May Madness - 2022 Edition
The 2022 NCAA men's college lacrosse begins this weekend.
Last year, I wrote a few fun posts (first, second, third) about the men’s Division 1 Lacrosse playoffs. It was casual and not at all an expert’s view. I am a washed-up, nearly over-the-hill ex-player. Of course, in my mind that makes me a tactical genius.
For real analysis and more thoughtful predictions, check out Inside Lacrosse, Lacrosse Reference (great for stat geeks), or the Lacrosse All Stars Podcast, to name a few quality sources. All games will be aired on ESPN networks. Even if you are unfamiliar with the sport, the ESPN crew does an amazing job of calling the games and explaining situations.
With four games Saturday and four on Sunday, there should be plenty of college lacrosse excitement all weekend. Instead of detailing my sure-to-be-lousy picks, which are based on gut feelings and low-quality analysis, I’ll explain a couple things about the makeup of this year’s tournament.
Several traditional powerhouses are excluded this year.
University of North Carolina: a Final Four team last year, the Tar Heels have appeared in 33 tournaments since 1971 (the start of the NCAA lacrosse era) and won their most recent title (out of five) in 2016.
Syracuse: a perennial tournament team with 39 prior appearances and 11[i] championships since 1971. Last time they were not in the tournament was 2007.
Duke: another Final Four team last year, they played in 24 previous NCAA tournaments, having last missed the playoffs in 2006. The Blue Devils have won three titles since 2010, including back-to-back in 2013-14.
Denver: while not boasting the same successful history as the rest of the non-picks this year, DU has only missed the playoffs once (2019) since Bill Tierney began coaching in 2010. Before DU, Tierney won six titles with Princeton. DU won the title in 2015.
Johns Hopkins: this is the second year in a row the Blue Jays have missed the playoffs. This is the first time that has happened in the NCAA era. The only other year they missed was 2013. JHU had been a staple in May for a very long time.
Notre Dame: probably the biggest “snub” from this year’s bubble teams. They have been playing an NCAA playoff game every year since 2006 with 25 overall appearances - all since 1990. The Fighting Irish beat Duke in their final regular season game to give them a chance, but ultimately were passed over by the selection committee. They finished with a #4 ranking in the Media Poll, #7 in the USILA Coaches Poll, and #11 in the RPI.
Also noticeable is the presence of the Ivy League. Not because the don’t deserve it, but because of the parity and strength of the conference, especially after the Ivies cancelled their seasons last year while everyone else played a limited schedule. There are six teams from the Ivy League out 18 total playoff teams. It is great to see those athletes come back in full force. Two teams that did not qualify for the Ivy League conference tournament were selected to the NCAA tournament. One of them – Princeton – is ranked higher than two of the teams that made the conference tournament.
Other than the matchups involving the top four to five seeds, flipping a coin might be the best prediction model. Definitely better than my methodology!
Click on the attachment to view my picks. Enjoy!
[i] Syracuse’s 1990 title was later vacated by the NCAA due to an ineligible player.