October 18, 2016 - College Soccer News' veteran Bracketologist has been pouring over the available data and has issued his first projections of the forty-eight teams that will constitue the 2016 NCAA Tournament field, the sixteen seeds, and the match-ups based on the most recent RPI issued and a projection of the conference champions based on the information currently available. His analysis is based on projected conference winners and the same criteria the selection committee will utilize which includes win-loss record, geography, recent team play, quality wins, and the head-to-head match-ups that have taken place to date. These projections will continue to be revised as the season progresses.
CSN's Bracketologist advises that the RPI will likely change dramatically as the season progresses thus impacting his projections. In addition clarity in regard to most conference championships will not be decieded until conference tournaments are completed.
The projections are not reflective of any national polls nor are they an attempt to gague who the best teams are. The projections are designed to predict what the NCAA Tournament field would be if the selection committee were to make their selections at this moment. The projections do not take into account expected future results.
The NCAA Tournament field, the seeds, and the brackets will be announced on November 14, 2016 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.
#1 Clemson Region
First Round: San Diego State (Pac12 #4) at Pacific (WCC #2)
Second Round: Winner at #1 Clemson (ACC #2)
First Round: Harvard (Ivy #3) at Connecticut (AAC Automatic)
Second Round: Winner at #16 Albany (America East Automatic)
First Round: South Florida (AAC #2) at Indiana (Big Ten #3)
Second Round: Winner at #8 Loyola Chicago (MVC Automatic)
First Round: ETSU (Southern Conference Automatic) at Virginia Tech (ACC #9)
Second Round: Winner at #9 Charlotte (CUSA #2)
#2 Louisville Region
First Round: Wright State (Horizon League Automatic) at Butler (Big East #2)
Second Round: Winner at #2 Louisvile (ACC Automatic)
First Round: UC Santa Barbara (Big West Automatic) at UCLA (Pac-12 #3)
Second Round: Winner at #15 Denver (Summit Automatic)
FIrst Round: Loyola (Md) (Patriot Automatic) at UNCW (CAA #2)
Second Round: Winner at #7 Virginia (ACC #6)
First Round: Columbia (Ivy #2) at Utah Valley (WAC #2)
Second Round: Winner at #10 Stanford (Pac-12 Automatic)
#3 Notre Dame Region
First Round: Radford (Big South Automatic) at Akron (MAC Automatic)
Second Round: Winner at #3 Notre Dame (ACC #3)
First Round: Hartwick (Sun Belt Automatic) at Boston College (ACC #8)
Second Round: Winner at #14 Creighton (Big East Automatic)
First Round: Quinnipiac (MAAC Automatic) at Dartmouth (Ivy Automatic)
Second Round: Winner at #6 Syracuse (ACC #5)
First Round: FGCU (Atlantic Sun Automatic) at Michigan State (Big Ten #2)
Second Round: Winner at #11 Wake Forest (ACC #7)
#4 Maryland Region
First Round: St. Francis (N.Y.) (NEC Automatic) at Hofstra (CAA Automatic)
Second Round: Winner at #4 Maryland (Big Ten Automatic)
First Round: Portland (WCC Automatic) at Seattle (WAC Automatic)
Second Round: Winner at #13 Washington (Pac-12 #2)
First Round: Villanova (Big East #4) at South Carolina (CUSA Automatic)
Second Round: Winner at #5 North Carolina (ACC #4)
First Round: St. Louis (Atlantic 10 Automatic) at Xavier (Big East #3)
Second Round: Winner at #12 Kentucky (CUSA #3)
Last Four At Large Selections:
San Diego State
Last Four Out:
Projected Conference Winners
|Conference||17 October 2016||RPI|
|Atlantic 10||Saint Louis||45|
|Big West||UC Santa Barbara||80|
|Conference USA||South Carolina||25|
|Horizon League||Wright State||101|
|Missouri Valley||Loyola Chicago||4|
|Northeast||St. Francis (NY)||86|
October 13, 2016 - It has been a tough week so far for teams at the top. Four of the teams ranked in the top ten in the country in the most recent College Soccer News Top 30 Poll have already sustained losses. Two of the four losses were to other teams also ranked in the top ten and one was to a team ranked in the top twenty but the bottom line is that a loss is a loss.
