So maybe the Big East semifinals didn’t quite go the way Marquette women’s lacrosse wanted them to go. It got interesting late, as the Golden Eagles scored seven straight goals across the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth quarter to tie the game up. That was the good news, but at the end of 60 minutes, it was #24 UConn advancing past #19 Marquette to Sunday’s Big East title game.
That dropped Marquette to 15-3 on the season. Marquette’s only other losses in 2023 were once in the non-conference portion of the schedule, falling 21-14 to then-#3 and currently #1 Northwestern and not again until the regular season finale, when they took a 12-5 loss to then-#3 and currently #5 Denver. That’s it. If we were making NCAA tournament decisions based just on winning percentage, Marquette came into the weekend tied for 7th best in the country and one of just nine teams with two or fewer losses. Best case scenario is that they’re now one of 14 teams with three or fewer losses, and I think it’s safe to say a lot more people are taking a loss during this weekend of conference tournament action.
But we don’t base NCAA tournament inclusion on just winning percentage, do we? No, not at all. That’s why it’s good news that Marquette was #14 in the country in the RPI through games played on April 30th and even their Big East tournament loss was on the road against #16 Connecticut. That’s not exactly going to hurt the Golden Eagles in the ol’ RPI there, is it? Based on how the NCAA boxes these things up, it looks like MU will go into the final stages of the selection process with a 1-3 record against top 20 opponents and a perfect 14-0 record against the entire rest of the country, including 2-0 against teams at 21-40 and 4-0 against teams 41-60.
In short, things are shaping up for Marquette to be an at-large inclusion in the field of 29 when it’s announced on Sunday night. Lacrosse Reference had them as a lock back on April 30th. USA Lacrosse Magazine had Marquette in the field and clear of Last Four In as of Saturday. Inside Lacrosse had Marquette in the field as of Tuesday evening, although it’s unclear where the Golden Eagles landed on their at-large list relative to the cut line.
This is all a big deal, by the way. Marquette has never reached the NCAA tournament in women’s lacrosse, and they’re on the verge of making for the first time by way of an at-large bid. That’s something that Marquette men’s lacrosse has never accomplished, even as Joe Amplo had the Golden Eagles rocketing towards the upper echelon in the sport so early in the program’s existence. It’s one thing to win an automatic bid and be granted a spot in the field, it’s another to earn an at-large bid and be told “this was one of the 29 best teams in the country this year.”
A quick primer for you on how the bracket works, as we get ready for Sunday night: As mentioned it is a 29 team tournament. The top eight teams are seeded and host the first and second rounds, with the top three teams getting a bye into the second round. Everyone else is unseeded and assigned a spot in the bracket based on proximity to a seeded team as much as possible. This almost definitely means, if they are selected to the field, Marquette will get sent to Evanston to play a first round game in Northwestern’s stadium with a chance for a rematch against the Wildcats waiting in the second round.
2023 NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament
Date: Sunday, May 7, 2023
Time: 8pm Central