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Who Looks To Be In - Who Is On The Bubble - 2017 Men's NCAA Soccer Tournament

The Road to Philadelphia - 2017 NCAA Tournament Time – Who Looks To Have Punched a Ticket – Who Is On The Bubble

It’s conference tournament time which means the 2017 NCAA Tournament is right around the corner. The tournament selection committee will announce the forty-eight team field and the sixteen seeds on November 13.  



Let’s begin with a few of the basics. 



  • Twenty-four of the invites in the NCAA Tourney will go to conference champions. Most conferences determine who receives their automatic berth by a post season conference tournament. The exceptions are the Pac-12, the West Coast Conference and the Ivy League who do not have a conference tournament and therefore award their automatic berth to their regular season champion.
  • Twenty-four teams are awarded at-large berths with the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) being the key factor. Geographical considerations also come into play in regard to the pairings of teams.
  • The National Polls have no bearing on the selection process. However, at least in theory, they should reflect the stronger teams.  
  • The RPI is a mathematical rating system based on the number of games teams have won, lost, and tied. The RPI calculation is heavily weighted on strength of schedule. Good wins against strong opponents have a positive impact on a team’s RPI. Poor losses and weak scheduling, have a negative impact.
  • The power conferences are always awarded multiple at-large berths based on their RPI. If you look at the RPI ratings you can see that a good percentage of the at-large berths are going to go to the power conferences like the ACC and Big Ten.    
  • Many of the mid-major conferences are only represented by their conference champion with no at-large berths awarded.
  • Sixteen teams receive a seed and a first round bye. The field is divided into four regioins and all teams are seeded. 
  • Games prior to the College Cup (Final Four) are played at the location of the higher seeded team. The number one seed in each region can potentially advance to the College Cup in Philadelphia without having to play a contest on the road.  
  • Unexpected winners of conference tournaments always occur and impact the distribution of at-large berths.
  • There usually is a surprise or two in the teams selected, the seeding, and the tournament pairings.    


A look at the status of conference tournaments and a projection of the 2017 NCAA Tournament participant by conference is listed below. 



America East – Albany, Vermont, New Hampshire, and UMass Lowell have advanced to the semifinals of the conterence tournament and will square off on Wednesday for the right to advance to the championship match which is slated for Sunday. 

The Skinny -  Two possibly three invites. All four of the semifinal teams are capable of winning the conference tournament. Albany will tangle with number one seed Vermont and New Hampshire will square off with number two seed UMass Lowell in the semifinals.

UMass Lowell and Albany are on the bubble and could receive an at-large berth but likely need to win the conference tournament  to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tourney. New Hampshire with a current RPI of 17 looks to be well positioned to be awarded an at-large berth if they do not win the conference tournament. 


American Athletic – Host SMU is the frontrunner to win the conference tournament. Connecticut faces UCF in one tournament semifianal and Temple tangles with number one seed SMU in the other on Friday.  The championship contest is scheduled for Sunday. Connecticut lost to UCF 3-2 at home when they faced each other in regular season play.  SMU defeated Temple 2-1 in Philadelphia in regular season play. 

The Skinny -  One invite unless SMU does not win the conference tournament. AAC regular season winner SMU looks to be a lock for a berth in the NCAA Tournament based on their current RPI of eighteen. Winning it will enhance SMU's opportunities for a higher seed in the NCAA Tourney.

The only option for an invite to the NCAA Tournament for UCF, Connecticut and Temple in 2017 is to win the conference tournament and the automatic berth that goes with it.  UCF has a current RPI of 61, Connecticut a current RPI of 76 and Temple with a current RPI of 90.   


Atlantic 10 – The conference tournament is wide open. Massachusetts, Fordham, VCU, and Rhode Island have advanced to the semifinals of the conterence tournament which will take place on Friday. The championshipt contest is scheduled for Sunday. .

The Skinny - Two maybe three invites. Regular season winner and number one seed Massachusetts will play Fordham in one seminfinal. Number two seed VCU will tangle with Rhode Island in the other semifinal contest. Any of the four are capable of winning the conference tournament.

Massachusetts with a current RPI of sixteen and VCU with a current RPI of nineteen look to have a good shot at an at-large berth if they don't win the conference tournament.  Fordham currently has an RPI of twenty-four but may need to win the conference tournament to secure an invite.   


Atlantic Coast Conference – Wake Forest, Clemson, Virginia and Notre Dame have advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournamet which will be played on Wednesday. The championship match will take place on Sunday in Charleston, South Carolina.  

The Skinny - Eight invites. Number one seed Wake Forest will tangle with number five Clemson in one semifinal and number seven seed Notre Dame will face number six seed Virginia in the other contest.

