The NCAA Has A Problem With Their Lax Tournament


Brendan Staff, Staff Writer

Year after year fans of college lacrosse are outraged when they find out a certain team did not make the national tournament. Last year, the number 4 team in the country and ACC co-champions Notre Dame did not make the tournament. This year, a multitude of teams can be argued should have made the tournament. This is because there are only 16 teams selected, and the selection committee is flawed.

Every conference winner gets an automatic bid, rightfully so as they proved they were the best of their tier throughout the season. However, with 10 conferences and 10 winners, there are only six spots for other teams. This leads to very boring match ups that already happened multiple times over the season in cases where one conference is stronger than the rest and fills up the entire bracket.

Another reason the 16 team tournament is flawed is the lack of diversity in the teams. Every year it seems as though the same teams play each other with no room for any other teams to make their mark. So far, this year’s tournament has proved exactly why a diverse selection of teams is beneficial to the overall play. Teams like Army and Michigan, who are often not thought of as a threat at all, won their first round games against defending national champs and runner ups Maryland and Cornell. A Big-10 team does not often play an Ivy-League opponent like Cornell, but as it turns out, when they do, it makes for one of the most exciting games of the tournament. Another middle of the pack team that did damage was Delaware. After they got screwed playing and winning their second play-in game in 2 years, they lost by a single goal to the top seeded Duke. The fact that a few of these middle of the road teams were able to pull off historic upsets makes you think of how many other middle of the pack teams like Denver or Villanova, that could make runs for their chance at history.

As a solution, I think the Men’s Division 1 bracket should adopt to a model similar to ones used by the Division 1 Women or Division 3 Men. They let in 29 and 38 teams respectively. While the Division 1 Men’s bracket does not have to go as far as letting in almost half of all teams who play, they can get creative like the two other brackets, which showcase a combination of many first round byes and play-ins. In the regular season, teams played up to two or even three times in one week, and this could be continued in the earlier rounds to make sure the season does not get dragged on for too long. I think another great option is to go with a format similar to CHSAA’s, which features the top 8 with a first round bye and the other 16 in a first round play-in.

With the addition of new teams into the NCAA D1 as well as an emerging middle tier of teams that can make runs, the NCAA needs to expand their national tournament if they want to keep lacrosse interesting.