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2017 NCAA Tournament Brackets - The Road To The College Cup (Final Four)

It is survive and advance time once again. The Big Dance is about to get underway. The 48-team field has been announced and it is now all about the journey along the road with the destination being the College Cup in  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Wake Forest, Indiana, North Carolina, and Louisville have been awarded the coverted top four seeds which means they could play their way to Houston without ever leaving home.

All sixteen first-round contests will take place on Thursday, November 16. All sixteen second round games will take place on Sunday, November  19. The third round (Round of Sixteen) will take place on Saturday, November 25 or Sunday, November 26 and the quarterfinals (Elite Eight) on Friday, December 1 or Saturday, December 2 at the site of the highest seed. The College Cup (Final Four) will take place on Friday, December 8 and Sunday, December 10  at Talen Energy Stadium in Philadelphia. .

Listed below are the first and second round contests.

  #1 Wake Forest Bracket

 

 

First Round: Columbia (11-2-3) at William and Mary (11-4-5)

Second Round: Winner at #1 Wake Forest (17-1-2)


First Round: Lipscomb (11-7-2) at Butler (12-4-2)

Second Round: Winner at #16 VCU (12-6-0)


First Round:  Cal State Fullerton (10-7-4) at Pacific (12-4-1)

Second Round:  Winner at #9 Stanford (15-2-1)


First Round: Mercer (7-8-6) at Coastal Carolina (12-6-1)

Second Round:  Winner at #8 Clemson (12-5-1)


 #4 Louisville Bracket 

 

 

 

First Round: Seattle (14-3-4) at Washington (12-6-1)

Second Round:  Winner at #5 Akron (16-3-1) 


First Round: UIC (11-5-3) at Wisconsin (10-4-5) 

Second Round:  Winner at #12 Notre Dame (11-6-2)


First Round:  Colgate (10-10-1) at Massachusetts (15-3-3)

Second Round:  Winner at #13 Michigan (12-5-2)


First Round:  San Francisco (9-8-0) at California (11-6-0)

Second Round:  Winner at #4 Louisville (11-2-4)


   #3 North Carolina Bracket   

 

 

First  Round:  Presbyterian (6-8-5) at UNCW (11-7-0)

Second Round:  Winner at #3 North Carolina (14-3-1)


First Round:  Central Arkansas (8-10-1) at SMU (15-2-1)

Second Round:  Winner at #14 Georgetown (14-3-2)


First Round: Saint Francis Brooklyn (14-4-1) at Fordham (12-5-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #11 Virginia (12-3-5)


First Round: Omaha (10-5-3) at FIU (11-1-4)

Second Round:  Winner at #6 Duke (12-4-2)


   #2 Indiana Bracket    

 

 

First Round:  Air Force (14-2-3) at Virginia Tech (9-9-0)

Second Round:  Winner at #7 Michigan State  (11-3-3)


First Round:  Albany (14-4-2) at Maryland (10-5-3)

Second Round:  Winner at #10 Western Michigan (16-3-1)


First Round:  Fairfield (12-4-3) at New Hampshire (12-3-4)

Second Round:  Winner at #15 Dartmouth (12-3-1)


First Round:  N.C. State (8-5-4) at Old Dominion (12-5-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #2 Indiana (15-0-5)


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.  


Takeaways As Teams Coast To Coast Approach The End Of 2017 Regular Season Play


Wake Forest (15-1-1) continues to take care of business. No team in the country has more wins over top ten teams than the Demon Deacons who have signature victories over Louisville, Clemson, and North Carolina.  The Demon Deacons concluded regular season play with a 0-0 tie with Syracuse on Friday night. A prolific Wake Forest offense led by Jon Bakero (11g, 3a), Ema Twumasi (9g, 5a) and Luis Argudo (8g, 5a) among others has produced a total of fifty goals to date while a solid Deacon defense anchored by netminder Andreu Cases Mundet has held opponents to only ten goals. Wake Forest concluded ACC play with a 7-0-1 mark. 

The Demon Deacons were the only team in the in the highly competitive Atlantic Coast Conference that was unbeaten in conference play. Whether they can sustain the same level of play in the one and done environment of post season action remains to be seen. 


