We don't envy the NCAA Division I men's soccer committee with its task of picking the at-large teams for the 2008 NCAA Division I Tournament -- the 26 teams that will join the 22 conference
champions. The rash of weekend upsets and number of low-ranked conference champions ate into the number of places available for at-large teams.
Nine conference champions -- ranging from
No. 60 George Mason to No. 132 San Francisco -- ranked No. 60 or lower in last week's RPI Index
. Six of these teams beat out
conference rivals who ranked in the top 40.
Twenty at-large bids should go to: NCAA CRITERIA
UC Santa Barbara
That leaves six spots up for grabs.
Here are some teams on the bubble (in bold with last week's RPI ranking): Oakland
was the highest ranked team in the RPI index (No. 29) but lost to UMKC on penalty kicks in the
Summit League final. The Golden Grizzlies' big win came against Conference USA champion Tulsa.
In the CAA, which had three points separate the top six teams, William & Mary
(No. 30), but it lost to eventual champion George Mason, 5-3 in the conference semifinals. Northeastern
(No. 49) made the CAA
final on the strength of a pair of shootout wins, one of which was over regular-season champion UNC Wilmington
(No. 50) in the semifinals. In W&M's favor:
non-conference wins over Atlantic Sun regular-season champion Campbell, Southern regular-season champion Elon and Southern tournament champion UNC Greensboro and ties with Atlantic-10
regular-season champion UMass and MAAC regular-season champion Loyola (Md.). Ohio State
(No. 33) and
(No. 34) both lost in the Big Ten quarterfinals -- Ohio State to Indiana, 1-0, and Wisconsin to Michigan in a shootout. Working against Ohio
State, last year's runner-up at the Men's College Cup, is the fact that it lost its last four games. The Buckeyes did beat Wisconsin in the regular season and also had quality wins over Tulsa and
Michigan State. UMass
(No. 34), the 2007 NCAA Tournament surprise, ran of seven straight wins to win
the Atlantic-10 regular-season title and reach the tournament final, which it lost to Dayton. Saint Louis
(No. 35) fell to the Minutemen in the semifinals --
their second loss to UMass in a week.
Five Big East teams should get in -- South Florida, St. John's, Notre Dame, Louisville and Connecticut
-- leaving several others on the bubble. Syracuse
(No. 37) was the top ranked of the next three teams but did not even make the 12-team conference tournament
(No. 45) won two games -- including 1-0 at UConn -- in tournament play. Providence
(No. 46) beat
Villanova, then fell to St. John's in overtime. In head-to-head play, Syracuse has the edge with wins over DePaul and Providence. Buffalo
looked to be a reasonable shape heading into the weekend but its 1-0 loss to Northern Illinois in the Mid-American semifinals hurt the Bulls. Their best result during the regular season: a 0-0 tie
with Penn. Holy Cross
(No. 40) finished third in the Patriot regular-season standings and lost to
Colgate in the tournament final. The argument for the Crusaders: wins over UMass and Boston College.
Perhaps no team is waiting more nervously
for word on the at-large selections than Campbell
(No. 38). The Camels ran off 12 straight wins but blew a 3-1 first-half lead and lost to Jacksonville, 4-3,
in the A-Sun final. Campbell's wins included a 2-0 victory over North Carolina. Working against Campbell is the weak A-Sun. Jacksonville was the second ranked A-Sun team at No. 127 ...
AUTOMATIC QUALIFIERS (22)
Maryland America East
Boston University *Atlantic Soccer
Longwood Atlantic Sun
Jacksonville Atlantic 10
Dayton 1 (own goal 19). Big
South Florida Big South
Winthrop Big Ten
Michigan State Big West
UC Irvine CAA
Mason Conference USA
Loyola (Ill.) 1 (Halma 75). Ivy
Akron Missouri Valley
UNC Greensboro Summit
*no NCAA automatic bid.