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Soccer America picks the men's field
by Paul Kennedy, November 19th, 2007 8AM

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The NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Committee will reveal on Monday afternoon the 48 lucky teams that will participate in the 2007 NCAA Division I Men's Tournament that begins after Thanksgiving.

The 48-team bracket will be revealed on the NCAA Men's Soccer Selection Show that is set to air between 5:30 and 6 pm ET on ESPNews.  

Before seeding the top 16 teams and drawing the bracket, the NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Committee must pick the 26 at-large teams who will join the 22 conference champions who have already qualified.

This year's task is made more difficult because so many traditional powers -- UCLA, Virginia, Duke and North Carolina -- had lousy seasons. Weekend results should impact who's in and who's out.

These 20 teams appear to be locks. (Yes, Virginia and Duke, in Coach John Rennie's final season, will get in despite late-season slumps. Ditto for Michigan State. Of the rest, UC Davis, in its first year as a full Division I member of the Big West, is perhaps the biggest surprise. Washington, the second best of a weak Pac-10 field behind champion Cal, gets in on the basis of its non-conference wins over SMU, New Mexico, Furman and Portland, all sure or probable tournament teams.)

FIRST 20:
ACC
Duke
Maryland
Virginia
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest

Atlantic 10
Saint Louis

Big East
DePaul
Louisville
Notre Dame
South Florida
West Virginia

Big Ten
Indiana
Michigan State
Northwestern

Big West
UC Davis

Conference USA
SMU

Ivy League
Dartmouth
Harvard

Missouri Valley
Creighton

Pac-10
Washington

The tough part is picking the next six. Here we go with six we'll take and six we'll leave out:

BUBBLE 6-IN:
St. Peter's (15-5-1, MAAC). Ranked 38th in country in last week's RPI, beat Fairfield, another MAAC bubble team, before losing to Loyola in MAAC final in Florida.
Portland (10-5-5, WCC). The Pilots' 4-3 win over Cal Poly on Friday will be the difference.
Boston Univ. (9-6-4, America East). At 35th, the Terriers had the highest RPI ranking of any bubble team we'll take. BU's big moment: handed Brown its only loss.
UCLA (8-8-3), Pac-10). Hard to take the Bruins, last year's runners-up, with a .500 record, but they did beat Big Ten champion Ohio State and Pac-10 champ Cal (the first time they met). The other Pac-10 contenders, San Diego State and Stanford, can't match UCLA's strength of schedule.
Providence (9-7-2, Big East). Next in line of the Big East teams on the basis of its strong play in the last month: win over BC and tie with Notre Dame.
Fairfield (11-6-2, MAAC). The hardest of the bubble picks to make. We'll go out on a limb and give the MAAC three teams in the tournament. The Stags beat traditional powerhouse St. John's.

BUBBLE 6-OUT:
Binghamton (13-6-0, America East). Does the committee go with three MAAC teams or three America East team? Bears beat Patriot champion Colgate and conference rival BU.
Cal Poly (11-4-4, Big West). Split with UCSB and UCD but has no other win against a team with a winning record. Friday's loss to Portland hurt.
Col. of Charleston (13-5-1, Southern). Would have gotten in if it had beaten UNCG in Southern semifinals.
St. John's (9-7-5 Big East). Lost three of its last four games. Only good win was over West Virginia.
Michigan (10-7-2, Big Ten). Wolverines' 2-7-1 record over last 10 games won't be overlooked. Nor will their Big Ten record: 0-4-2 in regular season.
Gonzaga (9-6-4, Big West). Wins over Washington, Loyola (Md.) and UCSB in September are but a distant memory. Zags won only one of their last eight games.

Note: North Carolina, Penn State and Wisconsin, all bubble teams, finished with sub.-500 records and are therefore ineligible for consideration.



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