NCAA Lacrosse Championship: How the 16 teams are selected for the men’s lacrosse tournament
After the committee released two early looks at the top 10 looking to enter the tournament, we finally found out who will compete for the national title.
But how does the committee come up with the teams that are selected to compete in the championship tournament?
“It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of time,” said the chair of the DI men’s lacrosse selection committee, Gene Doris.
Doris, who is the athletic director at Fairfield, explained that the process begins months before players step onto the field for the first game of the season. The committee reflects on the previous season and amends the selection principles and procedures if there were any glaring problems with the year before. These amendments must be approved by the NCAA in order to keep selection criteria similar across all sports.
From there, it gets more difficult.
“When you take a look at the parity that has taken place in lacrosse over the last couple of years, its changed the landscape,” Doris said.
Essentially, there are three phases to the selection process: select, seed and place.
On selection weekend (May 6-7 this year), the committee sits down and decides who makes it to the NCAA championship tournament. Eight of the 16 teams are easy; they’re automatic qualifiers. The winner of the conference tournament from the America East, Big East, Big Ten, CAA, Ivy League, MAAC, Northeast Conference, Patriot League and Southern Conference automatically receives a bid.
The committee evaluates each team with a won-lost-record of .500 or better that has played at least 10 games to decide which teams will fill the eight at-large berths.
They are allowed to break free from polls as well as select as many teams from a single conference as they like, but each team sent to the tournament must be decided on unanimously. The committee must also select teams based on set criteria, keeping the selection objective.
“We are not allowed to have an eye test,” Doris said. “That’s the only way we can keep it from becoming subjective.”
|Eligibility and availability of student-athletes for NCAA championships|
|Strength of schedule index (based on team's 10 highest rated contests)|
|Results of the RPI|
|Record against ranked teams|
|Average RPI wins|
|Average RPI loss|
|Results versus common opponents|
|Significant wins or losses|
|Locations of contest|
But, no one section of the selection criteria will push a team forward or hold a team back each year. For example, with the significant wins/losses or head-to-head competition categories, if a team defeated the number one team in the nation but lost a number of its other games, those two categories are not going to be enough to push it into the tournament. The committee measures a teams entire performance in all of the categories.
“We deep dive as far as we can,” Doris continued.
After they decided who is headed off to compete for the national title, committee members must then rank the top eight teams. Doris explained that the committee usually lists out a few more than eight, just to help with the bracketing step, but the public only will see eight.
They use the same evaluation methods in this step as they do in the selection process.
“We go off of objectivity and data,” Doris said.
In this step, the committee decides which team will face which in the first round of the tournament. Doris said that the committee tried to make it as fair as possible.
There are a few automatic slots filled for the committee, though. The top eight seeds are given priority for hosting, and from there, the committee places teams first geographically (attempting to avoid teams having to travel over 400 miles) then based on the integrity of the matchup. Members also try to avoid creating rematches from the previous year.
Once teams are placed, committee members go back over the bracket to check for conflicts, and if none are found, they will formally adopt the bracket.
“We really want to get it right. We want the right teams to go to the tournament,” said Doris. “And we want it to be fair and consistent process.”