Indiana (13-0-3) - The Hoosiers have allowed a total of only three goals in sixteen contests this year. The Hoosier backline of Grant Lillard, Andrew Gutman, Rece Buckmaster and Timmy Mehl is second to none in the country. Freshman goalkeeper Trey Muse has been rock solid in goal. Todd Yeagley has done an excellent job of reengineering a balanced and multi-dimensional attack led by Mason Toye (9g, 1a), Andrew Gutman (5g, 2a), Cory Thomas (4g, 3a) and Griffin Dorsey (3g, 5a) that is enabling the Hoosiers to come up with the big play needed to prevail in the close contests that they tied rather than win in 2016. Last year the Hoosiers recorded seven ties including five in Big Ten play. 

Indiana closes out regular season play Sunday with a huge on the road contest with Big Ten foe Michigan State.


Maryland (10-3-3) - The Terps entered the season with what was considered one of the most explosive offenses in the country. Eryk Williamson (6g, 5a), Jake Rozhansky (4g, 8a), Gordon Wild (5g, 2a) and Sebastian Elney (4g, 2a) are all big time finishers. The unanswered question was just how effective Maryland would be on the defensive side of the ball where they would have a lot of new faces on the pitch. Maryland's defense was exposed in a 5-4 win over Wisconsin. Look for Maryland's play on the defensive side of the ball to detemine how far they advance in post season play. However, there are also questions about the consistency of the Terp attack. Since the five goal performance over Wisconsin, the Maryland attack has been held in check with consecutive losses at home to Georgetown 1-0, Coastal Carolina 1-0 and VCU 3-0. It is also noteworthy that the Maryland offense was also held scoreless in matches earlier in the season when going up against ranked opponents Indiana and Michigan State. The Terps will seek to get back in the win column when they host Michigan on Sunday. Before the three straight losses, Maryland had been unbeaten in thirty consecutive regular season contests dating back to the 2015 season. A few weeks ago Maryland looked to be among the best teams in the country.

This is a talented Maryland team but right now they look to be in freefall seeking to regain their identity and perhaps confidence.   


California (9-5-0) - The Golden Bears opened the season with losses in two of their first three contests including their home opener against West Virginia.  They then rebounded to win six straight contests including Pac-12 wins on the road over UCLA and San Diego State.  Their winning streak came to a halt with a loss to Stanford but they looked to be back on track with wins at home over Oregon State and Washington before lossing to Oregon State and Washington on the road.

The Golden Bears were absent from the NCAA Tourney field in 2015 and 2016. California looks to be a team on the bubble in 2017 with a current RPI of 41 and Pac-12 contests at home against San Diego State and UCLA and a match on the road with Stanford remaining on their 2017 dance card. 

Drake Callender has performed well in goal but lapses on the defensive side of the ball have hurt the Golden Bears at times this year. Junior midfielder Shinya Kadono (6g, 0a) and senior forward Jose Carrera-Garcia (4g, 7a) are among those who will have to be productive on the offensive side of the ball in order for the Golden Bears to finish strong and reenter the NCAA Tournament field.


Washington (11-5-1) - The Huskies began the 2017 season with a top ranking in most preseason polls.  They dropped in the polls after sustaining a 2-0 loss to Akron and a 2-1 loss to Mercer.  The Huskies then bounced back with six straight wins including a key non-conference victory over Seattle 2-0 and Pac-12 wins over Oregon State and San Diego State to move upward in the rankings.  The up and down Huskies then backslided losing to UCLA 1-0, tying Stanford 1-1, losing to California 2-1, and losing to Stanford 2-1 before topping California 3-0 and San Diego State 1-0.

Washington must now take to the road to face UCLA in Los Angeles and Oregon State in Corvallis to close out regular season play.  Wins in both those contests would be a huge plus and momentum builder for a Washington team that currently has an RPI of 32. 


