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College Soccer News' Bracketologist Updates Projections of the 2018 NCAA Tournament Field

October 30, 2018 - College Soccer News' veteran bracketologist has updated his projections of the forty-eight team NCAA Tournament field, the sixteen seeds, and the match-ups.  The predictions reflect the most recent RPI issued and a projection of the conference champions who will earn an automatic berth.  

The predictions of conference champions reflect current standings and do not take into account expected future results. The selections predict what the NCAA Tournament field would be if selected today. 

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



#1 Wake Forest Region

First Round:  Loyola Maryland (Patriot League Automatic) at Georgetown (Big East #2)

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


First Round:  SIUE (MAC #3) at UCLA (Pac-12 #2)

Second Round:  Winner at #16 U.C. Irvine  (Big West Automatic)


First Round:  Fairfield (MAAC Automatic) at Syracuse (Atlantic Coast Conference #8)

Second Round:  Winner at #8 Central Florida (American Athletic Conference Automatic) 


First Round:  Loyola Chicago (MVC Automatic) at Michigan State (Big Ten #3)

Second Round:  Winner at #9 Notre Dame (Atlantic Coast Conference #4)



#2 Indiana Region

First Round:  Akron (MAC #2) at Wright State (Horizon League Automatic) 

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


First Round:  FGCU (Atlantic Sun Automatic) at Air Force (WAC Automatic)

Second Round:  Winner at #15 Denver (Summit League Automatic)


First Round:  Princeton (Ivy League Automatic) at Washington (Pac-12 #4)

Second Round:  Winner at #7 Saint Mary's (WCC Automatic)


First Round:  Mercer (Southern Conference Automatic) at UNCW (CAA #2)

Second Round:  Winner at #10 Duke (Atlantic Coast Conference #5)



#3 North Carolina Region

First Round:  Georgia Southern (Sun Belt Automatic) at High Point University (Big South Automatic)

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


First Round:  New Hampshire (America East #2) at Oregon State (Pac-12 #3)

Second Round:  Winner at #14 Louisville (Atlantic Coast Conference #7)


First Round:  Wisconsin (Big Ten #4) at Portland (WCC #2)

Second Round:  Winner at #6 Stanford (Pac-12 Automatic)


First Round:  Stony Brook (America East Automatic) at Rhode Island (Atlantic 10 #2)

Second Round:  Winner at #11 Connecticut (American Athletic Conference #2)



#4 Virginia Region

First Round:  VCU (Atlantic 10 Automatic) at West Virginia (MAC Automatic)

Second Round:  Winner at #4 Virginia (Atlantic Coast Conferenc #3)


First Round:  James Madison (CAA Automatic) at N.C. State (Atlantic Coast Conference #9)

Second Round:  Winner at #13 Charlotte (CUSA #2)


First Round:  UIC (Horizon League #2) at Creighton (Big East Automatic)

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


First Round:  LIU Brooklyn (NEC Automatic) at Maryland (Big Ten #2) 

Second Round:  Winner at #12 Virginia Tech (Atlantic Coast Conference #6)



Last 4 At Large Selections

Akron

SIUE

UIC

Wisconsin



Last 4 Out 

Coastal Carolina

ETSU

UC Davis

Old Dominion



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 4
Big West 1
Colonial Athletic  2
Conference USA 2
Horizon League 2
Ivy League  1
Metro Atlantic 1
Mid American 3
Missouri Valley 1
Northeast 1
Pacific 12 4
Patriot League 1
Southern  1
Summit League 1
Sun Belt 1
WAC 1
West Coast  2
Total  48


UC Irvine, Mercer, Fairfield, Lipscomb, and West Virginia On A Roll

Teams begin to secure regular season conference titles while some are still up for grabs. Programs seek to enhance their seeding in upcoming conference tournaments coast to coast.  



UC Irvine - The Anteaters, who were picked to finish in the number five spot in the Big West Conference Coaches preseason poll,  have had a banner season to date. 

UC Irvine under the direction of Yossi Raz claimed the Big West regular season title in 2018 for the first time since 2013. They are currently 11-4-2 overall with a 5-0-1 mark in conference play.   

Senior forward Ivan Canales (10g, 5a) who has netted six game-winners has been a force on the offensive side of the ball.   Junior midfielder Jose Ortiz (8g, 3a) and sophomore Alvaro Quezada (5g, 6a) have added additional punch to an explosive attack that has produced a total of thirty-four goals in seventeen contests.  Redshirt senior Greg Patenaude has been rock solid in goal for the Anteaters.   

