah had been great all year at the x, led by freshman Michael Abizaid. Abizaid has won 74% of his draws this year, but the past three games he has seen limited to no action. Utah has some depth at X, but not at the same level of performance as Abizaid. Something to keep an eye on for Thursday.
The Utes have wins over #3, #20, #24, and #25 and no losses.
The Clan is still probably too far from AL territory to get in without the AQ. Even if they win the PNCLL AQ, they will finish the season without any ranked wins. Tough to have them much higher than 13 or 14, but their only losses are to #7 and #8.
The PNCLL will be a 1 bid conference, no matter who gets it. For now, it’s Simon Fraser.
#4 Michigan State
Assuming Michigan State wins the CCLA AQ, I think they will end up sandwiched here between the first and second place RMLC teams.
The Spartans finished the regular season with a commanding win over Purdue and a closer-than-expected win over Western Michigan. No matter, they have locked down the #1 seed in the CCLA tournament, and like the 3 teams above them, are locks for Salt Lake. The CCLA won’t offer them a chance to snag any additional Top 10 wins, which may cap their ability to climb the seedings too much higher, but they can root for some upsets to help.
Something to watch for the Spartans is Sophomore Bennett Osterink. Osternik was averaging almost 5 points a game through the Davenport win. Since then he hasn’t registered a stat. We have no inside information about what happened, but if you are a Spartan fan, hopefully, he will be back this year.
The Spartans have wins over #10, #12, #15, #20, and #23 with a loss to #9.
Cal locked down the #1 seed in the WCLL tournament with a win over Nevada this weekend. WCLL is another 1 bid conference.
Having that 1 seed puts Cal in the driver’s seat for the AQ
The Cougars answered a lot of questions this weekend with 2 road RMLC wins over Colorado and Colorado State. Neither game was ever really in doubt in the second half. The 15-6 win over Colorado State feels more impressive because of how the Rams played the Utes 2 nights earlier.
The question mark for the Cougars has been the defense this year. They are young and unproven, but they have been steadily improving. The Colorado game probably signals that not all those questions are answered though. The Cougars gave up 12 goals against the Buffs and relied on Sophomore netminder Dalon Hampshire to make 21 saves. That’s a lot of shots on cage, and if Hampshire isn’t elite, that game could look different.
The second half of the CSU game was the opposite. The Cougars outscored the Rams 9-2 in the second half and posted a 5-0 fourth quarter to bury their long-time rival.
Regardless of how they are winning, the 10 game win streak the Cougars are on is for real. Now they head into an overhyped showdown with the Utes on Thursday. Many people will point to this game as “the last chance for the Utes to get their first win”, but for the Cougars that narrative takes a backseat to the importance of the game for seeding. Both for the RMLC tournament and the National Tournament. A win on Thursday puts the Cougars in the driver’s seat for a top 3 seed in Salt Lake. That should matter a lot more to this team than a streak that started before the freshmen were born.
Sidenote: Real-life will be taking me to Nashville this week, so I won’t be in Salt Lake for the matchup. *sobs quietly*
The Cougars have wins over #3, #17, #20, #21, and #24 with a loss to #15.
4 bids might be aggressive for the SELC, but it seems like it’s about right this year. I waffled between Liberty and Connecticut for the last At-Large spot, but I’m giving the placeholder to Liberty for this week.
Liberty dropped a home game to Virginia Tech that ends up putting them in a brutal spot in the SELC bracket. They could potentially weather a 1st round loss better than GT because of their Michigan State win, but a win over Georgia Tech would really help their case (obviously).
Liberty has wins over #5 and #18 and losses to #3, #4, #10, and #13.
#6 Boston College
#11 Georgia Tech
The PCLL has been eating their own, and that hurts the Eagles, but if they can sweep the rest of their schedule the impact will be minimal. A loss anywhere the rest of the way will hurt. Even if they snag the AQ, their seeding ceiling will be capped.
At this point, we have no reason to think the Eagles won’t roll the rest of the way. They answered the bell against UConn on Friday, with a tight 7-6 win and followed that up by blowing out Buffalo. The Buffalo game looks better today after the Bulls downed #11, New Hampshire.
The Eagles play two crucial games this weekend vs Northeastern and New Hampshire. Neither are going to be layups, and their game against New Hampshire comes just 18 hours after faceoff vs Northeastern. New Hampshire will be fresh and prepping only for Boston College. It’s going to be a gut-check game for BC, but one they need to win.
Boston College has wins over #13, #14, and #18 with losses to #1, #5, and #6.
If you have been following the Jackets this season, you may have heard that they played the first month(ish) of the season shorthanded. That story seems to ring true watching GT play the last few weeks. They dismantled two of the better unranked teams, Alabama and Auburn, and then beat ranked rival Georgia on Saturday. The Jackets might be playing their best lacrosse of the season headed into the SELC tournament.
In a tournament with all relatively tough draws, the Jackets might have the hardest. To repeat again as SELC champions they will have to go through 3 top 10 teams (in 3 games). Liberty, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech stand between the Jackets and the crown. If they can get past Liberty and South Carolina (assuming of course), they will have probably done enough to lock down a trip to Salt Lake. One win and a loss will leave their fate in the hands of the Selection Committee.