VCU (9-4-0) - The Rams began the season with a 1-3-1 record that included losses to Oakland 3-2, Appalachian State 3-2 and Old Dominion 1-0. They looked to be a team on the ropes before a revitalized effort on the defensive side of the ball led by goalkeeper Mario Sequeira played a key role in eight wins in their next nine contests including on the road wins over UNCW, Atlantic 10 Conference preseason favorite Fordham and nationally ranked Maryland. During that span the Rams scored twenty-two goals and allowed a total of only two.

A red hot VCU team led on the offensive side of the ball by the trio of Rafael Santos (7g, 3a), Fran Amorosino (7g, 1a) and Luc Fatton (7g, 0a) closes out regular season play when they host Atlantic 10 Conference foe Rhode Island on Saturday. After beginning the season with a 4-0 loss to Albany and a 2-1 loss to Providence, Rhode Island got back on track to go undefeated in ten straight contests before their season took a downward turn with back-to-back losses in Atlantic 10 play to Massachusetts and Fordham. 


Western Michigan (13-2-1) - The Broncos have been the surprise team of the 2017 season.  They roared out to a 10-0-1 record and a high national ranking before sustaining back to back losses to Portland 4-1 and Michigan State 1-0. The Broncos faced the challenge of three consecutive losses and were at a tipping point of sorts when they hosted Akron in a key MAC contest on October 7.  The Broncs did not fold instead they topped Akron 1-0 securing a win that got them back on track. Western Michigan then kept things going with on the road wins over NIU, Wisconsin-Green Bay, and West Virginia. The Broncos who have a program record thirteen wins to date will seek to up that total with regular season MAC contests remaining at home against SIUE and Bowling Green.  Western Michigan needs a win in one of those two games to secure their first ever MAC regular season title.  

Senior midfielder Brandon Bye (11g, 5a) has been a force on the offensive side of the ball for Western Michigan while redshirt senior goalkeeper Drew Shepherd has anchored a defense that has allowed a total of only eleven goals to date. 


The Big Ten Conference regular season conference race is going to come down to the last day of the season with Indiana, Michigan State, and Maryland all tied for the number one spot. Indiana and Michigan State face each other.  Maryland faces Michigan. 

All three teams have identical 5-0-2 records in conference play. 


The Big West Conferece used to be dominated by UC Santa Barbara.  That is no longer the case. The winner of the conference tournament will represent the Big West in the NCAA Tournament.  An at-large berth is unlikely due to the RPI of the teams in the Big West. CSUN which currently has an RPI of 71 has the highest RPI in the Big West Conference.

The top three finishers in the four team North and South Divisions of the conference will qualify for the Big West Conference Tournament. UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, and Sacramento State will represent the North. CSUN and Cal State Fullerton have secured a spot in the Big West Tourney in the South Division with UC Irvine and UC Riverside still battling for the third spot. 

Right now it looks like anyone can beat anyone on a given night in the Big West Conference. Fasten your seatbelts. The Big West Tournament looks to be wide open. 


Creighton (8-5-2)  - It is hard to get a handle on the Bluejays this year. They are hot and cold. After a slow start to the season they looked to be back on track when they reeled off wins over Tulsa, Villanova, and Omaha but they took a step backward with a 2-0 loss to a Seton Hall team that entered the match with four consecutive losses.  Creighton followed that with a 2-2 tie with St. John's at home before bouncing back with a 6-1 win over Drake and a 4-1 win over Xavier in which the Bluejay offense came alive. However, they followed that with a 0-0 tie with Providence and a 4-3 loss to Marquette during which they allowed the Golden Eagles to jump out to a 4-0 lead. The Bluejay offense appears to be at its best when they have been able to build their attack from the back, utilize their speed to attack down the flank to open the field of play, and create scoring opportunities for Ricky Lopez-Espin among others.

The Bluejays are probably better than their record indicates but right now they are a team with their backs to the wall, no margin for error, and a disappointing 2-3-2 mark in Big East play. Creighton hosts DePaul on Saturday and then travels to tangle with Georgetown on Wednesday, November 1 to close out regular season play.


