There were a number of surprises from last evening’s unveiling of the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse bracket. Some of these surprises have been harped on in the last few hours, such as the inclusion of Duke and the exclusion of the Naval Academy.

But for me, the biggest surprise was the fact that two teams from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference are in the tournament — Fairfield and Niagara. Both of these teams have 16 wins on the season, However, these two sides played a grand total of three games against teams ranked in the Top 20.

Yep, three.

Niagara, as MAAC champion, has the AQ from the conference. But somehow, runner-up Fairfield had enough bona fides in beating Connecticut, Albany and Drexel to make it in as an at-large team. Fairfield also had the 59th-best strength of schedule of the 127 Division I teams.

Now, I understand that the women’s lacrosse committee takes a different tack from the “black box” approach that some tournaments use to choose tournament fields. The committee takes into account all manner of metrics and considerations to pick the field.

However, I’m not sold on this field. The committee, I think, is not taking into the account the shifting of power of the game, putting Maryland in the top four and putting Michigan, in essence, as the 10th seed. I also think Loyola was undervalued, being put, in essence, in the 9 slot.

This being said, there are going to be some delectable first-round games on Friday, with Florida meeting North Carolina and Penn State taking on James Madison.

Get your popcorn out. This should be good, but has a chance to be a disaster.


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