The Anteaters will seek to remain unbeaten in regular season play when they travel to face CSUN on Saturday in their final regular season contest.     

UC Irvine, ranked number fourteen in the most recent RPI, will begin play in the Big West Conference Tournament on Saturday, November 3 when they face the winner of the contest between the number four and five seeded teams.  



Mercer - The Bears currently have the second-longest active winning streak in the country behind Saint Mary's.  They have won eight straight to secure an impressive 12-2-2 overall record with a 5-0-0 mark in Southern Conference play. 

Brad Ruzzo's squad will close out regular season play when they host ETSU on Saturday.  Mercer has already secured the number one seed in the upcoming Southern Conference Tournament but can claim the outright Southern Conference regular season title with a win or a draw with ETSU. 

The Bears have an explosive  multi-dimensional attack lead by Trevor Martineau (9g, 7a) and Leo Toledo Jr. (6g, 8a) that has produced a total of thirty-nine goals to date.  The Mercer defense anchored by redshirt sophomore goalkeeper JR Derose and backs Ramario Thompson, Kareve Richards, Jason Nduese-udom,  Emmet Johnson, and Josh Harrison has been solid. 

Mercer is slated to begin play in the Southern Conference Tournament on Friday, November 9 when they face the winner of the number four and five seeds.  It is highly unlikely that the Southern Conference will be awarded an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.  Therefore despite the success that Mercer has enjoyed this year they will have to win the Southern Conference Tournament to go dancing.     



Fairfield - A relatively young Fairfield University team is currently at the top of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings with a one-point advantage over Quinnipiac University. 

Fairfield is 9-4-2 overall with a 6-0-2 mark in conference play.  The Stags have difficult conference matchups remaining on their regular season dance card at Saint Peter's this Saturday followed by Manhattan at home on Wednesday.  

Fairfield had won six in a row before tying Quinnipiac 0-0 and Marist 1-1 in their last two contests.  The Stags squandered scoring opportunities in both of those matches.  

Senior Diego Casielles (5g, 1a) and sophomore playmaker Matt McGlinchey (0g, 6a) lead a balanced Stag attack that includes ten players who have contributed a goal.  Sophomore goalkeeper Gordon Botterill  is at the center of a young bend but don't break Fairfield defense.      

Carl Rees' team is playing well but they will need to find a way to win the close contests if they hope to win the MAAC regular season and tournament titles.   The MAAC tournament winner will be the only team from the conference who will punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament.



Lipscomb - Lipscomb opened the season with a 1-7-0 mark.  They rebounded to win five out of their last seven contests including a 3-2 signature win over Louisville out of the Atlantic Coast Conference.  

Despite their very slow start, Lipscomb is tied at the top of the ASUN Conference standings with FGCU.   They are 6-9-0 overall with a 4-1-0 mark in ASUN Conference play. 

Lipscomb will close out regular season play when they host ASUN foe Stetson on Saturday.  If they top Stetson they will clinch at least a share of the ASUN Conference title and secure their second ever regular season title.  Winning the ASUN regular season title and the number one seed is significant in that it provides the opportunity to play every game in the conference tournament at home. 

Redshirt senior Logan Paynter (6g, 3a) is the main man in the Lipscomb attack.  Senior Chris Zappia anchors the defense in goal.  Both have big play ability.

If Lipscomb and FGCU play to their potential, chances are pretty good that they will meet in the ASUN championship match.  Lipscomb halted their seven game losing streak when they topped FGCU 3-2 back on September 29. 

The conference tournament winner will be the only team from the ASUN in the NCAA Tournament.  



West Virginia - The Mountaineers showed a lot of grit Friday night when they came from behind in the closing minutes of regulation to top a determined Bowling Green team 3-2.  Junior midfielder Andres Muriel Albino scored twice and senior midfielder Joey Piatczyc netted the game-winning goal in the eighty-eighth minute of play. 

The win enabled Marlon LeBlanc's Mountaineers to claim the Mid American Conference regular season title and the program's first conference title since 2006.  West Virginia has won ten out of their last twelve contests including four in a row to improve to 12-5-0 with a 4-0-0 mark in conference play. 

Piatczyc (6g, 6a) and Pascal Derwaritsch (5g, 1a) have powered a Mountaineer attack that has scored a total of thirty-three goals while sophomore goalkeeper Steven Tekesky has anchored a defense that has held opponents to a total of eighteen goals.  