Georgia Tech has wins over #16 and #24 with losses to #1, #3, #12, and #17
Tough weekend for the Buffs. We’ve been pointing to the loss of starting goaltender Jensen Makarov as further evidence of the grit the Buffs have shown thus far winning close games. This weekend it was the tipping point. Against the Cougars on Thursday night goalie play was the difference in the game. The Buffs started with Sophomore Russell Riley in net. After only stopping 35% of the Cougars shots in the first half, the Buffs made a change to Freshman Peter Wharton who fared better, stopping 50% of the shots in the second half.
On Saturday the Buffs let Riley play the full game. He did better than against the Cougars, but a 48% save percentage wasn’t enough to make a difference against the potent Ute shooters.
The Buffs are going to have to solve the issues with the two youngsters. Word came this weekend that Makarov won’t be returning this season after having surgery on a torn-hamstring.
For the Buffs, there was still a lot of positives to take away from the two losses. Despite the shortcomings, they were in both games in the fourth quarter. After a late 3 goal run, the Buffs cut the lead to 2 against BYU. A bench conduct penalty gave the Cougars the ball after the last CU goal and the Cougars milked the remaining clock.
Against the Utes, the Buffs crawled back after being down 5-1 at the end of the 1st quarter to cut the lead to 10-7 in the fourth. The Utes eventually pushed the lead back up to 5, but the Buffs were never really “out of it”.
Assuming the Buffs beat CSU (probably a premature assumption at this point), the Buffs will get the loser of the BYU/Utah game in the first round of the RMLC tournament.
Taking home the RMLC crown would likely put the Buffs in the 3-5 range. A big difference from 8-10. Even if they were to lose to CSU and another RMLC team in the tournament, I think the Buffs are a lock. They still have a long resume of wins that’s only matched by Chapman.
The Buffs have wins over #6, #9, #10, #14, #18, #19, #25 and losses #1, #2, #7.
This spot was shifted down one to avoid a tournament rematch with Grand Canyon, something the Tournament Selection Committee works to avoid.
Concordia finished the season with two comfortable wins over UCSB and UNLV. They will line right back up to take on UCSB in the first round of the SLC finals. I think they will be pretty close to a lock if they beat the Gauchos, but following that up with a win over Grand Canyon would be huge for their seeding.
Their best win (New Hampshire) took a hit with the Wildcat’s loss to Buffalo, but they still hold 3 ranked wins, and their only loss was by 1 to the #1 team in the country. It feels like they have been flying a bit under the radar, but this is a bad matchup for anyone in a conference tournament. Clearly, they have can hang with the Chapman’s of the world, and in the MCLA world, that means they can hang with anyone.
The Eagles have wins over #11, #19 and #21 and a loss to #1.
#8 Grand Canyon
#9 Virginia Tech
The Lopes await the winner of Concordia/UCSB in the SLC semifinals. Should Concordia advance, the Lopes will have a chance to net their first top 10 win of the season. For Grand Canyon, this is a “win and in” game. Looking at their wins I wouldn’t call the Lopes a tournament lock yet. A first-round exit in the SLC tournament would likely drop them to 11-14 territory, which is where things get scary for bubble teams.
A first-round win virtually guarantees them a spot in Salt Lake.
The Lopes had a closer than expected game against Arizona, sneaking away with a 3 goal win. They’ve shown some inconsistency this year, and it’s not unreasonable to think that Concordia has a good chance at an upset.
It’s worth noting that every computer model ranks the Lopes lower than we do. Looking at their schedule, that’s because they haven’t really put up any GREAT wins. They have the Boston College win, but BC was playing their last game on a west coast swing. Outside of that, there is a strong potential the Lopes will only boast 1 or 2 top 20 wins after this week’s poll is released.
Regardless of what has happened so far, Grand Canyon has a chance to climb the seedings by bringing home the SLC title. Their ceiling is capped by the CSU and CU losses, but a top 5 seeding isn’t out of the question with an SLC tournament championship.
GCU has wins over #12, #16, #18, #19, and #25 with losses to #3 and #24.
The Hokies got a signature win in commanding fashion against Liberty this weekend. Somewhat surprisingly, it was only their second ranked win of the season (Arizona State was the other).
Whoever loses in the finals of the SELC tournament has a great shot to get an invite to Salt Lake. The path for VT is through Georgia and the winner of FSU/Clemson. The only way the Hokies can feel completely “locked” will be to win the SELC crown, but should they make it to finals, I think they will be in Salt Lake. If they don’t reach the SELC finals, they will be firmly on the bubble, and likely out.
The Hokies have wins over #9 and #18 and losses to #1, #3, #4, #5.
Last Team Out
Connecticut – If they can finish the regular season with 3 straight wins and post a first-round win in the PCLL tournament they will have a good shot at an At-Large bid if they don’t win the title.
Florida State – They have rebounded nicely after the Texas loss, including adding 2 more ranked wins against Georgia and Florida. They still probably need a win or two in the SELC tournament to be in the AL conversation.
New Hampshire – The loss to Buffalo hurts, but they aren’t the only team on the bubble with an unranked loss. A win over Boston College will put them right back in control of the PCLL.
Davenport – They are still here because of their BYU win. I’m not sure a single win is enough to get you to Salt Lake, but beating BYU might be the way to do it.
Moved off the Bubble
With losses last weekend these teams all probably need to win their AQ to punch a ticket to Salt Lake.