#10 ranked Indiana defeated #3 ranked Louisville 2-1 on the road to halt the Cardinals' eight game winning streak. Defender Grant Lillard drove home a header in the first half and midfielder Trevor Swartz converted a penalty kick less than a minute into the second stanza to give the Hoosiers the margin they needed to pull off the upset. It was a very good win for an IU team that was thumped 4-0 last week by Notre Dame on the road. Louisville was unable to take advantage of the opportunities that came their way on the offensive side of the ball.
Tulsa upset #4 ranked Creighton 2-1 with a come from behind win with Alejandro Chavez and Matthew Puig contributing a goal each in the final five minutes of the contest. It was an uncharacteristic loss for a Creighton team that seldom relinquishes a lead in that manner. Tulsa's persistent pressure paid off as the Golden Hurricane improve to 6-4-2 overall.
#16 Charlotte topped #6 ranked Clemson 1-0 on the road at Historic Riggs Field which is always a difficult venue for Tiger opponents. Sophomore forward Daniel Bruce netted the game-winning goal for the 49ers from six yards out after a nice move off the dribble to secure the angle he needed to skillfully place a shot into the back of the frame. Charlotte has another big road contest on their dance card when they travel to Blacksburg next Tuesday to tangle with a very good Virginia Tech team. Clemson on the other hand must quickly rebound as they hit the road to face Boston College in a crucial ACC contest.
#7 Denver gutted out a hard fought 1-0 win over #9 Butler on the road with redshirt junior Blake Elder netting the lone goal of the contest with an assist from defender Reagan Dunk. Pioneer head coach Jamie Franks stated, "Tonight was our best performance of the year, and I'm proud of the group, and the leadership shown in the middle of the park from Sam Hamiliton and Graham Smith tonight." Denver continues to play solid team defense and has been able to come up with the big play needed on the offensive side of the ball to prevail in the close contests . The Pioneers are now 11-0-2 overall. Butler will seek to get back in the win column after back-to-back 1-0 losses when they travel to face St. John's on Saturday in a Big East Conference match.
#14 Michigan State continues to impress with a 2-0 win over #17 Akron in the friendly confines of DeMartin Soccer Field in East Lansing. Sophomore forwards Ryan Sierakowski and Hunter Barone contributed the two goals for Michigan State. The Spartans have nine wins to date which is one more than they secured during the entire 2015 campaign. When asked about the success his team is having this year Michigan State head coach Damon Rensing stated, "I think it is part of the maturation process. It is a lot of the same players. We played a lot of good games last year, we just didn't find ways to win those games." The Spartans travel to University Park to face Penn State on Saturday in a Big Ten contest that belongs on the upset special list.
Maryland topped West Virginia 1-0 in Morgantown on Monday night to improve to 10-0-2. The Terps have displayed a multi-dimensional attack led by sophomore forward Gordon Wild who has found the back on the net a total of ten times so far including four game-winners. Jake Rozhansky, Amar Sejdic, Sebastian Elney and Eryk Williamson are also dangerous finishers. The positive impact that midfielder Rozhansky is having on the Maryland attack should not be underestimated. He has been at the heart of the attack serving as the team quarterback and playmaker. Maryland will host a vastly improved Wisconsin team that will arrive in College Park with momentum of their own. Look for John Trask to have his team prepared to play. The Badger defense has been very solid to date holding opponents to a total of only seven goals. In order for Wisconsin to have a shot at pulling off the upset, they will have to play their best soccer of the year for a full ninety on both sides of the ball. Look for the Terps to come out strong and continue to press throughout the contest.
This weekend is gut check time in the ACC with several contests on tap that have huge conference as well as national implications.
#1 Notre Dame travels to Charlottesville to square off with #25 Virginia on Friday night - Forward Jon Gallagher (11g, 5a) and back Brandon Aubrey (8g, 1a) have been the top goals scorers for the Irish. Contain them, no easy task, and the Cavaliers have a good chance of pulling off the upset. Let them get in gear and the Irish will come out on top.
