Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Post season scenarios -- TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
WOMEN'S SOCCER, FIELD HOCKEY LOOK TO BE IN GOOD SHAPE FOR POST-SEASON PLAY
It is a bit hard to fathom, but the regular seasons for both ACC Women's Soccer and Field Hockey are winding down. Both Louisville squads have three regular season games remaining before the conference tournaments get underway.
Let's look at each squad and access their chances at going "into the second season" -- the playoffs:
As of early Tuesday morning, Karen Ferguson Dayes' soccer squad in fourth in the ACC with 14 points. With a record of 11-1-2 overall and 4-1-2 in conference, the #14 ranked Cards have UNC (19 points, 6-0-1 in ACC), Florida State (18 points, 6-1 in ACC) and Virginia (15 points, 4-0-3 in ACC) in front of them.
Just behind the Cards are Duke (11 points), Notre Dame (10 points), Clemson (9 points), Va. Tech and Pitt (8 points each) and NC State (7 points). The top eight teams advance to the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals on Nov. 3rd., which will be played on campus sites.
So, it's important for the Cards to hang on to that fourth place and get the chance to host a quarter-final match. Can they? Let's look at who is left on the schedule for UofL women's soccer.
Louisville travels to #1 in the nation Virginia Thursday night to begin their final three game stretch. Obviously, no easy task to go into Charlottesville and knock off #1. After that, the Cards travel to Miami for a Sunday match against the 4-7-2 Canes, who have (4) points in the ACC standings. The regular season ends when NC State comes to visit Lynn Stadium on Sunday afternoon (Halloween) on Oct 31st.
I'd like to think that, if the Cards can get six points out of the final three games, they'd be able to maintain a top four finish in the ACC.
Duke, their closest competitor for a hosting bid with 11 points, has Notre Dame and Syracuse at home, then ends the season at Florida State. It's tough to see the Blue Devils getting seven points out of this stretch to pass the Cards. Notre Dame, with 10 points...goes to Duke and NC State before hosting Wake Forest to end their regular season. It is entirely possible the Irish could gather nine points to vault past the Cards and Blue Devils to gain a hosting bid.
Nevertheless, unless the Cards fall into a total collapse and drop all three matches, I think they're in the ACC Tournament. The question is, once again, will they host first round action? I'll say "Yes" (as a #4 seed) and do battle with the Irish at Lynn in the quarters.
I also believe UofL will receive one of the 64 bids to the NCAA Tournament. Let's hope my prognostications are correct. We'll track the progress as the season winds down.
Field Hockey goes into their final three games with visits to William and Mary and Duke before ending the regular season at Trager against Syracuse.
Louisville is fourth out of the seven ACC schools who play Field Hockey with a 13-2 overall record and 2-2 in conference. The #5 in the nation Cards are assumed of making the ACC Tournament (all seven squads do), the question is where they'll be ranked. All games will be held at Boston College from Nov 7th through 10th.
No ties in Field Hockey. No point system either.
As far as ACC Tournament structure lines up, the #1 seed gets a bye. They face the winner of the #4 vs #5 seeds in the semifinals. #1 is UNC and they look pretty unbeatable right now, so I'd like to see Louisville climb to the #3 seed and get the #6 seed in their first round action....instead of having to face UNC if they beat a #5 seed.
I'll say it right now. The #4 or #5 seed is poison right now and you're dead after one game. UNC is that good.
Can the Cards get to a #3 seed?
Quite frankly, UofL can't afford any more conference losses and with a trip to Duke on Saturday. Oct 26th...that's a formidable task. Although the Blue Devils are just 1-3 in conference, Pam Bustin teams are always hard to defeat in Durham and at 11-4, they are a very dangerous opponent. One would think the Cards can take their final home game, against Syracuse...so the Cards vs. Blue Devils match up in Durham is huge.
UofL also has to hope someone can send Virginia or Boston College tumbling to defeat. B.C. is 3-1 in conference but has UNC and Duke yet to face in ACC play. They could easily lose both. Virginia is 3-2 in the ACC has has just one conference game remaining -- against cellar dweller Wake Forest.
I see UofL finishing fourth in the ACC regular season standings and facing Duke in the ACC Tournament. I'm really hoping for a third place conference standing at the end of ACC play in my heart, though.
I think the Cards Field Hockey squad's body of work so far has them in the NCAA Tournament, which still accepts that strange number of only 18 teams. 10 teams get in because they have won their conference championships and eight receive at-large bids.
Last year, the Cards were excluded from the tournament despite a #12 RPI. That's just stupid.
C'mon NCAA. Open this thing up to 24 teams.
Give eight teams an automatic advance to the round of 16 and let the remaining 16 invitees battle it out to see who faces them. Use the RPI to assign the spots. With 18, you are penalizing the stronger conferences (like the ACC) who have powerhouse teams that may finish fourth or fifth in their conference, are superior to the winner of a lesser conference but get left out in the cold because of this quirky number of 18.
An interesting time of year, as Louisville fall squads jockey for positioning and RPI, plus national rankings.
You know the old adage from Raiders coach/executive Al Davis from years ago.
"Just win, baby!" It's a guidepost for both squads to live by as they roll into post-regular season hopes, dreams and expectations.
Have a tremendous Tuesday!