Breaking down Hofstra men's lacrosse's NCAA at-large chances

Despite not qualifying for the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Tournament the Hofstra men’s lacrosse team is very much in the mix to receive an NCAA Tournament at-large bid when the 16-team field is announced Sunday night.

In the latest NCAA RPI rankings released Monday Hofstra (9-4) was 13th, the highest in the CAA.  More importantly Hofstra has four wins over teams ranked in the RPI top 20 in Johns Hopkins (12), Towson (14), Army (17) and Brown (19), a major criteria considered by the selection committee. Hofstra should also receive help by the fact that the CAA is the second highest ranked automatic bid conference (six teams or more), behind only the Ivy League.

Hofstra Athletic Director Jack Hayes, a member of the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament selection committee from 2006-2008, said the fact that Hofstra did not make the CAA Tournament will have little bearing on whether the Pride receive a bid. “There is nothing in the criteria that mentions anything about going to a conference tourney,” said Hayes. “I don’t think not making the conference tournament will impact us very much.”

By not playing in the CAA Tournament Hofstra has been left to wait this week to see if the outcomes of other games can give their at-large chances a boost with mixed results so far. On the negative side was Denver defeating Loyola 12-4 last week to capture the ECAC’s automatic qualifier and likely remove one of the available 10 at-large bids. A major positive development for Hofstra however was Army capturing the Patriot League title over Navy last week to move up to 17th in the RPI rankings, adding another top 20 win to Hofstra’s resume.

At the start of this weekend a major prayer of Hofstra lacrosse fans was answered when bubble teams Yale and Brown dropped their Ivy League Tournament semi-final games to Princeton and Cornell respectively, likely preserving an at-large spot. One game on the Saturday schedule that could play a critical role in Hofstra’s tournament chances is Johns Hopkins at Loyola, with either result potentially helping or hurting the Pride's chances. A Loyola win would move Johns Hopkins (6-7) to under .500 and thus ineligible for at-large consideration, but a win by the Blue Jays would also likely add a top 10 RPI win to Hofstra’s resume.

What Hofstra’s chances are for receiving an invite to the NCAA Tournament when the selections are announced at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU Sunday is anybody’s guess but the latest bracketology analysis conducted by insidelacrosse.com project that the Pride will be apart of May Maddness. This could all change in the next 48 hours but the fact that the Pride have any hope at all for an NCAA bid despite not making its conference tournament shows the true strength of the Hofstra lacrosse program.

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