#3 Louisville travels to Winston-Salem to tangle with #11 Wake Forest - The Demon Deacons come into this one with a 1-0 loss on the road to Clemson and 2-2 tie on the road against Notre Dame in their last two ACC contests. They need to hold serve at home against Louisville. The Cardinals on the other hand come into this one seeking to get back on track after being upset at home by Indiana. It is trite but true, the team that is able to finish the scoring opportunities that come their way will prevail in this one which is likely to be decided by a one goal margin. Demon Deacon head coach Bobby Muuss hit the 100 career win mark last week.
North Carolina takes on Duke in Durham on Friday night - It is a rivalry game no matter what sport is at issue. The Tar Heels have the stronger team but this one is Duke and UNC so it is up for grabs.
Virginia Tech squares off with Syracuse at the SU Soccer Stadium. Syracuse is 0-3-1 in their last four outings. They lost to Notre Dame and Louisville on the road, tied UNC at home in ACC matches and lost on the road 2-1 to Albany in a non-conference contest. The Orange need a win to halt their downward spiral. Virginia Tech is having a banner season however they come into this one off a disappointing 1-1 tie with Wright State in non-conference play. The Hokies are good but they will be hard pressed to hang with Syracuse on the road. Junior forward Marcelo Acuna (9g. 1a) continues to be the main man in the Virginia Tech attack.
Portland under the direction of first year head coach Nick Carlin-Voigt has won three straight including an impressive 5-1 win on the road over Gonzaga in their first West Coast Conference contest of the 2016 campaign. Senior midfielder Eddie Sanchez (6g, 2a) contributed a hat trick in that contest. The Pilots are now 7-3-1 overall. Carlin-Voigt stated, "We really focused on some key areas of our game over the past fourteen days in training that came to life today." The Pilots now take to the road again to face San Francisco and Santa Clara in conference play. Those games this weekend should give Carlin-Voigt a good indication of just how far his team has progressed.
UMass Lowell out of the America East Conference continues to roll. The River Hawks topped Vermont 2-1 on Wednesday night to improve to 9-0-2 with a 2-0-2 mark in conference play. Ivan Abramovic (6g, 7a) and Wuilto Fernandes (8g, 2a) have combined to score fourteen of the twenty-one goals the River Hawks have placed in the back of the net thus far. After an impressive start, Vermont has lost three out of their last four to drop 9-4-1 overall with a 1-2-0 mark in America East Conference action. UMass Lowell has a tough one coming up Sunday when they travel to place a pesky Stony Brook team that comes into the contest off a 2-0 win over New Hampshire and a 3-1 victory over Hartford. Place the River Hawk vs. Seawolves contest on the potential upset list.
The Pac-12 race really is beginning to heat up. UCLA will travel to face California on Thursday night in a contest that is almost always hotly contested followed by a match with Stanford on the road on Sunday. Stanford has opened Pac-12 play with wins over California, Washington, and Oregon State. The Cardinal will host San Diego State on Thursday followed by the showdown with nemesis UCLA on Sunday. Wins at home in Pac-12 play are essential while wins on the road are icing on the cake.
John Scott's Hartwick squad out of the Sun Belt Conference has now won five straight and is unbeaten in their last eight contests to stand at 7-1-2 overall. The Hawks cleared a potential hurdle last Saturday when they topped an always difficult Coastal Carolina team 1-0 in their season opening conference game. The Wick has displayed a balanced attack with eleven different players so far contributing a combined total of twenty goals to date with a solid effort on the defensive side of the ball that has held opponents to a total of only eight goals to date.
Saint Louis has been taking care of business in Atlantic 10 Conference play. The Billikens have topped LaSalle, Dayton, and Rhode Island to go 3-0-0 in conference play. Saint Louis is 4-4-3 overall with a 3-0-0 mark in conference play. They will host a George Mason team on Saturday that is struggling with a 2-8-1 overall record and a 0-3-0 mark in Atlantic 10 play.