Akron (12-3-1) - The Zips have won six in a row after being topped 1-0 by Western Michigan in a key MAC contest. After a slow start to the season the Akron attack got back on track but this is a group that can also play a little D having allowed a total of only eight goals to date. A multi-dimensional Zip attack led by Nick Hinds (6g, 2a), Sam Gainford (5g, 4a) and Stuart Holthusen (5g, 3a) is explosive. Holthusen powered the Akron attack with a hat trick in their recent wood shedding win over West Virginia in Morgantown. Akron closes out regular season play with MAC contests at home next Wednesday against Marshall and NIU on Saturday. 

Akron is playing well on both sides of the ball but both Marshall and NIU are capable of pulling off the upset if the Zips look past them to the upcoming MAC Tourney.  


Massachusetts (11-2-3) - The Minutemen have flown under the radar for most of the season but are now getting a little well deserved love on the natioanl scene after a ten match unbeaten streak and a 5-0-1 record in Atlantic 10 play. The Minutemen travel to face George Mason on Saturday before hosting a very good Fordham team next Wednesday. Freshman Midfielder Davis Smith (8g, 4a) and forwards Alex Desantis (6g, 4a) and Jack Fulton (5g, 2a) have been key ingredients in a Massachusetts attack that has produced a total of thirty-two goals to date. 

This is a good Minutemen team but they now have a big target on their chests and their margin for error remains small in the Atlantic 10 Conference which has several very capable teams this year.


Pittsburgh (8-9-0) - This was a breakthrough season for the Panthers under the direction of veteran second-year head coach Jay Vidovich. The Panthers topped Syracuse on September 29 to secure the program's first win in Atlantic Coast Conference play and to establish that they were no longer a team to be taken for granted. Wins over West Virginia, Columbia, Penn State, and ACC foe Notre Dame in South Bend bode well for the direction and continued success of the program at Pittsburgh. 

The Panthers have a ways to go to challenge for the ACC title and standing on the national scene but no matter how you slice it they took a huge step forward this year with several accomplishments that they will no doubt build upon. 


Air Force (12-1-3) - The Falcons are for real with a 6-0-2 mark in Western Athletic Conference play. Air Force is unbeaten in their last twelve contests. This group has a balanced attack with forward Austin Dewing (6g, 7a), midfielder Tucker Bone (5g, 6a), Klint Parker (4g, 3a) and John Sims (4g, 1a) all capable finishers.  The Air Force defense that is anchored by senior iron man midfielder Trey Pujats and senior goalkeeper John Wendt among others has been rock solid all year allowing a total of only eight goals to date.

The Falcons travel to face CSU Bakersfield on Sunday and UMKC the following Saturday to close out regular season play in two must win WAC contests. Air Force and Seattle, who tied 2-2 when the two teams faced off during regular season play, look to be the teams to beat right now in the WAC. However UNLV is a team that is always capable of getting hot and running the table at the WAC Tourney when it gets here. 

The task right now for Air Force is to take it one game at a time and not look past anyone. The Falcons showed that they were a competitie team last year but this is a program that is currently flying in unchartered territory. 


FIU (11-0-3) - No first year head coach is having a better season than FIU's Kevin Nylen. The Panthers secured a big win on Wednesday night when they topped Old Dominion 3-1 in a key CUSA contest to improve to 5-0-1 in league play. FIU has another big hurdle coming up on Sunday when they travel to face CUSA foe Kentucky to close out regular season play.

FIU has an explosive attack lead by forward Santiago Patino who has found the back of the net a total of fourteen times. Midfielders Paul Marie and Alessandro Campoy have add balance to the offense with six and seven goals respectively. 

In their last eight contests the Panthers have outscored opponents thirty-one to eight. 


Denver (8-6-1) - Despite not meeting pre-season expectations to date the Pioneers remain the team to beat in the Summit League with a 3-0-0 mark in conference play. The Summit League contest of the year so far will take place Saturday (October 28) when Denver hosts an Omaha team that is 8-4-2 with a 1-0-2 mark in league play.

Defense has played a key role in Denver's play to date against Summit League competition and will likely be a key factor in the outcome of the claish between Denver and Omaha.  The Pioneers will close out Summit League play the following Saturday (November 4) with another key conference game when they travel to tangle with Western Illinois. 

Denver, Eastern Illiniois, Fort Wayne, Oral Roberts, Omama and Western Illinois are members of the Summit League. 


