Sunday night, lacrosse fans everywhere finally learned what we would see as far as matchups in the NCAA lacrosse tournament.
For many teams, the selection show provided the opportunity to celebrate a job well done, while others sat on the couch and learned that their season was over.
Many of the seeds and positions in the tournament were unpredictable to say the least, but regardless, entry into the tournament is valuable no matter what the circumstance.
With many upsets coming in league tournament games, automatic qualifiers went to teams that would otherwise be out of the tournament, and the at-large bids went to teams who were planning on qualifying automatically before falling to inferior opponents.
Let's take a deeper look at those teams who were left our of the tournament, and focus on the reasons that some of the nation's elite teams will be cleaning out their locker rooms a bit earlier than they are accustomed to.
The Bison fell in the Patriot League final to Lehigh, who will be entering the tournament as the league's only participant. Bucknell had quality wins over Cornell, Albany and Drexel, and were definitely negatively affected by the scarcity of at-large bid opportunities. With teams like Detroit and Towson stealing tournament spots via conference tournaments, the Bison, although clearly more talented, will watch inferior teams take part in a tournament that they should be a part of.
After defeating Cornell in the conference semifinals, all that stood between Princeton and an NCAA berth was the championship game against Yale. Princeton could not win a faceoff and had trouble maintaining possession on their way to a 12-8 defeat at the hands of the Bulldogs. Princeton had big wins over Cornell, Yale, Villanova, Hofstra and Hopkins, but these wins lost their luster as many had less-than-stellar seasons in 2013.
St. John's was on a tear earlier in the season, but cooled off as the competition heated up. They actually benefited from not qualifying for the Big East tournament, as they avoided any more losses to their tournament resume. Their quality wins over Yale and Notre Dame were overshadowed by losses to Georgetown and Stony Brook, keeping them out of postseason contention in 2013. Attacker Kieran McArdle had an All-American worthy season and will enter next season as one of the favorites for the Tewaaraton Trophy, given to the national player of the year.
Hopkins had a very slim chance of making the tournament as at-large bids dwindled away, but there is a bigger story. The Blue Jays had been in every NCAA tournament for the last 41 years, but will be watching from home this season. Head coach Dave Pietremala had his team win big games, but inconsistent play and untimely losses eventually made their exclusion inevitable. Look for Hopkins to rebound in a big way in 2014.
The University of Virginia was mathematically ineligible for this years tournament by finishing the year with a losing record. In a tough ACC, the Cavaliers struggled against league foes and was unable to win the league title against UNC to secure an NCAA bid in the only way possible. It is strange not to see the Cavs among the tournament field, but this is probably just a one-year fluke. No way Dom Starsia will have his team on the outside again next year.
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