Bowling Green survied a 2-1 scare on the road at Northern Kenucky last Tuesday and then opened MAC play last Friday with a solid 1-0 win over West Virginia to improve to 8-3-1 overall. Junior defender Alexis Souahy was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week last week after scoring both goals in the BPSU win over Northern Kentucky and being part of very tenacious Falcon defense that shutout West Virginia. Senior forward Pat Flynn netted the game-winner in the victory over the Mountaineers. Bowling Green will seek to improve their standing in the MAC when they host a good Western Michigan team that is led on the offensive side of the ball by junior midfielder Brandon Bye.
Denver and Loyola Chicago became the first two teams in the country last week to reach the ten win mark this season. Others will no doubt reach ten wins this week.
Creighton topped Butler 1-0 Friday night in Omaha in one of the key games of this weekend. Riggs Lennon headed in the lone goal of the evening out of a corner kick served in by teammate Joel Rydstrand in the fourteenth minute of the contest. The goal was the ninth of the year for Lennon who is helping the Bluejays fill the void on the offensive side of the ball that existed due to the departure of All-Americans Fabian Herbers (15g, 7a) and Timo Pitter (10g, 5a). Creighton moves into the top spot in the Big East Conference with a 3-0-1 mark in league play and a 7-1-3 overall record. Butler drops to 3-1-0 in Big East action and is now 8-2-1 overall. Butler has another tough contest on their dance card Monday when they host a very highly regarded Denver team that will arrive in town with a 10-0-2 overall record.
Virginia pulled off one of the surprises of the weekend when they came from behind to upset North Carolina 2-1 in Chapel Hill on Friday night to put a halt to a UNC nine-match unbeaten streak against the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers, who are undefeated in their last four contests, are very talented but they have been inconsistent so far this year. Sophomore forward Wesley Wade contributed the game-winner for Virginia out of a counter attack when he placed a shot into the back of the frame from twenty-three yards out. Jeff Caldwell had seven saves in goal for a Virginia side that has momentum. The gutsy and determined Cavaliers improve to 6-2-3 overall with a 1-2-2 mark in ACC play while the Tar Heels drop to 8-2-1 and are now 3-1-0 in ACC play.
Louisville continues to impress with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Syracuse on Friday night at Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium. Mohamed Thiaw, the College Soccer News National Player of the Week two weeks ago, scored the lone goal of the contest when he skillfully chipped a shot into the left post after creating the room he needed to do so. Thiaw has scored nine goals so far including six game-winners. Graduate student Stefan Cleveland had six saves to notch his eight shutout of the season for a hot Louisville team that is unbeaten in eight straight games to stand at 9-1-2 overall with a 4-0-1 mark in ACC play that includes a win over number one ranked Notre Dame on September 16. Syracuse has now lost two in a row to drop to 8-3-1 after being upset on the road by Albany 2-1 on Tuesday.
Albany out of the America East Conference under the leadership of head coach Trevor Gorman has been on a roll of their own. The Great Danes began the week by topping Syracuse 2-1 on Tuesday. That win was the highest ranked team the Great Danes had ever topped at home. They then followed that up with a 4-0 thumping of a very good Vermont team in a crucial America East Conference contest on Friday night. Albany has a tough one coming up on Wednesday when they travel to tangle with New Hampshire in what shapes up to be another key conference contest. The Great Dane offense appears to be gelling but the difference maker for Albany will likely be their performance on the defensive side of the ball where inconsistency and lapses in play have hurt them at times this year.
Coastal Carolina began the season with a 1-4-1 overall record in their first six contests. They then rebounded to go 3-0-1 in their last four games including a scoreless tie with highly regarded Clemson Tuesday night to improve to 4-4-1 overall. The Chanticleers may look back to their come from behind victory over Old Dominion in which they showed a ton of grit by scoring three times in the last twelve minutes to prevail 3-2 as the turning point in their season.
Air Force has been flying under the radar on the national scene with a 8-3-0 record to date including a 2-0-0 mark in Western Athletic Conference play. However that may change in the future if they continue to win beginning with a contest on the road against Grand Canyon University on Saturday. The Falcons have little margin for error in any of their remaining conference contests including key resume making games coming up on their dance card with Utah Valley and Seattle University.