Wake Forest, North Carolina, Louisville, Clemson, Duke, Notre Dame, and Virginia are in based on their RPI.  Virginia Tech with a current RPI of 21 is on the bubble. The Hokies who have a signature win over Notre Dame strengthened their case for an at-large berth when they topped N.C. State 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tourney. 


Atlantic Sun – Only the conference tournament winner will be awarded a berth.  Jacksonville and Lipscomb will face each other on Saturday in Jacksonville in the Atlantic Sun Tournament Championship with the conference's automatic invite to the NCAA Tourney on the line. 

The Skinny - One invite. Stetson won the regular season title but the Hatters were upset by number five seed Jacksonville 2-1 in one tournament semifinal. Number two seed FGCU was upset 2-1 by number six seed Lipscomb 2-1 in the other tourney semifinal.  Jacksonville topped Lipscomb 3-1 when the two teams met on October 28 in regular season play. 


Big East Conference –  St. John's will travel to face Georgetown and Xavier will travel to face Butler in the Big East Conference Tournament semifinals on Wednesday.  Xavier is a long shot to win the conference tournament but don't count them out. The Musketeers under Andy Fleming have a history of pulling off the upsets come tournament time. St. John's has upped the level of their play down the home stretch.  

The Skinny - Two maybe three invites. Butler and Georgetown are the frontrunners to win the conference tournament. They both look to be a lock for an NCAA Tournament berth based on their current RPIs.

Xavier with an RPI of 51 is on the fringe of the bubble. St. John's has an RPI of 63. Both Xavier and St. Johns likely need to win the Big East Tournament and the automatic berth that accompanies it to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.   


Big South – Only the conference tournament winner will be awarded a berth.  Liberty and number one seed High Point will square off in one semifinal contest on Wednesday. Presbyterian College will travel to face number two seed Radford in the other.  The championship match will take place on Sunday at the location of the highest remaining seed.

The Skinny - One invite. Regular season winner High Point was 7-1-0 in conference play and has momentum. The Panthers have won five straight and have been solid on the defensive side of the ball posting three consective shutouts.

High Point defeated Radford 2-1, Liberty 2-0 and Presbyterian 1-0 during regular season play.  However Liberty and Radford are capable of getting hot and winning the conference tournament and it would be a mistake to look past Presbyterian although they are a long shot to win it. Presbeterian tied their semifinal opponent Radford 1-1 when the two faced each other during regular season play  


Big Ten – Michigan will face Wisconsin in one Big Ten Tournament semifinal on Friday. Ohio State will face Indiana in the other semifinal with the winners advancing to play for the Big Ten Tournament title and the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tourney on Sunday.  

The Skinny - Five invites. Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan and Maryland are in based on their RPI's. Wisconsin is on the bubble with an RPI of 31 as of games played through November 5 but should earn an at large berth. 

A Wisconsin win over Michigan in the tournament semifinals should seal the deal for an at-large berth for the Badgers in the event they don't win the conference tournament. Ohio State must win the Big Ten Tournament to go dancing.  


Big West – Only the conference tournament winner will be awarded a berth.

The Skinny - One invite. The North Division number one seed UC Davis and the South Division number one seed Cal State Fullerton have advanced to the Big West Tournament Championship match on Saturday.  The winner will secure the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. 


Colonial Athletic Association –  William and Mary faces number one seed James Madison and the College of Charleston faces number two seed UNCW in the CAA Tournament Semifinals on Friday.  The conference championship contest will be played on Sunday.  

The Skinny -  Two invites. James Madison and UNCW are the frontrunners to win the conference tournament but both have had somewhat up and down seasons and could have trouble getting past their semifinal opponent.  The tournament championship and the automatic berth that goes with it looks to be up for grabs.

James Madison edged William and Mary 4-3 when the two faced each other in regular season play.  The College of Charleston defeated UNCW when the two played during the regular season. James Madison defeated UNCW 2-0 when they tangled in Harrisonburg during the regular season. 

UNCW with a current RPI of 38 is on the bubble and could earn an at-large invite if they do not win the conference tournament. The Seahawks have signature wins over North Carolina and Coastal Carolina. 


Conference USA -  Charlotte plays New Mexico, Marshall faces Kentucky, and Old Dominion squares off with South Carolina in the CUSA Tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday. The winner of the Charlotte and New Mexico match advances to face number one seed FIU and the winner of the other two quarterfinals face each other in the other semifinal on Friday, November 10. The championship match is slated for Sunday. 

The Skinny - Two maybe three invites. FIU is in based on their RPI. Kentucky is on the bubble with an RPI of 35. Old Dominion is on the bubble with an RPI of 36.  Both could strenghten their standing by a good showing in the CUSA Tournament.

