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College Soccer News' Bracketologist Issues Initial Predictions of the 2018 NCAA Tournament Field

October 18, 2018 - College Soccer News' veteran bracketologist has utilized the data currently available to predict the forty-eight teams in the 2018 NCAA Tournament field, the sixteen seeds, and the match-ups.  The predictions are based on the most recent RPI issued and a projection of the conference champions who will earn an automatic berth.  The analysis uses the same criteria the selection committee will utilize which includes win-loss records, geography, recent team play, quality wins, and the head-to head match-ups that have taken place to date. 

The bracketologist will update his predictions as additional information becomes available. The RPI will no doubt change as the season progresses which will impact the selections.

Conference championships and the automatic berths that go with them will not be known until conference tournaments have been completed or regular season play has ended in those cases where conference tournaments are not held.  The predictions of conference champions reflect current standings and do not take into account expected future results. 

The predictions do not reflect any national polls nor are they an attempt to gague who the best teams are.  The selections predict what the NCAA Tournament field would be if the committee were to make their selections today.  

The NCAA Tournament field, the seeds, and the brackets will be announced on November 12, 2018.  



#1 Wake Forest Region 

First Round:  Georgia Southern (Sun Belt Automatic) at Charlotte (Conference USA #2)

Second Round:  Winner at #1 Wake Forest (Atlantic Coast Conference Automatic)


First Round:  Fairfield (MAAC Automatic) at Colgate (Patriot League #2)

Second Round:  Winner at #16 Connecticut (American Athletic Conference Automatic)


First Round:  Oregon State (Pac-12 #3) at U.C. Irvine (Big West Automatic)

Second Round:  Winner at #8 Saint Mary's (West Coast Conference Automatic)


First Round:  LIU (Northeast Conference Automatic) at Cornell (Ivy League #2)

Second Round:  Winner at #9 Syracuse (Atlantic Coast Conference #6) 



#2 Indiana Region

First Round:  Loyola Chicago (Missouri Valley Conference Automatic) at UIC (Horizon League #2)

Second Round:  Winner at #2 Indiana (Big Ten Automatic)


First Round:  FGCU (Atlantic Sun Automatic) at UCF (American Athletic Conference #2) 

Second Round:  Winner at. #15 Virginia Tech (Atlantic Coast Conference #8) 


First Round:  Georgetown (Big East #2) at Air Force (Western Athletic Conference Automatic)

Second Round:  Winner at #7 Notre Dame (Atlantic Coast Conference #5)


First Round:  Mercer (Southern Conference Automatic) at North Carolina State (Atlantic Coast Conference #9) 

Second Round:  Winner at #10 Denver (Summit League Automatic)



#3 Virginia Region 

First Round:  Pacific (West Coast Conferene #3) at UCLA (Pac-12 #2)

Second Round:  Winner at #3 Virginia (Atlantic Coast Conference #2)


First Round:  Princeton (Ivy League Automatic) at New Hampshire (America East #2)

Second Round:  Winner at #14 Rhode Island (Atlantic 10 #2)


First Round:  Michigan (Big Ten #3) at Wright State (Horizon League Automatic)

Second Round:  Winner at #6 Louisville (Atlantic Coast Conference #4)


First Round:  High Point University (Big South Automatic) at UNCW (Colonial Athletic Association #2) 

Second Round:  Winner at #11 Duke University (Atlantic Coast Conference #7)



#4 North Carolina Region

First Round:  VCU (Atlantic 10 Automatic) at James Madison (Colonial Athletic Association Automatic)

Second Round:  Winner at #4 North Carolina (Atlantic Coast Conference #2)


First Round:  Lehigh (Patriot League Automatic) at Stanford (Pac-12 Automatic)

Second Round:  Winner at #13 Portland (West Coast Conference #2)


First Round:  West Virginia (MAC Automatic) at Michigan State (Big Ten #2)

Second Round:  Winner at #5 Kentucky (CUSA Automatic)


First Round:  Stony Brook (America East Automatic) at SIUE (MAC #2) 

Second Round:  Winner at #12 Creighton (Big East Automatic)



Last Four At Large Selections

Michigan

Georgetown

Oregon State

Pacific 



Last Four Out

Washington

UC Davis

Saint Louis

CSUN 



Conference Breakdown

America East 2
American Athletic  2
Atlantic Coast  9
Atlantic Sun 1
Atlantic 10 2
Big East 2
Big South 1
Big Ten 3
Big West  1
Colonial Athletic 2
Conference USA 2
Horizon League 2
Ivy League 2
Metro Atlantic  1
Mid American 2
Missouri Valley 1
Northeast 1
Pac-12 3
Patriot League 2
Southern  1
Summit League 1
Sun Belt 1
Western Athletic  1
West Coast  3
Total  48


 

An Early Look At Potential Generation Adidas Candidates

As conference play has begun, it’s only about a month away from the NCAA Tournament. With team’s in the midst of their season, MLS franchises’ front offices have begun to seek out potential players for the 2019 MLS Superdraft.   

The hottest commodities in the draft are Generation Adidas (GA) players, which are offered to a handful of the top underclassmen players in the NCAA, who then become essentially free assets for MLS teams to acquire. The GA model has it’s pros and cons, but regardless these players have a much greater chance to be drafted early and will earn more money in their first contract. Former GA’s include the likes of Jack Harrison, Cyle Larin and Cristian Roldan. 

The past three crops of GA players have either included six or seven players and thus, we expect this year’s group to be the same. Much can change in the next few months, but here’s College Soccer News early prediction on the 2019 MLS Generation Adidas class. 