Notre Dame forward Jon Gallagher (10g, 4a) and defender Brandon Aubrey (7g, 1a) provide the Irish one of the strongest one-two forward-defender combinations in the country. Gallagher scored twice and contributed an assist and Aubrey scored once in the Irish's 4-0 victory over a very good Indiana team on Tuesday night. The Irish will host Wake Forest on Saturday night in another challenging contest that has national implications.
Loyola University Maryland began the 2016 season with a 1-5-0 record but have since won four straight to improve to 5-5-0 including a very impressive 1-0 win over American University on the road. The Greyhounds are 3-0-0 in Patriot League play to secure their best start in conference action since the 2009 season. Loyola, which added a 2016 recruiting class ranked by College Soccer News as the number thirteen class in the country, has another tough contest coming up on Saturday when they host Boston University in a Patriot League match.
Florida Gulf Coast University is among the most explosive teams on the offensive side of the ball having scored a total of thirty-five goals while winning eight straight to improve to 8-2-1. This is a team that can score in multiples in a short period of time as reflected in their 4-1 win over FIU in Miami on Tuesday night in which they came from behind to score three times in a thirteen minute span to take control of the contest. Forwards Albert Ruiz (11g, 3a) who was named the National Player of the Week last week by College Soccer and Arion Sobers-Assue (8g, 2a) have been the key point producers to date for the Eagles. The win over FIU was noteworthy in that freshman forward Shak Adams scored twice while junior midfielder Miguel Jaime and junior forward Rielee Mohsin each contributed a single goal providing evidence that the Eagles have a multi-dimensional attack.
Connecticut has won five straight to improve to 8-3-0 overall with a 2-0-0 mark in American Athletic Conference play. Sophomore forward Adbou Thiam (7g, 2a) and senior midfielder Kwame Awuah (0g, 6a) power the Huskie offense while centerback Simen Olafsen and goalkeeper Scott Levene anchor a traditional solid UConn defense that has only allowed a total of seven goals to date while recording a 0.63 goals against average. Connecticut will seek to make it six in a row when they host Cincinnati on Saturday. Key hurdles in the near future include contests in the friendly confines of Morrone Stadium with USF in conference play and ACC foe Boston College.
Keep an eye on South Carolina. The Gamecocks began the season with a 1-3-0 record that included close losses to Clemson 2-1, Mercer 3-2 (ot) and Coastal Carolina 1-0 before rebounding to win six straight including Conference USA games against FAU on the road and Marshall in Columbia to improve to 7-3-0 with a 2-0-0 mark in CUSA play. Whether or not South Carolina can keep on winning remains to be seen as the degree of difficulty of their opposition is about to increase beginning with a contest on the road with FIU on Monday. The CUSA race looks to be wide open with South Carolina, Charlotte, Kentucky, and New Mexico the current frontrunners. Whoever prevails in CUSA play will have to hold serve at home and pick up a few wins on the road. The Gamecocks must travel to tangle with FIU, ODU and New Mexico but they will host UAB, Charlotte, and Kentucky . The conference tournament will be played in Huntington, West Virginia.
Michigan State came from behind to top Western Michigan Wednesday night with sophomore forward Ryan Sierakowski scoring both goals for the Spartans. Michigan State is showing a lot of grit which is a good sign for this bunch. The Spartans are 8-2-0 with a 3-1-0 mark in Big Ten play to date. They have already equaled the eight win total they secured last year. Michigan State has a tough one coming up on Sunday when they host a Wisconsin team that is 6-2-1 overall with a 3-1-0 mark in Big Ten action. The Badgers come into this one after a 1-0 win over Marquette on Wednesday night. Wisconsin is also looking good with more wins to date this year than the entire season last year. Junior midfielder Mike Catalano, who was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week last week, has been a key element of late in the Badger offense. There are a lot of games left to play but this contest has the potential to be a tipping point of sorts for both the Spartans and the Badgers.