New Mexico, Charlotte, South Carolina and Marshal must win the tournament and the automatic berth that accompanies it to go dancing. 


Horizon League – Only the conference tournament winner will be awarded a berth. Cleveland State faces number two seed UIC and Detroit Mercy faces number one seed Green Bay in the Horizon League Tournament semifinals on Thursday. The winners will play on Saturday with the conference championship and the league's automatic berth on the line. .

The Skinny - One invite. Green Bay with a 7-1-1 mark in league play and UIC with a 6-2-1 mark in league play look to be the frontrunners to win the conference tournament. Green Bay topped Detroit Mercy 3-1 when the two met in regular season play. UIC edged Cleveland State 1-0 in overtime when they played each other on October 21.   


Ivy League – Dartmouth won the regular season Ivy League title and the Ancient Eight's automatic berth. The Big Green has a regular season contest remaining with Brown on Saturday on the road. 

The Skinny - Two invites. Dartmouth is in. Columbia should receive an at-large berth with their current RPI of 29. Columbia closes out regular season play on the road with Cornell. .


Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference – Only the conference tournament winner will be awarded a berth. Number five seed Quinnipiac faces number one seed Fairfield and number two seed Rider tangles with number three seed Canisius in the MAAC Tournment semifinals on Thursday. The winners will square off in the championship contest on Sunday.  

The Skinny - One invite. Farifield won the regular season title with a 7-1-2 mark in confernce play. Farifield, Rider, Canisius and Quinnipiac are all capalble of winning the conference tournament. Number one seed Farifield slid past Quinnipiac 1-0, lost to Canisius 3-2 in overtime, and topped Rider 3-0 during regular season play.   


Mid-American Conference – Western Michigan and Akron are a lock for a berth based on their RPI. Anyone else will have to win the conference tournament to go dancing. SIUE faces number two seed Akron and West Virginia faces number one seed Western Michigan in the conference tourney semifinals on Friday.  The championship contest is scheduled for Sunday. 

The Skinny - Two invites. Chances are pretty good that either Western Michigan or Akron will win the conference tournament and the automatic berth that goes with it. Winning it is important to both because of the impact on seeding. 

Winning the conference tournament is the only shot that SIUE or West Virginia has to earn an invite.  


Missouri Valley Conference – Only the conference tournament winner will be awarded a berth. Loyola faces Evansville and Drake faces host Bradley in the conference tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday. The Loyola and Evansville winner takes on number one seed Missouri State in one semifinal while the Bradley vs. Drake winner will take on number two seed Central Arkansas in the other semifinal on Friday. The championship match is scheduled for Sunday. 

The Skinny - One invite. Missouri State won the regular season title but the conference tournament looks to be up for grabs with several teams capable of getting hot and winning it. Host Bradley could make a run for it. 


Northeast Conference – Only the conference tournament winner will be awarded a berth.  Number two seed LIU Brooklyn faces number three seed Fairleigh Dickinson and number four seed Robert Morris takes on number one seed St. Francis Brooklyn in the conference tournament semifinals on Friday.  The winners will square off in the chamionship contest on Sunday with a berth in the NCAA Tourney on the line. 

The Skinny - One invite. St. Francis Brooklyn secured the regular season title for the second consecutive season. The Terriers, who are tenacious on the defensive side of the ball, are the team to beat. They should get past Robert Morris in the tournament semifinals but they will need to bring their "A" game in order to prevail against the winner of the conference semifinal match between LIU Brooklyn and Fairleigh Dickinson.  


Pac-12 – Stanford has won the regular season title and the conference's automatic berth. The Cardinal are currently 14-2-1 overall with a 8-0-1 mark in Pac-12 play. Washington and California are on the bubble but both should secure an at-large berth.

The Skinny -  Three invites.  California has a 33 RPI through Novermber 5. The Golden Bears could greatly enhance their chance of an at-large berth with a win on Thursday in their final regular season contest on the road against Stanford. The Golden Bears were thumped 3-0 by Stanford when they tangled with them in Berkeley back on October 8. Washington has an RPI of 28 for games played through November 5. The Huskies can help their case for an at-large berth with a win in their final regular season ending contest on the road Thursday against an always pesky Oregon State team.  Washington defeated Oregon State 2-1 when they hosted them on October 1. 


Patriot League – Only the conference tournament winner will receive an invite.  Colgate faces number one seed Loyola Marymount and Holy Cross faces number two seed Boston University in the league semifinals on Friday. The Championship contest will be played on Sunday. 

