The NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament field has been set and there weren’t too many real surprises.
Notre Dame, Maryland, Georgetown and UConn were given the top four seeds in the tournament, with all but Maryland representing the Big East, which had a record eight teams selected for the tournament.
One of the bigger surprises of the announcement of the field was the fact that SBI No. 1 Akron, the top team in every major poll in the nation, and the No. 2 ranked team in the RPI, received the No. 5 overall seed in the tournament.
As for surprise teams to make the field. Michigan made the field as an at-large selection despite a 10-9-1 record.
Here is the field for the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament:
Cleveland State (11-5-3) vs. Michigan State (11-9-1), winner vs. (1) Notre Dame
Xavier vs. Kentucky, winner vs. (16) Indiana
UMBC (11-4-5) vs. Old Dominion (11-3-2), Winner vs. (9) North Carolina (15-3-2)
FDU (9-5-6) vs. St. John’s (10-4-4), winner vs. Saint Louis (16-4-0) (8)
Niagara (13-1-4) vs. Michigan (10-9-1), winner vs. (5) Akron (17-1-2)
Air Force (10-8-4) vs. Washington (12-4-3), winner vs. (12) Creighton (15-3-2)
Lafayette (9-7-4) vs. Virginia (9-6-4), winner vs. (13) New Mexico (16-3-1)
Boston College (8-5-5) vs. Northeastern (13-2-4), winner vs. (4) UConn (
UAB (10-7-2) vs. Charlotte ( 14-3-3), Winner vs. (3) Georgetown (17-3-1)
Syracuse (12-6) vs. Cornell (15-1), winner vs. (14) VCU
Florida Gulf Coast (11-5-2) vs. South Florida (8-5-4), Winner vs. (11) Tulsa (13-5-1)
San Diego (11-8) vs. Cal State Northridge (15-6), winner vs. (6) UCLA
Western Illinois (7-8-5) vs. Northwestern (11-5-4), Winner vs. (7) Marquette
Winthrop (12-8-1) vs. SMU (10-5-4), winner vs. (10 Louisville
Elon (15-4-2) vs. Coastal Carolina 18-2-2), Winner vs. (15) Wake Forest
Brown (12-2-3) vs. Drexel (12-3-3), winner vs. (2) Maryland
Here is the Tournament Bracket.
Here are some thoughts on the tournament field:
Akron being a No. 5 seed instead of a top four seed, and having the home-field advantage that goes with that, is absurd. The Zips are the top team in the nation in every major poll, and had one of the toughest schedules around, but lost out to UConn, which played more top teams because of the strength of the Big East, but also lost several games.
Michigan sneaked into the tournament despite a 10-9-1 record. They did boast a strong strength-of-schedule, and did finish the year on a strong note, but nine losses is nine losses (and two of them were unimpressive multi-goal losses to Bowling Green and Cleveland State). There were teams who could definitely make an argument for being more deserving.
While Michigan did get in, regular season Big Ten champion Penn State did not. The Nittany Lions fell to eventual Big Ten Tournament champions Michigan State in the conference tournament, finishing with a 9-5-3 record. They suffered losses against Georgetown, Akron and Indiana during the season, while tying Michigan at Michigan. How they missed out and Michigan made the tournament is a head-scratcher.
South Florida was another interesting selection. They finished the year with just eight wins, ended with a 2-3-3 record in their final eight matches, and didn’t qualify for the Big East Tournament, but made the NCAA Tournament AND will host a first-round game against an opponent (Florida Gulf Coast) they have already beaten badly (3-0).
Furman was one of the surprising snubs, though their weak non-conference schedule and a quarterfinal loss in their conference tournament cost them.
SIU-Edwardsville also had a strong case for a tournament berth. They finished with a 13-7 record, lost to Creighton in the MVC final, and suffered close losses to Akron, Creighton (twice) and Indiana. Ultimately though, the rest of their schedule wasn’t the strongest.
West Virginia is another team that came into the year with high hopes, but a lack of quality wins, and a pair of late-season losses to Northern Illinois ultimately cost the Mountaineers.
Out West, only three California schools made the tournament, with CSU-Bakersfield and UC-Davis missing out. UCSB crashed and burned to finish the season, and you have to wonder how their late-season collapse hurt other teams out West.
What do you think of the field? Which snub are you most surprised by? Which team made the field that you didn’t think would? What match-up are you most looking forward to in the early rounds?
Share your thoughts below.