West Virginia, which currently has an RPI of 22, will close out regular season play at Northern Illinois on Saturday, November 3.   The number one seeded Mountaineers will then host the MAC Tournament on November  9 and 11.


 

A Look At How Six New Head Coaches Are Doing in the 2018 Season

There is an inherent transition and learning curve when a new head coach takes over the reins of a program. There's optimism but when the level of competition is tough, a honeymoon period is almost always needed to reload.



Brian Rowland - Temple - Rowland replaced David McWilliams who had been the head coach at Temple for eighteen seasons. Rowland inherited a team that returned four starters from the 2017 squad that was 9-8-1 with a 4-3-0 mark in American Athletic Conference competition.  Temple won ten or more contests seven times under McWilliams but the Owls were never able to secure a berth in the NCAA Tournament.  

Rowland's resume includes eight seasons as an assistant coach at Maryland under the direction of Sasho Cirovski.  He played college soccer for UMBC where he was a four-year starter in goal and an All-America selection in 2001. 

There is a good chance that the experience that Rowland gained in recruiting elite level talent at Maryland will enable him to recruit at a program changing rate at Temple.  However, it may take a couple of recruiting cycles to bring on board the talent and depth needed for the Owls to move upward in the American Athletic Conference and to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament.   

Rowland's transition season began with the addition of a large nineteen-member recruitng class and the challenge of integrating the newcomers in with returning players. Forward Lukas Fernandes and defender Nick Sarver are among the returning players who are setting the pace.  Goalkeeper Simon Lefebvre, backs Akeem Prawl and Pierre Cayet, forward Elias Hellgren Villegas and midfielder Jalen Campbell are among the newcomers who are making an impact.  

Temple is currently 4-8-4 with a 1-3-1 mark in conference play. The Owls have played everyone close as reflected in the fact that seven of their contests have gone into overtime and they have not lost a match to date by more than a singe goal.  Inconsistency and the lack of big play ability have impacted the Owls win-loss record this year but the fact that Temple was able to gut out 1-0 wins over very good Old Dominion and UCF teams is a sign that good things are happening.



Andreas Lindberg - Seton Hall – Lindberg became the head coach at Seton Hall after nine years as the head coach at Division II LIU-Post where he had a .766 winning percentage. Seton Hall hopes that he can transfer the success he had at LIU-Post to the Big East. They wanted a proven builder and that's what they got in Lindberg . 

Lindberg replaced Gerson Echeverry who had served as the head coach at Seton Hall for six seasons.  Lindberg took over the reins of a program that was 6-10-1 overall last year with a 3-6-0 mark in Big East Conference action. 

Lindberg began his tenure at the Hall by bringing on board a supersized recruiting class that consists of twenty newcomers.  Eight of the newcomers are transfers including four from LIU-Post. Team chemistry is always a potential concern when so many newcomers are merged in with returning players. The addition of transfers often jump starts a program but if the use of a lot of transfers does not work the rebuilding process can take twice as long. 

The Pirates are currently 5-5-2 overall with a 1-4-1 mark in Big East Conference play.

Redshirt junior midfielder Alex Pozesky and graduate student back Nick Najera are among the returning players who have added stability. Carlton McKenzie, a transfer from Tyler Junior College, and true freshman CJ Tibbling who hails from Sweden have added punch to the Pirate attack up-top.  Senior midfielder Nico Anderson who is a transfer from LIU Post has provided playmaking ability in the midfield.  Sophomore goalkeeper Andreas Nota who is a transfer from Campbellsville University is among the newcomers who have been a key part of the defense.   

Defense has been Seton Hall's calling card to date.  The Pirates have allowed a total of only ten goals in eleven contests. Only once have they allowed an opponent to score more than a single goal. 

Turning a program around quickly in the Big East Conference is not going to be easy.  Seton Hall remains in the cellar of the Big East race.  However, Lindberg has fielded a competitive side that has not been an easy out for anyone. Offensive productivity is the area for which the greatest opportunity for improvement exists. The Seton Hall faithful who want to see a lot of Pirate goals may have to wait a little while.  Look for Lindberg to address that aspect of the game sooner rather than later.    


Terry Boss - Oregon State - Boss became the boss at Oregon State this year replacing Steve Simmons who was the head coach at Oregon State for nine seasons.  Under Simmons, the Beavers had an overall record of 67-82-15 and secured a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2014. 

Boss returns to his home state of Oregon after serving as an assistant coach at Tulsa in 2012, an assistant coach at Oregon State in 2013 under Simmons, and most recently as an assistant coach at the University of Virginia from 2014 through 2017 under George Gelnovatch.  Boss played college soccer at Tulsa where he was a highly regarded goalkeeper.   