The Skinny - One invite. Loyola Maryland, who won the regular season conference title with a 7-2-0 mark in league play, is the frontrunner to win the conference tournament. However, history has established that the Patriot League Conference Tournamnet is up for grabs with any of the semifinal participants fully capable of getting hot and winning it. 


Southern Conference – Only the conference tournament winner will be awarded a berth.  ETSU faces Mercer in one semifinal contest. UNCG and tournament host Furman are paired in the other semifinal. The semifinals will take place on Friday with the winners advancing to the championship contest on Sunday. 

The Skinny - One invite. ETSU won the regular season title and the number one seed in the conference tournament. UNCG was the number two seed.  Mercer and ETSU tied 0-0 and ETSU defeated Mercer 1-0 during regular season play. Furman lost to UNCG 2-0 and beat UNCG 2-1 when the two tangled during regular season play.  The bottom line is that any of the four remaining teams are capable of winning the tourney and the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tourney.


Summit League – Only the conference tournament winner will be awarded a berth. Denver faces Eastern Illinois in one tournament semifinal. Western Illinois faces Omaha in the other.  The semifinal matches take place on Thursday with the championship contest on tap for Saturday. 

The Skinny - One invite. Denver won the Summit League regular season title for the fifth straight season.   Denver topped Eastern Illinois 1-0, Western Illinois 1-0 and Omaha 2-1 during regular season play.  The Pioneers have been up and down this year but they remain the team to beat in the Summit League until someone proves otherwise. 


Sun Belt Conference –  If Coastal Carolina wins the conference tournament they will be the only team awarded a berth. No at-large berth will be awarded. Appalachian State faces Georgia Southern and Hartwick faces Howard in the conference tourney quarterfinals on Thursday. The winner of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern match advances to face number two seed Georgia State in one semifinal match. The winner of the Howard and Hartwick contest will advance to face number one seed  and tournament host Coastal Carolina in the other semifinal.  The semifinals will take place on Friday and the championship contest is slated for Sunday.   

The Skinny - One invite. Two if someone other than Coastal Carolina wins the conference tourney. If Coastal Carolina does not win the conference tournament and the automatic berth that goes with it, they have a good shot at an at-large berth based on the fact that they have an RPI of 25 through games played on November 5.  The Chanticleers who have signature wins over Old Dominion and Maryland host the conference tournament. Coastal Carolina won the regular season Sun Belt Conference title and are the team to beat in the tournament.

Number two seeded Georgia State and number three seed Georgia Southern are capable of topping Coastal Carolina and winning the conference tourney but doing that will require a full ninty minutes of play on their part throughout the tourney without any lapses in play. The Chanticleers topped Georgia State 3-1 but lost to Georgia Southern 2-1 when the teams met in regular season play.  


West Coast Conference – The regular season winner earns the conference's automatic berth. The regular season winner and one at-large berth are likely.

The Skinny - Two invites. Portland, San Francisco, and Pacific are all still in the hunt for the WCC regular season title and the automatic berth. Portland currently stands at the top of the league standings but the Pilots have only one game remaining while both San Francisco and Pacific have two. Portland appeared to be in the driver's seat until they were upset at home by San Francisco on October 29. 

Portland closes out regular season play on the road against Saint Mary's on Saturday. San Francisco hosts Pacific on Wednesday and Loyola Marymount on Saturday. Pacific has the contest on the road with San Francisco and hosts Gonzaga on Saturday.  Things will become a little clearer but not conclusive based on the outcome of the San Francisco and Pacific contest.

If San Francisco wins both of their remaining contests they will claim the WCC regular season title and the automatic berth. More than likely than not, the WCC regular season title and the automatic berth will come down to the last day of the season.

Portland with a current RPI of 32  and Pacific with a current RPI of 30 have a shot at an at-large berth in the event they do not win the regular season title. San Francisco's only shot is to win the regular season title.  


Western Athletic Conference - Air Force looks to be in based on their number 20 RPI through games played on November 5. Anyone else would likely have to win the conference tournament to secure an invite.

The Skinny - One invite unless someone other than Air Force wins the conference tournament which is a real possibility.  Air Force won the regular season WCC Title and the number one seed in the conference tournament by virtue of an 8-0-2 mark in conference play.  The Falcons are the frontrunners in the conference tournament but will have to play their best soccer of the year to prevail in the conference tournament. 

Both number two seed and tournament host UNLV and number three seed Seattle are capable of making a run and winning the conference tournament and the automatic berth that goes with it. Air Force tied Seattle 2-2 and topped UNLV 3-0 when they squared off during regular season play. UNLV and Seattle will likely tangle in the semifinals of the conference tournament.

Seattle with a current RPI of 53 is on the far outside of the bubble.