Lacrosse Magazine has published their first crack at bracketology for the 2016 NCAA men's lacrosse tournament. Right now, YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles are in the field.
Patrick Stevens has slotted Marquette as the seventh of the eight at-large teams to get into the field. Based on that projection, it would send MU to South Bend to face off with #3 seed and ACC auto-bid representative Notre Dame in the first round of the tournament. Yes, that would be a rematch of a game that takes place in a couple of weeks, but with so few teams that actually play lacrosse, you can't be worried about that kind of thing when assembling the tournament.
If you're asking "hey, if they're the second to last team in, shouldn't they be playing the #2 seed," you're not wrong. However, there are two play-in games for the four lowest seeded at-large qualifiers, and both of those winners go on to play the #1 and #2 seeds. Why aren't they playing the #4 seed, then? Well, the NCAA doesn't want to put undue stress on teams traveling for the first round, so MU goes to South Bend while Loyola-Maryland, the last at-large team in, visits the neighboring Maryland Terrapins.
Marquette is one of three Big East squads in the projected field. Denver has the #2 seed as the Big East's auto-bid representative, even though MU has a half game lead on the Pioneers in the league standings right now. The defending national champions do have Marquette beat in the RPI department right now (#5 vs #11), so you can't really fault the decision making process there. Villanova is also in the tournament as the #7 seed. Yes, the Wildcats had a horrible week last week, losing twice (including to Marquette) in ugly fashions, but they have three top 20 wins.
There are four MU opponents on this year's schedule that are in the field. We already mentioned the first three (ND, Denver, Villanova), but Quinnipiac is in one of the play-in games as the automatic bid holder out of the MAAC. The Golden Eagles won 11-5 at QU a few weeks back, and while the Bobcats would have the worst RPI (#31) out of any automatic bid team right now, their RPI is bound to go up if they actually win the MAAC tournament. I don't know if they can wander into the top 20 to help Marquette's profile out, but if they make it into the NCAA tournament, that has to help MU's chances.
The most fascinating thing in this projection is the "first four out" grouping. Down there with the very last spot in F4O is Duke. Marquette will travel to Durham on April 22nd, so right now, that game is shaping up to be a de facto play-in game for the NCAA tournament. Of course, if MU shocks the world against Notre Dame next Wednesday, the Golden Eagles will be playing the Blue Devils with house money in their pocket, too.
Marquette's next game is on Saturday when they travel to New York to play St. John's. Faceoff is scheduled for 11am Central, and you can watch the game on WatchESPN.
You can read the whole bracketology article right here.