Loyola Chicago cleared a hurdle on Tuesday night when they defeated city-rival DePaul 2-0 at Wish Field to improve to 9-1-0. The win was the Ramblers first on the road over DePaul since the 2000 campaign and the first time since 1993 that they have topped DePaul in back-to-back seasons. The Ramblers are playing very well on both sides of the ball with a very impressive 9-1-0 overall record and 3-0-0 mark in MVC play but Loyola Chicago remains a team that is sailing in uncharted waters with a target on their backs which means their margin for error is small. Loyola Chicago hosts a Drake side on Saturday evening that will arrive in Chicago with a disappointing 3-7-0 overall record and a five game losing streak but that nonetheless has the potential to be a difficult opponent. The Ramblers defeated Drake 1-0 when the two teams tangled back on September 17.
Pacific out of the West Coast Conference has won seven straight to improve to 8-2-0 overall including a 2-0 signature win over a highly ranked San Diego State team on September 23 that has been performing very well this year. The jury is still out on the Tigers but this is a program under the direction of head coach Ryan Jorden that is gaining credibility. They will host Saint Mary's on Sunday after winning four straight on the road including the win over San Diego State as well as an always difficult cross country victory in Atlanta last Sunday over a solid Georgia State team. Pacific is 0-3-0 in prior meetings with Saint Mary's. Senior midfielder Julio Cevantes (5g, 3a), who was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week two weeks ago, has been at the heart of a very balanced Pacific offense. The Tigers, who only started competing at the Division I level in 2014 were 1-15-1 overall last year. Pacific is the cinderella team of the 2016 season breaking into the College Soccer News poll last week for the first time as the number twenty-one team in the nation. Time will tell if they can sustain the success they have enjoyed to date.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to predict who is going to prevail in Pac-12 play as well as in west coast play in general. Things may begin to settle somewhat as teams get further into conference play but in the Pac-12 it is likely to continue to be an anyone can beat anyone on a given day season. UCLA travels to face San Diego State on Sunday in what looks to be a key match that should provide the winner with momentum. San Diego State is looking good with a lock down defense that has limited opponents to a total of only four goals while recording a 6-1-3 overall record and a 1-0-1 mark in conference play. The Aztecs are third in the country in goals against average (0.37). They have a tie in conference play with Oregon State and a 1-0 win over Washington. UCLA is 5-3-1 overall with a 1-1-0 mark in conference play. UCLA enters the match a 2-0 win over Oregon State and a 4-0 loss at home to Washington in Pac-12 play. The Bruins have been on a roller coaster ride so far this year looking awesome in some contests and not so good in others. The outcome of this one hinges on what UCLA team shows up. If the Bruin attack can unlock the San Diego State defense they will likely prevail. However, if this becomes a defensive struggle then give the edge to the Aztecs. Whoever scores first and is able to control the pace of the contest will have a huge advantage.
Seattle stumbled out of the gate beginning the season with two wins and three losses but they have since won five and lost two to improve to 7-4-0 overall. Loses to Akron, Gonzaga, Dartmouth and Washington are evidence that the Redhawks have struggled and are not playing to preseason expectations just yet. However consecutive Western Athletic Conference wins over Utah Valley, CSU Bakersfield, and San Jose State are a positive sign and place them in the driver's seat in WAC play and they now look like the team to beat in the conference. Seattle hosts Houston Baptist on Saturday night.
Stanford for now is clearly not as strong a side on both sides of the ball as they were last year. However, few teams in the country are as strong as the Cardinal were last year. Stanford is a team that is talented and beginning to gel so it would be a mistake to overlook or underestimate them. After beginning the season with three ties and a loss they have won five out of their last six matches to improve to 5-2-3 overall with a 2-0-0 mark in Pac-12 play. Stanford's unexpected 2-1 loss on the road to San Francisco on September 23 in which the Cardinal came out flat to say the least may have been a moment of reckoning for Stanford. It was a good win for the Dons who were fired up and ready to play. After that loss Cardinal head coach Jeremy Gunn stated, "All credit to them (San Francisco) to the way they played, but we have to look at ourselves in the mirror and see about that attitude." The jury is still out on Stanford, but subsequent wins over California 1-0 and Washington on the road 1-0 in their last two outings may signal that the Cardinal players got Gunn's message and learned a valuable lesson. Stanford travels to Corvallis to face an always difficult Oregon State team on Sunday.