Mo Kamara​​ (UCLA): Kamara, a transfer from Tyler Junior College, when healthy, has been excellent for the Bruins. The Liberian born forward has the ability to stretch the field as well as check back into the midfield and create himself. His unique skill set along with his goal scoring prowess has MLS teams wanting Kamara to leave school early. Kamara’s biggest question, much like former UCLA GA, Abu Danladi, is whether he can stay healthy down the stretch. If Kamara can continue his form and make a tournament run, expect him to be a top 5 pick come January. 


Siad Haji​​ (VCU): The US Youth International, Haji, has had a stellar beginning to the season notching 5 goals and 7 assists for the Rams. Haji gained notoriety following his freshman year, where he led NEC in scoring. His ability to beat players off the dribble and create for his teammates is what makes him so enticing. There are questions as to where Haji’s best position will be at the next level, but there’s no doubting his talent. He carries himself with a confidence on the field and playmaking ability that is sure to catch notice. Haji is a borderline GA candidate currently, but if can finish the season strong, there’s no reason he shouldn’t receive an offer. 


Manny Perez​​ (NC State): Arguably the most recognizable name on this list, Perez, has himself in great position to receive a GA offer. The Wolfback’s winger, has played as an outside back for Tab Ramos’ US U20 side, and is expecting to be a key piece through CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers next month. The 2017 ACC Freshman of the Year, will no doubt get a GA offer with the only question being whether he makes a move to Europe instead. 


David Egbo​​ (Akron): Egbo, the Zips leading attacker has all the tools to succeed at the next level. The sophomore forward already has 8 goals, 3 assists on the year and will look to continue his play into the NCAA Tournament. Egbo’s play has matured immensely since joining Akron, improving his hold up play and ability to combine with teammates. Egbo needs to round out his game and improve his fitness levels, but he has one of the highest ceilings in this draft, if the right club develops him. 


Benji Michel ​​(Portland): The Pilots offense output comes on the back of Michel, who’s scored 10 goals and 2 assists to keep Portland as one of college soccer’s remaining undefeated teams. His clever off-shoulder runs, deceptive pace and poacher’s mentality is why Michel’s one of the most devastating forwards in college soccer. There are questions regarding his HG rights with Orlando City, but is he’s eligible for a GA, there’s no doubt Michel will be at the forefront of discussions. 


Griffin Dorsey​​ (Indiana): Following a run to the College Cup as a freshman, Dorsey has returned in top form for the Hoosiers. The US Youth national product has 4 goals and 3 assists on the season thus far and has contributed in other facets of the game too. Dorsey’s tactical acumen and positional versatility will be a benefit to teams at the next level. The ​College Soccer News ​ 2nd Team All-Freshman honoree will be a candidate for the U20 World Cup, which should only help his case. 


Rodney Michael​​ (UCSB): Michael has built on his Big West Freshman of the Year campaign to put himself in this year’s GA talks. The forward from Sierra Leone has been a menace for back lines across the country and can generate offense in a variety of ways. Michael likely projects as a winger and second forward at the next level, but can make an impact from anywhere on the pitch. Much will depend on how UCSB finishes their season, but expect Michael to be in the GA conversation going forward.  



The Red Hot Shinyashiki by Dela Agbotse

Scoring matters.  Consider the season Andre Shinyashiki is having.  If there's any college soccer forward playing better and making more of an impact than Shinyashiki, it's hard to name him. He has scored nineteen goals including seven game-winners in the first eleven contests of the 2018 season and is atop every offensive category in college soccer averaging 5.6 shots per game with an average of 3.4 shots on target. 

It is all coming together for the Denver offensive ace.  He has displayed subtle moves when creating space, smart decisions when opponents are trying to take the ball off him, decisive forays into the box and an immense appetite for goal.  Shinyashiki has been lights out thus far this season with the addition of a lethal finishing touch to his game that has improved his efficiency and proficiency in front of the goal.  The Brazilian striker has been as productive as anyone in the history of college soccer so far this season.  

The kid's rolling and is on pace to have one of the best individual seasons ever in college soccer and at no point has his approach or personality evey changed.  

Shinyashiki has always had a great work ethic. So what's different this year?  For starters, he seems to have an aura and calmness regardless of the opposition he is facing. He is allowing his instincts to take over, where before he may have hesitated.  As a result the Denver striker is unfliching and unyielding.  He is playing smarter, wiser, and more savvy soccer. 

When Shinyashiki is in rhythm, he plays at a level only elite college soccer players before him have reached.  It is also a big plus that Denver is once again collectively playing with a level of toughness and grit that Pioneer head coach Jamie Franks likes to describe as "fighting football."  

The time may come, if it hasn't already, when the debate will begin as to whether Shinyashiki  is having the best college soccer season offensively that there has ever been.  But for now, the focus of Shinyashiki and his teammates is on taking it one game at a time with a desire to secure a berth in the College Cup (Final Four) at the end of the season.

There is a lot of soccer left to play in the 2018 campaign.  As a result the question at this point is whether or not Shinyashiki will be able to maintain his red hot form for the remainder of the regular season and come playoff time. Can he elevate his play to an even higher level when every contest becomes that much more important?  It also remains to be seen whetther Shinyashiki and his teammates will be able to adjust to the different defensive schemes that they will no doubt face in Summit Leage play as well as in the marquee non-conference contests remaining on the road with Virginia, Maryland and Stanford. 

Denver hosts Purdue Fort Wayne on Friday night in Summit League play and travels to Charlottesville to face a University of Virgina team out of the Atlantic Coast Conference on Monday that has allowed a total of only two goals in eight games to date.  It should be interesting.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 Dela Agbotse is a contributing writer for College Soccer News.  He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.