Boss, who is frequently described by those who know him as having a tireless work ethic, has done a good job to date of building a winning culture at Oregon State.  He inherited a team that included six starters from the 2017 squad and supplemented it with a talented but huge twenty-one member recruiting class that included players from seven different countries.  Boss' transition challenges clearly included successfully merging the newcomers in with returning players.   

Boss has exceeded expectatioins so far with an 8-4-3 overall record that includes a 4-2-1 mark in Pac-12 play with signature wins over Washington and Stanford. The eight wins to date exceed Oregon States win total of seven from 2017. 

Seniors forward Don Tchilao and midfielder Hasani Dotson are among the returning players who are having a banner season. Freshmen forward Gloire Amanda and goalkeeper Adrian Fernandez are among several newcomers who are making an impact that bodes well for the future.  

The margin for error for Oregon State is slim but what Boss and the Beavers have accomplished to date shouldn't be taken lightly. There is a definite sense that Oregon State is headed in the right direction.  



Brian Maisonneuve - Ohio State - Maisonneuve assumed the head coaching job at Ohio State when veteran Buckeye head coach John Bluem retired in April after twenty-one years at the helm of the program.  Maisonneuve was an assistant coach at Louiville for two seasons and the associate head coach at his alma mater Indiana for nine seasons. 

He inherited a program that returned six starters from the 2017 Buckeye team that was 8-10-1 overall with a 3-5-0 mark in Big Ten play. 

Ohio State is 1-12-2 with a 0-5-1 mark in conference play with contests remaining against Indiana in Columbus and Wisconsion in Madison. The Buckeyes have continuted to battle but the fact that they have only scored a total of only seven goals while allowing thirty in their fifteen contests to date pretty much speaks for itself.   Maisonneuve, the 1994 Hermann Trophy winner, is a competitor who knows what it takes to win at the highest level.  It will be interesting to see what Ohio State will do in year two of the Maisonneuve era.



Mark Plotkin - DePaul - Plotkin, who played at DePaul from 2006 through 2009, returned as the Blue Demons head coach after serving as an assitant coach at Colgate from 2014 through 2017 and as an assitant coach at DePaul in 2012 and 2013.  Plotkin replaced Craig Blazer who had been the head coach for seventeen seasons. 

Plotkin inherited a team that was picked to finish in the number ten spot in the ten team Big East Conference in the Coaches Preseason Poll.  He began his transition season with the addition of twelve newcomers that included three transfers.  

Plotkin is committed to turning things around at DePaul but has a step hill to climb. The experience he gained as an assistant coach under Erik Ronning at Colgate could provide a good roadmap to follow. 

DePaul is currently 4-7-3 with a 1-3-2 mark in conference play.  The Blue Demons have shown some grit at times by battling back when down a goal as they did in ties with Seton Hall and Northwestern.  DePaul has played well on the defensive side of the ball which has enabled them to play just about everyone close but their margin for error or letdowns remains very small. 

Look for Plotkin to continue to seek to build a culture that embraces the mental and physical toughness needed to put together a full ninty minutes of play.  



Brian Gill - Pennsylvania - Gill took over the reigns of the progam from Rudy Fuller who was named Senior Associate AD at Penn after serving as the Quaker head coach for twenty seasons.  Under Fuller, Penn won three Ivy League titles and appeared in the NCAA Tournament four times.  

The transition from Fuller to Gill was about as smooth as they go since Gill served as an assistant coach under Fuller last year.  Prior to that Gill served as an assistant coach at Georgetown for seven seasons under Brian Wiese.  Gill is considered by many to be among the top recruiters in the country.  Time will tell if he can translate the success that he had in that regard at Georgetown to Penn.  

Gill began the season with nine returning starters including midfielder Joe Swenson, forward Jake Kohlbrenner, and defender Alex Touche who were 2017 All-Ivy Second Team selections.  He also added a ten member recruiting class.  

The Quakers are 2-4-6 with a 0-3-1 mark in Ivy League play.  During twelve contests they have allowed a total of only eleven goals but have only managed to score a total of six.  It is a given that Gill will need to develop Penn's offensive productivity in order for the Quakers  to up their win total and move out of the cellar of the Ivy League standings. Look for doing that to be at the top of his recruiting wish list for next year. 

For now the Quakers have a razor thin margin for error. Nonetheless, their tenacity on the defensive side of the ball makes them a challenging opponent.