Duke (12-3-2) - Count the Blue Devils who upset Virginia 1-0 Friday night among the teams that are having breakthrough seasons. John Kerr pretty much summed things up when he stated, "We've been searching for this kind of consistency for a while." The win over the Cavaliers upped Duke's record in ACC play to 4-3-1. 

Duke is currently ranked as the number fourteen team in the nation in the most recent College Soccer News Poll.

Senior midfielder Brian White (9g, 2a), senior center back Markus Fjortoft, and freshman goalkeeper Will Pulisic have been among the difference makers for the Blue Devils.


UCLA (7-6-1) - The Bruins have pretty much been absent from the national rankings all season looking good at some times and not so good at others. With contests remaining at home on Sunday against Washington followed by games on the road against Stanford, California, and San Diego State, the Bruins look to be on the bubble and appear to need to finish strong when it comes to earning a berth in the 2017 NCAA Tourney.

The Bruins topped Washington 1-0 when they faced them earlier in the season in Seattle, but lost to Stanford 1-0 at home and Californina 2-0 at home. UCLA topped San Diego State 2-1 in overtime at home. UCLA has now won four consecutive Pac-12 contests which is a plus including a 5-0 win over Oregon State on Thursday night.

The Bruins have momentum but their lone signature win to date is the win over Washington. No matter how you spin it, it is gut check time for UCLA. 

On the plus side the Bruins have a 4-2-0 mark in Pac-12 play (two wins over Oregon State, a win over Washington, and a win over San Diego State) and solid RPI of 29 which reflects in part the difficulty of their dance card which included non-conference losses on the road to Maryland, Georgetown, and Clemson.


Rider (11-3-1) - The Broncs are 8-1-1 in their last ten matches with a 6-1-1 mark in MAAC play. They stumbled with a 2-1 loss to Siena and a 1-1 tie with Canisius College in MAAC play before rebounding with a 2-1 win over Iona last Wednesday. Rider closes out regular season play with an MAAC contest at home on Saturday with Marist followed by what should be a very competitive contest with Fairfield on the road next Wednesday.

Forwards Elliott Otmani (8g, 1a) and Pablo Decastro (7g, 1a) have been key goal scorers. Senior defender Jose Aguinaga (3g, 9a) and sophomore forward Clement Bourrett (1g, 8a) have served up plenty of helpers.   


Stetson (7-6-2) - The Hatters under the direction of first year head coach Kyle Gookins closed out regular season play in the Atlantic Sun Conference with a 4-0-2 record that included ties with FGCU 1-1 and Jacksonille 0-0 to claim the ASUN regular season title and a first round bye in the conference tournament.   

Freshman midfielder Deniz Dogan has been a difference maker for the Hatters with seven goals including four game-winners to date.


NJIT (8-6-3) and FGCU (6-5-3) will tangle on Saturday night in Fort Myers, Florida with the number two seed in the ASUN Conference on the line. Both sides are 3-1-1 in conference play. The top two seeds earn a bye in the ASUN Tournament. If the contest ends in a tie, NJIT will earn the number two seed.

NJIT is powered on the offensive side of the ball by senior forward Mamadou Guirassy who is responsible for sixteen of the Highlanders' twenty-six goals to date. 

Since becoming eligible to participate in the ASUN Tourney, FGCU has never been seeded lower than number two. NJIT will seek to change that. The FGCU attack in 2017 has netted a total of only twenty-four goals to date which is much less than the 2016 team that lead the country with a total of sixty-two goals.


The West Coast Conference race and the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tourney is still up for grabs at this point.  Portland looks to be the team to beat in the WCC with a 3-0-1 mark in conference play but San Diego, Pacific, and San Francisco are still in the hunt. 

The Pilots have a 3-1 win over Pacific and a 1-1 tie with San Diego. In terms of the current RPI for games through October 22 - San Diego is 24, Portland is 25, Pacific is 30, and San Francisco is 112. Portland hosts San Francisco on Sunday followed by matches with Gonzaga and Saint Mary's the following two Saturdays.

Stay tuned it could be another photo finish.